Out of the basement this morning for a plein air.
Last week we had a lot of snow. I tried to go out painting on Saturday morning but none of my usual spots along the river had been plowed and the city was a real mess with large mounds of snow everywhere. I felt really lousy after wasting my morning driving around looking for a spot to paint when I could’ve been painting. So Sunday morning I descended into my basement and painted a picture of my furnace. This probably took an hour and a half and I didn’t have to change out of my pajamas.
Oil paint is an adjustment for me. It’s like painting wet-into-wet watercolors and feels like everything wants to blend together. With acrylics it’s an effort to get a soft edge and everything leans towards hard edges. With oils it feels the opposite and I struggle to get a hard edge. Mostly it really bothers me how long it takes to dry. I really want to like them though. I do.
Like much of the Mid-Atlantic we got a lot of snow! We got so much my driveway was as far as I got when I went out to paint.
It was foggy at home so I raced to the river this morning. When I climbed the hill it was clear and sunny but it was also cold and windy. Glad I brought oil paints this morning instead of acrylics. It clouded over completely but I had finished just in time.
Another figure session with watercolors. Brutal today. First, a limited palette sketch in my sketchbook. I think I like this one the most of today’s efforts. I should’ve just gone home after this one.
Then I thought I’d try one on Arches just to try some nice paper for a change. Didn’t like it. My drawing here sucks too which doesn’t help.
Finally a piece of smooth bristol. It’s a peculiar surface. The painting ends up being more like an acrylic or something. That’s not really what I’m after with watercolors. For this amount of control I should’ve just used acrylics. Looks like a magic marker drawing.
This marks my one year anniversary painting from the figure and we had the same model! Here’s my acrylic painting of her from a year ago:
This is my first plein air painting of the year. The location is up on a high hill overlooking a huge S-curve in the river. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to get a composition there that I feel fully conveys the scene. I ended up there when my other options didn’t work out.
acrylic on sealed wood panel, about 8×12″
It’s the end of another year. Here’s what I’ve been up to the past few days. Tomorrow is New Year’s Day and I always paint outside in the morning because nearly everyone is asleep.
I’m always very busy around Christmas and don’t paint much but here are a few recent things.
A portrait of one of my kids done in white, orange, purple, and green. Acrylic on paper. I’m going to try this again but with the “Zorn palette”.
A plein air piece from Goat Hill in Lambertville, NJ. Acrylic.
A plein air piece in the woods overcast about to rain. Acrylic.
A few weeks ago I came across a remarkable little painting by Sarah Goodridge done in 1828 (Beauty Revealed, at the Metropolitan Museum). It’s a very small topless self-portrait of just her breasts done in watercolor when she was 40 that she apparently sent to her lover. It’s funny because it’s like the girls today sending photos of themselves on their cell phones to their boyfriends. The times change but people don’t.
I was so struck by her technique that I wanted to try it. Lacking breasts the next best option for me was to try to paint an egg. First, I worked it out in graphite. This is a method of drawing that I haven’t done in many years. It isn’t really “my thing”. My drawings tend to be more direct and spontaneous. Below that is my attempt in transparent watercolor. I used a palette of red, yellow, blue like I typically would for other paintings to minimize my struggle. In this case it’s cadmium yellow hue, alizarin hue, cerulean hue. It’s about 4″ or so. It’s a miserable failure compared to hers, but I think I’m gonna try it again. Mine isn’t nearly as delicate and light.