Thursday, March 29, 2012

In Defense of a Friend and Mentor and a Darn Good Artist

   Most of you appreciate the fact that I am a perfectionist in some things, my art being one of them, the others being my horse, and the quality of my care in my profession. I admit my car looks like it lost a fight with a load of hay, and my house is almost always ready for Halloween, with dust and cobwebs. But they aren't that important to me.
   The only way to really improve A LOT is to work like the devil under the guidance of a more experienced practitioner. Anne Zoutsos is my mentor in animal portraiture.
Not the best model for a portrait.

We created this painting of Cindy.
   I first "met" Anne when working on a difficult portrait [above] for a friend.  I loved Anne's wit and humor, and most importantly that she was totally frank with her painting opinions. I ask for it - I get it! I have seen my work improve very noticeably from the several "sessions" we have conducted over the ether.
   Perhaps I seemed to be griping - only in jest. And the nickname I gave Anne is from the original 1930's Flash Gordon movies. [No, I'm not that old.] If you watch them, you'll understand the joke. 
   I can only say I am very fortunate to have Anne as a mentor and a "far-away" friend. And if you want to give your eyes a thrill, I strongly recommend you visit her site.

It's a Good Day for Ducks Out There ...

I love this older painting. As I slogged out to feed Bruno before work, I thought ... it IS a good day for ducks. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ming the Merciless Strikes Again!!!

What I just sent to Anne ...

What Anne saw as needing work ...


Well, it seems that the Awesome Ming is back in top, fighting form. Earlier today, I received a note with an annotated photo, both describing her criticism of the portrait. And she's absolutely right!!!  I thought, after all the agonizing over this portrait, you might want to see the critique. And I will go back to the painting ...

As ever, your comment are always most welcome!

What Would Happen If ...

The last two are at the same stage, just different lighting. The bottom one is daylight, and somewhat more true to life.  Looking at it, the painting seems suitable for a children's book illustration. I think I want it gloomier and more eerie. So I am thinking of placing some grayed wash wet-in-wet on the entire background and into the top of the tree. That's where the "what would happen if ... " comes in. It's probably my favorite phrase, leading to all sorts of different ideas.
Again, Buddy's portrait is under Anne's scrutiny. Interestingly, She asked me to critique it, and send my thoughts along with the touched up photo. It was an illuminating exercise.
One of my sisters, Steph - she of the animal rescue and all the family portraits, suggested I ask her husband about doing a [some?] painting for his office. He is a "higher up" with one of the large American banks here in Vancouver, and the work would get good exposure. So I spoke to John; he was agreeable. Now I have to get some ideas going for paintings with a strong Vancouver theme.
Anyway, that's what's happening in my part of the world.

As ever, your comments are MOST welcome!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Weather Is Conducive to Painting ... or ... When Will the Decent Riding Weather Arrive????

It is SO close, I can taste it!
No ... I have not been eating pigment ... yet!

Close up - it is almost hair by hair now.


Stage 1 of haunted house.

I painted the shaded side of the house with a similar mauve, with a bit more blue.

First washes are on roof and chimney.

First w/w wash is on the foreground.

As of now, I have accentuated the faces and some of the surrounding trunk.  I also placed a w/w wash of indanthrone blue in the background, as well as a w/w wash on the right side of the trunk.

I must admit I am going a bit squirrelly with lack of riding, and I'm sure His Nibs is, too. I didn't see it [I was at work] but apparently he went completely ballistic on Friday, charging around in his paddock and even rearing. Let's just hope he doesn't decide rearing is a fun thing to do under saddle, too!!!

As ever, I welcome your comments!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Onward ...

I left off here ...

 I have the moss "placed" but not finished as to depth and color.

I've started playing with the faces in the stump.
I am very much enjoying bringing out the faces from the amorphous shapes of color, and doing similar painting with the background. Now I must decide whether to leave the background woods soft and less intense, or to darken it. Also, something must be done with the lower right. But I'll bring the tree closer to completion before I decide.

This was Buddy, as sent to Anne, aka Ming the Merciless.

This was Anne's response.

Basically, I'm softening here, adding edges there, darkening, lifting, and adding a LOT of little tiny hairs. You can see where I've darkened the lower left side of his face and neck. Now I must soften, and bring a bit more of the darkened area towards the middle of his face. I am doing a lot of dry-brush, and am pleasantly surprised how it gives texture without looking streaky.

As ever, please feel most welcome to leave your comments.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This Painting Is a BLAST!

Starting from the sketch ...
I modified it a bit, exaggerating some areas of the trunk to create "faces".

First very wet wash - aureolin, quin. burnt orange and cobalt blue.

The background I painted again, w/w, with the same colors. I thought to do the background  in the "softer" colors. and save the staining colors for the trunk.

Here I'm starting to give the background some depth and  verisimilitude.

It is so much fun, in a watercolor-y way,  wetting a segment and then dropping in some colors , letting them do their thing.

I am still playing with the background. I have also placed the "faces" to get an idea of where and how to create the passages of interest. I've also started painting the moss, again w/w with aureolin, quin. gold, quin. burnt orange and the blue shade of phthalo green.
As always, please feel most welcome to leave your comments - LOVE THEM!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Paint FLYING Everywhere!

I think you've seen the sketch ...

It looks like I am getting the hang of effective w/w washes. The colors are suitably lurid together - aureolin, quin. violet and cobalt blue.

I used the purply mixture to start shadowing the hose.

Reference photo, from one of my walks in the nearby woods.

This morning, I was looking at a sketch I did last night. It looked irresistible, so I made some minor adjustments, and put it on watercolor paper. 

Again, I've done a very w/w wash to start, using cobalt blue, quin. burnt orange and aureolin.

As ever, I love to read your comments. Please feel free to leave a note!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Moving Right Along ...

The anthurium was starting to look overworked at an earl stage, so I took it off the board. Then, I thought I should play with a bit. I tried a background a la Arleta Pech - didn't work. Maybe I'll try it again in the future.

I did two sketches of the haunted house, with the lighting coming from different directions, to determine which would look more ominous. I think the bottom photo definitely looks spookier.

And I received Anne's "brutal" criticism. I don't think there is anything there that I don't completely agree with, and some I saw before I sent it to her. I just needed some expert advice before I committed to it's completion.
As ever, please feel free to leave your comments. Love them!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

While Waiting for THE WORD on Buddy ...

Some aureolin and quin. burnt orange, w/w.

Several glazes on the flowers - quin. coral, quin. burnt orange and alizarin crimson.

Getting very serious with the alizarin crimson.

I'm painting the leaves, again w/w, with aureolin and phthalo blue. I cannot remember the last time I used that blue, but it seems to be making a nice green underpainting.

I took this at Western Gardens a couple of years ago. I'll have to take my camera there again soon when they open for the Spring.

I started another painting, while waiting for a critique from Anne Zoutsos.  Anne is a friend I met blogging,  and she does fabulous animal portraits,  mostly in oils now,  but at one time she did a lot of dog portraits in watercolor.  She very kindly helps with a no-holds-barred criticism of my work.  I deeply appreciate Anne's honest and forthright words.  In jest, I send my email photos with a note to "Ming, the Merciless" - the super-villain in the old Flash Gordon movies. Unfortunately, Anne has a bad cold, and is coughing all night, so I must be patient,  and wait for The Word from Anne.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wheat Belly

I think I have the link established now. My apologies. And thank you, Sadami, for pointing out my omission. It is a most interesting read, as well as the other article I posted by Dr. Eades.
Wheat Belly

Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers

A few years ago, I became quite interested in the question of the "beginning of civilization". From my reading, I gather that somewhere in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates River area - the Fertile Crescent - a change was made over from hunter-gatherer to cultivator, and with it, the development of larger social groups of an hierarchical nature. The archeological site in Turkey, at Gobleki Tepe, is proving to be a fascinating find. It is over 11,000 years old, and appears to be the first organized effort at building a large community site.
The development of larger social groups could only come about with access to a food source. That's the connection to cultivated grains, especially wheat. From there, I have been following an information trail to the effects of a largely wheat-based diet, and on to the hybridization [and other modern manipulation] of our food crops. It really is quite fascinating, and a bit frightening, too. Along with our large consumption of wheat products have come a host of ailments, and with "modern" wheat, the effects are not even known.
Anyway, I thought I would take a diversion from painting. I hope you enjoy the read and the mind-jolt.

Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

oh boy, it's snowing ... SO I'M PAINTING

I finally got Buddy to the stage where I could remove the masking.  Some of the last black w/w washes were rather intimidating, black paint oozing everywhere. I know that's why I had been procrastinating; I did not want to start Buddy the VIII. I think it's OK, but needs a lot of finishing.

I left Missy here ...

I started adding depth to her body. I may have to be more intense with  hue, as the head and neck look so wrong now. Looking at it, I thought some pink, blue and burnt orange, delicately applied would help.

The weather is most un-Spring-like; most days we have some snow falling but not staying. I feel so sorry for Bruno, out in his somewhat soggy paddock. I know it's not doing his feet any good, so I've started putting his hay in the stall where it's dry; for some reason he's not thrilled with the arrangement, or just unused to it, but he'll be fine. It's too miserable to ride outside, so I've taken to hand-walking him in the park, where the footing is hard. That way, we BOTH get some exercise! :)