Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - Color Studies from Photos

Most of you know how I dislike to paint from photos. However, when I'm forced to do so because of the weather, I like to use a little trick to spice up the color.

Below is a grid of four small color pastel studies I did based on a photo. (These images are from an exercise I did with a student yesterday; you can click on the image to see it larger.) The top left photo (#1) shows a sketch that I did in full-color directly from the photo. This is how most of us, I suspect, paint from photos. I tried to analyze the color as best I could. It was OK, but the color is a bit ho-hum.

In order to find a process that would make the color more exciting, I stepped back a bit to basics. First, in #2, I did a simple value sketch in four values. Next, in #3, I analyzed my value sketch and selected cool colors for the two dark values and warm colors for the two light values. I purposely selected colors that I didn't see in the photo. Finally, in #4, I made a copy of #3 and then used the colors I did see (the "local color") to layer over these. In my mind, #4 has richer, more interesting color than what is happening in the cut-and-dried #1.

To be sure, this is a gimmick - but sometimes coffee and rock-and-roll just aren't enough to liven up a rainy studio day!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Morning Greys

Oil on canvas 12x16 $250

I'm exploring more greys and earth tones lately and feeling good about the atmospherics. This started as a plein air study and was taken further back in the studio.

Please Email me for purchase information.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Betsey Nelson - Parade Day

Betsey Nelson - Parade Day 10x8 $400

This a piece where the thought was more on color and flow than on subject.
Design should be the end all be all in painting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Carol Marine - "Good Times Roll"

Carol Marine - "Good Times Roll" - 6x6in. - sold

This is the sort of thing I did when I first started painting small still life studies. Before I started buying panels, I was cutting up small peices of pre-primed canvas and taping them to a larger peice of plywood. I threw most of them away. I think that's a great, cheap way to paint when you're starting out and/or just want to experiment without feeling the weight of expensive materials and the fear of failure that comes along with it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - More Boats

"The Lucy B" 12x16, oil/canvas

Rainy weather drives us outdoor painters into the studio. When I'm in the studio, I sometimes find working from a single photo to be a dull exercise. I like to liven things up a bit by combining photos. Here are two photos I used for "The Lucy B," above. Can you spot the two elements I pulled from each?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Betsey Nelson - End Of The Day

Betsey Nelson-End Of The Day 7x5 $230
After a day of doing larger paintings it is nice to just quickly do a nice fluid small painting.
The thing is to keep it simple but strong.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - About Boats

"The Simone & Rachel" 16x20, oil, en plein air

I've been painting boats lately. Boats can be complicated - they're full of compound curves. And boats can be undependable, because they go up and down with the tides, and they are likely to vanish when the fishermen show up for work. But I enjoy them. I like their shapes, especially when I have a big canvas and can let my whole arm swing as I sketch in their curves. I also like their proportions and consider them a worthy challenge. It's a good feeling when everything comes together just right!

The best boats to paint are the ones that are beached. If you can catch them at low tide, they will stay beached - it's not until the tide floats them that there's any chance of them being put to work. Today, I went over to Lubec, Maine, to paint en plein air the "Simone & Rachel," which is exactly that kind of boat. I've seen it at low tide several times, and I reckoned that at today's low tide, it'd be there again.

Once I got it back to the studio, I spent the afternoon adjusting values and edges.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Libby Caldwell - The Brave Little Boxer

Oil on Panel, 18" x 24"
Had great fun painting this dog - especially his face. I handled the painting of the face with short squishy strokes - rather like the shape and feel of the face itself. The water was painted surprisingly fast using thin paint. I used a palette of 6 colors.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - Using Greys

Lately, I've come to love the use of grey, whether it's in oil or pastel. I've started using neutral greys to moderate strong color, rather than that color's complement. We've always been taught how a complement can neutralize a color. In my experience, the complement doesn't quite "kill" the color and, in fact, can often lead to an unintended color that doesn't quite fit the painting. Using a neutral grey, however, does the trick. It dulls the color perfectly. I suppose this is obvious to anyone who's academy-trained, but for me, this was a discovery and a real eye-opener!

For my pastel greys, I've been using the greys from the full Polychromos set and the set of 12 greys in the NuPastels. For oil greys, try the Gamblin "Portland" greys, which come in three values.

"Two Boats" 5x7, pastel

"Bernard Harbor," 8x10, oil

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vince Fazio - A Palette Knife Experiment

Oil on canvas 16x20 $300

This painting is almost all done with the palette knife, though it is a Sedona scene it somehow resonates as a colonial sort of thing.

Please Email me for purchase information.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Betsey Nelson-Full Sun

Betsey Nelson - Full Sun 12x9 oil $625
This is a quick start-painting. I usually work on something with a lot if intensity and get almost done (or done). I then leave the piece and come back with a fresh eye and try to clean up, strengthen or restate. Sometimes it needs nothing but a signature.