Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Summer Workshop With Richard Schmid, Week 2

 
 
 
 
Three hour self portrait starting the painting with no block-in just general colors to see what that start
method was all about. 
I felt very insecure without the guidance of a monochromatic under drawing, but kept at it.
The image does bear a resemblance, but my brush work needs work.  General color only is  the start the impressionists used, but if your recall they painted mostly landscapes with small brushes.  I used my 4 and 6's AND JUST A SMIDGE OF PAINTING MEDIUM. With juicier paint, I was happy.  And that was the week there was.

The HS Band, not the photo you would expect after a weekend of graduation festivities, but a photo that has painting appeal.
Why? I like the patterns of lights and darks. Of course, the music or whatever blocking the forefront young woman's face will have to go and a face created--but this figurative still life will have to wait; I have a few more heads to hang on my belt before taking on such a complex composition. It's nice to have something to look forward to.
The Graduate BS,Before Schmid. Back in 2003, all I did was draw with a pencil--or two.
Life was easy.

June 2nd, Monday. A Guilt Trip. I felt guilty, but justified. I skipped studio. Unlike when I used to skip class in HS for no good reason, I had legitimate reasons: I was too whacked out from weekend graduation festivities and Schmid's list of analyzing possible subject matter was overwhelming.  I always painted what I liked; I never had to come up with a painterly reason for doing so. So I watered my flower pots, read a bit more of Schmid, did the laundry, a soothing chore that requires little thought, and refilled my cup to face Jordanna on Tuesday who still wasn't herself.  I think I had been too much in a hurry to get the right shapes around the eyes and the mouth that I missed them. I probably was in a hurry to blog something at week's end? Painting too quickly just to get something to blog is an error Schmid didn't have on his list exactly.  He did say painting quickly before getting down the basics usually ended with disaster. Yet most of us blogging artists do it to keep in front of the public.



Tuesday, June 3rd. Cleanliness is Next To Godliness.  All I can say is I don't see the purpose of doing elaborate underpaintings. I spent the day making drawing corrections.  Somehow, the primary drawing in a monochromatic wash was right, but when I started to add color, the drawing went wrong.  I spent the day analyzing my measurements and making corrections.  The worst misplacement was her hand--not that I care to develop it, but it does relate to her facial features so the connection had to be made.  I think I have it, but tomorrow's scrutiny may say otherwise.  I had her mouth for a moment, but blew it  when I repositioned her fingers and shortened her chin--and her nostril is now not where it belongs.  I had an easier time building additions than structuring this woman's face. --I do like what I'm doing with her hair though, and I like the more meticulous way I am working. I'm constantly cleaning my brushes and the palette during sessions. 

Wednesday, June 4th. Forget About It!  Jordanna did me in. She's always been difficult to draw. Why am I so surprised she was difficult to paint? Add to that,Schmidisms rattling around in my brain and failure is a sure bet.   I chalked her portrait off to experience, cleaned the palette and brushes and started Benjamin. This time starting like I started way back when turpentine was the only solvent for oils. Using my old standbys, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue, lots of mineral spirits and a rag, I wiped in the homeless man I photographed from a documentary I watched flying home from Seattle.  The session felt more like old times.

Benjamin, Day #1


 Wednesday, June 5th. Alice in Wonderland.  OMG!  I read in Schmid this morning I  started Benjamin all wrong!  Do I do anything right?

I used mineral spirits when I shouldn't have used anything but the barest amount of paint--and yes, the mix was slippery to the point of being annoying. I must admit though that the right consistency of oil paint is perplexing. After years of premixing my acrylic palette in food containers using just the right amount of water and whisking the mix till it "looked" right, squeezing paint from a tube and using it with nothing seems very strange. Of course, I was looking for coverage, which and that lead to catastrophe. So far, the paintings I've rubbed out weren't rubbed out because the drawing or colors  sucked, they were wiped out because I had used too much paint and the surface had become too thick and unruly.
 
There's obviously a lot more to painting with oils than capturing the likeness of the subject. There's a lot of questions  regarding a comfortable  consistency to confuse newcomers who automatically assume they must need one, when maybe they don't? Schmid doesn't use one--then he mentioned the word scumble when he was describing how he applied paint....hmm?

Benjamin, a  homeless collector of carelessly tossed soda cans and water bottles he turns into the recycle center.

With "scumble" in my head and the memory of how "slippery" paint was with too much mineral spirits added, Benjamin came together using the paint as it came from the tube. Why did I paint Benjamin? I painted him for the same reason I painted Trevor: The color values, the lighting, the patterns the lighting made on the facial features--I am a designer, patterns will get me every time. There were no patterns in

 My edges are still too hard, but Benjamin was illuminated by the sun almost directly overhead.  The shapes of  sunlight on Trevor's features were softened; the sunlight was dappled by the shade tree he was under. Benjamin is appropriately harsh; Trevor, appropriately soft.  The lighting in these two paintings says a lot about the lives these two people live.

I really love my #8 brush. I also love my slanted flat brush
and a filbert I can't read the number on.  I need more of
these. I really got tired of cleaning them between color changes.  The skin tones dictated the palette for Benjamin.  It was very limited--just four colors--CYP, TRO, UB, ALZ.

Friday, June 6th.  Moving Along.  Benjamin took approximately three and a half hours.  I could spend more time on him, but enough. My objective is to paint skin tones in a variety of lighting situations.  I didn't know that till yesterday when I learned I had to be able to say why I was painting a subject using descriptive art terms and not just "Cuz I like this," or Cuz I wanted to." Tomorrow, a self portrait using the Impressionists way of starting a painting--general color of the shapes.   Trevor, Jordanna and Benjamin were all started with the "Transparent (oil)) Monochromatic Block-in," a method I always used with oils as well as acrylics.  Tomorrow should be a trip with no guide to guide.

It just occurred to me that this is the summer I am conducting  my  own Richard Schmid Workshop.  I'm getting a lot out of one hour reading his text and four hours of studio time a day, five days a week--but I really would love to get to Putney, Vermont for the real thing.  Maybe some of you are closer?  If interested, google Putney Village Art for the summer schedule.

Technical Difficulties not using a painting medium: The oils are dry, not juicy.  Are they old?  NO. Is the brand not good?  I'm using several brands: Ultrect; Blick, Windsor Newton. Reliable dealers I thought. Is the paper palette I'm using soaking up the oil? It is coated with a waxy finish.  I doubt it.  I really may need two pieces of glass cut to the size of my paint storage boxes, which are just the right size to go into the freezer for keeping the paint workable at the end of the day.  I will go back to using a touch of medium--half linseed oil, half mineral spirits--for the self portrait. I like juicy.
I'm also shy of brushes.  I tend to have four or five going at one time--my favorite five.  I need more of my favorites to take use while the freshly cleaned favorites dry completely.  Murphy's oil soap/ water is not a painting medium in anybody's book. Cleaning my two  palettes and five brushes is a major activity throughout a painting session.



 

18 comments:

  1. I especially like the start of your selfportrait. It has a great composition and balance. I also like the light, back light, am looking forward to see the progress on this one. Keep on working! =)

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    1. I'm only on page 68. The book has 301 pages. This self imposed workshop may take a year. At the end of that year though, I should be quite adept at painting with oils. I never did anything like this with acrylics--other than explore the colors. What is interesting is that I am enjoying the failures. I'm going to let this portrait stand as is and move on. It was just an exercise to see what that start method was about. Better I paint myself poorly than someone else. The idea is to find the method that cuts to the chase best for me--or a particular subject. different subject matter may require different starting procedures.

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  2. Linda I sometimes do this if I am in a hurry to paint - when you have washed your brush in soap and water, dry off as much of the water as you can with paper towel then dip into some odourless spirit. That way you are getting rid of any water. I would use a separate container of OS not any that you are painting with. Perhaps not a purist way but it works for me :)

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    1. Duh, but of course!! I still need to expand my brush inventory. I'm liking the broader brushes, particularly the filberts, and I am working three or four of them each with a different value at once-and then there's the darkest mixture on the palette. I have been thinking of taking a time in between heads to just do brush strokes to see the capacity of each shape. I never did that and I feel it's important to actually know why choose that brush over another instead of following big/little brush instincts. I think I have gotten very serious about painting. Thanks Carol. Practical advice. :-))

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  3. I think that you have found the right way to communicate your experience without having to feel yourself compelled to finish for your readers ...
    To react to this sometimes I published my work AFTER everything had been painted.
    But those like me who love the social life, it also has a tendency to say what happens in real time, with enthusiasm.
    Now you have the correct key to painting and writing, taking the liberty of the author in the first place, and as a reader I always enjoy your writings & paintings, returning several times to read and understand. I also take a little 'of this Richard Schmid workshop with you. SO LUCKY!

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    1. He is a phenomenally clear headed-- spewing forth practical information with no artistic sales pandering. I appreciate that. --The journalistic approach suits me. I do not claim to be more than I am now, a student learning who I am, what art is to me, more interested in achieving a high degree of skill than making a living. I did that. Now, what I do is for my satisfaction. That attitude is what gets me in trouble, but is absolutely appropriate for these "Golden" years.

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  4. Love your "Golden Years" attitude toward making art Linda! In my current portrait class I think I am the only one with the same wonderful outlook! I love your art Linda! I also love your text about your art, your art process, and so much more. You are a wonderful, strong, and very interesting person! Keep on keeping true to yourself. That comes out in all your art! Your honesty and integrity is wondrous! Enjoy and savor every second on the planet Linda! (Oh I love the photo of the students! I agree that it would make a great painting. Reminds me of Norman Rockwell!)

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    1. Our passion for art is why our Golden years are golden. While it's very risky to save the best for last, these last years doing what I planned on doing way back when have been stimulating, informative, satisfying, energizing, all things invigorating. You get it. Thank you Michael. You too. How fortunate we are. Paint happy.

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  5. Love all your paintings in this post...but most especially your self portrait. I have a friend who took off to take a workshop with Ovanes Berberian (in Utah) ....but he was in his unreliable VW van. The van broke down 1/2 there. He had to wait for a part and missed the Berberian workshop--BUT, he had the Richard Schmid book with him and he told me that he felt he had a workshop with Schmid (because he got to spend a lot of time reading Schmid's book). His story and your post makes me want to take a "Richard Schmid Workshop" too! (via the book)! Can't wait to see what you do next!

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    1. Starting with no block-in was strange to me; I'll probably try that again. But I am in the section on the ways to start paintings and, quite frankly, I never knew there were any other ways besides doing a mono block in first, so I'll give them all a try. In Vermont, as far as I could see, Schmid didn't lead the workshops, his disciples did. Well, I have become a disciple and I figure I can follow the book, which is really a gem. Book two is the one to own, even if you have book one. It is expanded in all the right areas and considerably less expensive than a workshop given anywhere. All you need is a persistent drive --and a few more brushes. :-))

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  6. I have almost no idea what you and Schmid are doing together, but I do like your self portrait - very strong features, with a bit of softness at the eyes. Beautiful work, Linda! I guess Schmid is good for you :)

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    1. Oils. I am new to them, ( if you don't count the years I played around with them in my teens and early twenties, until I got so asphyxiated I threw them out). He is definitely not. Thanks, it's still a little too heavy on the paint, but shows promise. But aside from some detail fill-ins, that's that with that sketch. I am a draftsman. I can draw, but I'm not a painter YET. :-))

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  7. You showed us such a beautiful collection of your work, Linda! Your self-portrait is coming along so beautifully..you're always good with getting the likeness right away!! putting it on the side for awhile is always a good idea....the skin tones are really good!! and your pencil drawing of the graduate you did in 2003 is outstanding!!

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    1. Thanks so much Hilda. That means a lot coming from you who do skin tones so well. The pencil I know. Oil paint is the mystery after all these years away from it. But I'm catching up following a good guy who writes a lot of common sense. This was the week that was. I'm trying to establish a good work ethic via posting journal style.

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  8. If you get too much paint on , don't chuck it....tonk it! Lay a kitchen towel flat on the surface and smooth your hand firmly over it. This removes excess paint so you can continue.
    I use half oil/spirit mix if neccessary, bit I find the paint OK straight out of the tube.
    The other thing I wondered about is the freezer thing. Oil doesn't freeze, so maybe it is being air tight that keeps the paint fresh? I have to find a way of preventing it getting a skin as I waste so much.
    I am loving your studies....you are going to be one splendid painter! The selfie is brilliant, better than mine after twenty years!

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    1. Thanks, but that's some old lady there--it's like I'm painting a stranger. :-)) When I was reading about alla prima, I read you can keep the paintings wet over night or longer if you put them in a cold room, face to the wall. From that I figured you could also keep the paints fresh if you kept them in a cold space. Our freezer is in studio space. So I put the palettes (2 acrylic palette boxes with disposable palette pads in them) in the freezer. The paints didn't freeze; they stayed fresh--at first a bit too cold to use, but by the time I had set up everything else, they were very workable. They will stay fresh in the freezer for several days. Till recently, I wasn't using them everyday. I put the lids on the palette boxes, but, I don't bother to seal them tightly. It is the cold that keeps the paint fresh.

      I'll try that, but I am trying to scumble more and paint with dry brushes. Today, I painted with a q-tip--very nice.

      The skin tones on the self portrait are out of whack. they don't look it in this picture, but they do in real life. They need work. that was a hard way to start and paint a painting. You should have seen the initial block-in. I looked like an alien.

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  9. Enjoying your posts on following Schmid's teachings. Loved your selfie.
    In the 80's I enjoyed seeing him demo a few times. He was always generous with sharing information - yes- and always brilliant with using the brush. He was a tonalist, keeping any brighter colors for the very end. He got his shadow/ darkest focal area in first -TRANSPARENT PAINT ONLY - SCUMBLED in using the side of his brush, and wiped out with a rag where the light was going to be... creating a gentle value change next to the dark, for him to come back and work into.
    Back then he only appeared to use filberts. They could have been flats which had become worn.(side scumbling)

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    1. Those are the brushes I am using too though he hasn't mentioned which brushes he uses. I'm also using a 1 and two inch heavy bristle house paint brushed. Thin is his mantra-- also dry brush and scumbling. These give you the most control and the paint doesn't run away with you. Putting on too much paint has been one of my faults that is disappearing the more I follow his directives. His methods tell me he is an excellent draftsman, for his marks are always on the mark. How lucky you were to have seen him demonstrate. How fortunate we all are he wrote his findings down. These are the most exciting "how to" art books I have read. I am so glad I singled out his book on a book list on aworkshop teacher's blog after taking her gestural workshop. The association hasn't offered another gestural workshop since, so I'm doing what I'm doing. When I finish, I intend to attend the open painting studio sessions at the association. The more I learn through Schmid, the more I realize, I don't have to drag along a lot of supplies, which always made going to these things unpleasant. His limited "student" palette (along with a gallon of mineral spirits) will do for practice sessions. Your comment Julie has been most useful--"color last." I now know which start he prefers, which is also the one I lean towards. Thank you.

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