Monday, September 5, 2011

The Blank "Canvas": Baptistery Today

 I have the great honor to paint a mural for our church's baptistery (Santa Rosa Christian Church).  Over the last several months I have sketched out ideas, painted a pastel mock-up of the design, and searched for the best way to proceed with the materials for this project.  God put me into contact with a wonderful resource person online - someone who has, himself, painted several baptisteries.  He shared his ideas with me, and what he has learned over time.  It became apparent to me, that I should not paint directly on the walls, but on some other substrate.  Special birch flooring material was chosen, and I will do the painting with oil paints.

As you can see here in these two photos, it will be necessary for me to paint four surfaces in the baptistery.  The day that I scoped the project out, I found that the ceiling and the side walls are seen as much, or possibly even more than the back wall, from the various locations in the sanctuary.  One of the challenges will be in keeping the wooden surfaces adjacent to one another on my easel, enough so that I can be sure the image lines up properly.  This is going to require space.  I have a tiny studio, and will have some work ahead of me this month, rearranging things to accommodate this project.  I have some tremendous help, however.  Glen Wiemeyer has cut and labeled the panels for a precise fit, and Todd Felciano is making a custom easel for me.

As the project gets underway, I intend to keep you updated on a more regular basis.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Developing a Blog Habit & Painting with Onlookers

Wow.  I have added so many new facets to my 'online life,' that I am afraid I haven't assimilated them into my daily living on a regular basis.  So, here it is, almost two months after my last blog entry.  For anyone following my blog, who writes a blog of their own, they may understand the transition from being a non-blogger to a full fledged blogger.  I am hovering uncomfortably somewhere in between.  Hopefully, things will only improve from here.

I tried something very new for me as an artist.  I took my easel and pastels, and sat in the courtyard in front of The Red Paprika for an afternoon of painting.  I experienced this crazy 'stage fright' before I finally made myself do this.  The morning of the day I knew I would go, I nearly worked myself up into a panic.  This sounds silly, even as I write it, but I have always painted in my studio, and with nobody watching me, so this was uncharted territory for me.  Would I get stuck in the middle of the piece?  Would I make a terrible mess of things?  Would anybody care?

As it turns out, and as I have found with other things that I worry about, it ended up being far from the 'monster' that I imagined.  In fact, I had a very lovely day.  I met some amazing people:  A gentleman that owns a bed and breakfast on Prince Edwards Island; and interior decorator from the Midwest; and many other locals and tourists who were just out to enjoy the day.  And, to top it off, I did not forget how to paint in this new setting.   I am definitely planning to do it again.  I can't wait, in fact!  What an about face.
                                                             The Red Paprika courtyard

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Finishing Up

Though I was fairly happy with the results of the painting I did, along with Johannes' demo, I felt that it needed a few adjustments and some cleaning up, some in response to Johannes' comments during the demo, and some that I decided on myself.  So, above, you can see the final result (unless something else comes to my attention), and compare with my last posting.  I increased the sky and added some more top to the trees, cleaning up the sky-holes, lightening the blue a bit, and softening the edges of the trees against the sky.  I worked on the middle-ground bushes, adjusting the color to a more olive green, and bringing forward some of the trees.  The cliffs called for a bit of reworking, also - but not much.  I softened the color of the blue rivulet in the distance, and cleaned up the edges of the beach, adding some shadow under the edge and a bit of white in the water to define the edge.  Moving to the foreground, I added a little warmth to the color of the beach.  It got too gray as I was furiously trying to keep up with Johannes.  Cleaning up the edges of the rocks, I lightened the shadows a bit, and added some definition to the water around the rocks.  I think that this helps to keep the rocks from looking like they are floating in the water.  I feel like it is complete, but I will post it on the WetCanvas website, and see what Johannes says.  I'll let you know.  I'm thinking he may suggest lightening the brown in the water.  Let's see...

I put out a question to other artists on the WetCanvas site, about painting murals, and asked for any suggestions or feedback.  I received a very nice email from an artist, who just so happened to have also painted several murals in baptisteries.  He had some great advise that will help me out, and after I consider some of his suggestions, I'll let you know.  It is amazing that we can find people to connect with, through the internet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Painting along with Johannes

Hi,  Today Johannes did a pastel demo on the webinar.  I decided to 'take it up a notch,' and painted along with him.  Wow, it was a challenging experience in a lot of ways.  To begin with, since he was not aware that someone was painting along with him, he just dove right in, using the sketch he had drawn prior to the demo.  So, I was forced to paint, and draw, and compose, all at the same time.  It was also a race for time to try and keep up with him and his pastel color choices, as he quickly alternated between his colors. We spent about an hour and a half on this painting. Painting this scene drove home his suggestions and lessons, especially as they related to planning value masses, and using abstract designs, rather than painting small detail.  You can especially see this in the dark trees in the background.  I also learned a couple of fun things about painting water - and submerging rocks (though I'm not sure if they show up too well here). 

On a different note:  My church has asked me to paint a mural in the baptistery.  I will make an effort to let you in on how that is coming along, from time to time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reworking a Painting

I am currently taking part in a weekly webinar, hosted by WetCanvas Live, and taught by Johannes Vloothuis.  I am amazed at the quality of instruction, and in the fact that this is offered free of charge.  It's not difficult to be a ongoing student of art, with all of the options available to us today.

I have learned so much in just 4 sessions, and I am trying to put my new awarenesses to the test.  One thing that has impressed me, is the idea that (and for some this may be elementary), I don't have to be a slave to the photo.  I believe that I have made an effort to improve my photos in some aspects, but have ignored others.  One way that I want to make improvements, is to be more aware of composition.  I have, in prior paintings, tried to select photos that I felt had good qualities, and many times that encompassed having at least some basic compositional, positive qualities, but at other times I think I was taken-in with things like the colors represented in the scene, etc.  One such piece was "Shifting Gears."  I took this photo a couple of years ago, and have always loved the variation in color, and maybe even the layers, but in the painting, something just wasn't working for me.  In nature, what may be beautiful, doesn't always translate into a great painting.  So, I decided to take some of what I have learned, and try to improve upon "Shifting Gears."  I guess you could say that, in actual practice, I am shifting gears, and taking into consideration some basic compositional truths.

Here's the old version:

Several things have bugged me about this painting.  For one, though the actual scene was in layers, as you see here, I really did not like the result.  I also am not too happy with the intense darks of the tree trunks (something Johannes says the photo will do - make the darks too dark).  Then, I don't like the little details in the foreground.  So, back to the drawing board...

I decided that, though the oak trees were bare in their natural environment, they did not translate well, and so I chose to add some foliage.  I also muted the darks of the trunks, and other darks in the distance, with a grayed down purple.  I softened the detail in the foreground with a gray-green, and then was much more selective in how I added it back in, in just little hints.  Though the mustard in nature was so beautiful, it was too garish in the painting.  So, I just hinted at the mustard.  Another thing I did to break up the horizontal lines, is to bring the left-hand tree trunk closer, and I also added more bushes, and grasses, overlapping the horizontal lines.  None of these changes, in themselves, are huge, but with all of them together, they have improved the painting, I think.  I wonder what Johannes would say?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sharing the Painting Process

Earlier I posted a series of photos taken while I painted "Tomales Bay Tangents."  The process of painting a landscape has been, for me, a bit different than painting a floral.  With the florals I tend to work less from top to bottom, and paint all over the surface of the painting throughout the process.  However, I still am always thinking, "Back to Front," to be sure that I don't have to work too much around foreground aspects of the painting, while trying to place the background.  But, I have to say that I am still adding to the background a fair amount, all through the process.  This ensures that the colors I use in one part of the painting, I include in other parts, too, so there is a more cohesive look to the finished painting.   As I choose the pastels, I set them aside, in a "working palette," so that I am not always having to search for them, when I want to use that particular color again.  Sometimes I set up the initial palette at the outset, judging from my photo which colors I think I might use, then I add as I go.  This helps me to be able to just jump right in.  In "Sincerely Yours," below, you can follow the progression, and see some of these aspects.  Another thing that I like to do is to add depth by making the edges on the focal point much more crisp than those in other areas of the painting.  You can see that the petals in the background, and even the bottom left foreground, are slightly out of focus.  Then, the pinks in the background are very blurred, to just hint at other flowers in the distance.

Enjoy following, below, the process of painting "Sincerely Yours."  I invite you to follow my BLOG to see more of my paintings in process.

"Sincerely Yours" - The process of painting.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fibonacci numbers - The Fingerprint of God

 Here is a little sample of the amazing Fibonacci numbers.  It is so evident to me, when I am driving around, taking photos, that I am not simply a witness of chance happenings, but of real design.  As an artist, and being very aware of design in my own work, it is difficult for me to understand how folks can see the design around them, and attribute it to chance.  If you were to happen upon a painting, sitting in the middle of a forest, you would immediately say to yourself, "Someone was here."   This little Utube snippet just reminded me again, that when I look around and see the beauty that I hope to capture, the answer for me, is a resounding, "my creator was here."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tomales Bay Tangents: The Process

I set up my camera on a tripod, and snapped a photo every 10-20 minutes, or so, to capture my painting process.  This is something I would like to do on a regular basis, and I would love to hear from you, if you find it interesting or helpful.  I first lightly sketched the composition, which you can't see too well here, and then began just laying some color, starting from the distance, forward.  I have typically done most of my landscapes in this same way.
Not only do I begin with the distant portion of the landscape, but also with the color that will be the under-painting. 

Just blocking in more color to define the composition, and to get some of the deeper shades, in the foreground.  I also have added the highlights on the hills in the distance, to give them their shape, and have added the darks for the group of trees sitting on the point.  I added a mid value gold to the bushes on the hill.

Here I went back to the hillside and cliff in the background, and began adding more layers of pastel on top, to define the give definition to the rocks, bushes and grass. 

Just more definition on the rocky cliff, and hillside, and I am beginning to define the water's edge, and the reflection in the water beneath the cliff.

I have begun to add more color to the middle ground, and am continuing to add more detail to the hillside.

Have added texture and middle range values to the grasses in the middle ground.

I have added the deeper values of green and blue for the pools of water in the foreground, while I am defining the various, random shapes of grass and land in between.

More color and definition of the water and grass in the foreground.  I loved capturing the colors in this water, from deep blues and  greens, to teal and even purple!  This stage is just adding detail and cleaning up the little spots of paper still showing through (I didn't want to touch the pastel too much with my fingers - it mixed the under-layers together too much - so I used a tortillon, which is a tightly rolled piece of paper, with a pointed tip)  I actually left some of those places showing through, which look like sparkles on the water.  I also begin adding the faint shadow in front of many of the little grass clumps, which defines their shape, and makes them pop out.

Adding more highlights and small details to the grasses and clumps of earth in the middle and foreground.

Foreground rivulet, and some of the little pools get just a tad lighter.

Tomales Bay Tangents 14x20 on UART sanded pastel paper - Completed!  Questions or Comments?  Send me an email.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Join me as I journal and share my experiences in art.  As I become more acquainted with the BLOG world, and find ways to assimilate this communication tool into my art journey, I hope to be able to share with you my vision, discoveries, and images, chronicling my growth as an artist. 

My hope is that this will become a place where I can "try on" new ideas, and connections that I make between my art and other facets of my life - particularly my faith in Christ, and journey as a Christian.  I see that for most artists, their experiences with their creative self really bring out the urge to want to connect with their spiritual self, and I have seen that this can take on many forms.   For me, it has to be grounded in Jesus Christ, and Him as creator.