My first great-niece. I shot a few photos of her on a chance meeting between my wife and I and my nephew and his young family at a popular NC beach. Neither of us knew the other was there until they posted something to Instagram. A couple weeks later, they've got a portrait of their little beach baby. Honestly, this might be one of my best.
I haven't posted a portrait of my beauty queen in a while. This one was a pleasant surprise. I thought it was going to be trash almost immediately after starting it on Fabriano Studio paper, which I have complained about a couple times before. But, a few adjustments to my normal painting method, a fair amount of loosening and I pulled out a portrait with which I'm very happy. It's loose and painterly, but realistic and accurate at the same time. It seems the unforgiving nature of this paper forced me to be more careful and purposeful in my strokes and paint application.
Another fishing lure. This one is on that horrible Fabriano Studio paper. There were even more issues with the paper on this one. That's the reason I left some spots looking a little looser than I usually paint these lures. In spite of the fight, I'm still pretty happy with how this one works.
This is from a reference photo I originally saved from a Virtual Paintout "excursion" when the subject was Puerto Rico a few months ago. I didn't submit anything that month for reasons I don't remember. But, I finally decided to try this one out as a test for Fabriano's cheaper "Studio" line of paper that's only 20% cotton. I picked up a 9x12 pad the last time I was at Jerry's in Raleigh to try out. Overall, this piece worked out OK on this paper largely because it was loose and wet. I let each layer dry before applying another. But, even then, there was significant lifting and loosening. The one spot that needed a minor correction in the form of lifting almost immediately started pilling. A subsequent painting on this paper proved this is quite possibly one of the worst papers I've ever used. Though it's supposed to be cold-pressed, it acts a bit like hot. The paint doesn't seem to sink in very well and lifts and re-wets too easily. This might be a good paper for quick sketches with only a couple washes, but I wouldn't use this for anything much more serious. The description on Jerry's website (which I'm sure comes from the manufacturer) says this paper can "withstand vigorous painting." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Loosening up on car paintings always feels like a double-edged blade. I'm inclined to render cars photographically as I did for several years. But, as I've mentioned here before, I no longer want to be a camera; I want to interpret and paint loosely. So, sometimes I try to split the difference and render some parts tightly and some loosely. Baby steps. The grillwork on this one is loose partly out of necessity. If I were painting this on a full sheet or even a half, I might have been more exact in the execution of all that grill chrome. I've done it before. But, at this size I'm not sure my hand is that steady. So, we went loose and gave the impression of lots of chrome grill tines (for lack of a better word). The yellow is a factory color of the period, I think, though the original color probably wasn't so bright. The original isn't for sale because my daughter expressed an interest in it when it was still in progress -- mostly because her favorite color is yellow.
When the recipient of this commission of his first car saw it he immediately had to have another for his father since they shared the car. Works for me. Of course, no two paintings are identical. So, there are a lot of differences between the two, some things are better on the first one, some are better on this one. Overall, I might be a little happier with this one than the first one.
This probably should be called "Rusty Cadi Redux" because I've painted this particular image before - back in 2011 (Rusty Cadi). The original was auctioned off for the local United Way a few years ago. But I've always liked the reference photo and thought it would be fun to revisit it in a slightly looser style. So, here it is, though the style isn't much looser than the first attempt.
I got a wild hair recently to see if I could play with the logos/badges of various auto manufacturers and their products and drop a little impressionism/expressionism on them. It might make an interesting pop art series. Since I also recently bought a Cadillac (a VERY good deal on a used SRX that I couldn't pass up), I thought their latest logo crest would be a good place to start.
I found some Winsor & Newton Pigment Markers on clearance locally so I thought I'd give them a try. I just bought a couple grays as I've been wanting to experiment more with grayscale and with markers. This is a first attempt. Not bad if I say so myself. The two pens I chose were a bit darker than I expected. I was looking for four levels -- two grays, black and paper white. Not really what I got. Even so, they work nicely in a horror theme, obviously. I'll be playing with these some more for both finished pieces and preliminary grayscale sketches for watercolors.
This is from a reference photo I've had for several years afraid to tackle the detail and the shadows. I finally decided to jump in and I'm glad I did. This worked out better than I expected and pops right off the page/screen.
This is from an old photo from the late '40s or early '50s found in one of those caches of "found photos" becoming popular on the web these days. When I thought I was done I felt the buildings in the background were too dark and intense, demanding too much attention. So I used one of John Lovett's tricks and added a very thin layer of white gesso over them and the most distant car to tone them down and push them back. Worked like a charm.
Just another barn somewhere. I made up Edgefield because the barn is on the edge of the field and I couldn't think of anything else. I may continue to use Edgefield as a fictional place where all sorts of art lives.
I called this one Church Street Church because it isn't a church anymore; it's an Italian restaurant. I couldn't find the original name of the church that occupied this building. Beyond that, I'm quite happy with this one.
I haven't done Virtual Paintout in a couple months. This month we're in Ghana. As is evident from many paintings on this blog, I'm drawn to church buildings. So, while I wasn't looking for a church in the Ghana Street View images, I did happen across one that just happened to be having a funeral at the time the image was taken with a Buick hearse parked out front.This checked a couple things off my favorites list -- it's a car AND a hearse (to cover the horror theme). One of the few late model cars I've ever done. The original ink drawing is below.
I might have rushed the details on this one a bit. My father was an avid bass fisherman, so I've seen lures and all other manner of fishing equipment my whole life. But it wasn't until I started painting them that I realized just how much detail is put into making these things look as realistic as possible. I guess fish are smarter than we think. And, maybe the chrome hooks are actually invisible underwater.
This is another piece from the same day as last week's painting. I'm still on the fence with this one. It's loose, but not loose enough. Where it's tight, it isn't tight enough. I liked the composition and idea as soon as I saw it. I'm just not sure about the execution.
This is from a photo I took during a Sunday afternoon food truck rodeo in the area. Not exactly my normal scene, I thought I might see a thing or two worth painting. I was right. I'm pretty happy with the looseness of this portrait. I'd like to go a bit looser with the color, but the drawing itself works well and retains a strong naturalism/realism.
Below is an ink drawing I did as a preliminary.
This is a little sketch of a church not too far from my home, but done from a Google Maps Street View image. My biggest issues with this one is, of course, the trees, with which I'm never happy, and the small suggestion of a graveyard. I should have made that a bit more prominent. The shadows on the building could have gone a bit more cool or warm; it doesn't matter which. They just need to have some color. The red door color was a change from the original to add pop and an obvious focal point.
Not much to say about this one. Just another ink and wash classic car. I really like the graphic nature of Buick's old vertical grill. The ink on this one has a unique look because I used Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper instead of the smoother paper I normally use for inks. The paper texture made for a lot of skipping -- or micro-skipping -- in the ink line. I like the look a lot, but I'll probably stick to the smoother papers most of the time.
When I saw this historical re-enactor (and real blacksmith) at an event at Bethabara Park early last fall I wanted to get shots of him doing blacksmith stuff; you know, hammer, fire, red-hot metal. I circled for a good half-hour. But he was talking a group of kids showing them some nails and hooks he'd made. I settled for a shot of him leaning on his anvil. The pose, costume, actor and accessories all work just as well as an action shot. And, I'm pretty stoked (get it;) about how this portrait worked out. Bethabara Park, by the way, is a partially restored and preserved 260-year-old Moravian settlement in Winston-Salem NC.
This is from a shot taken during our one decent snowfall last year. It happily breaks one of the cardinal rules of composition -- actually, almost two. 1) There's a heavy line running up the center of the painting. 2) the horizon line also is in the center of the space. The second problem is easy; the actual horizon line is mitigated by the curved line of the tree line. The first problem is ignored because of the graphic nature of the image. Not all images conform to rules (and why should art have to?). Besides, everything else about this image follows other rules like leading and unity. There are five leading lines pulling the viewer into the painting. The line the tops of the trees make against the sky mirrors the tree line on the ground. There's also unity of color in that only four colors were used. So, breaking the rules is OK if you have a good reason and the image calls for it.
This is a portrait of my late brother-in-law attempted in the loose, impressionist style I've been chasing. Frankly, I think this is the most successful portrait/figure I've done in this style. It has it's issues, though very minor. But it's right on target and the things I would change are greatly outweighed by those that are just right.
A loose view of the front of the little Baptist church in Danbury, NC. I wasn't sure about the warm light reflected back into the shadow areas of the eaves and under the porch. But it works pretty well. The reference photo was taken very early one June morning, a nice contrast to January's usual chill.