Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Loomis Reprint

I just received notice from that the reprint of Andrew Loomis' Creative Illustration, for which they had been accepting pre-orders, will no longer be available.  It's possible that it might still be available from other sources, they said, but I'm afraid that this is a good indication that the new printing has been scrapped. 

Mr. Owl, how many paint strokes does it take?

I am one of those artists who can't restrain himself from noodling a painting.  I'd really like to be able to lay in the perfect stroke, and just leave it, but some character flaw prevents me from doing that.  Oh, how I wish my work was more painterly!

Illustrator Eric Peterson once suggested to me that I should set the number of paint strokes I wanted to use before commencing a painting, and limiting myself to that many.  He felt it would be a good exercise for me to learn how to suggest an object in as few strokes as possible if I had a finite number to exhaust.

It may be time for me to get out my Yahtzee dice, and toss them around to see how many strokes will be in my next piece!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Colors of Scott Christensen

When I first toyed with the idea of working en plein air, I had just discovered Scott Christensen, and I was a fast fan of his work.  I decided to emulate him by using his color palette when working out-of-doors, which, at the time, consisted of the following colors:

- Titanium White
- Ultramarine Blue
- Cadmium Yellow Pale (or cadmium lemon)
- Rembrandt Permanent Red, Medium
- Holbein Grey of Grey
- Rembrandt Cold Gray

My first forays into landscape oil sketches were made with these colors, and I was happy enough with the results.

Since then, however, Scott has worked with Vasari Classic Artists' Oil Colors in New York City to produce his most frequently mixed colors as ready-to-purchase, tubed pigments.  The line is not inexpensive (because of the cadmium yellow in the mixtures), but they are wonderful paints.  Vasari itself produces a high quality oil color, and these Christensen landscape colors are convenient to have on hand.

The Christensen colors Vasari produces are:

- Adobe (formerly called Red Rock)
- Bice
- Bluff
- Silver Point
- Jasper
- Shale
- Ship Rock
- Cedar

On my last plein air piece I used some of these colors (bice, jasper, shale, cedar, and ship rock), and I loved the ease of squeezing them right onto my palette.  Maybe, eventually, I will buy the remaining colors in the series.

(Images in this post are sketches by Christensen.  The best of these he enlarges in his studio.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday in the Park with Matt

Yesterday, I went out and did another Sunday plein air painting.  This time, I headed out to the Ken Lockwood Gorge, which runs from Annandale, through Lebanon Township, and ends in Califon, NJ.  It's wonderful having such a beautiful location only five minutes from my house.

Lately, I've been carrying out my supplies in a 2-day pack.  The entire setup weighs 42 pounds, including a rather hefty tripod, and a full-sized arm palette which I've gotten in the habit of using.  I've yet to carry this whole apparatus more than half-a-mile to a location, so I haven't felt the urgency to pare it down yet to a reasonable weight.

My pochade box is made by Open Box M.  I have the 10" X 12" model, and I've been pretty happy with it.  When I went shopping for a pochade box a few years back, my choices were Open Box M or a Guerilla Painter Box, and I chose the former because it looked of quality, and seemed lighter and more compact (ha, you can see how little the weight concerns me now!).  My needs seem to be different currently, and I probably would buy one, if I were shopping now, that had room to hold more items (paint tubes, brushes, painting knives, etc.).

Charley Parker recently posted an article all about pochade boxes, and it is a good read.  If I had to do it all over again, I might choose the same brand Charley did:  Alla Prima Pochade.

The hefty tripod I mentioned is a Bogen model 3221.  It was designed for photographing wildlife, and is very versatile.  When not supporting my pochade box or my SLR or my video camera, I use it to jack up my mini van.  I've never had it blow over.

I chose not to paint a vista this time, but a more intimate scene.  I just can't help myself from putting the detail in, however.  So much for working on being painterly!

Ken Lockwood Gorge   Oil 6" X 8"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Artist as Model

I have yet to do a self portrait of any significance, but I have done plenty of paintings which included me.  Let's face it;  I am my own most convenient model.  This guy doesn't outsource work, he dons a costume, sets the camera's timer, and makes a mad dash to get in place.

I came across some photos I took of myself for use in past illustration projects, and I decided to share.  I hope they make you laugh as much as they made me.

I've been a Hero

A Legend

A Commander

A Soldier

An Ogre

A Dwarf
(yes, I am carrying a garbage can lid and wearing a colander on my head)

A Farmer

And the Undead

Heck, I've even played Dead!

These costumes, and many others, were made up of found objects, or were produced by my wife and me for various projects.  I was working mainly in the science fiction and fantasy genre, so any costume we created had a good chance of being re-used.  Our home is now filled with costumes and props, which are still a great reminder of how wonderful it is to have a job where you get to play like a kid while getting your work done.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Plein Air Sunday

Yesterday, I packed up my pochade box and headed to an area nearby that I always find breathtaking.  This farm is  posted to warn off trespassers, but there never seems to be much activity, so I thought I'd be okay.  Of course when I got there, they were cutting the fields and baling the hay;  my timing was perfect as usual.  No one minded my presence, however, so I set up my panel, and painted, while tractors and dust swirled around me.

I think the subject was too big for my 6" X 8" panel, or I was too small for the subject.  Next time, I should paint something a bit more intimate.

This farm did give me an idea, though.  The property is part of New Jersey's preserved farmland.  It might be nice to preserve all of these same parcels of land in paint.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The DuMond Book

Another book to which I am looking forward is Maynard D. Stewart's The Language of Painting, a book on the teachings of Frank Vincent DuMond.  Stewart was a student of DuMond, and spent ten years writing this book, but became discouraged when no publisher was interested in acquiring this manuscript.  That was nearly two decades ago, and now, with the encouragement of friends, Stewart has been able to connect with  Watson-Guptil, who have decided to bring his work to print.  Maynard is in the process now of organizing permissions for the use of the images he chose for the book, and hopefully we'll see the book on the shelves in the next couple of years.  Everyone who has so far read his notes, say that it is a wonderful instructional manual destined to rank amongst the best out there.

A Day In the City

Jeremy Lipking

Yesterday, I took a trip into Manhattan.  After visiting New York Central Art Supply and Vasari to pick up some supplies, I went over to The Grand Central Academy of Art to see some friends.  California artist, Jeremy Lipking, was teaching a 5-day workshop at the academy, and my other  friends, Nicole Moné and Kristy Gordon, were in the class.

Kristy Gordon

After class, Nicole, Kristy, Jeremy, his wife; Danielle, Kevin McEvoy, his wife; Margaret, and son, Liam, and  Katie Swatland, all went out to dinner.  Casey Baugh, who was down from Massachusetts, also joined us.  It was such a great time being with like-minded people, discussing art, and to be amongst so much talent was a great honor.

Painting by Nicole Moné

For all of those who do not know these artists, I invite you all to look them up, and enjoy the fruits of all of their labors.  Check out Jeremy's and Casey's DVDs, too, and if you get the opportunity, then by all means take a workshop with these talented artists, or sign up for a class at Jacob Collins' Grand Central Academy.

Jeremy Lipking's demo

Monday, August 11, 2008

Memory Drawing and the Free Model

The illustrator Eric Peterson often suggested to me valuable art lessons.  One day he offered me this exercise:  Watch the evening news and draw the anchorperson from memory once the broadcast ended.  The model is free, and will always return to position for you (although, always facing fully front).


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gnome Spotting

Running near my house is the Columbia Trail, an old railroad bed that has had the tracks removed, and is now a recreation path.  The other day, while my son and I were taking an evening stroll, we couldn't shake the feeling that we were being watched.  I wrote it off as squirrels, until we came along this little door at the base of a tree, several feet off the footpath.  We had obviously stumbled upon an area of heavy gnome activity!

For all of you crypto-zoologists out there, I was able to snap off this picture of what I believe is a gnome.  He was moving fast, but I feel I distinctly saw a toadstool cap, and a little white beard as this little creature flashed by.

There was no one at home behind the gnome's little door, but there was a note inviting visitors to take a "prize," and to leave one in return.  I don't know if this generous gnome also grants wishes, but if he does, there's a large studio with lots of controllable lighting and a Hughes easel smack dab in the middle of it in my near future!