Friday, July 26, 2013

The Summer Stretch

New things to try...

A new painting sits on the table easel.  What you see is an "under-painting."
Using a very thin coat of tube color,  I  simply block in the areas and items.   Artists call this "killing the white."    It is a great trick to do to get to know your composition and think about your colours and tonal relationships.  A clean white canvas can be intimidating. 


 Trying new things is automatic as the young artist seeks to find what they enjoy the most and  can paint the best.

As we age we tend to cycle in our favorite colours, styles and tastes.  I read a book years ago that said that women in particular change their preferences about every 7-10 years.  That must be what frightens men so much!

Last year I had trouble handling my own large framed originals at the shows.  I like the idea of painting large as it is so gratifying to complete a huge masterpiece, but it can be tiring if the painting part lasts longer than the inspiration!
This year I vowed to paint smaller works. 
They will be easier to handle and my collectors are asking for them. 

I decided to work on panels and canvases that are around 8 x10."   In the photo above you can see a few different styles of canvases.  Bottom right are 2 small linen canvases I bought in Paris.  I keep waiting for just the right subject for these... probably scenes I saw there.  That would be sentimental, fun and appropriate.  I love shopping for art supplies in other countries.  I like the banana paper from Honduras for sketches,  Sennelier oils from France and watercolour paper from Italy.

The brown panels in the canvas photo are unfinished pieces or "hardboard" or Masonite.   It is convenient to buy the 4 x 8' sheet at the hardware stores and have them cut it up in pieces.
It is more work to sand each piece and then give it about 4 coats of gesso, but the surface is smooth and great for paintings where I will have lots of fine detail and want to avoid the texture of real canvas.

In my classes if I get the time,  I teach how this is done and then even make a panel for each student so they can have the experience of painting on a new surface.  In my August still life classes I will be teaching on this substrate.

As I started inside the other day I noticed a snail on the roof of my porch!  How or why was he so diligently making his way across this surface?  

The fact that he had made it so far out of his usual location on the ground made me laugh.  I suppose he is trying new things too.

What a lesson for life.

 The search began to find all my small items that could be used in a simple still life.  It did not take long to find a full collection. 

 Next was a real treat... brush shopping!   I made a new brush holder and dug out a palette knife that is almost 100 years old.  Perfect excuse to put it to use!

I dug out one of the small table top easels I use for my classes.  I really advocate standing to paint.  It works better simply because  I move around more and get a better look at my own progress from a better distance.  

 I don't like working with artificial flowers, but for the sake of finding a pleasing arrangement, it will work real well.  If you do use artificial flowers, make sure you get the best quality.

A real key to enjoying your painting experience is to paint things you love.  The still life offers you an opportunity to immortalize  your favorite things.  As I worked with the more "traditional" items in a still life, I quickly  discovered I really wanted to paint things around me this summer.  From another genre than pearls and crystal,  I am very excited about painting little green apples, pottery and baskets. 

 I realized how my tastes have changed.  Maybe I was just going back to my country roots.  It was a personal awareness.  I enjoy my country life and the simple things around me.  Where I once thought a more sophisticated life style was what I wanted, I am most content at this time to celebrate what I have. 

If you make a change in your painting subjects or approach, take the offer of help from other artists and read their books, web sites and study their art.  If you don't find what you want to do, you may find what you do not want to do which sometimes more helpful !

Learning to paint is like getting to know the real you.
 I hope you like the person you find!

Celebrate life!   Be yourself and count your blessings.


Join my blog so you will get my next post via e-mail.   
 Thank you and I hope my sharing will inspire you !

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Celebrate Your Own Successes !!!

What a great day!



I hope you have enjoyed my sharing all the emotions that it takes to grow, learn and paint.  When I named this blog I knew it was important to share many things that most artists might hesitate to put into words. 
The thrill of being an artist is that this excitement never goes away.  Every new painting is an unknown... an opportunity to succeed or fail.

So how am I celebrating the completion of a painting that has been "in the works" for almost 6 months?  You make apple butter!  Our home smells wonderful with all the spices and apples simmering on the stove. 

I am pleased with some new things I have accomplished in this work.  I wanted to give the viewer a wonderful hidden place under a grand old oak along the Pascagoula River where they could watch the shrimp boats come and go, the Pelicans play along the shores and moments of personal time nourish the spirit.

I invite you to share my blog with others who enjoy art or want to learn to paint.  It is my goal to share things I have learned over my lifetime of being an artist.  

If you would like to take a class in oils with me, I have just scheduled one that will be held on 2 Saturdays in August of 2013 in my little home community called Crane Hill.  

Check my web site for more details.  I will be teaching a wonderful still life composition that offers us so many different techniques... especially detail work that makes things pop off the canvas  filled with life, light and texture.

I better go.  It is time to put the apple butter in the jars and finish washing my brushes.  I thought that if I washed my brushes it would force me to take a three day break from the studio so they can dry.  

Celebrate Life
Make something happen!

 Donna Peters


All images and text on this blog are the property of Donna Peters
©2013 Donna Peters All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 5, 2013

Where do I go from here !!!

The real challenge of this painting is now on the easel.

I have been digging thru my old art magazines and some favorite books by artists of accomplishment.  I have learned that not everyone that writes an art book is "accomplished"  just bold enough to write a book!  I look at it like picking fruit at the store... be selective what you bring home to make part of your diet.

Since the painting is more than dry, I began by spraying it with "Retouch" varnish to make it look wet.  This "lifts" the colour and the values become rich so my fresh paint will not look so different against the dry paint. 

The first issue:

Not everything in a painting is the "star."   Ya'll know I like comparing a composition with music.  Elvis had a great back-up group to make him sound his best and the same is true for a painting.

If the back-up music gets to loud, it will steal the show from my boats. 

Therefore, the tree and grasses I plan to put into the foreground will need to be balanced so it only serves to explain my painting and set the environment for where I want my viewer to be when he "discovers" the wonderful view  I am presenting.

Colour is key.

The colours in this area cannot be too warm or have great contrast.  I studied my sketches and notes like a road map to a place I have never been.  I began to imagine the effect in my mind.  If I can see it in my mind, it has a good chance of coming off the brush right.

I felt confident that I knew how to make the tall grass have detail without being demanding of the viewer's attention.  I mixed a family of greens that were more toward a "veridian" green... or blue-greens. 

Using a "liner"  or "rigger" brush, I made sure I was relaxed and confident to quickly drop in a few stalks in my darkest green of the new family. 
If this grass were in the direct sunshine, it would have more yellow, red and possibly orange.  For sure it would have more detail if near the subject.

Brush strokes that are made with confidence are done quickly and NEVER appear labored!  
Practice on a piece of paper if you like. 

To the right of the tall cane grass, I want a few clumps of water grass.  It is usually a dull colour and that works well for this area.  For the most part, it will just add texture.  I used a very cheap cheap utility brush from the hardware store.  I made a blue purple for the base area of the grass and then made a white with tiny touch of yellow ochre  to put in a few  blades in that will actually be hit by the light from the sun which is to the left.  

The light touches made with the really cheap brush are quick and I pull myself away before I over do it!  This is so easy to do.  

I am really feeling great to be in the studio today.  
Outside is looks like rain and the music is just right in my comfortable space.  

After the 2 grasses dry, I should have decided what will be my next step.  I have drawn in a couple of large rocks.  I think I will keep them, but I must resist making them so detailed that they up-stage my wonderful shrimp boat.

Time for lunch!