Category Archives: Paintings in progress

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Lying in wait…

Lying in wait…

I am currently in my old bedroom in Seattle. Tomorrow afternoon we leave for home – Maui – and I don’t think I’ve ever been so eager to get back into the studio. Because this painting:

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This is the result of the second day of work – roughing in the flesh tones, highlights, and shadows, and working on the white of the gown. Pretty good progress I think.

It’s been a while since I was this jazzed up about a painting, and the feeling is so welcome! Between health issues and just trying to plant my feet firmly on this island ground, it’s been difficult to get my painting mojo on. But it’s here now.

Yesterday I was able to visit with my dear friend and fellow painter, Melinda Hannigan (see link below). Melinda was the first painter I became friends with after I moved my studio out of my house. We were in the same building in Seattle’s International District, then we both moved to Equinox Studios in Georgetown, eventually switching studios, I trading my first floor studio for her larger one.

Anyway, Melinda and I have both been through hell this year, and it was good to get together and share war stories, talk about life in general and painting in particular. We agreed that getting older sucks, and that recliners make the best studio chairs. We shared ideas about pricing our paintings and our frustration at not being able to paint as much as we’d have liked this past year.

It was so good to see her and to reconnect, and to see other old friends from the building: Stacy, Sophia, and John, and to finally meet Betty Jo. They are all wonderful people and artists and I’ve included links to their websites, below, as well as a link to the website for the building, Equinox Studios, where you will meet an entire group of talented artists and artisans.

It’s been wonderful to be with my friends in Seattle, but especially since visiting with Melinda, I’m ready to get home and get to work.

Linking to:

Melinda Hannigan     Stacy Rosevear     Sophia Wheelwright     John Kirschenbaum

Betty Jo Costanzo     Equinox Studios

 

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Rhapsody in blu… uhh, purple.

Rhapsody in blu… uhh, purple.

Just a quick post to bring you up to speed — I had a second stay in the hospital, shorter this time, with radiation pnumonitis. Suffice it to say that I haven’t been doing a lot of painting, rather, I’ve been focused on healing my lungs, hooked up to my trusty oxygen tank 24/7.

I was resigned to get back to the studio sometime in the fall, after my breathing got back to normal and our end of summer vacations were over. But then, someone dared to utter a challenge I couldn’t ignore. “I hope you are entering the portrait competition.”

Uh, well, no.

Yet how could I ignore this remark, made by the director of the gallery hosting the competition?

So, I went into high gear, with a little help from Taryn, my studio mate, who volunteered a previously painted canvas she had hanging around the studio, and Richard, who acted as photographer.

The concept is mine — it’s a self-portrait, conceived a few days after I was discharged from the hospital. The photo below is day two – first day of actual painting, blocking in the shadows and working on the composition. I’m eager to continue.

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Catching up …. again!

Catching up… again!

It seems this is what I do these days – play catch up on so many aspects of my life. But tis ok, it’s a good thing to have “aspects” right?

I have been out of play again from the studio, sidelined by a little medical thing, another bout of radiation to deal with some sneaky little cancer-y stuff that escaped the cage. The good news is that the radiation, after just 7 treatments, is shrinking those nasty bits to nada! I can already feel relief, which for me means increased feeling in my left arm, decreased swelling as well, and a chance to get off the steroids that I have been taking for pain.

And of course, all those things mean less time before I can get back to painting. YAY!

Which brings me to this post.

Before being sidelined I actually was making progress on “Bigfoot,” which is what I affectionately call my beach chair painting of my friend, Pam. And I had saved up some awesome in-progress photos to tell the tale step-by-step, with pithy comments about how I made the decision for that color and this color and why that brushstroke was angled so and why I used tape to get a straight line and yada yada yada.

Ain’t happening folks.

Why? Well for lots of reasons, but some of it is just that after so long I just don’t remember all those things! My poor brain is not only 60 years old but it has been made to mush by a wide variety of chemicals and medications – some of which I voluntarily (and happily) ingested myself back in the day, and some that have been prescribed over the years by actually medical doctors.

Then I had an idea! I could just post all the progress pictures, in random order, numbering them, and see how many of you could come up with the correct order! I could give away another print (except that I haven’t mailed Dan’s to him yet – sorry Dan, been a little busy) or three and see what happens! Make it fun! Make it interactive!

Never mind.

So what I’m going to do is post them here – IN ORDER – for you to see, probably over the next two posts, and if I can remember what caused me to make a certain decision, or add in any way to your experience of just seeing the progress of the work itself, I will write.

If there’s a blank on the page under the image, well there is a corresponding blank in the file folder in my brain that used to hold that info. It’s been emptied and/or erased, depending upon whether you prefer a digital or analog image of my poor, drug-addled grey-matter.

So here goes – first , a recap – here’s where we were when we left our precious beauty:

Oh, right, the “hand job.” Ok, well that was an unfortunate choice of titles, BUT, in my defense, it was accurate.

So here it was, as far as I’d gotten back in what? January? February? when? Oh dang, not that long ago actually, in April.

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Just a teensy little bit of structure going into that hand, and a dot where a ring might go. Not a bad start.

And then, the next time I entered the studio, this is what I accomplished:

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Oh wait – that’s a nice little shot of the studio – clicked the wrong image, but I think I’ll leave it there.

Back to the paintings:

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The hand has gotten more human-like, I’ll give it that. Having a little trouble with the ring here as it is really difficult to see in the source photos, but I’ll make it work. (Or I’ll have Pam send it to me to paint from… hahahaha NOT!)

NEXT!

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LOTS of work on legs, arms, foot.

Look here! A mini-lesson!

This is the ever-so-important stage where you have to stand back and look at everything that is connected. You’ve undoubtedly painted everything at different times, and you CANNOT (no, sorry) CANNOT ever match perfectly the paint mix you used before unless you’ve saved it in a jar or tube (which I do for backgrounds, actually).

So this is where your critical eye comes into play. Stand back, and in your mind’s eye reconnect every part of the painting to it’s neighbor. You’ll see what to do.

Sometimes you have to change some colors, or add some warmth or light, or just clean up edges. But unless you want your painting to look like a cut-paper collage, this is one of the most important days you’ll have with your work. Pulling it together.

(Hmmmm, some brain cells have survived. Interesting.)

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Here I’ve moved over to the left side where the tones are much cooler. Working to add reflected light (see that gorgeous bit of pale violet under her arm? That’s reflected light from the ground and chair straps).

OK, end of that day. Got a lot done I see! I really wanted to finish this painting before my studio mate got back from her trip to Europe, and guess what – she’s back. I failed. Sorry Taryn. But you got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower so what do you care?)

Next day:

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This was the day I decided to start making decisions about the background and treatment of the chair, and this actually shows quite a bit of progress, so I may be out of order.

A fun story from the studio:

Taryn (Alessandro, my talented and lovely “landlady” – you can see her work here: http://www.tarynalessandro.com ) and I had just placed big orders to Dick Blick, and were excitedly sharing paints and colors and squeals of “wow would you look at that color!” when she saw a bit of a light grey violet I had on the palette – and she decided right there and then that it HAD to be my background color for the sky.

Hey, who am I to argue?

So that’s what it is. I haven’t been to the studio in a while but when I go back I’ll come back and give you the name and brand. It’s a gorgeous color!!

And do you know what the absolute coolest thing about using that color for the background is?

I don’t have to mix it, save it, and wonder if the mix will “hold” when it gets on the canvas.

Here’s a short little lesson on mixing paints, both brands and colors

Different manufacturers use different pigments and different oils and binders and different ratios of oil to pigment. That’s why you might say a Windsor & Newton ultramarine blue is “dryer” than a Gamblin, for example. Or why Daniel Green’s sap is very very oily, in fact so oily that when you squeeze it from the tube all the unincorporated oil makes a huge big puddle-y mess of your palette and shouldn’t that oil be back in the tube with the pigment? Not that I care.

I don’t buy one brand of paint. I would (and I would buy Gamblin) but I use a LOT of paint and I just can’t afford to ignore a great sale on a decent brand of paint.

So inevitably, I am going to be mixing brands. I try not to on my huge backgrounds, but even if I am using a single brand of two or three colors, chances are there is going to be a difference in the amount of oil used to bind each color.

If the two or three colors of paint aren’t thoroughly mixed with each other, and all the oil incorporated into the pigments evenly, you’re going to have sections of the painting that are shiny (the oil is sitting on top of the canvas) and sections that are flat (the oil has sunken in).

Now, if you are going to heavily glaze, varnish, or pour resin over a painting this isn’t a problem. But if you just want a protective layer of glaze, which is what I’ve been doing lately, you have to combat it.

I first found this little video tutorial at Gamblin’s website, but now they’ve moved their how-to videos to YouTube, so you can search for Gamblin and get them all. Here’s the one I watched, after writing to them and asking them what I should do. They call this phenomenon, “oiling out.”

http://youtu.be/PvY_rl1dmkU

It did work for me but I love the idea of not having to worry about it with this painting. THANKS TARYN!!!!

And, now on to what could be the finishing stretch if I were actually in the studio instead of sitting here on my bed looking longingly at pictures of it.

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Lots of finishing tweaks to the face, eyes, hair, ears, glasses, nose, forehead shadows, hat, neck, etc. etc. Not finished, but better. Taking shape. Sorry about the glare.

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Quite a bit of work here on the “yoga toes” – those plastic things you put between your toes to get a better grip when doing downward dog (I guess). And the bottom of the foot.

Oh how excited I am about the bottom of that foot! I am so so proud of it. Yes even I stand back sometimes and think, “wow,” I did that. This was one of those instances where it just flowed from me. Love it.

Oh, and the chair straps as well. Wow, I worked fast that day.

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Close-up of yoga toes, and people toes, which I also finished adding to that day.

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Worked  bit on the bathing suit, and really worked on the chair straps, and added the weighty shadows under the leg and foot. Basically folks, I tweaked everything!

And here is where I ended up. I’m really  looking forward to getting’ her done!

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Hmm, it seems more than a few brain cells have survived. I’ve impressed myself. Even threw a couple of mini-lessons in there for some added “meaty” content. Not bad.

Aaaaaaaaand I’m out of brain energy. Hope you enjoy – ask questions if you want, I’ll reply when I can.

 

A baaaaaad case of the uglies…

A baaaaaad case of the uglies…

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With apologies to my subject, who shall remain nameless (she hasn’t figured it out yet, or if she has she’s not talking’) girl, you need some work done on your face!

My day at the studio was shorter than I’d planned, but I did manage to figure out the color palette for the lounge chair. I’m definitely beefing up the chroma in this series because I want the colors to really sizzle (chroma is another term for saturation or intensity, and is one of the three primary characteristics of color. The other two color characteristics of color are value and hue, which I’ll discuss in a later post).

You know how in bright sunny places people often paint their houses bright colors? I’ve always heard that the reason is because paler colors tend to get lost in the bright surroundings, and since these paintings are intended to represent bright and sunny places I want the colors to be vivid and bright as well. 

I painted some of the lightest areas of the chair, just to see how the blues I’ve chosen will go with the flesh tones – there will definitely be a variety of blues, greens, and turquoises in that chair to represent the varieties of light and shadows that are present.

The paint on the flash areas I painted yesterday was a bit too tacky to work in today, so I moved to the face.

(Note: While you can work on already-painted areas when they’re tacky it requires using enough medium in your paint to re-moisten the previous layer. Since I want thick, juicy paint, I’d prefer to let those areas dry a while longer so that I can paint without medium. If you paint without medium over a tacky surface it can get slick and you loose the surface “tooth” that grabs the paint and holds it in place.)

As often happens at this stage in my paintings the face needed to be redrawn. This is where measuring proportions is crucial to me. I use the old holding a paintbrush at the end of my arm technique to measure the relative sizes of various parts of the body, to ensure everything is in the correct proportion. (There’s a nice short article on how to measure using a paintbrush here.)

Yeah, I had squished her face down to almost two-thirds of its correct size, so working form the chin up I re-measured everything and made rough brush marks to build a roadmap for reference.

To remind you, here’s where I was with the face when I left the studio yesterday:

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And here is our subject after measuring and building a roadmap:

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Lovely, isn’t she?

This might look like a hot mess to the rest of you but to me she is a thing of, well, perhaps not beauty but she does have all her streets and highways identified, as well as elevation gains and losses.

You’ll just have to trust me on this.

Later in the day she got a little easier to look at…

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At least now she has a discernible mouth and nose, and the width of her face relates to its height correctly.

By the time I decided to move on she had achieved this state, ready for the next assault…er…painting session.

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A fun challenge for me is going to be figuring out how to show the portion of her face that is deep in shadow. Those teeth are going to drive be bat-poop crazy at some point, too.

Once I got to this point I felt I had the face blocked in enough to let her dry a bit, so I moved to dessert, next.

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And boy was it good!

Aloha, and have a great weekend!

Back to business…

Back to business…

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Today was a glorious day for me because I GOT TO PAINT!! Hurray!!

So many things have been happening in my personal life that I thought it would be another week or so before I could get back to the studio full time, but the planets aligned and the gods smiled and the priestess conjured up the right ghosts and I was able to get back to my work.

I was VERY eager to get to the studio this morning. There was this painting waiting for me, yes, but there was something else waiting for me in the studio that I cold not wait to get my hands on. THIS:

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NO, it is NOT a mouse, it is the teensiest, tiniest itty bitty kitty in the world, and her name is Coconut.

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Wittle, er, ahem, LITTLE Coconut was rescued by my studio mate’s friends’s dog, who came trotting into their house with her in his mouth. He was holding her oh-so-carefully, apparently, and laid her on the ground. She was tinier still, only days old, with her witt, little eyes shut tight. The dog’s name was Mango, so of course they named her Coconut.

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They brought her to Taryn, my studio mate, because they knew she would take extra special care of the wee kitty. And, as you can see from the picture above, that she is indeed.

I tried to feed Coconut this morning and she was very difficult to manage. Apparently while feeding her you also have to provide her some paw stimulation so she can pretend she’s kneading and suckling her mom. (Mosura does this to me on a regular basis, so I am familiar.)

So there you go. Your unbearably cute photos for the day. And you didn’t even need to go to Facebook to see them. I live to please.

(Thank you Taryn for the photos, and the kitty.)

I thought that Coconut would be a distraction in the studio but she sleeps about 23 hours a day, so I was actually able to get some work done.

I began the morning learning how to paint flesh again (remember, if you paint every day you won’t have this problem – do as I say, etc. etc.)

I worked on the thigh that I had begun last week, and I realized I was getting tighter and tighter with my brushwork – smoothing everything out. I tend to do this when I haven’t painted for a while – I don’t like it, but I just couldn’t stop myself. That’s why the thigh on the left looks like this:

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See how there are no discernible brush strokes? I don’t consider myself a photo-realist, so I usually aim for a looser surface, with livelier brushwork.

Yeah, well, I can fix that, but I knew I had to move on. I took a little break with Taryn and we talked about an upcoming event, Maui’s Open Studio event in February, in which we will be showing (hopefully, for me) new work. When she reminded me that we need to get to planning, I realized that I have very few weeks left, so I sat down and furiously painted in the other leg. IT has some brushwork, yeah man! It is a long way from finished but you’ll see the difference, here:

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MUCH better. Perhaps I should have Taryn remind me of our deadline everyday before I put brush to canvas!

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I quickly blocked in the other flesh areas, and tomorrow I will give them the once over, and hopefully loosen up the brushwork on that other leg.

For sure I will be doing some serious kitty cuddling!

Aloha!

Gini