My Pastel Painting Project: Bucket, Bottle, & Glass

I had a grandiose idea to try to do a drawing/painting each evening for the month of August.  So far, it’s not happening.  Summer activities got in the way and since there were no classes in my queue for this month, my motivation has dwindled.  So I decided to make efficient use of my time during the evenings and look through my pictures (thousands of them) and print the ones I wanted to recreate on paper or canvas.  Several 5×7 packs of paper and ink later, I have a nice collection.

A few weekends ago I had the chance to start a painting.  Well, I started a sketch/outline from one of my pictures.  It was a picture I took at a winery where they placed a bottle of wine in a brightly colored beach pail/bucket.  Naturally, I had to take a picture.  Here’s my pencil sketch:

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I painted the first few layers of the bucket and then let the painting sit on my easel.  I would walk by it in the evenings and waited for some sort of inspiration to take over me. I really liked how the shovel came out:

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Eventually my motivation came back and I painted in the bottle.  Then I realized that I should have painted the backgrounds first.  That was a suggestion I learned from my last class.  Paint in the dark values and then the background.  So I shifted gears and painted a rough background.  Hmmm.  Did not turn out as I expected:

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So my painting sat on my easel and once again I continued to walk by it.  I decided I needed some inspiration.  I spent some time on the Internet looking at other artist’s pastel paintings.  Some were very realistic with lots of details (completed in 80-90) hours and others were loosely painted gestures (6-8 hours).  I also read many artists would paint practice pieces.  The key word was practice.

Today, I sat down in front of my easel and started to paint.  There was no pressure.  No schedule or errands to run.  It did not take long for me to get into my creative groove.   More than likely because I did not think too much about what I was doing.  A few hours later this is what I had accomplished:

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I did light layers of color as I knew I would be building up the colors or in some areas changed my mind.  I did a lot of blending as I like having a softer painting effect versus harsh lines of colors.

I was so happy to be painting again that I forgot to take a break and get up and look at my work.  It wasn’t until I took the picture that I noticed the “not quite right” issues.  I’ll tackle those issues another day as I’m thinking too much about them right now.

I need to create a painting or signage for my new art mottos:  “Painting is very good!”,  “Just Paint It!” and “Think less and paint more!”

Art Medium:  NuPastels by Prismacolor on 11″ x 14″ – Premium Toned Artist Paper by Global Art

Color Explorations Class – Finishing with Oils

Tonight we have to finish our paintings.  My goal is to finish my oil painting and it’s also Emily’s goal as well.    

Tonight I worked on painting the lighter values or layers.  Still I was missing the “punch” in my painting and therefore the peppers were still looking quite flat.  Emily pushed me and made some suggestions on blending more between the values to smooth out the colors.  Also, to mix in some colors (medium values and light values) to make the peppers pop.  Better transition of colors.  I also worked on the two background peppers to make the foreground peppers stand out more.  That worked.  

Here’s my final oil painting:  

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It wasn’t until I actually stood back and looked at my artwork that I started to get a bit of that “wow” feeling.  Then I took a picture and saw a huge difference from what I had done two night’s ago.

It will actually take a couple of day’s for this artwork to dry completely.  I plan on leaving it on an easel at home for a couple of weeks before I hang it on my wall.

My take away from class:  Of all the mediums I used in class, I thoroughly enjoyed painting with oils.  I enjoyed the smooth paint texture and gliding the brush over canvas.  I enjoyed mixing the colors with my palette knife.  Need to layer the colors from dark to medium to light and let dry in between those layers.  This is progress.  

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

Color Explorations Class – Working with Acrylics

For tonight’s class we are painting with acrylics.  I am still on the fence with acrylics.  This paint dries quickly.  Too quickly for me.  

I will admit, I struggled in tonight’s class.  Acrylics is a different beast to work with.  We were given a tray of tubes in different colors.  Oh, I don’t need to mix that much tonight?  I find I still do.  

I painted a picture which I’m not too happy with.  So, I was told by another artist that it’s okay to have a bad drawing or painting.  It’s also okay to not show it in public.  Hmmmm.  

So, I will make an exception and actually show a “I’m not too happy” with my artwork here:

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I do have tubes of acrylics at home.  Maybe one day, I will finish this artwork in the proper way and do another post on acrylics.

My take away from class:  I do not care for acrylics.  It is unforgiving and dries quickly.  Maybe artist grade acrylics are better?  That’s okay I’ll stick with the other art mediums that I enjoy working with.

Canvas used:  Canvas panel 8″ x 10″

Color Explorations Class – Continuing with Oils

When I arrived early for class, Emily had already placed my canvas on a table top easel for me.  She suggested I paint the background first before touching the peppers.  I used Burnt Sienna with a mixture of purple (created with red and blue) and painted the background.  Now, I was beginning to see my peppers pop out a bit.  

I continued to work on my peppers adding the medium values.  I was mixing variations of yellow/orange for the left pepper, greens for the middle pepper, and reds for the right pepper.  

Here’s the results of my evening’s work:

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Parts of my peppers still look flat.  Still need to work on creating and painting the different values.  That will be Friday’s task.

I did as much as I could painting the medium values and had to stop to let it dry.  I was one of two students to finish early.  Emily suggested we prime our acrylic panels to use for tomorrow night’s class.  She prepared a Burnt Sienna wash and I grabbed a brush and lightly brushed the paint over the panel.  I think I’ve got the hang of this.  I was able to see my rough sketch of the peppers on my panel.  

My take away from class:  enjoy painting with oils even though it takes a loooong time to dry.  Need to get up and stand a few feet away from my painting and look at what I’ve painted.  I do see a different perspective and what’s missing in my painting (e.g. depth, contrast, etc).

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

The Start of Another Art Class: Color Explorations – Working with Oils

Before my next art class started I received an email suggesting I bring photos to work from.  If I did not have any, the art center would have some available.  We are supposed to be working with three mediums:  oils, acrylics, and pastels.  Should be a long, but interesting week.  

We are having class on the second floor of the art center.  It’s an open room with tables setup in the middle.  I see there are suppose to be a total of six students taking the class.  I strategically pick a seat at a corner of the table and not in the middle.  Since we’ll be working with several mediums including painting I want to make sure I have enough elbow room.  

I brought two photos with me.  One was a coneflower and the other was the infamous habanero peppers from Grand Cayman.  On instinct, I selected the pepper picture to use during class.  I wasn’t too sure how much time we would spend on each medium and so I thought peppers could be quickly drawn.  

I was watching the other younger students pick out landscape scenes that include beaches and mountains.

Our art instructor tonight was Emily.  She also taught the Drawing Explorations class I took back in May.  

We were given sketch paper (8×10) and told to do a rough sketch of our photo.  Once that was completed we had to flip our paper over and cover most of paper with graphite.  Ahhhh…we are going to trace our design onto our canvas.  Clever.

I carefully placed my sketch paper over my 8×10 canvas and drew the outlines of my peppers.  Here’s what I ended up with:  

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Next, Emily did a demonstration on how to prime our canvas with a light brushing of burnt sienna and a small mix of walnut alkyd (thins the paint and increases drying time).  Like giving the canvas a good light wash of color.  That way we are not staring at a white canvas.  So merrily I went with my brush across my canvas only to find that it was not a light brushing I produced.  I guess I have a heavy hand tonight.  I could barely see the outlines of my peppers.  No worries.  I know these peppers very well and could probably draw them with my eyes closed.  

Our first official instruction was to paint the dark values first.  Emily showed us how to mix the colors from the standard tubes we were given.  We were using M. Graham oil paints.  In our set was the basic Ultramarine Blue, Naphthol Red, Azo Yellow, Titanium White, and Pthalo Green.  The paint consistency is very smooth.  There was also tubes of brown available for us to use.  M. Graham paints are walnut-oil based and are non-toxic.  Solvent free.  Very much artist quality. Interesting.   

I grabbed some Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and mixed a dark color for the shadows under and around the peppers.  For the shadows, I added some color to give a slight reflection of color under each pepper.  Once done, I squinted at my peppers to find their dark values.  I saw a dark green with blue, dark orange with a bit of red, and dark purple with some red.  I mixed my colors and made sure I had enough so I could complete the peppers.  

I worked the dark values over the peppers.  Before I knew it, it was time to clean up before class ended for the night.  We dipped our brushes into the walnut oil and cleaned out as much paint as we could.  Then we went over to the sink and used Dawn detergent to get the remaining paint out of the brushes.  

Unfortunately, my painting looked a bit weird/wonky and I forgot to take a picture of it at this stage.  

My take away from class:  the walnut oil is used to remove color from the brushes and also increases the flow and slows the drying process of the paint.  The walnut alkyd medium thins the color and accelerates the drying and enhances the adhesion between layers.  It also increases surface sheen.  Must remember to go lightly with the initial wash of color over the canvas.  

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

Lotus Leaf Painting with Acrylics

When I saw this class listed in the catalog, I was intrigued with what I would be painting on.  It’s not a canvas, but a panel.  From what I understand the lotus leaf is grown in Thailand.  The leaf is cut and dried and then applied onto a panel and dried again.  A single panel can contain several leaves of different sizes.

Again, I arrived early to class and found that I had a spot reserved at a table.

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I immediately liked my panel and the leaf composition.  We each had a tray of acrylic paints along with our mixing plates.  From a community table, I picked out an apron to wear as I was told that this particular paint would be hard to remove from fabric.

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There were 11 others who signed up for this class and we were given three hours to complete our painting.  Carla, our instructor, roamed around our tables providing us with background information on the panels,  She also helped us with mixing colors,  using the different brushes, decorating ideas using stencils and more elaborate paints, and suggestions on what colors to use.

I chose to do something Caribbean related.  Well, I tried.

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After I finished my painting, Carla went ahead and applied a spray varnish.  The colors came out a bit darker than I originally painted.  Now I know what some artist talk about when applying fixatives or varnishes to their artwork…tends to make the artwork darker.  So it does.

I am looking forward to the Fall/Winter catalog and hope to see this class offered again.  I would like to paint two more panels to complement the one I have already painted.

This was a very relaxing class.  I enjoyed picking out my own colors to paint with.  All twelve of us created some unique pieces of art.