Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Show!

This summer I joined the Sunnyvale Art Club, which is a community group that meets on a monthly basis to watch painting demos and listen to lectures, as well as connect with other local artists.  Every year they host an art show at the local library and members can submit a few pieces for the show.

Although anyone in the club can display their work there, the show is judged by a trained judge/artist that we bring in from outside the group.

I'm very proud and excited to announce that my seagull painting won 3rd place in the watercolor category!  I stayed and received many compliments from people that came to see the show.  It was great.

Here's a link to a better photo of the painting:  "Bay-Gull"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Street Scene

Here's a scene I painted last night from a photo from my brother, Justin Evans.  Once he publishes it online I'll provide a link to it.

I imagine my style as being a lot looser and less specific.  It seems like it should be easier to paint like that, but I let myself get caught up in details.  I will paint this scene again soon and try to edit myself better.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Château de Combourg

I did this painting last night of a châteaux in France, using photo reference from my brother, Justin Evans.

I was able to take much better photos of a few of my paintings tonight and I'm very excited about it!  Here's a comparison (it's especially apparent if you right click and open the images in a new tab/window and then click on them to make them really big):

Good lighting and focus:

Late-night light bulb lighting:

I signed this painting in watercolor, which was a first.  I read a good article about the importance of signing your work.  I have felt like it would presumptuous for me to sign, but the article made some good points, and I want to be good at my signature by the time I'm making paintings I want to sign!  I practiced quite a few times, but I can see I should have used a lighter color.  It feels like my signature is leading the eye away from the painting.

Things I like about this painting (I'm trying to be more positive about my end results):  I love the colors and the softness of the sky and water washes.  I like the boat, but I think if I paint this again I'm going to try to get some of the grass and clear reflections like in my brother's photo.

You'll notice that my painting is based only loosely on the photo below.  That's because I wanted to paint something styled after another one of Joseph Zbukvic's paintings.  It's one of my favorites on his site, I just love the airy lightness of it.  Here's a link:  Joseph Zbukvic Inspiration.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bad News

Another thing we talked about in my last class was copyright violation.  I hadn't ever really thought that my paintings referenced from various photos and paintings I've found online could be considered copyright violations.  I knew I wasn't planning to sell any of them, and it seems extreme that anyone would take exception to my painting attempts.

I went back tonight and added links to the majority of my references, and I'm going to get in touch with a couple of the photographers that have their emails available.

From now on I'll try to paint mostly from my own photos, from someone that's given me permission to use their photos, or from unrestricted stock photos.  I do get a lot of inspiration and ideas from other watercolor artists, but I won't be directly copying any of their work, apart from the tutorials I complete.

Tonight I also did some research on giclee printers in my area.  A giclee is a high quality copy of original artwork.  Once I'm ready (if I'm ever ready) to start selling my art I can sell the original for a higher price, and then sell nice copies for a reduced price.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Good News

After my last class, my teacher said she thinks my work is ready to show and told me about an art show coming up in May in a nearby city.  She said she'd help me get something ready to submit.

I'm so excited!  And a little nervous.  =)

But now I've got some motivation to keep on painting regularly, even though I'm not in any classes right now.

Last night I painted this dog from a photo my brother's friend took in Belgium.  His name is Aaron Beddes and he's got some amazing work on his site HERE.

I see some problems, but as a whole I really like it.  I had an artist at work critique it for me and he gave me some good composition advice.  It's nice working with artists sometimes.  :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Week 8: Elephant

Here is the final version of the elephant I started in class last week.  I did some more detail on the eyes and then darkened his body and added some shadows.  Finally, I used some sharp scissors to scratch in the grasses against his dark body while the paint was still damp.

Adding some contrast really made a difference!

I wasn't able to finish this little guy in class, but I really like him so I'll hopefully put the final touches on tonight or tomorrow.

Reference found HERE

Monday, March 12, 2012

Class 7: Cat

I've been having fun painting animals... here's one of a tuxedo marked cat.  I can see things I'd change, but for tonight I'm just going to post it without the critique.

I used the photo here for reference, but I added the white myself:  Black Cat

Next week is my last class, and I'll be painting an elephant.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Class 6: Bird (Seagull)

The teacher demonstrated a parrot, but I knew I wanted to do something more subtle, so I chose to do a seagull instead.  It's been a while since I've loved a painting, but I really think this bird came out nice.

For critique, I'd say I would like to be more confident in my brush strokes.  I'm dabbing more than I'd like and it shows.  I also got too busy near the tail of the bird because I couldn't get it to come out right, and I feel like that's where my eye is going.

What I love is the texture of the wood, and the deep red of the tip of his beak, contrasted with the white of the paper behind the red.  I'm also glad I went with a subtle background.

CLICK HERE to see the seagull photo I referenced from Brian Wilson.  I stuck pretty closely to the bird shape, but I took a lot of liberties with the colors and shadows to make it more interesting and dramatic.

Next week:  Dog or cat

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Class 5: Red Rocks

Tonight the teacher had us paint a scene that included red rocks.  My reference was crazy over-complicated.  Instead of just sky and red rocks (which I should have done), I did a painting with sky, red rocks, trees, shrubs, and water.

I really hated my painting at the end of class.  I decided to work on it for a while longer after I got home and see if I could salvage it.  I'm still not proud of it, but it's much improved.  Too bad I didn't take a photo so we could compare.

One of the big problems are there are just too many brush strokes, especially in the bushes, so it makes it really busy.  Does cropping help?

I think it does help a little bit, but this painting definitely suffers from overworking.  Some of the rock textures aren't bad though, and rocks are very challenging for me, so that's progress.

HERE is the link to the amazing artist's painting I used as a reference for this class.

Stay tuned for next week, in which I'll attempt to paint a bird.

Class 4: Bridge

The teacher demo'd some techniques for painting stones and weathered wood, and suggested we use an old bridge as our subject matter.

I really liked my background, but wasn't a fan of my bridge.  There are some perspective issues I think, and part of the fence doesn't make any sense.  I did get a nice green though, and it's pretty tough to mix up decent greens.  I think if I spent another couple hours on this it could turn out pretty nice.

Link to the photo I referenced HERE

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Class 3: Lake Reflections (Homework)

Since I didn't actually do any reflections that night in the classroom, I decided to come home and give it another go.  I really love how this one came out.

I used a stock photo for this.  Here's the photo reference.

Next week: Old bridge

Class 3: Lake Reflections

This week we studied reflections on still water.  I got a little unfocused during class time and my water didn't end up having many reflections, oops!  It still came out okay, but I think the paint was a little thick, and it's too layered for my tastes, it seems a little muddy.

What's neat is to compare that to the painting I did over a year ago of the same scene.  Here's a link to my reference:  Tony Grove Lake, photo by Justin

Class 2: Value (Homework)

The other part of the class was to choose 3 primary colors on our palette and paint the same picture again, using just those 3 colors.  I didn't get to that in class, but I gave it a try at home.  I admit there were a couple of times I MAY have accidentally dipped my brush in an extra color, but it's mainly just 3 colors. I was also following along with a tutorial in a watercolor book for a lot of this:

Next, here's the value study which didn't come out as well as the one in class. I used burnt sienna and just couldn't get it dark enough to provide a real nice contrast.

Class 2: Value

There were two parts to this project, but I only got through part 1 during class.  The teacher provided a sketch and we had to paint it, using only 1 color.  I remembered something I learned in my other class with Bill about doing a quick value study in pencil to help plan ahead, and I did that first.

Then I did another quick thing to help, and tested undiluted versions of what I thought would be the darkest colors on my palette. Surprisingly, this blue was one of the richest, darkest colors in pure form.

I actually kind of love how this house came out. I got some really nice contrast between the darkest and lightest areas. The one thing I wish I could take back is the tree shadow. I should draw whole pages of trees and their shadows until I can make natural looking shadows.  Another problem is that what is supposed to be a driveway ended up looking like a hill.  Oh well!

Class 1: Dots

As usual, my first class wasn't my best effort. The project was to trace circles onto our paper and then fill them in using different styles and techniques.

For the first one I decided to do a dark to light background, and then contrast light to dark circles. I hated the background, it was so splotchy, but I kind of liked the overall effect.

I did another one really fast in class because I didn't want to critique my blotchy background. But after I got home I could see it was too pale, and I did it so quickly it was sloppy.

I did this last one the next night. I wanted to try to use some shading and see if I could give them some real depth. I also wanted to get more vivid colors. I still like the splotchy one best.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Art History

I was looking through some of my old college stuff and found a few watercolors I did.  In about 1996 I took a class called Teaching Children Art, and we spent a week on watercolor.  Here are the first watercolors I ever really did.  All of them were done on regular printer paper with a children's watercolor paint set.

#1:  I knew I wanted to figure out how to get the reflection of the sun or the moon on water.  As soon as I finished it I knew I'd messed it up though, and I am always quite amused now when I see the pillar of moonlight on the water.  However, even then, some of my edges where the brown and green run together are actually kind of nice.

#2:  Moon on Water again - In this one I realized that bodies of water don't look like this, that the shape of my lake was physically impossible.  Love the tree too.  :)
#3:  Got rid of the boundaries on my water, and tried some new colors.  One interesting thing that I tried a lot then was drawing on the paper first with yellow crayon and then painting over it.  The wax resists the water.  The teacher didn't ever mention anything about saving whites.  That would have been very helpful!
#4:  What's impressive to me about this all of these paintings is that I wasn't using any kind of reference, I was just making them up entirely.  I almost never do that now, in fact, I can't think of the last time I did.  I also see that I did a bit of a graduated wash for the sky this time, and the texture of the water is rather nice too, minus the white crayoned waves.
#6:  At this time, my grandma died, and I went to see my grandpa.  He lives next to a lake and has a bunch of windows that all frame a gorgeous water view.  When I got to his house (that my grandma had kept immaculate and beautiful her whole life) I saw that one of his deck chairs was in the living room.  This was very unusual, so I asked him about it.  He said that grandma always made him change his clothes when he came in from working with the cows (he's a rancher), but now that she was gone, he could just come in and sit down in his muddy clothes.  I had been studying Dali at the time, and decided to paint something for my grandpa in this style.  I titled it, "Making the Best of Things."
#6:  At some point, I picked up a step-by-step watercolor book and some tube paints (cheap ones) and some paper (cheap) and 2 brushes (expensive for me in university but still cheap), and started doing the examples.  I did this next one twice.
#7:  I actually still like this next one quite a bit.  You can see that the book was having a good influence on me, even though I didn't understand the "rules" I was following: things in the distance are more pale, I saved some whites, etc...  What amazes me now was how dark I was getting the trees in the front.  When I went back to watercolor 15 years later, getting dark, opaque colors would be one of my biggest challenges.

#8:  I'll add this one later when I can get a picture of it, but it was the final watercolor I did until I started taking classes again.  It was another step-by-step exercise, and I gave it to give my dad for Christmas. 

It was fun finding these old paintings and remembering my first exposure to watercolor. I could be sorry that I didn't pursue it more back then, but I know it wasn't the right time for it for me. Although I do love watercolor, I don't have that passion for it that so many artists have. I'm okay putting it aside for a while and coming back to it.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to start a new class and those are good motivation for me. As always, I'll keep updating this site with my progress.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Bunny

My 8-year-old niece has had a special friend since she was born:  The Bunny.  I saw her with it last year and asked if I could take a couple of photos of her and her friend, knowing I wanted to paint them together.  Once I started, it came together really quickly, and although I feel I probably should have pushed for a broader range of values, I got the Bunny's face just right, especially around the eyes.  I gave it to her a couple of weeks ago for Christmas and watching her open it was priceless.