Thursday, February 25, 2010

Still Life: Orange

Tonight's still life is another fruit: an orange. Okay, this was really really tough. At first, I thought that this would be pretty easy due to the fact that it's almost one single color with a dark/light area and that the object was spheroid.

Ha! Not so easy. The hardest part for me was to create the actual orange color. The typical orange that you get from the tube is too bright and strong. Therefore, you need to tone it down some with some greys. However, after studying the orange for a while, I realized that there's a hint of yellow (due to the lights in the living room), white (due to the bright spot light that I have on the still life) and, naturally wall/table colors.

The other tough part was that, when you look at an orange up close, there's a lot of ridges, dips and speckles. If you try to do each one, as you step back, you lose the roundness of the orange. If you don't do any sort of texture, then the orange is smooth... too much like a ball.

I don't know if I was successful in making it look like an orange, but it was a lot of fun trying to solve those problems.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Still Life: Banana

Tonight, decided to try something a little simpler than the flower... a banana. I'm extremely happy about the way that this turned out. Took about 2 hours, but, I achieved the results that I wanted.

First of all, I like the new table top that I created. Using the interchangeable table tops will definitely make my still life's more interesting. So, I took one of my yellowing bananas and just wanted to work on shape, plane shadow and reflection.

The first thing that I did was lay down the table colors as close as I could. I also drew the basic shape of the banana and laid down the three visible planes: top, side and bottom edge. Remembering two very important rules that Karen Winslow taught me: 1) Don't use greys to darken yellows... they only make them green. Instead, for bright yellow, use Cadmium yellow, for mid-tone yellow, use Yellow Ochre and for dark yellow, use Burnt Umber. So, I applied various layers of grey to those colors and was able to create the nice "old" banana feel.

So, after defining the basic layers (top, side, and bottom) of the banana, it was time to begin adding various levels of tones (by using different amounts of greys to my base color) and modeling the banana. I use a mixture of the table color with the darker banana base colors to create the reflections.

The second thing that I remembered was that everything reflects into others. So, for the base of the banana, I added a bit of the table color to show that the table reflected up into it. For the top of the banana, I added a hint of the wall color.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this painting. Now, onto another still life. It's all about practice.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Still Life: Flower in Vase

Finished my first still life in my home studio. Overall, I like it. The rose looks like a flower, the leaves look like leaves, the vase looks like a vase, etc.

The only part that I'm not happy about is that the edges aren't that well done. I think that the background is a little distracting. However, edge work is definitely one of the marks that indicates a professional painter versus one learning. This is an area that I have to study more.

Overall, I think that it came out okay.

Portable TableTops

As I'm working on my still life setup, I realize that I really want some nice reflective table tops, rather than just fabric. However, I don't have any tables of the height that I needed.

So, decided to make my own "table-tops". My stand where I set up my still life is a 16" x 22" base that is approximately 4 feet high. I cut various pieces of old wood that I had into the base size. Now that the tops are covered, I can get small cans of various varnishes to cover each side of the boards.

Voila! I have multiple setups/reflections for my still lifes setups. If I'm in the mood for a darker top or different type, I just paint the other side of the table top. This is a cheap and easy way to get a different look for each painting.

Now onto painting!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Still Life: Flower - Basic Layout

Now that I have an area for doing still life's, time for more practice. Last night, I began another attempt at a still life. Still lots of work to do.

After my last aborted attempt, I realized that I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. The drawing was wrong, the lighting was wrong, the colors were wrong. Overall, an extremely miserable attempt due to the fact that I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. This time, I decided to slow down and do the painting.... don't worry about what it will look like in the end. The end will take care of itself.

So, Melissa (my wife) had received a flower from the restaurant where we went for our Valentine's dinner. She suggested that that would be a good painting to do. Since I am awful about painting flowers, I decided... "Yeah! The only way that you get better at something is to practice it." So, I decided... time to paint a flower in a vase.

The first thing that I did was to tone the background with a warm burnt sienna/burnt umber mix. Then I just laid out the basic shapes. The nice challenge to this is the clear glass vase. Since I've just started the basic layout, I only concerned myself with the general shape.

So far, I've worked about 1-1/2 hours on it. Today, I should be able to continue work on it and finish it up.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drawing Study: Silhouetted Trees

I've attempted this drawing several times, in the past, and have never been happy with it. This effort turned out a lot better.

The main reason for the unhappiness was that the background mountain/rock was always too dark. This forced the foreground tree to totally disappear. As with many drawings, problems are usually due to inaccurate measures or incorrect values. For the previous drawings, the values were not correct.

Overall, I like this drawing. The parts that work out pretty well are the shadowed trees, the cliffs that the trees are perched on and the light background mountain trees.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Where I do my work

Where do I paint? For my art work, I have a studio in a separate part of the house that contains all of my supplies, canvases, finished paintings and where I do a lot of my preparations/finishings (varnishing, gesso-ing, etc).

However, for actual painting, it's the living room. After spending a full-day at the office, when I come home I want to spend time with my wife and puppies. There is no real urge for me to go to my studio and spend the time alone, there. Therefore, so that I paint more often, the actual work of painting is done in my living room. My wife was very generous in allowing me to have a corner of the living room to do this.

As you can see, I've got my glass palette on the side with the brushes and paint tubes, the easel that holds some fairly large paintings, and (NEW!) a still life setup for practicing. In front of the easel is a natural light lamp to illuminate my easel and, behind the easel, is a clip-on lamp to illuminate the still life. Naturally, there's a rug because I've dropped my brushes a couple of times on the floor.

Another huge benefit of having the easel/painting in the living room is guilt. When I am just sitting there, feeling pretty lazy, I look over and see a half-done painting. My mind immediately thinks "If you want to be a full-time successful artist, you have to paint... is watching TV right now going to help you achieve your goal?" Sometime I do need the downtime and not think about art work, but most of the time, I realize, the only way to become a better painter is to paint.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Karen and Jack Winslow

Another blog that I read is by my instructor, Karen Winslow (Cambridge, Vermont). Once I decided that I liked oil painting, I saw her website and absolutely loved the work that her and her husband, Jack, did. So, took a one-week workshop. Painted 8-hours each day. After the second day, my work looked so much more professional, than my current works (at that time). She was offering a weekly class, so, decided to attend that class. I learned soooo much about "mass painting" from her. She offers various workshops during the year and I highly recommend that you attend. Her and her husband are extremely nice people and the workshops are a lot of fun.

Gurney's Journey

I was trying to think of different things to add to my blog. Having my drawings and paintings are useful, but they aren't what also makes me an artist. I read a lot of techniques from different disciplines, lots of different blogs, etc. So, decided that this information may be useful to others.

One of my favorite art blogs is by the author/illustrator of Dinotopia: James Gurney. He has an extremely informative blog about different painting/drawing techniques and how to approach paintings. In addition, his works are first-rate and extremely creative. Lots of the blog postings talk about the basic steps and thought processes for developing a successful painting and methods of various masters.

Gurney's Journey

This is one of my favorite art blogs. First of all, he's an amazing artist. Secondly, he's very strange and extremely creative. Thirdly, the information that you get from his blog is very useful.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Drawing Study: Stream

After toning my canvas for my next painting, decided to work on some more drawing skills. At this time, I'm still in the mood of water, but needed to practice on some rocks. So, this drawing is partially based on a photograph that I took when I was in Northern Vermont and part of the drawing is from my head.

From some of the outdoor painting instructions that I learned from Jack Winslow, the rocks are fairly simplistic items with the lightest part being the top, the mid-values being the side and the darkest parts being the shadowed areas out of the sun. The other important lesson that I learned was that the shadow area of the rock is not purely dark. It is actually a mixture of dark-mid-values and dark-dark values. There is always something to see in it.

For me, I personally like jagged rocks. They tend to give me more of a feeling of "rockiness" when I'm drawing in pen/ink.

I like the layout of this drawing and will probably incorporate it into a future painting.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Finished Painting: Overlook

"Overlook" is an original 14" x 18" oil painting created on a 1" stretched, high-quality canvas. The painting is presented as unframed (Sides are painted).

The concept of this painting was to show the tree as it overlooks the water. Remembering when people stand by the water's edge and look into it, I wondered if trees felt the same way. Did they see shapes in the water and reflect on their lives? Did they imagine wonderous worlds and what happens in those worlds?

All Artwork is copyrighted to Doug Hoppes Studio and is not to be copied or reproduced in any form without the permission of the artist. Sale of this item does not transfer its copyright.

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