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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Full- Tilt Pitchers (stylizing objects with pastel)

"Egyptian Pitchers" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper
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I liked these pitchers, and wanted to paint them. I was having trouble getting started because they looked so... orderly. Upon closer examination, I noticed that the necks on a couple of them tilted at a slight angle. This made them a little more interesting, and gave me an idea-- why not exaggerate the tilt to make them more fun to look at? So, instead of trying to faithfully render the pitchers, I rearranged them a little and increased the tilt on some of the lines.

I was enjoying the effect of the extra soft pastels on the toothy dark paper, and wanted to keep some of that soft light, so I left those areas alone. The original pitchers were all pretty neutral in color, so I added some brighter colored accents and complementary colors to liven them up.

I always think to myself that if I had a little more control and patience while I painted (and kept my touch a little lighter), I might end up with some nice soft, realistic pieces. But, I also wouldn't have as much fun-- and if I want realism, I can always stick with my reference photos. After finishing this piece, I'm glad I stylized-- these pitchers look like they have one last party left in them.

Got to briefly look through the FAA art show today-- I have two pieces in the show. If you're in the San Diego area in the next two weeks, this show has quite a few beautiful, unique pieces in it. Click here for more info:

To see more of my Egyptian inspired work, click here:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trapped in the vines (painting flowers)

"Entangled" 9 x 12 Oil and Chalk Pastel on Drawing Paper
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I've never been too excited to paint flowers just for the sake of making pretty flowers-- I usually need something a little more interesting about the flowers to inspire me. In this case, I was intrigued by these pink flowers who seemed to bloom despite the mass of vines around them-- they appeared somewhat trapped. It reminded me of how I feel sometimes, tied to so many things in life that I have little free time anymore. Yet, I know that if these flowers were cut and freed from the vines, they would wither and die. I think people are the same way-- for all the pressure we feel from our surrounding ties, we would not survive if we were cut completely free from those ties.

To paint this piece, I blocked in the darks and lights using a dark blue oil pastel. I focused mostly on the shapes of the bigger flowers and vines, and left the rest as lights and shadows. I added in various shades of green oil pastel for the leaves and shadows, and blocked the lights in with bright yellow oil pastel. After finishing the flowers with purple and pink oil pastel, I used olive-toned chalk pastel to blend the foliage. I went back over the layers of chalk to draw in more vines and accent a few leaves, and used dark blue shadows to bring out the flowers. I would have liked the flowers to be a little lighter, but it's hard to keep the lights when mixing oil with chalk pastel. I avoided black for the most part in this piece in the hopes of keeping the colors organic.
I used a reference photo taken at the Grand Tradition in Fallbrook, CA this summer on 4th of July. There were lots of pretty things to see there; it was quite an inspiring place for an artist.

Click here to see more of my botanical and garden art for sale!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Boo! It's another black cat.

"Nap, Interrupted" 7 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper
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Another little chalk pastel painting of a little black cat... this one was done on black paper, with blue and orange tones to show the fur patterns and highlights. I had to break down and add some black pastel as well, because the paper itself wasn't dark enough. I left a little of the black paper for the "lighter" areas.

This was another case of the eyes being the most important feature-- especially on a black cat, since it's so hard to see their other features in pictures and artwork. I figured this was a good time to paint black cats. I have so many great pictures that lend themselves to fall artwork, it's hard to know which ones to paint sometimes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Post #50: Painting Loose

There are times when I want to paint a little more realistically, or I have a definite image or concept in my mind that I want to explore. And then there are times (like last night) where I'm so tired, I don't know what it is I want to paint. Add to that my personal need to vary my subject matter and approach every few days, and it makes for some frustrating late night decision-making.

I knew I wanted to stay away from focusing on a single object (or pair of objects). I thought I might try a place, only I didn't have a clear idea of what I would like to represent in my painting. Then, I sat down in front of my pastels-- the extra soft chalk ones-- and noticed all the beautiful greens. I don't get around to painting much with green, having somewhat of an addiction to blues and purples. I remembered a photo I had taken of a small forest in Germany, which was almost entirely green. I decided I would try it with the oil and chalk combination, and began blocking in grass and trees with the oil pastels, focusing on the overall shapes and shades.

My favorite part of working with oil and chalk together is that point in the painting when I get to set the oils aside and rub in the chalk. I never know what kinds of textures are going to come out, but I know it's going to look interesting. There's plent of room for change, too, since I can go over the colors as much as I want with the chalk, and scratch the surfaces for texture. The result is below.

"Wald" 9 x 12 Pastel (oil and chalk)


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Monday, October 4, 2010

That Cold Fuzzy Feeling (more on how to combine oil and chalk pastels)

My first month in Germany provided me with a lot of opportunities for culture shock-- I think one of the strongest impressions I still remember was my first glimpse of what was once an East German town, but had become part of the newly reunified Germany.
I've been to L.A. many times, and I've never seen air as dirty as what the people in that town were breathing. Everything had a grayish-brown tint to it, and the dominating figure in the town was a factory with a tall smokestack. The tower in this painting was on the outskirts of the town, and I took a picture to remind me of the up-close view.
To create the abandoned look in this picture, I colored the tower in first with the orange-peach tone (oil pastel). I then blocked in some of the blues and darks (again with oil pastel). Once I had the basic shapes and values in, I went over the picture with chalk pastel, smearing it in as I went. For this piece, I did a lot of layering and scratching-- the underlayer of oil pastel allowed me to make scratches in strategic areas to let the peach color show through. I used white chalk pastel over some peach oil color to give the sky that fuzzy, less than clean feel.
9 x 12 Oil and Chalk Pastel on Paper
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fire-Breather (Abstract colors, or a dragon?)

Painting again with my little mini-me, we stuck to the bright colors in the initial watercolor. She even stomped on it with her little feet, which led to some worrisome scrubbing later during the clean-up time-- I was afraid the red paint was something else.

She scrawled in some shapes with the watercolor pencil, which I began to fill in with paint. She also added her own paint and water, and as the forms emerged, it began to look a little dragon-like. I decided to call it "Breath of Fire." I wanted to keep it abstract, though, so I didn't fill in lines to identify an actual dragon. My favorite part of the picture is the part with the two little red dots at the bottom-- they were from my daughter's brush, not mine.
"Breath of Fire"
9 x 12 Pastel and watercolor on paper
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