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Posts tagged ‘colorful’

Doin’ what I can

I don’t like making excuses (they’re usually so lame), but I had hernia surgery three weeks ago and I’m just not bouncing back the way I thought I would.  Okay, as someone pointed out to me recently, I’m no spring chicken, but I still thought I’d be way ahead of where I am today. I’m doin’ what I can, but it’s not what I expected.

I’ve mostly been staying home working in my studio (in between naps, snacks, etc.) and 2 hours here 2 hours there, stuff happens. But I’m constantly tired … even though I haven’t done much of anything.

But let’s talk about the stuff that does happen (2 hours here, 2 hours there). I have a couple of finished acrylic paintings on paper and a couple more in the works.

The paintings that are finished:

      My Sunset      10×14      $700

This is the kind of sunset I often see at night from my dining room table: pink orange and blue over the Palisades and the Hudson River with the little Spuyten Duyvil bridge making the connection between Manhattan and the Bronx. Almost no matter what the weather, it’s beautiful.

                                 Sundown     12×9     $600

I look at this and I think: it’s a little garish.  But then again, sometimes the sunsets ARE a little garish.  So rather than tone it down, I leave it very colorful the way it is (garish).

What can I say, it’s what I see.  I’m doin’ what I can.




New Zealand forest reflected

As we drove around New Zealand, one of the things that amazed me was how much forest land there was, and how varied.  I saw it whiz by as I rode the bus, I saw it up close and personal as I walked through, and I saw the New Zealand forest reflected in the sometimes crystal clear lakes. Some were dense rainforests; others were “prehistoric” with huge ferns everywhere. There was one tree I’ve never seen anywhere else, but every time I asked what it was, I got a different answer.  There was a big bushy tree that bloomed big red flowers in the summer (December/January) that the locals called the Christmas tree.

Here’s another painting of the forest in motion, sunlight seen through the trees, reflected in my memory.

Reflections of NZ

          Reflections of NZ        12×9        Acrylic        $600

Explosion: same theme slightly different approach

Okay, so I’m still fixated on the atomic bomb tests in the Pacific in 1946, now I’m working with Acrylic on Yupo (that plastic paper, like painting on a plastic dinner plate, only rectangular).   Explosion: same theme slightly different approach.

Acrylic behaves differently on Yupo:  it slides around, thins in the center when you press hard with the wedge, thickens around the edges.

I started with blue and black, with a little raw sienna mixed with white.


Explosion      14×11      Acrylic on Yupo      $725

Frank O’Cain said it was really two paintings: top and bottom, so I integrated them.  And then I decided to try just painting the top.

Explosion II

Explosion II      14 x 11      Acrylic on Yupo      $725

I made the raw sienna and white come down over the top of the blue to try and convey the way the mushroom cloud started to collapse (even though the center column was still rising). And, of course, the blue represented the beautiful blue sky and the suddenly churning ocean.

Explosion III

Explosion III       14×11       Acrylic on Yupo       $725

By adding red instead of blue in Explosion III, I tried to convey the fiery power of the blast.

Not sure which one I like the most or, more importantly, think is the most successful.



I wasn’t terribly inspired

It was the last day of summer classes at the League. The fabric was the same. The vases and baskets and books were the same. The only new things to paint were the flowers left over from the day before. I wasn’t terribly inspired, but sometimes you don’t have to be.

Yesterday's Blooms

Yesterday’s Blooms      9×12      $600

All it took was a different color combination as a result of the (relatively) new  flowers. I left out the vases, baskets and books, modified the color of the fabrics somewhat and, voilà: my daily painting.

A slightly different painting

Last week I posted about how happy I was to be back painting at Wave Hill and included two of my resulting watercolors. I took the general idea of one of them and then did a slightly different painting back in my studio.

First, the original painting done outside at Wave Hill:

Wave Hill Complements

Wave Hill Complements      7×5      $300

And here is the somewhat larger painting I did back in my studio:

Wave Hill Complements 3

Wave Hill Complements 3      11×8      $550

I’m going back to Wave Hill tomorrow so we’ll see whether I do another version of this, or something completely different.  To be continued…

Waste Not Want Not

As an artist, more than I’d like to admit, “waste not want not” has a lot to do with how I function.  It took me a long time to decide to switch from watercolor to acrylic, partly because I already had tons of unused watercolor supplies: paper, brushes, paint, etc. which would all be “wasted” if I didn’t use them.

Now that I’m using acrylics, I’m careful not to buy too much paint, because you never know what you might want or need in the future.  Maybe I’ll ultimately decide not to continue working with fluid acrylics, or whatever.  In my abstract sketch class, I continue to use my watercolors to do the sketches (it will take me forever to use them up this way) and I sketch on both sides of the paper, because I’m never sure at that stage which sketch will turn into a successful acrylic painting.

Then, once I’ve done the painting, if it’s successful and I like it, I might still decide to do the painting of the sketch on the other side. Hey, it might be even better than the one I just finished. And if not, no harm done.

If a painting isn’t completely successful, I have a couple of options.  For example:

Wishing (initial painting)

Wishing (initial painting)

I actually like this, but that red swoop at the top right is just too dominant (and the yellow and orange squares), and everything just sorta gets washed out at the bottom.  So my first line of attack is to crop it vertically (you can see the pencil line telling me where) and horizontally.

Wishing (cropped)

Wishing (cropped)

This is much better, but I’m actually only cropping it digitally, not really cutting it up.  And that’s because my second line of attack is to paint the sketch on the other side and see which I like more.  Either way, whoever buys it, gets two for the price of one.  And that really is “waste not want not.”

Playing with Acrylic on Yupo, Part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog;  now I’m playing with acrylic on Yupo, part 2. This time I decided to try some Golden Fluid Acrylics that I have from who knows when: Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Quinacridone Crimson, and Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold plus Golden High Flow Acrylic Titanium White.

First, I put down a few drops of each color, spritzed it with water and then moved the colors around using my home-made lift out tool (a cut up credit card).  I immediately learned a few things.

  • The white gets lost quickly.
  • The Fluid Acrylics are very intense; a little goes a long way. The Phthalo Blue, in particular, is very intense.
  • The Azo Gold changes color a lot, depending on how thick it is.

Reflection    4.5 x 6    $300

Red Mask

Red Mask    4.5 x 6    $300










Dancing Fools

Dancing Fools    4.5 x 6    $300

I have to keep reminding myself that once it dries, I can’t change it (unless I paint over it). I keep looking at them and thinking, “Well, if I wet it here I can…”   But I can’t.  It’s not watercolor.  It’s acrylic. (Sigh.)

But I love the colors.

Still no clue, but making progress…

Okay, three weeks into this experiment with acrylic and … still no clue, but making progress…

I’ve settled into a routine.  Well, it’s only been a week and a half, but it’s working so far.  In the LPM class (5:00 – 7:00) I do quick watercolor sketches from the model … five or six of them.  Then the next day, in the afternoon class (1:00 – 4:30) I create acrylic paintings from the ones that appeal to me the most.  The results are definitely mixed.

The beauty of this arrangement, however, is that in the LPM class I only have to worry about the composition.  And in the afternoon class I only have to worry about picking the colors and using acrylic paints.  And I’ve even started organizing my color choices: each week I pick a color combination and see what happens.  This week it was the split complementary of purple, yellow and orange.  Not a combination I would normally like but, hey, it’s a learning experience.

So… here is one of my quick watercolor sketches.  I haven’t painted it yet, so it’s just the sketch.

Jason Sketch

Jason Sketch

And here is one of my purple-yellow-orange paintings (the various shades of brown are different combinations of purple, yellow and orange).

Jason in White

Harumph    7 x 10     $500

You can still see in spots the blue of the initial watercolor sketch.  In some places I followed the sketch outline, in other places I ignored it or combined shapes.  The time delay from evening sketch to day(s) later afternoon painting makes it easier to forget what I had been looking at to make the sketch and simply focus on the painting itself.

Making progress.

ASL Complication

Frank O’Cain’s Abstract Watercolor class at the Art Students League always has a very complicated set-up. It’s up to each student to select what s/he wants, position it on the page where s/he wants, make the colors what s/he wants, and create a painting. ASL Complication is a very appropriate title.
Date: 2015. Size: 11 x 15. Price: $750.

As you would expect, each artist’s painting is unique, unlike the others.  This is mine.

ASL Complication

ASL Complication

With this painting, I remember the set-up that day: the red and yellow flowers, the acid green shopping bag, the magenta bag filled with brightly colored paper, the wood and canvas screen…


Split Complement Series continues

Working in a series simplifies a lot of things.  It doesn’t make painting easier, but it does simplify. And continuing my Split Complement Series simplifies my color choice … a huge benefit.  Blue, yellow , red. What could be simpler? Of course, it’s also simpler if you take the basic composition and play on it.

So, the original idea was a blue vase in the upper right corner, some red-orange flowers in a vase to the left and slightly below, and a blue-cerulean scarf hanging down below and to the left of the flowers. Not too complicated, but I certainly knew how to screw it up with my first attempt. (I won’t show you that.)

Split Complement III 2015 $1,400

Split Complement III    18×24   $1,400

Amazing how many different versions there can be.  In this one, you can also see a hint of the round white vase at the top that I made yellow to repeat the color somewhere besides the lower right. If this sounds complicated, it really isn’t.

Split Complement IV

Split Complement IV   11 x 15     $750

Here I’ve simplified the shapes almost out of existence and made red the dominant color, with blue and red the complements.

Finally, the last one (for now):

Split Complement V

Split Complement V 18 x 24 $1,400

Although I put some of the blue back in at the top right, red is still the dominant color.  More to come …