Friday, July 19, 2013

to study

Last summer a friend of mine gave me some simple advice about how to approach painting:

Take it easy, he said.

I was in a horrible mood, grumpy from a day of fighting with paint, so I did NOT want to hear it. I was determined to learn things the hard way. 

But of course he was right, and I think I am just now catching on. 

I used to feel too rushed to do a study for each portrait, and the result was that I would put more pressure on myself to get it right the first time -- ironically creating more work by incessantly "fixing" the places I'd messed up. 

Now I really see the value of the study, not least because that's where I take it easy:

And that feeling of looseness and spontaneity might be more important than getting the nose just right.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013


A few weeks ago, my dad & step-mom's peonies were in full bloom. My dad brought in some of the blossoms, which usually topple under their own weight if they bloom on the bush. They are so blousy, so ridiculously extravagant with all their petals, that I had to attempt a painting:

oil on paper, 8 x 10"

I think I did a better job on the vase than the blossoms, but I still kind of like the look of them, mucked up as they are. It's a real trick to be deft and daft with that palette knife...


Monday, July 15, 2013

the lake

Our camera of eight years bit the dust not long after we got to Michigan. It was a good excuse to do some plein air painting at the beach:

If I were going to do justice to the lovely Lake, though, I would need a few more panels of just water in the middle there.

It was great to free up with the palette knife some more, and to work quickly before the light changed.

I think the Impressionists did their work after the advent of the camera -- they were free to paint a loose approximation of the scene because they no longer had to render things in exacting detail.

We've since gotten a new camera, but for me, photographs can't compare to haphazard blobs of paint arranged on a canvas.