After sitting with this painting for a couple of weeks and getting some respected outside opinions, I’ve sanded out this guy on the left. I just couldn’t get the shadows right. Luckily, Neal, was over at Tito’s and I got some shots of him with better lighting. I did a tonal sketch at full size and here I’m whiting out the lights to lay a bed for the new painting.
After getting back from my trip to Maui I started the first in a series of scenes with musicians and friends. The “space” in the painting is important, I want to feel like you can be in there, in that room with those people. This one is a memory of a gig in Seattle with Tito, Robert and Neal. The brick wall works, the side room with Tito tuning his 12 string works, but I just can’t get Neal’s face right and he is the largest, most up-front part of the painting. Is it the shadows or did I just not draw it right from the beginning. Now it’s hard to see and fix?
Many times it comes down to some element in a painting that is just weak and I may need to let it sit, come back to it in a few weeks and hope I’ll be able to see what’s wrong from a fresh perspective. At this point my questioning mind comes in and says “why am I doing this?” Just keep going.
I’ve been at Mille and Bill’s amazing land on Maui for the last two weeks, painting everyday. The plants have such different colors than our eastern Washington plants. Here I’m trying to get the subtle pastels on the tops of these leaves. Watercolor is so fleeting and dynamic, such a challenge of spontaneity. 30 sketches … some aren’t too bad.
I’m working on a series of color sketches for my next paintings. Small watercolors to work out the elements of the layout and get and idea of how I’m going to deal with the scene. These will be scenes with multiple people from the last few years of photos taken of friends. I hope I can pull them off in oils and much larger than these sketches.
Warm up before you expect yourself to do something at a high skill level. Draw a bit before painting. Play your instrument or sing before stepping on stage. The same with creativity. Work diligently with your craft and maybe inspiration will show up.
I’ve been back in video editing land for the past few months pulling together the movie we made back in the late 1980s. FertiliChrome was written and directed by PS O’Neill (Shawn) and I’ve been working with him to get the edit up to snuff. We will be releasing a final cut in the coming year. This movie was shot and edited back when we had to do everything in the analogue world. Stacks of video machines locked with time code to the 8 track Otari tape machine for the sound track. It’s amazing that we even pulled this off. I transferred everything we had into the computer, synced things up and hoped for the best. Luckily, about 10 years ago Shawn had transferred the edited version of the 1988 film festival tape to standard def digital video. That tape had some problems and the sound just wasn’t as good as I knew it should be.
I had the master sound track that Steve Fisk had originally created at my Velvetone studio. Shawn had been thinking about and re-editing many of the scenes in the movie and I pulled his ideas together with most of the sound track we had to make it all work. Lots of audio and video to move around, layer up and massage till it worked. We are being faithful to the original movie shot on 3/4″ video in 1987 and 88, while getting it into a format that can be enjoyed now.
For the last two weeks several artists have been working in the big room at our local community gallery, GalleryOne. I put my painting hat on, hung out and worked there for a couple afternoons last week.
In my current exploration of painting styles and subjects I felt inspired to head out to the garden with a canvas and paints. This is about 24 x 36 and has a good presence in the room. I need to do some more flowers, brighter and stronger colors than the portraits I’ve been working on.
It’s a time-honored tradition to make copies of master paintings. The best way to really get into the mind and techniques of the past masters is to be right in front of the real painting in a museum, but if we can’t do that then utilizing the amazing access we have through the internet is pretty good. Some of the great world museums let us download a high resolution image of a painting, and print that out to work from. But, I still like having a real book with good prints to look at. This is a copy of the face from a 1623 painting called the “Merry Fiddler” by Van Honthorst. It just makes me smile when I see it.
This last weekend I went to a 2 day workshop lead by Aaron Coberly at Gage Art Academy in Seattle. It was great to go to a class and be a student again and observe a great painter doing his thing. The workshop was titled “Alla Prima Figure Painting” and we had a model take a pose and Aaron did a 3 hour painting in the mornings, talking through his process. Then we did a 3 hour painting to a new pose in the afternoon. I learned a some new techniques and shared some board time with new painting friends. The limited time really requires a focus and some chops that I will need to work on. Aaron is a good, supportive teacher for any level of painter, as there were some beginning painters and several more experienced people and his style and comments seemed helpful to all who attended. You can see Aaron’s work on his Instagram page or website: @aaroncoberlyart or www.aaroncoberly.com