Between temperatures dropping into the negatives and sick kids I haven't been able to plein air paint for a while so I decided to work on some of my new year "resolutions" in my studio. I'm painting on color charts, drawing the figure from life and casts, and working on this larger (large for me any ways) still life. These photos show my progression on my painting so far. There will be a third tulip which extends from the vassel and arches over the other tulips.
It's been too cold for me to venture outside and paint. Yesterday it was -24 degrees. So I returned to my tea cup series which was inspired by my daughter. She told me that in colonial days, when a guest had enough, she'd turn her tea cup over and say, "I'll take no more tea today." 11"x14" Oil On Linen www.hong-sammons.com
Recently, I spent a week studying drawing the human form in a workshop lead by Henry Yau, a master artist from China. It was one of the best classes I've ever had. This drawing is a sample from the workshop. My focus was to concentrate on accurate construction of the figure in charcoal. I worked on several different studies each day from 5 minute gesture drawings to 45 minute extended sketches. It was great to have Henry's expertise to critique my efforts. If I were to make a resolution for 2009, I would try to work several hours a week on just simple, clean, accurate figure drawings.
24"x18" vine charcoal on medium-tooth drawing paper
This is the same spot as the last post but looking more towards the right. Can you feel the cold? It was just getting ready to snow again so the light was a beautiful silvery gray. This made the colors really pop in an otherwise dreary gray winter scene.
Painted this around 2 pm. The sky continued to get a darker gray but the day felt quite light-filled because of the new snow. It was hard to keep the values correct because I kept over-compensating. And yes, it was cold!
Value studies have dramatically helped me create better paintings. I'm using five values only with pure white being my lightest, pure raw umber as my darkest, and then three other values inbetween. I begin by painting all the darkest shadows first. I'm doing a lot of value studies because I'm trying to improve my ability to use chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro is the painting technique and philosophy of creating shapes from the shadow as oppose to delineating through contours, outlines. 9x12 oil on linen
The best way to shake away the winter blues is to plein air paint along a half frozen lake, just kidding - sort of. After spending so much time with wonderful family and friends, January 6 was rather depressing until I started painting again. Even though my toes froze and the wind bite my cheeks, I loved the colors you see on a cold, gray, winter day. The sky had these amazing warm tones however very subtle and the snow reflected the cool light of the day. fun fun fun
Painting is a passion similar to someone motivated to throw a perfect fast ball or win a marathon. It takes some natural abilities and a whole lot of work and determination to get it just right.
My inspiration to paint is from the beauty I see in my day to day life. Sometimes that amazing beauty is discovered in a simple bin of onions purchased from a farmers market, or the inspiration is found traveling through the southwest, beachcombing on the Jersey shore, or exploring through Spain. Regardless of where I am, there is always something wonderful to paint. As a result my paintings are mostly created ‘en plein air’meaning, on site and from direct observation, not from a photograph. During very cold winter months I will take my smaller plein air paintings and use several to create a larger piece. The common relationship shared between my plein air and studio paintings is that they were inspired from the simple beauty of our lives.
I feel quite blessed to have a loving family who overlooks my messiness while I am absorbed in a painting and on a quest to make one stunning piece of art.