Thursday, December 29, 2011

On-location Sketch Book Studies

Here are some recent sketchbook entries. These were all quick sketches (ten minutes or so), done on location in pen and ink and painted later in the studio. The application of paint took another ten minutes.

I was focused on the big idea: composition, value and mood, and pretty much avoided any detail. Light and shadow were important as well and I made expressing that a priority.

Using Quick Studies to Design a Painting

This series of images shows the process I sometimes use in developing the composition and values for a painting. I like to have a strong value pattern of lights and darks, and preparing these small studies helps me keep on track as I work on the final painting. When I am unsure of where to go next (or what color/value to use), I consult the sketch.

I usually start small with a pencil thumbnail sketch to block out the big shapes and values, then proceed to a small color version, sometimes using pen and ink. From there I prepare a larger version, usually in color. I begin to familiarize myself with the subject and note any details I want to add. After all of this preliminary work, I tackle the final version.

Even though I have theoretically resolved everything, I still leave a lot of room for change and for the "painting to work itself out on the paper" as Robert E. Wood said.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Granada Building, Santa Barbara

This quick watercolor study was done in a large Aquabee sketch pad.


This is a scene at the former Ambassador College where stone steps go past a pond and climb up through thick trees.

The Green Hotel

The Green Hotel in Pasadena: pen with watercolor on hot press paper.

City Hall

Here is another sketch of the Pasadena City Hall, one of my favorite subjects. This was done with pencil and watercolor on hot press paper. I wanted a slightly different perspective, so I used a vertical composition.

The Langham

This is a sketch of the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, from the back, where the building wraps around the wide lawn. I did the drawing with pen on hot press paper before washing it with color.

Pasadena Playhouse

Here is a recent painting I did of the Pasadena Playhouse. I did a loose pencil sketch on hot press watercolor paper and painted it with bold colors, splashing and dripping paint in a casual way. I included a small value study in the lower right corner.

I mounted this sketch to a gesso'd foam core panel, and added a series of small pen and ink composition drawings and color notes below it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Palette

I use two palettes for the majority of my work: a Winsor & Newton Cotman Field Sketch Box for my sketchbook work; and a John Pike palette for my studio work. I use Holbein transparent watercolor for both palettes.

The field sketch box comes with student grade half pans which I remove and replace with a squirt from the tube. I do not fill the Pike palette with the entire contents but rather refresh the palette before each painting session with a small amount of paint. I spray both palettes with water a few minutes before painting to make sure the paint is nice and juicy.

Here are my colors:

Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Cadmium Red Light
Permanent Yellow Orange
Gamboge Nova
Greenish Yellow
OLive Green
Cobalt turquoise Light
Cerulean Blue
Cobalt Blue
Marine Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Mineral Violet
Raw Sienna
Burnt Sienna
Burnt Umber

For the present time I no longer use Opera, or Titanium White, if I can help it, although it is shown in the above photo.

I leave out Greenish Yellow, Cobalt Turquoise Light and Mineral Violet when using the field box as it only has twelve slots.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Interpreting Photographs Part 2

This is the Chinatown Metro Station.

Interpreting Photographs

Here is a street in Chinatown.

My Home and Studio

This is my home and studio: a 1909 California Craftsman Bungalow on a beautiful street in Bungalow Heaven.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

I painted this many years ago, during the first California Art Club Mission San Juan Capistrano Paint out.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Art Gallery

After exploring acrylics, oil, and collages, and being in a number of other galleries, I have returned to the thing I do best: working in transparent watercolor; and focusing my effort in one gallery: Galerie Gabrie in Pasadena. We have been together since before the beginning, when Jasminka was still at Poulson's Gallery. She gave me my start in a serious gallery, and when she left to start her own, I followed. Through the years I dabbled in other cool and exciting mediums, and explored different ways to paint, which has contributed to the way I paint today. Now it time to relax and paint in the way I paint best, doing the subjects I love most.

Wine Label

I am doing a wine label for a friend. He is a small independent vintner who makes awesome wine. The scene on the label is an interpretation of his home, where he makes and bottles his wine. My son Jeremy helped me with the label design.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena

Here are some new paintings of the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Los Angeles River Sketch

This painting is an interpretation of the Hyperion Avenue Bridge as seen from the Los Angeles River Greenway Trail, looking South.

I was hiking south along the Los Angeles River Greenway Trail taking photos of the river for reference. It was a warm Saturday morning in June and the trees in the river were bright yellow and green. The river was flowing gently and reflected the blue sky perfectly. I simplified the bridge architecture in order to communicate the pure elegance of the scene more effectively: the calm blue river, ducks flying overhead, the trees growing in the water, the graceful arches of the bridge, and the power lines. This is the essence of the Los Angeles River to me, nature coexisting with industry in an interesting juxtapositioning of unrelated elements.

This painting is going to be on the cover of the October Westways Magazine.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Recent Sketchbook Work

Here is some recent sketchbook work. I have been using the facing page to do small thumbnail value sketches, pen studies, and color explorations. If I have a photo of the scene, I will paste that is as well, for later reference. Or in the case of my many relaxing afternoons sitting on my back deck, the label from a beloved cigar, as seen in the garage sketch.

Working Small and Fast

A few years ago I was in Vermont teaching a number of watercolor classes for Holbein. One of the classes was how to paint outside, so we packed lightly, braved the August heat and humidity, left our hotel/conference center, and walked outside and across the road to this little farm. The scene was very commonplace: just a white frame house with a screen porch, a detached garage and some trees. I found a comfortable spot and did this series of scenes using my Sanford Uniball Micro pen and my 6" x 8" Aquabee sketchbook.

I was under a little pressure for two reasons: one, it was hot out; and two, I was teaching a class and I like to keep things moving and interesting. That has the advantage of forcing me to work fast and loose and intuitively. I don't have any time to massage things, I have to draw and slap on the paint quickly. The result is either a sharp little vignette, or a spectacular failure, but either way, I don't waste much time.

I am pleased with these little sketches because they express an immediacy of thought and application. Each one has a nice and simple composition. The darks are very dark, and the lights very light. Some areas are even left unpainted. There is very little detail, most everything is left to the imagination.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rejection and Resolve

I received an email this morning telling me that my submission to an art show on the west side was not accepted. I hate when that happens. I would think I would get used to it by now, but I never do. But rejection just strengthens my decision to keep doing what I am doing, and not waver from what I love.

Watercolor Cards

Here is a series of cards I painted for Suzanne.

Pasadena Scenes

Here is a series of small paintings of Pasadena scenes I recently completed. I had a collection of 6" x 6" cradled wooden panels that I wanted to use, so I picked six favorite images, sketched them in pen on Arches hot press paper and painted them with watercolor before mounting them to the gesso'd panels with gel medium. I applied two coats of acrylic gloss varnish and four coats of Kamar varnish to complete the paintings.

I liked the arrangement of all six in single composition so I am in the process of having some Giclee's made, which will be for sale soon.