Continuing on with my big May catch-up on posting work from the past few months. It was a gloomy winter day but one of the volunteer calla lilies was blooming and I had to paint it. This was a one-session alla prima oil painting.
I painted these from life, but first did a value sketch in Procreate to help me stay within the range of values I chose for the painting. That’s a concept I’ve been pondering: that you can design whatever value range you want for a painting, from mostly light to mostly dark, and then mix the paint colors accordingly. I printed out the Procreate value sketch and put it on my easel for reference as you can see in the work in progress photos below.
I’ve been working on doing Alla Prima (all at once) paintings in order to become more decisive about the paint I put down instead of noodling around. It requires getting the drawing right, understanding what I’m seeing and if it fails, starting again instead of trying to keep fixing, which usually goes badly. This was the third attempt at painting a rose in my mom’s yellow glass bowl. The previous attempts and photos of the set up (as the rose opened) are below.
Thanks to Kaelin on Sktchy app for the twinkle in her eyes that inspired me to sketch her on my ancient Winnie the Pooh book’s last page map of Pooh Corners. Digital ink in Procreate.
Kaelin, digital ink in Procreate on iPad.
Here is the photo reference from Sktchy.
There was something regal about these two, hence the name, despite the queen sitting in a soap dish, not a throne. I started out thinking “values and planes” and then, as usual, got seduced by color and detail. I did manage to keep some of the planes I saw in this pomegranate (which was becoming more faceted as it became more elderly, having been painted a few times over the past couple weeks). However, I’m not sure the painting actually benefitted from leaving the planes (or so many of them) visible.
Below is a photo of the set up and below that the two previous pom/persimmon paintings that were a nice warmup and introduction to the subject, though perhaps not terribly successful in terms of paint application, composition and/or drawing.
I really enjoyed making this painting of my friend’s grandson Toa. The biggest challenge was working from a cellphone photo taken in a carseat in the dark where his skin looked dark and bright orange. Fortunately I was able to see some other snapshots with better skin color.
I’ve been taking a new approach to painting; focusing on the joy of creating and letting go of the internal “committee” that demands perfection. I have accepted that my work will never be perfect and that perfect art bores me anyway. A bit of wonkiness, even in a portrait, is ok with me, if I feel I have captured the spark of the subject. I’m painting for myself; if it pleases someone else too that’s a bonus, but not at all a requirement. Giving myself this freedom has completely changed my life.
Below are my initial sketches, a picture of the setup with the photo, and an early stage in the painting.
Finally I’m back in my studio and painting again after a two-month reconstruction of my backyard that made it impossible to get in there. These sturdy plums waited for me in the studio fridge all that time, then sat on a table by the easel for nearly two weeks during a heat wave. Some days it was just too hot to paint–well over 90 degrees. I was afraid they would have exploded, fermented, or worse. But nope, due to the magic of non-organic, supermarket fruit, they were still holding their own (unlike the beautiful, expensive, organic fruit from my natural grocery that goes squishy and grows fur if not eaten in a day or two) and I could finish the painting.
Below is the value study I did in Procreate on the iPad before starting the painting, my sketch on canvas and a photo of the setup, which I painted from life.