Tag Archives: work in progress

Art I Like: Word Art and some more of my watercolors

It’s flower season here in Portland. I have been doing a lot of fun watercolors.

Here’s one of some geraniums:
Geranium, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Geranium, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

Foxgloves are biennials, which apparently means they bloom every two years. I thought this was a yet another weed in my front yard and recently I got surprised by these lovely blossoms.
Foxgloves, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Foxgloves, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

I also grew a bunch of wonderful tulips this year. Here’s a view of the tulips when they get all floppy and flattened right before the petals are going to drop.

Spent tulips, 2017x watercolor on paper, 12x16

Spent tulips, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

And I could take pictures of peonies  forever. I have peonies in my garden! Hot pink ones and these pink frilly ones (I think they’re Sarah Bernhardts?) I want to grow tree peonies but they’re like $80 a pot.

Peony bouquet, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Peony bouquet, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

Last time I mentioned I painted a canvas with a lavender background. I wrote out that dream quote in yellow paint and then smeared it out. Not sure where this is going. I could see this one being used for a landscape eventually or maybe I’ll make it an abstract. This canvas is larger than the ones I’ve been working on.
Work in progress
The canvas is sitting on an unstretched piece of canvas that I found rolled up (my mother had dutifully saved everything of mine). I’m going to paint over it as well with oil. We’ll see how the shapes in the background play out.

I was reminded of an artist  that I like on Pinterest …Jenny Holzer. She writes memorable quotes and they are embedded in all sorts of places: billboards, movie theater signs, etched in marble, projected on a building, etc etc. I love this quote:

This piece is so fitting for today’s politics:

Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise from the series Truisms T-shirts (1980-)

Untitled Bench, Jenny Holzer, Missing Peace Exhibit

I had a drawing teacher tell me a long time ago, in a place far far away that my charcoal drawings reminded him of Cy Twombly. I was fortunate to see Cy Twombly at a retrospective I think at the Whitney Museum several years ago. He’s amazing. He embeds words in scribbles and gestural marks in a very beautiful and effortless way

Apollo by Cy Twombly

Here’s a recent watercolor of a peony with the word daydream scribbled on top. Nowhere near  as masterful as  Twombly but we’ll see where adding words in my art leads me. Don’t quit your daydream!

Daydream pink peony

Daydream pink peony

Wednesday night oil sketches

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Here is a oil painting sketch of Moolack beach where I’m trying to capture the wind blowing across the sands while reflecting the sky during low tide. I’m using Arches oil paper which in theory should be awesome. As someone with a full time job outside of art, time for art is always limited. I have been looking and trying  various  supports that will simplify the task of art production (prepping canvases or boards until I win the lottery and can pay for my own studio assistant) and give me more time to paint. Unfortunately the Arches oil paper is as unappealing to me as their watercolor paper. It has the texture of a bounty paper towel and it is WAY too absorbent—it somehow doesn’t let me to remove any paint off the paper which for me is one of the defining characteristics of the oil paint medium—it’s malleability and wiping-off ease. So anyways for this study, I’m not even trying to do much glazing or thin layers. I’m aiming for bold, thick layers which I would never do on a canvas or linen but I almost have to do on this oil paper. I also did an under layer of acrylic. Actually I think this paper should be marketed as acrylic paper because it is thick and it is pretty decent for acrylics. But the paper is way too expensive to use for just that purpose.

So far this painting is too aggressive and chaotic to me. On this paper it’s hard to make the subtle blends that the location really calls for.  This painting just goes to show you how hard it is to paint simply. I’ve been admiring Katherine Bradford‘s oil painting work for a long time. Her work uses the icons and imagery of children’s art….superheroes, boats, and simplified human forms..but the work is decidedly not childish…it’s beautiful and masterfully done. All the haters that look at this type of work and say I could do that…trust me it’s not as easy as it looks.

Katherine Bradford found on hyperallergic.com
Katherine Bradford found on hyperallergic.com
Katherine Bradford found on painters-table.com

I also did another oil painting study of Bandon beach. We went down to the southern Oregon coast earlier this month. I haven’t posted about that trip but stay tuned. It was AWESOME!!!

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It’s at a stage where I like the looseness and softness (and the maroon color glazes) and I debate if I should continue and risk losing what I’ve already done by potentially overworking it. I’ll probably just keep going.

Emily Henderson, writer of the  design blog I read everyday, says that in the early stage of a creative career, it’s quantity over quality that matters. So in that spirit no point in being a perfectionist and being scared to ruin this painting….right now it’s about learning and exploring.

 

 

Lake oil painting study

I’m working on an oil painting landscape of Lake George at sunset. My goal was to use more vivid colors instead of the classic burnt umber understudy as the first layer in the hopes of capturing more glow and reflection. I also wanted to use darker transparent colors that I have not yet used before to ‘bridge’ the midtone, similar to the sweet pea study that I did a couple weeks ago.

There I painted the flower petals a bright lavender first. Then I glazed with a darker transparent color over it to build the mid tone bridge. This process is different than the slow build of dark to light. We’ll see how it turns out for this landscape.

In the first layer I used montserrat orange by Williamsburg mixed with naples yellow.  Even though the trees are going to be this fabulous green orange dusky color, I used this amazing purple called dioxazine purple as the base color, it’s dark, transparent, and fairly balanced between red and blue. It’s like the sap green of purples.

In my second layer I brought out the sap green and a darker green mix made of sap green, burnt umber,  and ultramarine blue.

At this point I was really hesitant to go over with paint for the fear of overworking what I already liked going on. But as I ‘ve been listening to inspirational words over the past year, you can’t be afraid to ruin it and I just need to treat this as a study, not as a masterpiece. If it’s ruined oh well I’ll just paint over it.

Being bold with the darks really helped ground the painting and I’m glad I did that. I also was lent this amazing maroon dark purple shade- not really sure what color it is but I’ll have to find a way to mix that. I love using dark maroons and purples in watercolors too.

For the orangey glow of dusk kissing the leaves I started mixing the transparent red oxide and the brown madder in with my sap green.

 

 

Today’s Oil still life progress

betsyness still life in progress

I was able to fill in some of the gaps from the last session and also work on the tricky leaf section.

For the shadows on the ranunculus I used a mixture of ultramarine, burnt umber, and alizarin. For the lighter but still cool shadow areas I added cobalt blue.

One thing that I am learning is to make the target tone and then the lighter and darker value to each side.

For the dark green, I mixed ultramarine, burnt umber , and sap green. The lighter green shade was mixed from sap green with yellow ochre and cerulean blue. Cerulean blue is a great way to add a cool lighter tone without using naples yellow or white.


I spent a lot of time painting upside down. It helped me to just see shapes and look at the negative spaces like puzzle pieces.

And once you turn the canvas back around…a pleasant surprise!

betsyness still life in progress

An Oil Still Life in Progress

This is a painting that will probably take me a long time. I’m deliberately going about this painting in a methodical manner, using techniques like the grid system and going through with a true underpainting and then glazing layers on top. When I critique my work (like the watercolors I posted earlier) I find that my biggest issues are with composition and value. So that means getting better at drawing and finding the tonal range and also being way more patient. All of which painting in oil like this is helping me to do. I also love luminous shadows which look really great in oil paints.

Right now in this oil study I am concentrating on finding the darks and the mid tone values that will  serve as a foundation layer for lighter values that get applied later. It’s how the painting will hopefully glow.


I didn’t get to the whole painting this time which you can tell by the areas that are still pretty white- that’s not deliberate.

For the Hellebores- I used burnt umber, ultramarine blue, and some alizarin crimson. Alizarin is transparent and staining and also is good for bluer reds. For some of the lighter ranunculus, I just made a grey out of the burnt umber, ultramarine, and naples yellow. There’s also a poppy or something with more open petals that’s got a little bit of cadmium red, which is less blue than alizarin and more opaque. At this point it is so tempting to go lighter and get into the details. With oil painting, it’s actually harder to go over light paint or you get this muddy creamy effect so I’m trying to keep it dark. Its something that you kind of have to reverse your brain around, that you want to go dark first and then build form by removing value or adding lighter shades. I’m not describing it well but I ‘ll try to post better examples later.

For the greens of the leaves and the pot I started using sap green plus some of the burnt umber. If I hadn’t been so lazy and impatient with my umber drawing, I probably could have glazed right over with just the sap green.