Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lisa D.

This was my first painting with the Firehouse group in about a month. It felt good to be back. This portrait is in acrylics on paper (about 18" x 24").

BTW, the new look of this blog is attractive.

The red lettering looks very festive.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Whole Room...In Oil

My first oil after a six-month hiatus was... a bit uncomfortable. I was complaining the whole time and must have sounded quite annoying to my colleagues. This was a 24 x 24" oil on canvas. I distorted the dimensions of the room to give it more of a claustrophobic feel and based the colors of the pre-painted oil background on the colors of the acrylic background from the previous week (see post below) because I wanted to save time to work on the figures. Predictably, the colors didn't turn out as crisp as I envisioned  because I was painting on a still-wet background. I should say that the way I normally paint with oil is to reserve open canvas space for most things non-background so these baby food colors were deeply disturbing. But I revised, working from memory. For example, I exaggerated the lights from the lamps above and I repainted a some colors the way I remembered them. I like it more now, and I think I did something different, although I can't yet tell what it is.

Phillip In the Foreground

I started out with a completely black 20 x 16" canvas, and worked my way out of that darkness by adding people and objects from the background to the foreground with acrylic. Because the first layers were dry before I placed the next figures, this method was perfect. I ended up paying a lot of attention to Phillip's gesture. On the floor you can see Andrew. This painting was relatively drama-free for me, as it was a small canvas, I was working in the amazingly forgiving medium of acrylic, I have painted his view a thousand times, and I had started with a dark background.

The result of this happy intersection of circumstances  was that I barely had to think about what I was doing. I operated on automatic, and the results are satisfactory, but I also know this is not the situation where I do my best learning.

Julie Paints Bonnie

Here I should be honest and say I don't really love this 24 x 24" oil on canvas of Bonnie, our substitute model. I like the composition, but not the color harmony. The palette was a split primary: ultramarine and pthalo blue, cadmium and alizarin red, and cadmium and lemon yellow with titanium white. But the harmony is olive green, cerulean, orange, and a warm and cold white. A yucky "harmony."

In the field of literacy, the theory of automaticity explains the inverse relationship between reading comprehension and text complexity. Basically, your brain's juice is so tied up interpreting the longer sentences and complex vocabulary in a difficult text, that you have little energy left to interpret what you are reading. I believe that something similar happens when you switch mediums or try out a new one. In this case my brain may have been so tied up with the difficulty of thinking in oil after a long period of using acrylic that I had no juice left to spend on other issues.

A look at previous winter Firehouse paintings made me realize the actual problem: all of the values are too high. The room was actually darker, but in this painting the brightness level approaches that of an emergency room. With the lower values, the saturation would have come down a tad, but more importantly, the color harmony would have clicked. Orange would have become burnt sienna, cerulean would have become a blue-gray, olive would have turned into a nondescript dark green and so on. You get the picture.

Monday, December 19, 2011


 acrylic on canvas 24 by 30
Prudence is a favorite model.  She has a lot of energy and  takes charge of the space in the room.  I finally did one that  I feel deals with Prudence's space.  Karen

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Painting Occupy

One of our figure painters, Jessica Joy Jirsa, has been painting the Occupy movement in Oakland and San  Francisco. You can view the occupy video put together by another painter Anthony Holdsworth and see some wonderful examples of her work.  Anthony  put together the video to document the events of the last few months at the sites and  he writes about it on his blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some Favorites



Andrew Pick sent these painting to post on the blog. He has been coming for many months often painting in both the morning and evening group on Tuesdays. Soon he plans on moving to New York City and he will be missed in our group. These are some of the paintings he has done and are his favorites.  I believe they are all done in oil on canvas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Signe Models

Signe  acrylic on canvas 18 by 24 
Signe was holding a book in the pose. The big flower pattern stirred up a little bit of the quietness. The lines help me to draw the shape and curves of her body. I added a glass of water on the table, she deserved it.   Philip Ng