Thursday, December 30, 2010

First Apple Group

Now that I'm in my practice mode and working on apples, here's what the entire painting looks like. In this case, I use a 14 x 18 canvas pad sheet that is taped to a cheap mdf(?) board.

Since these are only studies and not for sale, it makes sense to paint small paintings that are to be thrown-away. However, after reviewing the overall composition, it does make for an interesting painting. I think that my next set of apples will be done on a canvas with the lighting going in different directions. May be an interesting painting.

Still Life Study: Apple - Day 4

Still working on my studies of "An Apple a Day". Last night's value study was using Alizarin Crimson with the light shining directly over the top of the apple.

As you can see in this study, I thoughg that it was interesting that you get a significant reflection of the table directly on the apple on all of the bottom sides. The reflection is from the table cloth, itself.

The nice part about these value studies is that I can worry just about getting the shape of the apple correct, the roundness correct, and investigate how the reflections work.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Still Life Study: Apple - Day 3

So, yesterday, I was suffering from a migraine headache and spent most of the day laying down/sleeping. I really didn't want to stand at my easel, but decided that, I can still do some work by drawing a pen/ink version of my apple.

In this case, the main issue has been the drawing of my apple. I did not do any justice to this drawing. The shape is more accurate than the paint versions, but the shading was rather difficult. Rather than setting up the apple with the appropriate lighting, I just placed it on my coffee table with lots and lots of ambient light hitting it from all sides. This caused the shadows/highlights to be totally flat.

However, this is a good exercise in just trying to figure out the problems on drawing the apple. I'll have to try it again with my proper still life setup.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Still Life Study: Apple - Day 2

Second day of the apple study. This time, same apple, but positioned it differently and changed the lighting to be more from the upper left.

Still having issues with the shape/drawing of the apple. Need to do some basic pencil/ink drawings of it to get the rhythm down.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Still Life Study: Apple

After reading an interesting post about what NOT to do as an artist, one of the comments was that you shouldn't wait to paint every 2 - 3 weeks. Not if you want to be a good artist. So, taking that to heart, I'm going to try to step up my painting schedule. Since I have limited time and need to work on my still life studies/realistic painting skills, I have plenty of small setups to paint.

So, last night, I started on an apple. The last time that I did an apple, the colors of the apple were wrong, etc. This time, I decided to do some work on just values.

In this setup, the light is setup directly above the apple and the apple is on a fairly reflective table. The hardest part of this painting was to ignore the secondary light sources from my light above my easel. I had to continuously turn on/off the light to remove the highlights. However, it is interesting to note that the table showed greatly on the non-lit side of the apple. As I was painting, I was making sure that the reflected light on the shadow side did not produce areas that were brighter than the darkest part of the lit side.

Overall, for an initial value study, this was okay. Had some issues with the drawing of the apple and getting the shape right. However, that's why I need the practice.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Latest Painting: Return of Autumn

"Return of Autumn" 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).

This painting is based on a concept drawing in which autumn returns to St. Albans, Vermont.

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.

Got a couple of hours?

This week, I'm on vacation from my full-time job. So, as part of my vacation, as usual, I decided to get some painting done. So, in the last four days, I was able to complete two paintings (16 x 20 and a 9 x 12).

The important part of this information is that I still painted during my usual times. In reality, each painting took about 5 or 6 hours to do, but I worked on them an hour or two every day. Usually, when I think about working on a painting, I think that I need to have about 4 or 5 hours to really paint. What this week, so far, has shown me is that an hour or two every day or every other day, I can still be incredibly productive and get more practice in.

This means that I watch TV less or just don't make excuses that I don't have time to paint. If this is a serious business, and it is, I need to focus more and produce a larger inventory and get my name out there.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Checking out Galleries

Now that my larger works are starting to sell and I'm working towards a larger inventory, I'm considering approaching some galleries. A little while ago, I was thinking that I could never get into a gallery due to the work being far beyond my levels. However, I realized that I was wrong.

Today, my wife and I went to Stowe (Vermont) and checked out a number of their galleries. For galleries that fit my style, my work would not be the best in the gallery, but it wouldn't be the worst, either. This may not be a bad stepping stone to other galleries outside of Vermont.

Before approaching the gallery, though, I need to do several things: 1) Greatly increase my inventory. At this time, I do not have near enough work to show in galleries, craft shows, and around local restaurants/stores/exhibitions. That will be the highest priority for this year. 2) Define what I like to paint and the style. At this time, my favorite paintings are the landscapes with the abstract shapes. I will need to provide more of this type of painting. 3) Check out more galleries to see where I would fit best and the type of traffic the gallery has. The point of getting into a gallery is to sell the painting. If the gallery is not on the beaten path or if there are not a lot of patrons, then the chances of selling a painting at that location is minimal.

Once I can get several local galleries (in Vermont) interested in my works and start building up a recognizable name for myself, I can then expand to other galleries that are outside of the state.

The gallery would only be one avenue of sales. Craft Shows/Art Fairs, the internet, and personal sales would make up other venues. In addition, may look into exploring character creations in oils to try to move into the licensing market (although, this may not be as feasible as I think that it is).

For the time being, I think that, in a year or two, my confidence and skill will be high enough that I can start approaching the galleries.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advanced Doodles

After the last couple of craft shows, I realized that people really do like my concept paintings of landscapes. The part that they like the most is the fact that it is not your traditional oil painting landscape that are produced by a lot of other artists. There are much better landscape painters than me, but I like to think that I provide a unique twist to them.

The current painting that you see is one still in progress. it is based on some photos that I took when I was in northern Vermont. The question from a lot of people at a craft/art show is: how do I come up with the final painting?

When I am not working on a traditional landscape or still life, I like to doodle. The random act of lines crossing each other produces some interesting effects and, eventually, leads to a final painting concept. In the following drawing, you see my basic steps:

The first step is to just start drawing random lines. From there, (2) shows that I got the vision of some sort of landscape lines moving out to something in the background. (3) I abandoned that overall lines, but decided that the the 'S' shape with the landscape plane in the background was potentially more interesting. (4) Shows that I started subdividing the landscape into two distinct areas, land and some clouds in the distance. (5) produces more clouds with some sort of abstract shapes at the base of the clouds/land. (6) I start getting more refined. The clouds begin to look more like bunched trees and then I get the concept of splitting the land in two levels.

The final drawing (7) shows that a more refined drawing into the final concept. In this case, I have the traditional landscape on the bottom of the painting, but a ledge that contains an abstract shape with a closer view of the trees.

As you can tell from the painting in progress, I still follow the general concept, but makes changes as the mood suits me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Well, now that I've been trying the Etsy site off and on for a while, what do I think of it. It's nice, but not for me. My current store: contains my original paintings and prints. The cost to display an item is twenty cents (every time that you renew that item). On top of that, they take a small percentage of the sale.

The main reason that I used the Etsy site was so that I could expand my sales of prints/originals to people that I don't know. Since there are a lot of items on the site and a lot of people know about it, I thought that this would be a good place to start.

I was wrong.

The Etsy site works extremely well for jewelry, craft and clothing artists. It does not work that well for painters and other 2D artists. Part of the reason is that a lot of people are reluctant to purchase paintings in the first place and, more importantly, they come to Etsy to look for a bargain and get something hand-crafted for an extremely low price.

Although I've tried a number of the techniques that they mention, I've sold very very very little on my Etsy shop to people that I didn't know. Even then, the sales to people that I do know has been minimal. Part of the issue is that I don't have the extremely large inventory that is required to get noticed. Most of the people that I saw that was doing well, have more than 200 items to sell. In addition, since there are so many people on Etsy, it's extremely rare that you would ever get on their front page. There's been a number of times that I did a posting of a new item and would not see it on the front page because other listings came directly after mine.

So, as a site to help new people discover you, it's not worth it (for 2D artists). If you are only looking for a site to host your products, it's pretty easy. Although, I would recommend using the Paypal button on your site or using Artfire. As I'm rebuilding my website, I will be be adding Paypal buttons to my site so that people can purchase directly from me.

Note: someone was trying to find my store on Etsy and couldn't. Their store is not searchable by the Google engine and their search engine doesn't find the store unless you type in the exact name. Therefore, you could only find my store by typing in "DougHoppesStudio", not "Doug Hoppes" or "Hoppes", etc.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Still Life: Another Apple

Now that I'm working on the simple shapes, decided to finish up the apple painting that I was working on at home.

After looking at this image, I realized that it still needs work. The roundness of the apple is fine, but it needs to sit better on the table. Kind of has that "floating" effect. This has to do with the fact that the shadow may not be right and I need to include more reflective light from the table into the base of the apple.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Still Life: Apple Study

Last night was another class night (Last one until the beginning of the new year). So, back to still working on the basics, I worked on a similar apple that I am doing at home. Nice part is, since it was class time, I was able to ask for some suggestions about issues that I'm having with my current painting.

So, as you can tell, it's a very similar apple, in terms of shape. The shadows are different. While I was working on the basic massing, my first issue was to determine the relative brightnesses of the objects. I had the table brighter than the apple, but darker than the background. After some squinting, I realized that the table was darker than the apple such that the edge of the apple produces a lost edge on both sides of the apple.

So, after getting the general relative values done correctly, the next step was to go through the basics:

1) Mass in the lightest area (done)
2) Mass in the darkest area (done)
3) Mass in the reflected light (not done at home)
4) Add the darkest area in the shadow side (not done at home)
5) Add the highlights (not done at home).

So, the part that I was having trouble with at home, rounding out the shadow side, was due to the fact that I hadn't massed in the reflected light. Just the massing in the dark/light areas is not enough to produce the roundness of the apple.

So, once I finished all of the steps, the apple, that I did in class, looks pretty good. Now, I just need to remember to finish through with the steps on the one that I'm working on at home.