Wednesday, October 30, 2013

National Gallery of Art - Masked Ball at the Opera

Well, it looks like I have done precious little, but I worked for four hours today.  I had some struggles.  I initially sketched in the scene with a DARK watercolor pencil.  I usually just sketch in with my brush and a light neutral paint but really wanted to get the details so I decided to go with the pencil.  As I painted today the colors kept getting tainted by the watercolor pencil sketch and all my colors got muddy.  It was very frustrating.  I still have a long way to go, but will just be careful with my strokes to try not to mix with the pencil too much.  I didn't notice it last week because because I used dark colors all day long.  This week as I worked on the walls and light sconces it was quite a challenge.  Ah, well, I am here to learn!  

And here is the obligatory action shot…

The gallery was nice and quiet today.  I worked in peace most of the day.  One woman did ask if I wanted it to look like the original…huh????  Whadda ya think???  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

National Gallery of Art Copyist Program

This is the piece I have chosen to copy at the National Gallery of Art.  It is titled "Masked Ball at the Opera" by Edouard Manet.  The sketch, by Manet,  for the original painting was done at the event, but then he completed it in his studio.  He spent months working on it often using friends to model.  It is thought that he included his likeness in the of the many top hatted gentlemen.  At the bottom right of the painting is a fallen dance card.  Manet chose to place his signature on the dance card.

I chose this painting for many reasons not the least of which is to challenge myself.  I love the energy in the piece created by the crowd of people.  The top hats intrigued I do love hats...and I love the line the hats create that move the eye across the canvas.  The pops of color strategically placed also lets the eye dance across the sea of black.  I knew the hats would be a challenge and I knew all the black would also test my abilities.  

So I begin.  I gridded the canvas and counted the hats in each quarter of the painting.  Even with the grid and counting getting the correct number across in the correct proportions was daunting.  That occupied most of my time at the gallery.   I will be seeing top hats in my sleep!

As always, I encountered some interesting characters.  A group of home schooled children were on a field trip and stopped by to watch for a while.  I was on a brief respite from my sketching so I offered to take questions.  It is so rewarding to see young people interested in art and actually be able to answer their questions!  

So I look forward to next wednesday...the journey continues...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Qiang Huang Workshop

Last week I took a Qiang Huang workshop.  Though I don't usually paint still life paintings I was very interested in his techniques and learning his use of color and light.  He was fascinating to watch...every stroke meaningfully, masterfully executed.  He is truly a master of his craft.  

His lesson plan included different stages.  Placement or composition, value, color, edges, and finally seeing the painting as a whole.  He talked about contrasts...thick vs. thin...dark vs. light...texture vs. smooth to add interest and dimension to the piece. 

Things I really liked about the class were that it was relatively small in size...15 students.  Qiang was very careful to walk around the room and spend quality time with each student.  He was thoughtful in his critiques as he spoke.  

This is the 9 x 12 painting I worked on in Qiang's class.  I learned so very much and highly recommend the class to anyone looking to improve their work.  

Sue Churchgrant took the workshop with me and has an excellent blog about the class...much more in depth than mine.  Definitely worth a look.

In other news...I begin a new painting at the National Gallery of art tomorrow!  I am very excited..but for now I am headed to my easel!

Monday, October 7, 2013

You Gonna Share That Gelato?

"You Gonna Share That Gelato?"
12 x 16
Oil on Raymar Panel


This is, of course, from my recent trip to Switzerland/Italy/Germany.  We were in Italy here...where else would you get gelato!  This dog desperately wanted some of the delicious treat but waited patiently until he was allowed to lick the bowl.  I love the look between the anxious understanding.  

The setting was one of the cobblestone stairways...of which there are Italy.  They all look so quaint and foreign to me that I could only think of movie sets and how wonderful it would be to film real life in Italy!

Yesterday my son agreed to sit for me so I could paint from life.  Here is his Steampunk look. He owns the top hat and glasses.  I imagine I will be doing more of these as he has agreed to sit again...and his wife has also relented and will sit for me also.  It is such a good exercise.  This one was done in three 20 minute sessions...then I called it done.  When I do these I am trying to get as reasonable likeness as I can as quickly as I can and not be too knit-picky about it.  I am pretty pleased but will do better next time!

Well, arrivederci!!!  Which means, of course..."till we meet again"!  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Putt, putt, putting around! The little Golfer

8 x 10
Oil on Raymar Panel

This is the grandson of a dear friend.  The whole family golfs and they have hit the links with the little one already.  I love the gesture in this on..the child looks so confident.  I just love the body language.  

I talk about sketching a lot.  I think it is very important to my development to sketch as often as I can.  I have often felt bad about my isn't pretty.  I have been chastised during classes for not having cleaner lines..."Strong, bold lines are what is required" I am told.  I just can't seem to get there.  I have decided my style is scribbling...I like scribbling.  There is no is what it is...scribbling.  So here is my latest scribble.  I often sketch...or scribble in the evenings...Bruce is a easy model.  When no one is there I pull out my mirror and do a self portrait.  I have done dozens.  So, now I embrace the scribble!  I feel so much better!