Friday, February 29, 2008

Seattle Nights

Night scenes continue to fascinate me and I'm reworking some old ones with better paint quality. Here is one from my yard that shows trees and lights of nearby homes. I have several other small night scenes plus some larger ones and am planning on trying to get them shown as a series of night images. I have a plan to take some photos of downtown Seattle, on a juicy rainy night with reflections, and then work up some city night scenes. Will have to be late at night as some of the best angles are from the middle of the street where the pavement will glow.

The image shown here is 12 x16.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Here are several drawings from my weekly sessions. They are a combination of oil pastels and pencils from 20 minute poses by the model. Have several landscapes in the works and getting a Monet density look on some of them that I like. Will post those soon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Green Lake

Here is another palette knife painting of Duck Island at Green Lake. I'm off to my art lecture series but wanted to post a new work. Also spent a sleepless hour near 1 am last night as it was hot and I couldn't sleep so reworked my yellow abstract I've been working on. Not sure where it will lead but it's always a challenge.

I've been about the challenge of realistic painting versus abstract as the lectures I've been attending are about abstract art and there are several attendees who I can tell don't appreciate abstract or non-objective work, yet, I find it more difficult to do a good abstract than a figure or landscape. Once you have an image in front of you, it limits the process while with an abstract, there are no limiting factors except ones you must choose. These choices are no easier than deciding on the issues of realistic painting and often even more difficult. One only needs to see the loads of bad abstract painting to see this is true while there are many beautiful landscapes and figures painted every day it seems.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Green Lake Night

This is another small painting, 12 x 16, that I'm redoing in a thicker style with the palette knife. I often walk Seattle's Green Lake at night and this image was from a remembered dark night where I could see dark clouds and background against a silver lake. There were just a few lights along the lake and in the distance along with ballfield lights. The lake is a constant for my landscapes and I return to it again and again. I have a large project in mind where I take photos from the middle of the lake and paint a series of works that can be hung around a room on all sides, enveloping the viewer with a 360 degree view of the lake shore. I plan on doing this during the summer when the trees are lush and colors are bright.

Friday, February 22, 2008

New Oregon Landscape

I'm continuing in the thicker paint, palette knife landscape mode. Here is an Oregon coast scene with an unusual angle. I was high up on a cliff, overlooking a smaller cliff, and then the beach was below that. There are trees reflected in the edge of the water. The composition is strange although it follows my reference photo pretty closely. Truth is stranger than fiction and this works better as a photo than a painting but I wanted mainly to get the texture and thickness on the canvas. This was also overpainted with the palette knife on a thinner unsatisfactory painting. Here I had to brush in the waves a little as the knife wouldn't quite give the effect I wanted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Back from Reno

Took a weekend break for a trip to Reno. Nice weather but not much art work except sketching. Finally in the habit of carrying a pad with me again. Also took a few landscape photos of the Truckee River that runs through town.

Finished a small Mexico landscape and worked another layer on a new abstract tonight. Did the small landscape, 8 x 10, with a palette knife after being unsatisfied with the normal painted version. You can see some of the thickness of the paint. I used a new alkyd quick dry medium plus galkyd medium to make the paint the right consistency and insure it dries in a week or two. Using the water soluble oils and these mediums I can use thicker strokes on all my work and still paint a few times a week on the same work without disturbing the layers. Those are three sun bleached granite rocks, really small islands, in the distance. This is the view from the shore in Mazatlan.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Abstracts

Have been working on my two large abstracts and making progress. The 36 x 48 is pretty well finished and here is a detail to show the paint quality and density. You can't appreciate the three dimensionality and physicalness of the paint and brushwork here but it is the look I have been striving for and will continue to expand on. Of course the newer one is a complete contrast and very bright and lively so will have to decide where to go with it. This detail is oil over an acrylic base and the new one is all acrylic so far. Since I paint so many layers and colors, the acrylic lets me get a good start on underlying shapes and colors before I get to the more physical and thicker oil layers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Drawing

Today was my life drawing session with a male model again. I have a tough time getting warmed up in these despite drawing almost every day at home. There is a great book of photographs I use to practice from with very fit models, male and female and I'm used to drawing them. When I get to my drawing sessions, with "real" people, I find it takes a while to get used to the normal proportions of regular people versus the fit models. Need to use more variety of body types to practice from too so I can better draw various proportions. What do they say in the personal ads, HWP. Not many real people are these days. This drawing is on tan paper and I used just a white poster ink marker and a pencil. Has an old master feel to it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Abstract Work

Have been busy painting. Here is a new yellow abstract. Also have the large one pretty well finished although with some of these you never know as you want to keep improving it forever. It's an old one I am painting over so getting the density I want. This new yellow one is 16 x 20 inches and was started as a bright multi-colored abstract based on the other image shown, which is a small oil sketch on unstretched canvas. See if you can spot the transition from the multi-colored work to the larger oil in yellow. I start many paintings by covering the canvas in many colors, then blocking out what I don't want and keeping some smaller marks and sections. This process adds texture and edges for the shapes that are left. I have several large canvases in this style on my abstract page of my Website.

Tonight is the second lecture in the Contemporary Art series at Gage Academy. Although I have a ton of art books (literally), it's nice to get a quick overview with large slides shown. I just don't take time to read like I should although I use the books often to look at the images.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Spokane River Landscape

Have been busy working on several new abstracts and not ready to share them yet. Am reworking an old painting on a 36 x 48 masonite panel that I was never satisfied with. My wife said I have destroyed it but sometimes you need to rework paintings to get to where you want. Have been reading the very good biography of Willem DeKooning and just finished the portion when he was working on his Woman series. The first one gave him trouble and he worked on it for three years, scraping and repainting almost every day. I'm only on the third iteration of the large painting so have a ways to go. Whatever is lost can always be restored. I'm using the water soluble oils so can paint over areas every few days after they "set up." I don't plan on three years on one painting but you never know.

Here is a small landscape based on a scene in Spokane of the river running through town and a small dam. This is 5 x 7 inches and painted nice and loose and thick.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Abstract letters

Here is an abstract looking painting yet it's composed of the alphabet in different sizes and colors. It includes a bull's eye in the center, again made of letters painted in acrylic. Acrylic is great for such a work because by the time you finish part, the rest is dry and you can keep working. It took quite a long time to paint this even though it's only 11 x13 inches. I should have counted how many letters are included. It's probably over a hundred full alphabets so over several thousand letters is a good estimate. Will have to decide if it would be worthwhile to do a larger work or two in this style. It's visually dynamic as I used bright, almost fluorescent colors.

I'm currently also working on redoing an old abstract I wasn't happy with to move it forward to the newer look I desire. Will post this after get it closer to the goal. Now that I have full time to paint (except for my wife and workouts of course), I have to decide what is worth doing. It's a dilemma I didn't face as much before but now with time I have the existential and artistic crisis. I'm hoping that with abstract class to think through the issues, the abstract art lectures, and the work, that these will lead me to my direction. Like most of my life though, I get bored of any one thing - variety is the spice so I'm continuing the drawing sessions and sketching to refine my hand and my style as it's difficult to tell where I will end up in art. I feel I've developed two very strong and beautiful abstract styles but still enjoy the discipline of drawing the figure. Life is meant for challenge.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Artsy Weekend

This weekend I attended the abstract course Sunday afternoon, (taped the Superbowl and watched it all in an hour) where I started a large new painting, photo to follow soon, then Monday night attended a lecture on Abstract Expressionism that was a good review. Today I attended the life drawing and tried a few oil pastels to get a painterly look. Here are a few of the drawings. I'm not that satisfied with these but am on the right track.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Abstract progress

I have started a few works for the abstract art class, one in my swirl style that has the density I like, more dense than most of the previous work I have done in this style . This is in progress but getting the look I want. I started doing this style years ago during spare moments at my day job, using markers, since I didn't have art materials handy. I started then buying silver and gold markers to add to the effect and have quite a few of these 3x5 inch works in a binder as references and inspiration for larger works. I intend to start doing these very large soon, probably by using several canvases combined as I paint in my home and the canvas must fit through a normal door and be transportable up a flight of stairs. During the summer months I can paint in my garage in a pinch but it's way too cold right now. Here is the in-progress work, on a 16x20 canvas board.