Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter Break Week

This week we didn't have class because the school district was out for Winter Break. We took a trip to southern California and spent an afternoon at Laguna Beach. I did this first painting on a bench overlooking the beach. It's so gratifying to paint in public because people are so impressed. It was especially nice when I showed the finished painting to the friends I was saying with and they both gave a matching gasp of awe and amazement. I love you guys!

I wanted some practice painting waves, so I painted this next one that night, but from a reference:

I got a journal for Christmas with higher quality paper in it, and I've been wanting to paint and write in it, so today during my lunch break I did this quick sketch based on the previous two studies.

Each of the three have something that makes it better than the other two, but I don't think there's a clear best. I really like the shadows in the first one, but the boardwalk is out of scale and the wrong perspective. The second has the best wave, but the colors are weak, and the third has the best contrast (lights and darks), but the composition is unbalanced and it was just too rushed.

Hopefully I'll be able to practice painting waves until I get the hang of them. Stay tuned for my next class where we'll be learning about and painting flowering bushes or trees.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just Reference for the weekend

I didn't paint these. But I like them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Week 4 - Birch Trees

I was a little skeptical when I heard what this week's project was to be. I've had so much trouble painting scenes of the outdoors that I was worried it was going to be another art debacle like my in class rock painting.

First I searched online for and found My Reference. I liked the whiteness of this scene with the bold contrast.

The lesson was to use masking fluid to paint over the trees to keep them white, and then remove the masking and do some detail work on the trunks and bark.

I didn't have masking fluid and decided to use blue painter's tape instead, which worked out well. Especially because I could rearrange my "trees" on the paper before I started painting or sketching and was able to envision the composition more easily.

First, I did a practice run at home. I waited until the last minute so I didn't have time to finish before class, but I did prove that the painter's tape could save the whites just as well as the masking fluid.

I wasn't able to finish completely during the hour and a half at class, but here's a photo showing how far I got. I was very pleased and even got some sincere compliments during the critique which was nice.

The next day during lunch I finished it, and although I like it better finished than unfinished, I wish I had kept with the simple tree trunk patterns and "less is more" on the bark. I wanted to try to use some more colors and tie them in with the trees in the background, but these new colors feel a little out of place to me and spoil some of the dramatic contrast between the lights and darks. I also still need a lot more practice painting tree shadows.

Overall though, I am so happy with how this painting came out!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Week 3 - Rocks

Today the instructor gave us a demo on how to paint rock textures. I missed the first 10 minutes but it looked like she did some scraping and some salting. I was sorry to miss the scraping, since I haven't had much luck with that so far.

I picked my rock subject last night. It's a really nice rocky outcropping in Kinsale, Ireland. I especially love the sky.

I did a quick practice painting during lunch:

I felt it lacked color but some of the shadows were starting to take the form of rocks. The grass was pretty flat and I didn't have time to try for any details. It was a good study though, and better than what I did in class.

Tonight during painting time in class I did this:

I was really unhappy with this effort. I totally overworked it, the edges are all wrong, and it's very muddy. A big part of my problem was that I worked on it in sections instead of doing the whole thing from start to finish. I'd take one part from light to dark and then do another. It made the whole thing lack cohesion, and when I tried to add it later I felt like I just ended up adding muddy paint. The sky is a little bit nice, but on the pale side.

I was so frustrated by my class painting that I came home and started a new painting. This turned out much nicer, though it still has a lot of places that aren't very rock or grass-like. I am going to have to paint a lot of rocks and foliage before I get the hang of them. I do like this painting though, definitely the best of the day:

Also, just for the record, the colors in the paintings don't show up very well in my photos. Probably the late night lighting. At some point I will take photos during the day and replace these.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Week 2 - Beach Scene

During our second week of class the teacher (Sharon) showed us some techniques for painting trees. I will hopefully do some practice this week on trees and post them here. In particular she demonstrated how to paint palm trees.

During our individual time we each painted a beach scene. It was really neat to see the different end results from everyone. Some painted tropical beaches, others painted night beach scenes.

I chose to paint a scene I painted last year as part of an assignment to add elements to a sky. Here is that first painting from last fall:

Below is the new painting I did this week in class. I thought the sky turned out really well, and although the plants are not great, they are still an improvement over most of the other plants I've done. Overall I think this is one of my nicer paintings, especially considering I did it from start to finish in an hour.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Class - Shapes

I started a new class last week. It is fun and an interesting change of pace from my previous class. On one hand I think maybe it would have been better if I'd taken this one first because it is focusing more on the basics. But on the other hand, I am getting a lot more out of the class and doing much better work than I would have done without it.

I really like the format a lot. It's structured, and our painting time is very directed. Every week we're supposed to bring in some reference to paint from, and we have the whole list in advance. We start off with the teacher doing a demo for an hour. She does a painting from her own reference and shows us some techniques that we're likely to be able to use during our time.

After the teacher's demo we have an hour to paint, and we're expected to finish in that time. During the final 20-30 minutes of class we regroup and the teacher critiques all of the paintings in front of the class. I really like that my painting time is so limited and directed. It means I have to work fast and don't have time to overwork it. I can already see improvements. I just need to get motivated now to do some practicing at home during the week.

Here's my painting from our first class. The baseball looks a lot rounder in real life! I think the angle of my paper in the photo is making it look misshaped.