Tuesday, October 6, 2015

From Summer's Sizzle to Fall's Fizzle

  Here in southern New England we managed to dodge a hurricane that tracked out to sea.  That was a relief to the property owners, but there were some severe rains, spin offs of the storm.  When that happens, of course, this Plein air painter turns to indoor subjects -- in particular, still life and portraiture.

   Floral Still Life (study), oil on WC paper, 9x12 (approx.)

       The still life shown above is a quick study done on watercolor paper.  I find that 300-lb watercolor paper, gessoed with at least one coat of acrylic gesso makes a wonderful and economical surface for an oil sketch.  I was interested in just getting practice in drawing, value and color perception.  So the concept of this painting was color and light as a statement of form.  Also, I was experimenting with a limited studio palette consisting of cad yellow light, quinacridone magenta, ultramarine blue, burnt umber,  raw umber, pink ( Rose Julia from Charvin oil paints), and titanium white.  The sketch was done in a few hours.

   Cape Verdean Woman, oil on canvas, 14x18

    The portrait sketch shown above was done at the studio of Kate Huntington.  If anyone reading this blog is seriously interested in portraiture, they should consider attending Kate's session running from 7-10 PM on Monday nights.  This likeness was captured in two hours since the model arrived late -- and I left a tad early.  I'd love to finish this portrait, but not without another sitting by the model.  I have found that any attempt at finish without the model present results in a loss of likeness.

    Mr. Hoist, oil on canvas panel, 12x16

This portrait was done this morning at a local senior center.  The gentleman wore a western style shirt and sat against a bland background of  stained wood.  I converted that background into something that complements the ruddiness of his flesh tones. Incidentally, the location is the North Kingstown Senior Center which is lucky enough to have Prof. Ray Finelli, a retired RISD art instructor as the leader of the Tuesday portrait group which relies on volunteer models.  Ray often rewards these volunteers with a portrait sketch.  I feel very fortunate in living only about a 20-minute drive from the center to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to practice portrait sketching skills each Tuesday from 10 AM- 12 PM with a talented group led by Ray.

   Wickford, oil on denim panel, 9x12

      Of course, there are some beautiful fall days too and yesterday was one of them.  On the early afternoon I set up my easel at a corner off Bay Street in Wickford Village.  I didn't carry the sketch as far as I had intended.  I fell prey to one of the hazards of paining in public on village streets.  An old acquaintance came by , bringing up stories of what transpired before I became a full-time artist.  I found myself tracking off the concentration required for finishing the picture and ended up closing my easel after my friend walked off.  Fortunately, I at least carried off the essence of the village street in this small sketch.  Working on the denim panel was also an experiment.  It seems to present a grainy appearance despite the fact it had two coats of gesso applied to it.

    Wickford Village is tomorrow's destination for the small Plein air group I teach for the South County Art Association.  Let's hope for a continuation of this sunny weather!

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