Saturday, April 22

Impressionist Portraits Series 4

Edgar Degas (from Public Domain photo)
Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 10 in/20 x 25 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2017
Another in my portrait series of the Impressionists--this one of Edgar Degas. If you recall, in January I attended a great Degas exhibition at the MFAH--http://orbisplanis.blogspot.com/2017/01/a-degas-exhibition.html

If you want to put your painting skills, not to mention your patience, to a test, try a portrait!

Thursday, April 13

Another Bluebonnet Painting

Yes, Another Bluebonnet Painting
Acrylic on Arches Paper
26 x 18 in/66 x 46 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2017
Well, it had been four years since I painted a bluebonnet, so disregarding my blog post from 2013, I went ahead and painted another one. I hope you enjoy the view of the Texas Hill Country.

Monday, April 3

Impressionist Portraits Series 3

Gustave Caillebotte (from Public Domain Photo)
Oil on Canvas Panel
 8 x 10 in/20 x 25 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2017

Another painting in the Impressionist portraits series---Gustave Caillebotte


Tuesday, March 21

Impressionist Portraits Series 2

Berthe Morisot (from Public Domain Photo)
Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 10 in/ 20 x 25 cm
Copyright 2017
Another portrait in my series of the Impressionists.

Sunday, March 5

Impressionist Portraits Series 1

Young Monet from Carjat
Watercolor on Paper
Impressionists Portrait Series No. 1
Copyright 2016 Byrne Smith
As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, I was studying portraiture. This is the first in my series of Impressionists portraits. This is a re-post from my blog honoring Monet's birthday, November 14.

Friday, February 17

Keep Warm with a Painting

Sand 'N Sea
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
10 x 8 in/25.5 x 20.3 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2017
Can't think of a better way to help keep warm in the middle of winter than to paint a warm-weather motif. I painted this beach scene to warm up--just thinking about the sun and sand while I painted took the chill away.

Try it and let it warm you up...

Best,

Monday, January 30

Paint a Freebrush* Watercolor

Kitty Cats
Watercolor on Paper (framed)
7 x 5 in/18 x 13 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2017
Today's blog is a follow-on to one posted right after the holidays; that is, painting a family member's pet (or pets) using freebrush,

In case you missed that one, *freebrush is simply using your brush in the same way an artist uses a pencil, pen, or whatever, to draw freehand. Rather than first sketching or drawing (or transferring, or projecting) an image, you simply begin to paint after very carefully and thoughtfully looking at and evaluating your motif.

Just so you know, Kitty Cats was painted from a combination of reference photos.

Does freebrush sound daunting? Well, it can be, especially at first. But as I said, with experience comes control. I hope you find a looseness and freedom in painting this way that you haven't experienced before.

Best,

Saturday, January 14

A Degas Exhibition

Part of the Exhibition was
L'Absinthe by Edgar Degas--
 its original title was Dans un CafĂ©
I am so lucky.

So lucky last week to have visited the largest Edgar Degas exhibit in 30 years and the only showing of Degas: A New Vision in the U.S.

So lucky to have the Museum of Fine Arts Houston relatively nearby--only a few freeways away--with its generous funding and a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.

What a surprising and excellent exhibit of Edgar Degas' works of a lifetime. Although most of us probably only think of Degas primarily as a painter in pastel (and a few oils) of ballerinas as they rehearse and perform their ballets, his body of work encompassed much more than that.

The exhibit presented his work chronologically; that is, from his beginning historical painting in the 1850s-60s to landscapes, racehorses, brothel scenes and New Orleans in the 1870s to his ballets and theaters in the 1870s-80s to his working women in the 1880s to his final years painting jockeys and more landscapes.

What was surprising, to me anyway, was that he also produced his one and only famous sculpture, The Little Fourteen-Year-Dancer, which was prominently on display. Also surprising at the end of his career was his artistic work in the new medium of photography, which showed many of his cropping techniques from his ballet dancer paintings.

So lucky to have seen the beautiful exhibit before its close on January 16. Hope someday you will be so lucky and see his work up close, too.

Monday, January 2

Learn to Paint Freebrush*

An Example of Painting Freebrush - Three Plums
Watercolor on Strathmore Watercolor Paper
12 x 9 in/30.5 x 23 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith
Well, it's a new year. Time for  new starts and trying out new things and expanding your horizons and all that.

Painters really need to do those things from time to time to get out of the painting doldrums. We tend to get stuck in our well-worn ruts and caught up in our same ol' ways of doing things. We forget that creativity is the exploring of the fresh and the new.

In that context, I propose a "new way" to paint or at least it may be new to a lot of painters. I decided to call this "new way"--freebrush, for lack of a better term, although it's probably not "new" or a "way."

Be that as it may, * freebrush is--painting much the same way as an artist draws freehand. That is, you just paint with a paintbrush rather than draw with a pencil or pen or charcoal or marker or whatever you use. You don't first sketch, or outline, or trace, or project what you're going to paint.

You just freebrush. You look very carefully and thoughtfully at what you're going to paint. You find a starting point, any old place will do, but I suggest the focal point. You pick up your brush and carefully deliver your stroke in just the right place--lay it down and then DON'T MESS WITH IT. You do that over and over until you believe the painting is finished (a subject of another whole blog).

I did not say it was easy. I said it may be a "new way" to paint for some. If you can draw, you can freebrush, and, conversely, if you can't, you're going to have a heck of a time of it. I think most painters would say that good painting begins with good drawing.

Today's simple painting of three plums may give you a place to start. Simple subject, simple background (and foreground), simple setup. This is watercolor, but any medium will do. I used just two colors, French ultramarine and alizarin crimson (hue). Just look and then freebrush it.

With experience comes control. You may find, as I did, that it's hard to go back to painting the "old way" because I feel like I was just painting within the lines. This reduces some of that rigidness and lets you paint freely (or more freely).

But to bring this full circle, learning how to draw and/or freebrush in the new year should get you out of those painting doldrums if nothing else.

Happy New Year from The Painting Life.


Tuesday, December 20

Paint a Pet! Happy Holidays from The Painting Life

Boston Terrier
Watercolor on Arches Paper
5 x 7 in/12.7 x 17.7 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2016
Well, I've been busy this past month. I decided I would concentrate on learning how to paint portraits. I must tell you that there are few things in painting (or in life) more challenging than portraits. It tests all of your skills as an artist, a painter, and more.

I'm sure I would find studying under a contemporary, professional portrait painter to be the most rewarding. That's not really my style. I'm more of the self-taught type. So that's what I did. I searched and researched online and on YouTube and found sites with John Singer Sargent, Aaron Westerberg, Ben Lustenhouwer, Matt Philleo, Konstatin Sterkhov, to name a few, and others.

I'm still learning and not ready to debut any work. You may have noticed one portrait I worked on, which was in my last blog post. It was a watercolor portrait of a young Claude Monet from an 1865 photo by Carjat. What fun to paint.

Since it's the holiday season and a time for gift-giving, I guess you could say I painted a portrait, of sorts--a portrait of a family member's pet. I think it makes a great personal gift and one that will hopefully be loved by the recipient for years.

Happy Holidays from The Painting Life!