Completed window study


I am finished with this window study. I found a way to fit some energy into this small piece by jamming my princeton neptune #8brush into my palette, drying it out then jamming it and scraping it into the paper. That brush is great for that sort of thing. I also splattered and dabbed paint on the siding and added more and more paint throughout unevenly, dropping different colors into way paper, dabbing and dipping more in. I like how this one turned out. Might be worth a bigger sheet of paper. I am looking forward to doing some 20×30 paintings this winter. For now I am experimenting with smaller and atypical compositions to work out pieces and ideas.

Here’s a close up. Thanks for reading.



Starting a small Wyeth inspired study

After seeing a whole exhibit on windows by Wyeth, I thought I should do one of my own based on a window at my Aunt’s farm. This is a 5×7 study in progress, just to see how I might proceed if I decide to do something larger. 5×7 is way to small for this composition, and I wanted for it to be quick, but it soon started getting tight without the room for me to do much interesting with the brush. I am focusing more on developing the darkness with a few highlights inside. This would probably be easier to do larger. Need to let it dry for a while before getting back at it. The wood window and siding should be fun.

Thanks for reading.


Finishing the vertical sunset


I took the risk and put the trees in. I started with a lower stroke of nickel azo yellow to capture the light, then quickly laid some perylene maroon over that, followed by Prussian blue. I was working on the assumption that things would get bluer at the top, and I think I overworked it a bit. Maybe next time I will use a smaller brush, or at least be a little more careful. But I think it came out pretty well with the powerful sunset coming through the trees. The effect worked. A little more precision on the execution next time.

As I was doing this I thought it might be cool to do a similar scene but with cranes instead of trees to make it an industrial urban version. Until then, here’s the finished painting more close up. Thanks to everyone who liked the work in progress and the vertical format. I think I will do at least a few more like this.


Happy Thanksgiving and a Vertical Sunset Painting in Progress

On the way home from work this week I saw an incredible sunset through tall trees. I couldn’t stop to take a picture or paint it live at the time, but it was such a great candidate for a vertical composition that I tried to work it from memory and invention.

In looking at Turner’s skies, you can really see the movement and energy in them. He often does swirled, rounded skies, emphasizing the curvature of the earth. I couldn’t fit all of that in such a narrow composition, so I tried to work with angles to show the clouds and the light coming from somewhere and going to somewhere else.

In case I mess up the trees I am posting the work in progress since the sky came out pretty well. I can’t leave it as is anyway because of the damaged paper. I don’t know, maybe that isn’t noticeable. Also, I think I need to study some really tall skinny trees before I put them in here. Daniel Smith lemon yellow around the white for the brightest light seemed to work pretty nicely. I just got a tube of it a couple weeks ago and have been using some here and there. Seeing it here really makes me love that color.

It’s been nice getting some painting time in on Thanksgiving. My daughters really wanted to paint this morning, so they got me motivated today.

Happy Thankagiving!

Thoughts on Andrew Wyeth “Looking Out, Looking In” at the National Gallery

On Monday my dad and I took lunch at the National Gallery to see the Andrew Wyeth Exhibit, “Looking Out, Looking In.” The National Gallery had recently acquired “Wind From the Sea,” so they built an exhibit around his paintings of windows. The reviews appeared mixed, but that wasn’t the point at all for me. This exhibit was mostly watercolors, with very little attention paid to his tempera works. Fine with me. His watercolors, especially when viewed up close, are truly incredible. It’s hard from prints to get a full understanding of just how rough and aggressive his watercolor painting style was, how much he paint he laid on in the dark areas, how thick his abstract applications were, even though they were always well structured. This gave me a greater appreciation of his work.

Looking back to my commentary a few posts ago on the Jamie Wyeth exhibit at the MFA in Boston, I used Andrew Wyeth as a bit of a counterpoint for Jamie, saying I prefered the range in Jamie’s work. The National Gallery show, by nature of its subject, stuck within a narrow range, but that hardly mattered when looking at the works up close. There was so much to admire, so much to learn from. I’ve been fortune to be able to see Sargent last summer and both Wyeth’s this year. They’ve all really helped with my painting.

Coming out of the museum, we could see the Washington Monument enshrouded in clouds and steam on a cold rainy day. Really perfect to see Wyeth’s work on a day that used his color palette, and perfect inspiration for a quick vertical painting.

Thanks for reading.


Trying out a new sketchbook

I am trying out a new sketchbook (Strathmore mixed media with the brown cover). This is my first real attempt at a sketch in it. There was an interesting cerulean tint coming though so I tried to capture that. The light on the Corbu love seat in the background was the more interesting thing. So far so good. With any of my sketches, I have to remind myself to stay patient and don’t get too ambitious and try to make a full painting. Painting in any sketchbook is very different. I think a little pen is important so the painting has structure (something important for me because I’ve been getting away from structured paintings, which is fine, but then I lose practice in drawing). It’s hard to build up too many washes and have the paint take care of everything. Anyway, if I want to do a proper painting, I should use proper watercolor paper. I need to remind myself of that. This simple sketch turned out okay, and I like the sketchbook so far. The paper is a little better than the Stillman and Birn Alpha, I think.

Thanks for reading.

Another tree study and a review of the Escoda Versatil

I don’t want autumn to pass without doing some good tree and foliage sketches, so here is this morning’s added to last week’s.

I recently got an Escoda Versatil #10 travel round. I love my Escoda Optimo #12, but I wanted something similar to carry around. The Versatil does seem to perform very similarly to sable. The bristles catch on the paper the same way and seem to hold the same amount of water and paint and release it similarly. It’s hard to tell the difference between this and sable except that the bristles hold together a little more on the Versatil than on the Optimo. Sometimes I like to hold the brush perpendicular to the surface and spread the bristles out that way to make different marks. That doesn’t work as well on the Versatil, but that’s a minor point, and one that might prove wrong over time as I use the brush more and differently. I really like this brush. I did this painting primarily with it, and a little with the Isabey #6 red sable. Compared to the Versatil, the Isabey doesn’t hold up. Too soft, too few hairs. Though the Versatil is bigger, there’s more control in it. It’s a great brush. For anyone curious about this as a replacement for Kolinsky sable during the shortage or even after, this one really seems to meet the need. Here’s a close up of the painting done with it.


Starting Early On a Winter of Study with Oscar Newman and a David Tripp Style Tree Study

When the weather gets cold I get more studious. Now that I have a daily bus ride to and from work that totals about 2 hours a day I have plenty of time on my hands. Therefore it seems right to declare this to be Winter of Study, even though it’s still fall.

On the reading side, my winter of study will be focused on the human side of housing, finance, planning, and architecture. I have some background in architecture history, but there is always more to learn, and now is the right time to be deliberate about it. To start it off, I am reading Oscar Newman’s 1972 work “Defensible Space,” a concise summary of which happens to be on the front cover in the picture above.

On the painting side, I want to take a more deliberate approach to my work in a few ways. First, I just want to do more small works of whatever for practice more frequently so I can get better at working quickly and confidently. Second, I want to focus more on people. On the first subject, I did a small tree study of a tree in my backyard. My house is on a hill and backs up to woods and a creek, so there is no shortage or leaf and tree compositions to do. I like the way David Tripp has done small studies of these on his blog, so thought I should start my winter of study on the painting side with something in his style. Here’s a close up on it under a mat.

Over time, I hope to bring my painting and my work in housing together, but I need to be more confident in my abilities to do so effectively and regularly.

And for anyone interested in what’s in my sketching palette:

Daniel Smith French Ultramarine
Winsor and Newton Cerulean Blue
Sennelier Turquoise Green (pg50)
Maimeri Blu Prussian Blue

Daniel Smith Lemon Yellow
Daniel Smith Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Sennelier Yellow Lake (py150–nickel azo yellow)
Sennelier Viridian (mix of viridian and pg7. I thought it was pure viridian when I bought it)

Sennelier Cad Red Light
Maimeri Blue primary red magenta
Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon
Sennelier Titanium White (will likely replace with white gouache as it looks better on toned paper).

Thanks for reading.