Friday, August 06, 2010

My Plein Air Excursion

I took a two day vacation so I could try painting outdoors. Painting plein air is entirely out of my comfort zone. It isn't the painting part that makes me uncomfortable; it's the curious person who comes over to look and chat that bothers me. I've suffered much of my life from social anxiety and have found that painting, as a solitary activity, is a comfort. I gathered all my painting paraphernalia and drove to one of the loveliest parks in New Jersey.
I did a sketch and then painted for a couple of hours. My fears were unfounded, nobody came over but then it was 95° and incredibly humid. Apparently, I had the park to myself.

Sketch of maintenance building

5"x7" - Oil painting - sketch


Today was less hot and there was no humidity, so I headed out again to the park to paint. For me, sketching first before painting helps me figure out the proportions of what's going on in front of me, especially architectural structures.
I'm standing under a tree sketching when I'm approached by an adorable young Chinese woman and her little girl. She saw me sketching and slowly wondered around until she got the nerve to ask me if she could see what I was doing. She was so polite . . . she oohed and aahed and seem so impressed. We chatted for a couple of minutes and then she left. Then a neighbor and her family walked by and we chatted for quite awhile before they went on their way.
About 20 minutes later a woman and her elderly mother are strolling by and the woman yells over to me and wants to know what I writing about. I made the mistake of telling her I'm sketching so she asked me if she could come over. “Sure” I say. So what I am going to say, NO? She looks at my sketch book and yells to her mother, "Hey Ma, come here and take a look". So Ma, with her cane, comes over. . . slowly. Let me tell you, Ma was dressed to kill. I couldn't guess how old she was, but she had on a lot of makeup and was dripping in jewels. Ma looked great . . . like she was going to a cocktail party right after her daily stroll through the park. Ma takes a look at the sketch and proceeds to tell me that her granddaughter is taking private sketching lessons. She then tells me she gave her granddaughter $100 gift certificate to buy drawing supplies; there was also a coupon involved. By the way the granddaughter is 10 years old. This went on for awhile. The daughter then asks me if I taught myself how to draw and I say no, I've been to workshops and have been doing this for many years. She looks dubious, says hmmm, and then she and Ma depart arm-in-arm. Ooh tough crowd. Anyway, the creative moment has passed, so I pack up and also depart. Oh well.

Sketch of gazebo.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sign Painters

A documentary by Malcom Murray about sign painters in New York.

UP THERE from Jon on Vimeo.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Green Pitcher


I have a tendency to paint objects with hard edges making the still life look pasted on. After painting this still life I took a photo and could see there was something just not right about the painting. It took awhile but I realized there were no lost edges between the pitcher and background. It was still wet enough to soften some of the edges. Much better.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The mystery of edges

This is one of those "Aha" moments from Adventures of a Migrant Art Worker, a blog I recently discovered.
From Larry Moore's article "edge making" - "Mark making is to painting as intonation is to speech and song. It’s the subtlety that takes so long to acquire. Learning how to suggest a palm tree with a few marks or differentiate between a bundle of reeds and the borders of a deciduous tree takes a life time of learning."

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Lemon on a Dish


I decided to go back to basics and start this painting as a grisaille as shown below. I think it’s better to work out any problems with values or composition at this stage rather than slap on colors and then have to make corrections later on which leads to frustration, wasted time and paint. In the past whenever I painted landscapes I always started by sketching the scene on the canvas with charcoal or if it’s a complex structure I use a graph. I then painted the layout in 3 values using thinned down Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre making corrections in the drawing, values and composition as I go along. Even though this canvas is very small and the still life is simple, painting in three values first made the process more efficient.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mongol Dark Blue 865

I choose this set-up because I love the way the bottle distorts the pencils.  I checked the internet and discovered that this set of Mongol colored pencils are considered vintage. I'm not sure how old something has to be to be vintage. Funny, I have no idea if they are my pencils that I used in school or if they belonged to my father.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ceramic Bird

This little bird was fun to paint. The 5"x7" format wasn't a good choice which I later realized after a couple of hours into the painting. It took me 5 wipe outs before I was satisfied with the drawing. After that it was painting with pure primary colors. Photographing oil paintings seems to be an art in itself. The biggest problem is glare. I used two different digital cameras, took photos of the painting in incandescent lighting and natural lighting. I still had to upload it into Photoshop and by holding the painting next to the PC monitor, I was able to tweak it to look like the real thing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Muletender's Barracks-D&R Canal

This is my painting of the Muletender’s Barracks on the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park in Griggstown NJ. I’ve driven pass this lovely scene for the past 40 years and always wanted to paint it.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Still Life with Pitcher

Still Life with Pitcher

I started this painting in a workshop ran by Anne Kullaf at the Somerset Art Association in Bedminister New Jersey. I was unable to complete the painting in the 5 hour class, so I took a couple of photos and finished it at home.