Tuesday, December 27

A Happy Painter

If you received any artful gifts during this season of light and giving, I hope you are as pleased as I am.

For one, it is wonderful to have family who indulges me in my interest in painting by selecting gifts that I will not only use but thoroughly enjoy.

I received two books, a DVD, a paint set, not one but two calendars, and a gift certificate to my local art supply store:

-The Watercolorist’s Answer Book edited by Gina Rath

-Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting by Sister Wendy Beckett

-Big Brush Watercolour DVD by Ron Ranson

-12-color Pan Watercolor Paint set

-Georgia O’Keeffe 2012 calendar

-Impressionism 2012 calendar

-Jerry’s Artarama gift certificate

If you participated in any gift-giving or gift-receiving, I hope you were as fortunate as I.

Happy Painting!

Sunday, December 18

Red and Green

Several Mixes of Red and Green
Red and green is a very popular color combination in many parts of the world this time of year. Depending on which online site you visit, you get a variety of reasons about the origins of the popularity of these colors. Whatever the reasons, it's clear that over the centuries red and green have come to symbolize a season.

For the artist, however, the combination of red and green can have a different meaning, and not just at this time of year.

For the painter it’s not just the two colors per se, but rather the combination of the two when mixed together.

Because they are opposite each other on the color wheel (with green being, of course, a mixture of blue and yellow), the two colors are considered complementary, which is why together they make a pleasing combination to the eye.

Perhaps even more importantly for the painter, red and green can be mixed to make many “darks” from which the painter can choose, depending on which red and which green is mixed. The number of darks available is equal to the vast number of possible combinations of reds and greens (not exponential but a fairly large number anyway).

Depending on which red and green are chosen, the combination can be a rich, warm dark or a steely, cool dark.  The redder the mixture, the warmer the color will be, and the greener (bluer really) the mixture, the cooler.

In addition, rather than using a tube black, I prefer mixing red and green to produce the warm or cool black needed for your painting. Preferably the black would be mixed from the same red, blue, and yellow in your palette to provide greater harmony in your painting.

Today’s image shows a few examples of the darks you can achieve just by mixing four different reds and greens. With just these four alone, you could also produce 12 additional darks. From top to bottom, they are:

Alizarin Crimson + Viridian

Cadmium Red Medium + Pthalo Green

Carmine + Chromium Oxide Green

Mars Violet + Hookers Green

 Happy Red and Green Painting!

Monday, December 12

A Mood for Still Life

Nothing better than a gray, overcast day to put me in the mood to paint a still life.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it seems still lifes are almost always indoors. They’re not, of course, but it seems many motifs are food on a kitchen/dining  counter or simply a tabletop with vase and flowers.

Maybe it’s the lighting on a dreary day that matches the quiet, somber mood of many still lifes.

The gauzy, shadowy lighting, which envelops rather than glares, may also be a reason.

Being chilly and damp helps a lot, too. The growing-shorter days and limited hours of light-to-paint-by add a more dramatic mood setting.

Makes me want to pull out a bowl along with some eggs (or grapes or fish or fowl) and whatever else, all on a countertop to paint a scene.

Either that or a porcelain vase filled with a flower in season, blue, of course,  set against a tapestry wall-hanging.

Now that’s the stuff of still-life painting on a late-autumn or winter day.

Happy Painting!

Monday, December 5

Be True to Your Art Self

I’m learning a painter should strive to be true to himself or herself.

I say this because I am always in the learning mode, and by that I mean I am always looking at, studying, reading up on, or trying out what other painters do or say you should do, supposedly to be a successful painter such as themselves.

At some point, however, and I’m not saying I have reached that point just yet, a painter must take a stand with his or her style, technique, palette, way of doing things, or whatever.

In a sort of Catch-22 way, a painter must be what he or she must be. If a painter studies and mimics and paints just like another painter, that’s all well and good. But at some point shouldn’t they say enough is enough? When have they relegated their own talent to nothing but a fond memory because they want to paint like Paul Klee or Clyfford Still or Grant Wood or whomever?
I doubt Picasso or Sargent ever gave many lessons.

So, when is your style, your style? When is your technique, your technique? When is your palette, your palette? You get the picture.

Stardom or even acknowledgment in painting is rare and seldom for almost every painter.

But to tie this up in a neat bow, is that what we painters are looking for—acclaim and celebrity? I like to think not, but it’s usually back there somewhere as I paint—“will this be the one that breaks out for me and achieves acceptance (stardom!) on a broad scale?”

What if it is or if it is not? Does it matter? Or can I just be true to myself and my paintings?

I’m trying.

(Happy Painting.)  

Friday, December 2

Exercise Your Imagination

(from a parade of Art Cars)
Although I know better, I tend to think of painting as the primary way of creating art.

 Certainly that is not true, and museums, galleries, and city streets are full of proof to the contrary. Drawing, sculpture, collage, installation or street art is pretty much equally represented.

So when I visit one of those art places or view art that may be considered public or see art anywhere for everyone’s consumption, I am reminded that art can be open-ended and inclusive and imaginative.

Every once in a while I will think about creating some other kind of creative work. I’ll see a piece of something in the garage that was leftover from some project or purpose and think, that could be thought-provoking or interesting or even beautiful.

Some odd pieces of Lexan, stray coils of copper wiring, sample chips of Formica, some steel wool all become ingredients for an artwork. I will putter and piece together a prototype of something that may make an interesting shape or a light-catching form, to me anyway.

In my mind it becomes a standalone centerpiece in a park or a slowly revolving mobile greeting visitors to a public display of art.

And why not? Imagination is the germ that triggers us to create in all sorts of ways. “They” say imagination needs to be exercised like a muscle to stay in shape. I admit that I don’t give mine enough exercise on a regular basis.

Perhaps I limit myself too much. I think in painterly, two-dimensional works of art. I think in terms of value and color and contrast. I usually like to stick to paper and canvas and acrylic and watercolor.

But on the days when I venture out to tinker with other possible art forms, when I am giving my imagination a good work-out, on those days I am not limiting myself.

I hope you aren’t either.

Happy Painting and Creating.