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Acrylic Paintings, The First Batch

October 24, 2017

I’m doing a lot of acrylic work these days. The new gallery suggested a 16×20 size, so I’ve been busy, learning acrylics and producing work that hopefully might find its way into the gallery.

group

I’ve posted several of these previously, but here’s the past few weeks work. All acrylic on stretched canvas, all 16×20, and all done with just a few colors: ultramarine blue, primary yellow, burnt umber, yellow ochre and white. I may add a few more colors if I start focusing on skies and clouds a bit more, but this is the basic palette I’ve always painted with and it seems to be serving me well.

I especially enjoy the river paintings and plan to try a few more as I continue to learn my way around with acrylics.

 

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Finding The “Best” Way

October 20, 2017
IMG_1393edited at 400

Pencil Sketch of a Rembrandt Etching, 1973

I came across an article from copyblogger recently, titled “This Common Belief Could Be Blocking Your Creative Potential”, written by STEFANIE FLAXMAN. Thinking it was probably just another “here’s how to make money from your art” article, I almost scrolled past it. Instead, I opened and read it. It was a short article and, maybe because this has been on my mind lately, it made sense.

In it, she writes:

“Once you’ve learned the basics, you have to give your project your own color and richness, rather than try to mimic or duplicate someone else’s “best way.”

“The best way” to do something may not work for you at all.

If you keep searching for “the best way,” you’ll never discover your way.”

The article was primarily aimed at writers, but it works for artists as well. There have been times when I was afraid I was just a mimic, an imitator, a copier… because I studied other artists when I was trying to find a way to accomplish something in a drawing or painting. I still do that today. When trying to solve a visual issue, I look to see how others did it. What I’ve discovered is that when it’s time to actually apply the paint, I do it my way. And I remind myself how many artists derive most of their art income, not from selling paintings, but from teaching, doing workshops, and selling books and CDs. There is nothing at all wrong with that.  I even have a book out myself on painting with gouache. The point here is that for every workshop by an artist, there are 5 to 20 people attending that workshop. Why? To learn how that artist does what he or she does.

When we go back into art history, we find that most, if not all, of the great masters of the past studied under someone else. Art historians can tell us what qualities in an artist’s work reflect who that artist was apprenticed to. Most of today’s well-known artists studied or learned from someone else. I can sometimes look at an artist’s work and tell whose workshops or books that artist learned from. When I started painting, I was told that my work reminded one sometimes of Corot and sometimes of Constable. The truth was that I had studied the work of both of those masters. Influence is hard to hide.  An artist mentor once said he believed that the more different influences an artist studied, the more likely that artist would develop his/her own personal style. Even after ten years of painting, I keep studying and hoping that will eventually happen to me.

While I agree with Ms. Flaxman’s premise, I seem to have modified it in my own work. My way has developed because I’ve continued to search for the best way.

The search continues.

Peaceful Color

October 18, 2017
untitled 900

A Quiet Place, 16×20, Acrylic

The two paintings in my previous post were part of five acrylic paintings I’ve done in the past month. This is another one of those five. (One of them was a clinker and has been painted over.) This painting, A Quiet Place, is one that started out as one scene and morphed into something else. While there are still a couple of things to be done, there is just something about this one that I can’t explain. Maybe it’s the color. Maybe it’s the shadows and the light. Or it might be the almost borderline storybook quality about it that appeals to me.

There was a reference photo in the beginning. I did a preliminary study (seen below) that had sheep in it. The sheep were replaced by a cow. The painting was almost finished but as I let it sit and as I studied it, I wasn’t happy with it. I finally painted out the cow and what remained was this painting. Now I’m happy with it. It already has a potential buyer, but even if that doesn’t go through, I’m still pleased with this painting.

To show where this acrylic painting started, I’m attaching the preliminary gouache study:

grazing goats at900

The setting came from a random 70 mph highway shot, and the scene as painted was pretty faithful to the original photo.  The sheep and the bluebonnets were added. I normally tend to stay close to the original reference photo as far as composition is concerned. Yes, it’s just a guide, but it’s my view that I took that shot for a reason and even at 70 mph I try to compose the image as I shoot it. For me, the reference photo is very often part of the process.

It’s a sweet painting, and I’m okay with that.

 

Continuing To Explore Acrylics

October 13, 2017

I’m slowly beginning to find my way with acrylics. The only similarity I’ve found between gouache and acrylics is they both dry very fast. Beyond that, it’s a whole new ballgame. Fortunately, much of what I’ve learned about painting still comes into play, but there are some dramatic differences between the two media and I’m learning by trial and error. What I’ve posted here are the two latest pieces, still not complete, but far enough along to share.

Along The North Fork 900

Along The North Fork, 16×20, Acrylic

Both of these are views taken on the San Gabriel River that passes near our home. It’s a short walk, which affords me the opportunity to take lots of reference photos, which these paintings are taken from. Along The North Fork looks downriver from the landing below the RV park, and is a view we see often

A walk downriver takes us to this spot, and I’ve selected the view looking back upriver. I chose this scene because it’s more complicated and I needed the challenge. It’s allowing me to develop new skills and techniques in a new medium.

The painting size was requested by my new gallery.  I’ve chosen to use acrylics because the finished painting doesn’t require any special treatment, whereas gouache called for either varnish or mat and glass.  I did have to pull the french easel out of storage, because my Easyl Lite doesn’t work well with 16×20.

Morning on The North Fork 900

The rocks in the paintings are limestone, found in abundance here in central Texas, and a standard part of most Texas landscapes.  As part of my education, I’m going back and studying some historically famous Texas painters, such as Julian Onderdonk and Porfirio Salinas as well as more contemporary painters like Bob Wygant and James Robinson. Of course, there are always things to learn from western artists like Howard Terpning, who has always been a favorite of mine.

At 73, open heart surgery has given me a new lease on life and I’m moving forward with new work.

Gouache Studies

September 12, 2017

grazing goats at900

While I’ve been working mostly with acrylics, I’ve found a way to keep my hand in with gouache. As my focus continues to shift toward southwest and Texas landscapes, I’ve decided to slow down a bit and spend more time in preparation. So as I do sketches of such things as cows, horses, and goats, I’ve started doing preliminary studies in gouache. These are 8×10, with the intent to develop some 16×20 acrylic paintings. By working in acrylics,  don’t have to worry about varnishing, and buyers don’t have to worry about mats and glass unless they just want a larger piece of art on their wall.

These studies are done in a 9×12 sketchbook of Canson Mixed Media paper. By doing them in the spiral bound sketchbook, I’m working much faster and looser, without thought of a “finished” painting.

study at creek at 900

0910171305 at 900

Above is a 4×6 “thumbnail” done after one of the gouache studies (not shown here). After looking at the study, I realized I had the horizon line much to high, so I did this little sketch to imagine the change. This makes the rough color study more valuable to me as a working tool.

New Gallery

September 12, 2017

I’m delighted to announce that I now have gallery representation with The Mason Gallery in Mason, Texas. Owner Bob Terrell selected five paintings, three gouache and two acrylic.

back-gate-to-gods-country

“Back Gate to God’s Country”, an 11×14 gouache painting is one of the paintings now at The Mason Gallery.

 

Old Wood and Weeds

August 12, 2017

Here is the finished painting…

wagon 1 final

Old Wood and Weeds, 11×14, acrylic

As always, there are tweaks that could (and might) be made, but the work is done. I feel especially good about this one since it’s the first since the surgery. Before sketching this one out, I had not felt particularly motivated to sit and draw and paint for any length of time, which was strange because, aside from Nell, this is my life. It’s what I do.

This scene is actually a composite built from two reference photos. The setting is just down the road from where we live. The wagon has been in my files for years. In fact, it has been the subject of a couple of previous paintings. I think the combination came together well to create a scene one could stumble across while hiking.

It felt good to see this one come together.