Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cinder is finished - I think

Cinder is finished - I think. In this last session, I was looking at what kind of feeling her portrait conveyed. The feeling I got from her, intuitively and from her photos, was a feeling of relaxation. Yet, looking at the portrait, some of my trusted feedback-givers and I were getting the sense that, rather than being relaxed, she was about to jump up - coming out of that relaxed state into an on-alert state, watchful and ready for action. Thinking about where that feeling might be coming from, my husband suggested that her shoulders were a bit raised; I noticed, also, that I had the angle of her elbow more vertical than it should be. So I changed that angle, lowered and smoothed her topline, and shifted the stresses in her shoulders. I believe that it worked.

I also worked more on her eyes, especially that less-finished left eye (remember, to us viewers it's the right-side eye, but it's HER left), and on her face; darkened her left ear a bit and brightened the top of Foofer, behind her ear.

Finally - I signed and dated this painting. Yay! I may still see some little things that I want to tweak or bring out, but essentially, I feel like I've reached my goal.

Here's a detail of her face. I really like the way her face and head have taken shape and taken on color.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cinder: more work on her head - WIP #14

Today's work on Cinder: more detail and filling in, on her head; a lot of work on the blanket fringe; and some refining on her right elbow (front leg) and hind knee. It's getting very close. A bit more work needed on her eyes. Her left eye is still not as developed as her right. I think the fringe needs a little more detail, too, but maybe not much. I might work some more on her hind toes; not sure about that right now.

Then it will be time to turn my back to the painting, close my eyes, and spin around fast to look at it; do some squinting; and anything else I can think of, to get a sense of what last things it needs, for balance and aliveness.

Here's a detail of her face.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cinder: working on her head - WIP #13

Recent work has been mainly on Cinder's head, and sometimes it seems to go very slowly, and be very subtle. But I feel like her eyes are coming to life, and her nose is looking good. I did some work on the fringe, as well.

It's coming, it's coming... (Did I ever mention my - favorite - art teacher, in high school summer school, who said that to me every day for six weeks? "It's coming, it's coming..." I wanted to yell, "Yeah, but when's it going to BE there - be done???")

Here's a closeup of Cinder's head. Work on eyes, ears, nose. I have started to fill in the dark areas around her right eye (on our left, looking at it), but not much on her left eye yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cinder: WIP #12

Okay. Work on Cinder's face today, as well as smoothing out her chest, shoulders and right foreleg; and some work on Foofer. Also worked some more on Cinder's hind toes, and her hind feet are approaching finished.

Here's a closer look at Cinder's face, and Foofer. When I started on her eyes, she looked like some red-eyed were-dog; now, with a little detail, they're starting to look more like sweet dog's eyes. I've been modeling the head shape, refining her muzzle, and shaping her ears. Foofer's looking pretty finished, and seems to have a velvety look. I'm not sure how that happened, though of course I'm happy about it; I just hope it's not because my photography today is not totally in focus. I added just a glimpse of Cinder's blue collar. I like the way the shape and colors of her head are looking, and I think the end is in sight. It seems to be very helpful to be able to look at photos of the painting, onscreen; it gives me a better sense of how well the painting holds up as a whole.

One of the major parts of this still to be done is the fringe of the blanket. But aside from that, it's getting close.

Cinder: getting ready to work on her head - WIP #11

Yesterday I did a few touches - cleaning up some window frames; enhancing some highlights, including along Cinder's back; some work on her right hind foot and leg, including highlights, and making her toes bigger - ah, those feet! Nothing like dog paws... And a bit of underlighting in her haunch.

Mostly, though, I spent my time yesterday getting ready to get down to business on Cinder's face. I pulled out all the photos I have of her; for months I have been looking at just the one I'm using in this portrait, but now I need some of the information in those others, especially a better look at her eyes. I picked the one with the clearest view of her eyes; I also decided I'd like to have a clearer view of her head from my main photo, so I scanned it, enlarged it, and messed with it in Photoshop, and likewise with that photo of her eyes, and printed out copies. In the process, I discovered Photoshop's dodge and burn tools...

This is the good photo of Cinder's eyes. What a lovely forehead! This also gives me a good look at her nose...

This is the Photoshopped detail of Cinder's head from the main photo. It's still kinda funky, but at least seeable, and will be very helpful. Now I feel ready to really work on Cinder's face, especially that crucial component, her eyes.

I think my painting may look brighter in this post; if so, that's not a change in the painting, but the result of my deciding to take a chance on the change Photoshop makes to my photo when I use the Auto-Levels feature. I'm not sure if this gives a more accurate color cast, contrast and range, or not, but I'm giving it a try.

Well, on to work...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cinder again, WIP #10

End of the day today. I've been smoothing out her back, doing more work on her toes - I love how those dog feet are starting to feel three-dimensional; working on the sun and shadow and the highlights on her back leg... There's starting to be a clear distinction between sunlit and shadowed areas, clearest in her back half, but still needing to make more visual sense.

Here's her hind foot, with her toes taking shape. I enjoy catching the feel of her pads...

Here's a closer look at her tail - a much better curve now, and fully rounded. Above her back, I've defined the window frame, and darkened the background a bit to bring out her sunlit back. I think this darkening also makes the window look more reflective.

So that's it for today.

Cinder again, WIP #9

This is yesterday's work, and some of today's. Cinder's tail is taking shape, her feet are emerging, and I've done more work on her hind legs. I've also started doing the fringe of the blanket.

I photographed Cinder twice today, partly because, after some work, I was unsure what to do next, and also because I felt like being able to see the painting in a photo, as if it were someone else's, would help me see it, and what it needed, more clearly.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cinder again

Latest work on Cinder: more work on the blanket, the pillow and Foofer, and work on Cinder's second stuffed animal; and more work on the view out the window, and the window frame. I've also improved the curve of her tail tip, and added a reflection in the window.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Brillante Weblog Award - a hoax, and meaningful, at the same time

So, my internet friend and fellow artist, Dean H. of Deano's Den, has nominated me for this award, the Brillante Weblog Premio! I am so excited - thank you, Dean!!

It is true, I have since found out that there is no such award; but you know what? I'm STILL excited!

First of all, Dean, whose work I love and admire, picked me; I looked at his other six picks, and feel like I'm in very good company. Hoax or not, to be chosen by Dean feels like a special honor. As Dean says, "This is very much like Tag. It helps us to become familiar with previously undiscovered blogs." (There's a good post about this on Michele's blog With Heart and Hands, a Quilting Journey; she suggests we use it in fun or don't use it at all.) So, I know there will be no Award, only nominations; but the artists I've picked are all people whose work I admire, and whose blogs I enjoy. Maggie and Duane in particular just fill me with awe, and the others amaze me as well - so check 'em out! It is my great pleasure to link to Dean's blog, and to the seven below.

By the way, I have one more artist I would love to nominate, if she had a Blog; her paintings are some of my all-time favorites, and kind of guiding lights for the direction I want to go; so here she is: Alexandra Eldridge

The rules are that if the person receiving the award decides to participate, they must:

1. Put the logo on their blog
2. Add a link to the person who gave them the award
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Add links to those blogs on yours
5. Leave a message on each of the blogs nominated.

MY rules (I feel I can make my own, since there's no real award) are: participate if you'd like to; nominate as many or as few other blogs as you'd like, and link to them if you're willing; and leaving a message on their blogs seems like a good idea. And how can you do this without putting the logo in? But you don't have to.

My nominees are:

1. Greywaren Art: Maggie Stiefvater. Maggie is magnificent, amazing, extraordinarily productive, and tremendously helpful and sharing with other artists and writers. Her blog includes not just nearly daily art, but also long written posts, entertaining or informative or BOTH. Besides drawing and painting, and keeping her blog up, she has written a published novel, about to be released; she writes about the processes of art and writing, and, in detail, about the business of getting published, showing art, and so on. AND she has two toddlers, and I'm sure she's a wonderful mom - how does the woman do it all???

2. Duane Keiser. The original daily painter - or one of them - and the king of them all, as far as I'm concerned. When I first started looking at the Daily Painters website, and thinking of trying to join them, Duane's work was so awesome I was almost too intimidated to try. Wow!

3. Grainne O'Reilly's A Daily Painting. She hasn't posted much lately, but I still like her work a lot, especially the abstracts, which I don't see much of among the daily painters.

4. Robert Pauly. Some of the sweetest, most beautiful cats I've seen, in lovely juicy strokes; especially his Maine Coon Cat, Izzy.

5. A Painting a Day by Laura Wamsgans. I enjoy both her landscapes and her people, paintings full of sunshine and a playful spirit.

6. Painted Plums: Cheryl Pass. This is another blog I enjoy for Cheryl's writing as well as her paintings. Right now she has a gorgeous, scrumptuous painting of a Jack Russell terrier and a red oriental rug.

7. Daily Paintings, by Dustin Boutwell. He also hasn't posted in a while - is everyone on vacation? - but I do enjoy his style. ALMOST as intimidating to me as Duane Keiser (it was Duane's Luna Moth that really knocked me for a loop).

So check 'em out, if you haven't before!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Artwork in my dining room

Here's a set of framed pieces hanging in my dining room; I love this group, the combination of pieces with their matting and framing, the way the shapes and colors go together. The middle one is, of course, The Break in the Forest. The top piece is a linocut called August Spots, and the bottom one is a linocut hand colored with colored pencil, called The Young Unicorn Addressed by the Quizbird.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And still more on Cinder

This was my work on Cinder yesterday. Not a lot, I think - it was one of those days when I don't feel sure of my concentration, so I focussed on small, straightforward things. Some of these were filling in her front paws; starting the pink stripe of the blanket; a little more work on a hind paw.

She's reaching the point where I'm starting to be able to envision her finished (sorry, I start referring to the painting as if it's the dog herself), but I have no idea how much longer she'll take. Could be next week; could be three weeks, could be six weeks... More likely still is that with another week or two of work, she'll have reached the point of being "almost finished," which is likely to mean another two or three sessions, doing little fiddling things; sitting and staring at the painting, listening to the feeling of what's right and what's not quite there yet; putting it away, going away for a few days, coming back and looking again; turning my back on it and then whirling around suddenly, trying to take it by surprise (don't laugh, it actually helps). (Of course, it's actually my own vision of it that I'm trying to take by surprise - anything to try to see it afresh.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More on Cinder

Here's Cinder's progress as of yesterday. I've worked on her face; I'm happy with her developing look; and more of her body is getting smoothed out, and her tail. I have noticed that I really need some orange in her, not just some mixture of earth colors - burnt or raw sienna, yellow ochre, even Indian red - but real, honest to gosh vermilion red plus cadmium yellow, as a base, to get that real warm sunny color on her flank.

I also shifted the color of the condos out the window, from their previous greenish, to more of a gray, and I think the whole scene is looking sunnier - though maybe that's because I shadowed the intersections of the window pane frames...

The Break in the Forest

Here's another painting from my existing body of work: The Break in the Forest. This includes one of the whippets that my daughter and her best friend used to walk - Basil; and an owl; and an almost invisible shimmer in the air. And Basil and the owl are both wearing medicine paint, including a tiny hand print on Basil that indicates the very small size of his rider (it could also mean that he's very large, but I'm arbitrarily saying that's not the case).

This is a watercolor, 14" x 20", and is available for sale, unframed, for $600 plus shipping.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

And more on Cinder

Here's how she's looking now. I've done more of her body color, started work on the pillow and her favorite stuffed animal - Foofer - and worked a bit more on the scene outside the window.

It's coming, it's coming... I'm having fun with Foofer. I love including stuffed animals with my real animals!

More on Cinder

I haven't been posting as often as I intended to, but here's the state Cinder's portrait had reached as of a couple of weeks ago. I found myself surprised that Cinder's body color needed to be fairly pinkish - even though I knew my beginning colors were way brighter than they should end up. I painted this color on her body, thinking, "Nah, that can't be right..." Then walked away; and a few days later, just glancing at the painting as I walked by, thought, "Yeah - I think that's going in the right direction, after all!" So it goes...

I also worked on the light and shadow of the window seat, and did some work on the window frames. I'm liking how luminous the shadows are looking.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Horse Wash, renamed, sort of finished

Here's the title: Ponderosa Morning: After the Bath. There are some things I still want to fuss with, but it's all but done, and has been photographed and submitted for the Art at the Classic show.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Horse Wash - in progress 6

This is how it looked at the end of the day yesterday. The horse's head and mane are roughed in, and I think I brightened the sunlit dust and some of the other patches of sun. I've forgotten a blue wagon I wanted to put in; that, and finishing up his head, and fiddling with some other little things, will be today's work, which I better get started on.

Horse Wash - in progress 5

This is the painting, after most of the fifth painting session, yesterday. The tree and the pole are largely done, the sunlit dust and the ground; and the horse is mostly pretty-much-done, except for his head and mane. Even when it's "done," though, I'll want to fiddle with some things.

Horse Wash - I have to rename this - in progress #4

Okay. I have to rename this painting. I have realized this horse was not at the horse wash, which has cement floor and sides, and, I think, metal pipe tie-up, as well as, of course, a hose sort of thing. I think it will be Fairground Morning, or maybe Morning Among the Pines - even though I suspect it was no longer morning. But it looks like morning to me, and I like the idea.

This was the fourth session of painting, on Thursday (May 30). I've done more on the horse, and have one more tree trunk and part of the pole to do, as well as the sunlit dust around the horse's feet and some other stuff.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Continuing with Cinder

So now I've just begun to put some color in Cinder's portrait. I started with the windows, the view through them basically a nice soft gray green; some trees, a bit of parking lot, and a grey condominium across the way. (Yes, I know, I spelled grey/gray two different ways. Generally I think of gray as a harder, colder color than grey, which to me is softer and gentler. So I guess when it's mixed with green, it's a harder gray to start with, whereas when it's these plain grey buildings, I don't want them harsh and industrial looking...) Also, I know, they look like pretty much the same color right now. That will change - a little bit.

Then, I started fooling around in Cinder's body with a yellowy gold. I think this will be a good under-color, and I'm interested what kind of a light it will cast once it's covered up.

And finally, there's the beginning of some shadow color around the pillow, just for fun.

New horse painting underway

Here in Grass Valley, we have a Draft Horse Classic at the Fairgrounds every year, for four days in September, and I love it. Big, beautiful horses, pulling carriages and wagons - farm wagons, freight wagons, old fire wagons; threading logs among trees, in the log skid, and pulling a sled piled with bags of feed in the weight pull.

Every year, along with the Classic, there's a show of horse art called "Art at the Classic." Being a lifetime horse lover, I was in heaven when I found this show, especially because the quality of the art was high. I started drawing and painting horses when I was very young, under six, and drew them almost exclusively until, somewhere in junior high, I starting branching out. I began exploring human faces and dogs and cats, and found that dogs and cats weren't built the same way as horses. Meanwhile, though, I could practically draw horses in my sleep, and whenever I wanted to try a new medium or a new technique, I'd do a horse; it was so easy that I didn't have to think about it, and I could just play with the new approach.

So, as soon as I saw the Art at the Classic show, I knew I wanted to try to get a painting of my own into it.

Here I am finally, four years later, working on a piece to enter. This horse was tied at the horse wash, amid the tall Ponderosa pines of the fairgrounds, with the sun shining through the dust.

This is oil on canvas, 30" x 38". The first thing I did, after transferring my drawing to canvas, was to paint it all blue and green. The horse is actually black, so blue as an underpainting makes sense to me for the horse, but I can't really explain why I decided to do it all in blue and green to start; I just felt like it.

Cinder: the beginnings of the painting stage

Cinder is a boxer mix whose portrait I'm working on, as a couple's gift to their son and his wife. I'm using a photo of Cinder in a window seat, full of light, with a neat pillow, and two of Cinder's stuffed animals, including her favorite (and mine too, I think): Foofer, the blue one (the one on the right - I know, I know, you can hardly see the stuffed animals at all at this point). This will be oil on canvas, 14" x 20".

This (above) shows the drawing transferred to the canvas, and Cinder, her stuffed animals, and the pillow outlined in sepia. Behind her, you can faintly see outlines of the windowpanes, and the shadows on the window seat. This is how the charcoal transfer looked after I traced the drawing (below) onto the canvas. As it was so hard to see, I painstakingly went over the lines with the sepia, keeping the original drawing right behind the canvas, as reference. Here (below) is the drawing:

And this is an enhanced photo of the drawing (same photo, but with the lines brought out):

Here's what it looked like, with the drawing taped up behind my canvas, as I was painting in the lines: