Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Blue, alla prima oil painting

This painting, featuring a blue glass vase, a brown ceramic jug holding a bunch of pink flowers, bronze urn, a maroon ceramic tea pot, a copper kettle, a glass bowl with a white onion inside, a couple of lemons and Macintosh apples, and an acorn squash, was my eighth that I completed for my alla prima oil painting class offered at Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia, PA.

This is probably my most complete painting to date from this class. This composition my teacher, Giovanni Casadei, set up is one of my favorites.

One of the things I like best is the large shadow that is cast across the urn and acorn squash. I made sure I finished the cast shadows for this painting since it's something I always leave til last. I know it's one thing I want to work on. I want to paint them in when I do the table surface; it seems the logical thing to do though I have overlooked it consistently. Everything in time, right?

I believe the white cloth is the weakest part of the composition; not horrible, but I'd like it to be more defined. As I stated before, I really want to work on painting drapery. The pink flowers could also use a little more depth that a stronger shadow would provide. In that same area, a stronger highlight on a couple of leaves might have increased the sense of light shining from the left.

Giovanni made the point in this work, my last painting and my final piece--which has yet to be posted--that I need to work on varying my brushstrokes. Again, everything in time.

Recommendations anyone?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Using Water Soluble Oil Paints

I have to take pictures of my last couple of paintings from my a la prima oil painting class at Fleisher Art Memorial and instead of allowing the time to pass without comment, I decided to introduce the first in a series of posts about my experiences with water soluble oil paints.

I've been using water soluble oil paints for about a year. I transitioned from regular oil paints early on in college and took up with alkyd oil paints because I wanted faster drying times. I learned about water soluble oil paints before I used them. I purchased Painting with Water-Soluble Oils by Sean Dye after wanting to get back into painting but realizing that I had no true (or, more to the point, safe) studio space so I needed to consider something that wouldn't ruin our carpets.

To start things off, let me begin this intermittent series of posts with my brief review listed on Amazon.com of the book which I'll go into more in-depth later:
I have owned this book for quite some time and just recently re-read it. It does a fine job providing an overview of water soluble oils (WSO) and how they differ from regular oils. The write-ups for each include a listing of paints offered by each manufacturer and their light-fastness (i.e., longevity after sustained exposure to light). The information covered is more than enough to help you select one of them to begin painting.

I've used them in the past and am now taking a class where I'm using them and others are using traditional oils. I have to say that cleaning up with soap and water is awesome. I use the Artisan brand and have a couple of the MAX brand too. I'm going to try the other brands to see how they handle.

The write-ups by artists about WSOs, their comparison/contrast with traditional oils and the demonstration "lessons" provide for light reading. The pictures throughout give you a fine overview of what other artists do/did with these paints.

Having said all of this, though, I have to note that this isn't a strict how-to book. You'll need to look elsewhere for that. One person recommended the "Water Soluble Oils" section of a book called "The Oil Painting Book" by Bill Creevy. Another is "No Experience Required! - Water-Soluble Oils" by Mary Deutschman. From the reviews this last book sounds it is more about hands-on technique.

Overall, I'd say buy this book to help you get a sense about this medium.
Some of my thoughts have changed since writing this review in June 2008. I'll cover these thoughts and more beginning with my next post about water soluble oil paints.

Please feel free to share your own experiences about this medium.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Composition with Yellow and Red, a la prima oil painting

This painting, featuring yellow and red flowers, apples, oranges and pomegranates, was the sixth that I completed for my a la prima oil painting class offered at Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia, PA. Giovanni Casadei, the instructor, wanted me to experiment by not mapping out anything but simply to put a primary color down as a starting (and focal) point.

Much like Yellow Speaks and Fruit with Vessels, this painting is missing something. For this particular a la prima oil painting, I didn't finish in the requisite 2 1/2 - 3 hours to complete the painting. Can you guess what's missing?

If you said, "the cast shadows are missing," then you'd receive full marks! That's the most glaring issue in my mind. I think the colors balance well and there's a successful feeling of space.

If I had grayed the background more it may have allowed more "voice" to the fore- and middle grounds. While the existing blue background works, my hunch is that it would have been more successful if I added a color to neutralize the saturation. Nevertheless, that's another component of the composition I wish I had redone. Who knows, perhaps I will adjust it since I did take a photo before class officially began.

I'd appreciate hearing some of your thoughts.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yellow Speaks, new a la prima oil painting

Fear not, I have been painting. I'll post the work over the next few days. This posting and the upcoming pieces are the final paintings from my a la prima painting class at Fleisher Art Memorial in Philly. The timeline for each was between 2 1/2 and 3 hours.

The above a la prima oil painting was the fifth piece from my oil painting still life class with Giovanni Casadei. As you can see I slipped a little in my pacing and didn't finish it. I've improved greatly as has been shown elsewhere on this oil painting art journal. The green drape needs highlights. My hope is to return to this painting and finish it over the Christmas break.

People in the class complained about that brown jug. Ironically, I really enjoyed painting it. I enjoyed painting this piece even though I'm still working on my brushstrokes. Giovanni continued to drive home his new age montra-ish talk about the importance of experiential painting and "feeling" the process while painting.

On a more earthly level, I think the colors and lighting balance well; the sense of space strong. The table covering is one of the more effective I've done. I put painting drapery as high on my list of things to practice.

Thoughts anyone?

What materials do you use?

I was originally trained with traditional oils. I moved on to alkyd oils because I liked the fact that they dried more quickly but still pro...