Monday, June 24, 2013

Life Studio Wrap-Up

For several months a number of friends and colleagues have been getting together on the last Sunday of the month for a life drawing/painting session. Yesterday was the last session before a long summer break - we won't get together again, at least in that setting, until the end of September. We didn't have a large turnout, only six of us, but there was some very good work accomplished.

I chose to tackle the water miscible oils again. I'm really enjoying them, and I love walking into my studio to be met by the odour of oil paint. I suspect I will be painting less often with acrylics in the future.

This is a small study, 12"x16", on a previously enjoyed canvas panel. I framed the face with the hair and dark clothing first, blocking it in very quickly, trying to get the big shapes in the right proportion to one another. Then came the longer, often frustrating construction of the face itself - reshape that cheek, warm up the nose, scrape off the eyes and try again, try to get that little quirk in the corner of her mouth... It just goes on and on, until either time runs out or you don't think there's anything else you can do, short of starting fresh.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing to compare with joy of creating an image, either on paper or canvas or the digital screen. But don't let anyone ever tell you it isn't work!

To be honest, while the likeness to the model is evident, it's not a very good portrait. But as a painting exercise I'm quite pleased. And I can't wait to get together with my painting buddies again in the Fall.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Big Day at Riverwood

Yesterday was a big event at Riverwood Park in Mississauga - the official opening of the MacEwen Terrace Garden. This has been a long, on-going project, and the city planners are rightfully proud of the product. Not that it's yet finished - they expect there will continue to be improvements over the coming years.

Visual Arts Mississauga, as one of the partners in the park, was involved in the activities, including several painters on site, mostly doing plein air demonstrations. I was pleased to be part of the crew.

It was an unsettled day here, mostly overcast with the threat of rain and thunderstorms, so I set up under the shelter of the front entrance to VAM's Art Centre. I had a great view of one of the towering Eastern White Pines, over the rooves of the MacEwen Barn and the utility shed. I purposely chose a vetical orientation to accentuate how imposing the big pine was on the scene. Working with water miscible oils I started the way I usually do, blocking in the composition on a toned panel, indicating the general silhouette of the subject.

I generally like to get in the lights and darks early, and that usually means getting the sky area blocked in pretty much right away. Even though it was very overcast, there was a fair bit of variation in lights and darks and warms and cools. Passersby were very interested and several came back more than once to check my progress.

I next worked on the mid tones and shadows of the midground maples. The colour wasn't anywhere near as intense as it would have been on a bright day, and I have dulled it a bit more to keep the interest on the pine.

I reserved the darkest darks for the pine, and had a lot of fun with the shadow shapes. Again, because of the day, the colour is somewhat subdued, but the big, dark shape of the pine against the lighter sky dominates the composition. The rooves of the buildings are metal, probably aluminum, and they tend to reflect what's happening in the sky. Throughout the session, as the light varied, sometimes the rooves were lighter than the sky, sometimes darker, so I had to make a choice about what was best for the painting. My preference was to use the roof colour to help frame the tree a little, and redirect the viewer's eye away from the bottom right corner, at least a little.

Overall, it was a good day, about 2 1/2 hours painting time. I'm pleased with the 12"x16" sketch, but I may tweak it a bit in the studio.