Sunday, February 27, 2011

After the Thunder

...After the Thunder... 
oil on linen - 12" x 16"

I was just amazed by this sunset! The rain was ending, but still sprinkling. As the light of the sunset became red, it illuminated even the fog on the ground. I was sitting on a deck, attempting to do a plein air watercolor. (In the rain, ha!) Anyway, the photos survived, so this painting is from them. I started this painting in Deborah Paris's Painting Skies class, but added about 6 layers of glazes and scumbles after the class was over!

Stretcher Bar Drama

Today, I had "stretch canvas for portrait" at the top of my "things to do" list. Remember the child portrait in charcoal I blogged about a long time ago? Well, that was a preparatory study for a portrait I was planning to do... before I got sidetracked with moving, etc. It is to be 15" x 19" to match the size of another portrait which is of the boy's sister. So, the first step here is to assemble the stretcher bars. I had the proper size stretchers, which I had ordered through the mail, months ago, when I lived in WV. They were still in their shrink wrap. When I removed the shrink wrap, I saw that there were problems. Can you see what they are?
If you look down the length of this bar, it is warped. (See the slight curving to the left?) A painting stretched on this bar will not sit flush against the frame. Sometimes you even see warped bars in the stores, so it is always good to hold them up and check. Also, there was another problem:
See how where the two edges meet, it is not level? The canvas will form a pucker here that no amount of stretching will be able to smooth out.
Well, those are problems of having to use mail order and not being able to see what you are getting, but now I live in an urban area and can just go out to the art supply store. Yea!!! So, I went to the Dick Blick store.
This was the sign at the entrance to the Dick Blick store. Food for thought.

Well, they had 19," but no 15" bars. However, the extremely nice clerk gave me a list of all the art supply stores in the area! So I went to a small store in Berkeley, Artists and Craftsmans, where they had some very nice, good quality bars, just what I needed!

See the difference? This is straight!

This is level, at least on the outer rim, where the canvas will be touching.

Okay, so I assembled the stretchers by tapping the edges together, carefully, with a hammer. Now it's important that the stretcher be square. So, here I am pressing it against a door frame to square it up.
This, of course, presumes that your door frame is square. If you live in an older house that has settled, it may not be. When I was in my previous house, I had to measure corner to corner, to square it up. Otherwise all my paintings would have been parallelograms!
Measure across each corner diagonally, they should be equal. Sorry about being so long-winded. And there's more!! But I'll save it for the next post.

Storm Break

...Storm Break...
oil on linen panel - 12" x 16" 

I love problem solving, which means I had a lot of fun with this one! Originally, I challenged myself to do the whole painting in black and white and only have the three spots of bright blue in the sky. But when I did that, it was basically a gray painting, and it was rather dull and uninspiring. I like the dynamic shapes of the clouds! They seem to be having a scrimmage in a gentle U-shaped bowl composition. So, I reworked the painting, putting more color in the shadows. Now I am happy with it. For some reason, the idea of two clouds duking it out, makes me smile.

Meanwhile, Oscar watched the whole thing from his high perch in the corner of the loft. It is hard for me to find a place to put paintings to dry, because he goes everywhere. I'm thinking of putting up some narrow wall shelves (too narrow for a cat!)

Deepening Shadows

...Deepening Shadows...
oil on linen panel - 8" x 10"

This little scene is close to where I live, and it always looks so good! I want to paint it every time I walk by! The place is actually called Meeker Slough, but I didn't think that sounded like a very appealing title. Besides, the subject of the painting is the mood, not the place. The place is just the setting, to create the mood, or feeling. Sometimes I get totally blocked trying to think of titles for paintings.

Right now, we are having a storm with rain and 20 mph winds, and temps in the 30's. All the poor fruit trees got confused by the nice weather and are in bud, so we are hoping the temperature won't drop further. The plants here are usually confused! Some trees just dropped their autumn leaves last week. The spring flowers are blooming along the Bay Trail.

Point Isabel Sunset

...Pt. Isabel Sunset...
 oil on canvas on panel - 6" x 6"

This was a beautiful evening at the dog park at Point Isabel. There were a lot of people there with their dogs (which I didn't include in the painting). I had taken an online class from Deborah Paris on Painting Skies, which was really good! So, I want to do some more sky paintings. This one is quite small because I am trying out the technique and composition to see if I want to do a larger one. It has a fantastic glow, due to the final glaze of Gamblin transparent orange and brown pink.