Painting copies of artwork you admire is a great way to learn. Joaquín Sorolla is one of my favorite painters, so I can open “Joaquín Sorolla” (Museo Nacional Del Prado) to any page and find a work of inspiration to copy. Like this one. Funny thing is, I opened the book, and found later this is a detail of a larger painting! I had a feeling it was an odd composition (having the two people on the edge of the canvas), so it was nice to see the full composition on the next page.
Even so, copying “Sewing the Sail” (1904) was a great lesson in composition and color. I learned how Sorolla used the folds in the sail to lead directly to the figures, and even the shadows in the sand. Look how the main shadow folds in the sail lead directly to the center of interest (foreground person). I was also surprised someone how intense many of these colors were, but how adding a complement (violet to the orange) would bring down the intensity just enough (although, comparing mine to his now, I see I should have used even more violet).
This was also a great study in brushwork. The original is much larger, but I was able to adapt my brushwork to this scale (10×8) to lay down some juicy brushstrokes, particularly on the sunlit side of the sails.
It’s been a wonderful couple days here at Hearst Castle for the invitational. The artists and staff of the castle have been great. I can’t wait to see everyone’s work framed for the show June 5. Tickets are available for $175 for the Friends of Hearst Castle’s “Twilight on the Terrace” fundraiser benefiting art programs for at risk youth.
My first effort was painting “Casa del Mar”, a guest house on the South Terrace of the castle. I got to take a peak inside…wow. Opulent doesn’t begin to describe it. Hearst himself spent his final years in this house. This is just about done, I think a couple minor tweaks when I get back to my studio should do it.
My next effort was painting this white marble statue, which I imagine is Cupid (sans arrow). While in full sun is always a joy for me to paint, as white takes on so many colors and reflections of light. I’m not sure the color of reflect light is quite right, so I may make some adjustments before I call this one done.
And on my final day, again on the South Terrace outside Casa del Mar, I painted this fountain and gold statue of a princess holding a frog. I realize the princess statue on top looks like an Oscar statuette, but that’s really what it looks like! Even the shadow side on the gold had a red glow. I’m happy with this one. It’s interesting to me because it almost looks like two different painters/styles: the fountain is high-key, colorist, and the background trees and distant shore are more traditional value painting.
As you can see, all of these paintings push color a bit. With full sun available, I didn’t paint much tonally. To make sure these colors are still on track, I look at the images in black & white as well. If light and shadow read well in black/white, it almost doesn’t matter what color you choose to paint (see my 2007 post on values). I think the light/shadow patterns read in this black/white versions, so these seem to be working.
Two days of cloudy/foggy weather in Big Sur (CA) gave me chance to relax a bit. The sky cleared completely on my last day, so I was able to get a couple done on my way to the paint-out at Hearst Castle.
Getting a great block-in is really important. To me, that means a great design, division of space, interesting shapes, etc. I liked this one enough to photograph. Cool, huh?
And here’s the finished painting, or “near finished”. I think the rocks are a bit too warm/red (and actually, my camera over-saturates reds), so what you’re seeing is redder than you see here. The rocks are granite, with other reddish tones, so a blue-ish violet should improve it.
I started the day with this quick study to warm up. For small studies like these, I look for an opportunity to represent both the shadow and light side in each element. Here, was able to do light/shade for almost all elements in the painting.
Yes, I took another day off today while painting the Big Sur area (the “game” was called off due to rain), but I did find this recent figure study to entertain you.
On second look, it’s a bit dark, but I did want to use saturated colors in light, which does force the darks down a bit. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. My goal with this one was to capture late afternon light on skin, and to play with thick paint near abstraction. Enjoy!
Lucky me, the fog only started to roll in as I finished my last painting! Tomorrow, I head for Big Sur for a couple days. I ran into Carol Brightman Johnson, who is in town for next week’s Carmel Art Festival. Thanks, Carol, for taking this picture!
Here’s my first effort. I obviously pushed the color quite a bit in this one, and in fact, so far all my work this week is going there. I need to be careful about this, because I feel the paintings risk loosing balance, and start to look trite. Tomorrow’s forecast is cloudy-rain, so maybe I’ll do a couple gray day studies to swing back to center a bit.
And finally, this is the last one of the day, and my personal favorite. The colors of white-ish bluffs in shadow are really fun to paint. Lots of warm/cool color and interesting shapes. The painting below reminds me of this one done at Montana del Oro for SLO a few years ago.
I am on my way tomorrow to Hearst Castle to paint for an invitational, and taking my time, driving down the coast from Carmel to Cambria with a stop in Big Sur a couple days. To prepare for painting the castle’s architecture, I got out some reference photos of Balboa Park in San Diego. I hope to post all week along the way, but my first priority is painting, so no promises!
It was a beautiful, sunny day in San Francisco today — 73 degrees! I loaded up a small pochade kit on my bike, and headed down to Golden Gate Park. After riding around quite a bit, I saw this view looking south from Stow Lake. The challenge I set for myself was to both simplify the landscape, and represent clear color separation. There are several types of greens in this painting. Enjoy!
In my day job, we take a “Strength Finder’s” course (developed by Gallop) to find out what we’re good at, and focus our talents there. I’ve always felt that painting the sky was a strength, but I haven’t spent a lot of time on it. Why paint something you know? I’d rather stretch myself, which is why I’ve been painting the figure more lately. Well, today I gave in and painted a sky. Hope you enjoy it! Oh, and a quote from Benjamin Franklin that re-inforces the “follow your talent” idea:
“Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” — Benjamin Franklin
The building is well lit at night, and because it’s on a hill, is visible from many vantage points in the city. When I walk Gracie in Buena Vista Park across from the street from our home, this church is a glowing sentinel. This view was painted from a photo taken between sunset and dusk. It’s at this time (before the lights come on) that the steeples just get a beautiful reflection from the setting sun. Enjoy!
Here are few more recent figure studies. I continue to enjoy this new challenge–although I think I’ll sneak in a landscape soon. This figure (sans mouth!) was done in about 10 minutes with a live model in Al Tofanelli’s class (at l’Atelier aux Couleurs). I like these quick studies–they force you to react quickly and focus on the fundamentals.
When I got back to the studio, I painted a couple more small quick ones (although, these are about an hour) from photos.
This one (and my previous self-portrait) reminded me that I should probably talk about my influences in figurative art. I’m seeking a sculptural quality, and trying to use color temperature and inventive color (although stable values) to create this new work.
I count two of my biggest influence Lucian Freud and Ann Gale. Both are wonderful draftsman (clearly needed to paint the figure), but there’s something very modern and sculptural about their work. I look to these contemporary painters for inspiration.
While this Lucian Freud work is terribly inventive in terms of color, it’s exaggeration of value and forum is something I really admire.
You can see in Ann Gale‘s work her form is somewhat distorted, although incredibly interesting. Look almost “pixelized”, doesn’t it? I really like her general restraint with color. When she does use it, it’s incredibly vibrant. You can see here how she sets up that vibrancy with a calm stage of neutrals grays.
So, while I continue to slog through the basics (which for me, is drawing the figure accurately), this is the direction I’m headed. Hopefully, these influences will help guide me to my own path and vision.