Sunday, December 23, 2018

Local Inspiration

For some reason I am fascinated by garages. This may be due to the fact that growing up we did not have one, or the fact that now that I have a two car garage, workshop and other stuff means that no car has been parked in it for the past 20 years.

When stopping at the dry cleaner's, I noticed this garage across the street, in the process of being updated. By the time I got around to taking a photograph, the doors had already been replaced.

But I was still intrigued enough to save it for reference, and did a quick watercolor sketch to cement it in my mind.

As usual, my first attempts always seem tentative in their use of color, and wind up looking insipid once dried.

I revisited the subject, using my artistic license (until it gets revoked) in order to add more signs of life and color. And best of all, it provided the image for this year's Christmas card!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Car Talk

I've always loved old cars, but owning one (or more) will wait until I win the lottery. Not so much for the purchase price, but for the wages of someone to maintain them for me. Still, I go to car shows just to look and fantasize.

And sometimes they appear when least expected. This past week one was parked in front of the barber shop I go to. I think it is an 1940s Cadillac "sedanette". Just what my fedora-wearing self needs.

Ready for a role in film noir.

And then, while out on Sunday, I came out of a store to find an Edsel parked next to me.

Supposedly failed due to styling, but probably failed for other reasons, then blamed on styling.

With the push-button transmission control in the center of the steering wheel.

Should I take these appearances as coincidences, or as omens?

Friday, June 1, 2018

Incremental Improvement (or, the long way around the barn)

You may have seen this painting before. The barn/antique shop belongs to someone I know, and I happened to see a photo on her Facebook page. I thought it would make a good painting subject, but when I was done, I wasn't too thrilled with it. While on a small framing binge, I was deciding whether or not it was worth framing.

I taped it to a board and started making a few changes. As usual with my paintings, I felt it needed some more darks, and other tones to break up the large white facade. I still wasn't happy. 

Then I took some artistic license and added yellow to the sign. Eye-catching, but somewhat distracting. 

A spot of yellow?

I painted the doors yellow to balance it out, as well as picking out a few more details. 

More yellow!

Small changes, but these gave the painting more life. Once framed I saw some more areas I could play with, but not now.

Safe in a frame - no more tinkering.

The lesson here is that none of my paintings are ever really finished.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Adding a Pair to a Full House

While not period antiques, this pair of mirrors is very attractive, and are descendants of the way many frames and mirrors were made in the nineteenth century when the use of composition ornament took over from hand carving.

That means, unfortunately, they suffer from the same inherent faults of using compo as their predecessors: wood and compo expand and contract at different rates, and pieces of the molded ornament can lose their grip and fall off. These mirrors had losses (as well as a previous bad repair). 

The mystery is what happened to these large pieces - I suspect someone has an end table with these pieces in the drawer, and has wondered what they belonged to.

Removing a very bad old repair attempt.

While it looks daunting, this is usually a simple repair.

 Another problem with this style of mirror is that when not on the wall, they need to lie flat as there is no way to lean them on an edge without damaging them. This one suffered a break to one bottom swag, breaking the piece and bending the wire armature out of alignment.

When examining these closely, I noticed how they were not identical, due to the way the ornament was applied. While not attaining perfection, these differences indicate that human beings worked on them.

Someone wasn't careful.

The repairs were fairly straightforward - molding and casting, gilding and toning.

Molding and casting replacement sections.

Currently on the wall for their own protection until a suitable packing case arrangement can be built for safely transporting them. Meanwhile, the previous wall occupants have been exiled to storage.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Just Touch Up Some of the Gray, Please.

The weather was deceptively spring-like on Saturday, so a few of us went out for the first plein air session of the 2018 season at Potter Hill in Grafton.

This area has nice vistas as far as Mount Wachusett, but as usual, my focus was a little closer. The colors were not intense, as the day was not consistently sunny, and of course, due to this year's weather pattern, not much was leafing out yet.

As often happens, my paintings look ok until I get them home, where they look pale and insipid. I took some corrective action a couple days later. Improved, but I would still like more depth in some of the color.

"Hay Bales" as painted outdoors

"Hay Bales" after enhancement

"Wishing Well" as painted outdoors

"Wishing Well" after enhancement

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Little Light Classical

Finished eglomise panel

I accumulate mirrors, sometimes just for the glass panels. Of course, sometimes these were broken, but I have them for my archive and use them to make a copy.

This mirror is one I purchased for the panel (earlier post here),  and after making my copies (another post here), decided I wanted to make the mirror useful again. I had been wanting to do something in a classical vein, with a more refined image, and wanted a mirror with a more delicate frame to match. Aha, I had this one on hand.

Mirror with original broken panel

I found an image in one of the Dover books on classical themed illustration, and used that as the basis for this version.

The procedure is the same as I have described in other blog postings: Gold leaf on the glass, etch, backup areas with black, then apply background paint.

Gold leaf backed u p with paint

Finished project

Friday, February 16, 2018

Figure Painting Wrap Up

Marci I

Last session of the three week course at the Worcester ArtMuseum, Portrait and Figure in Watercolor with Randy LeSage (I did paint in week 2, but haven't got photos done).

Our model for the evening was Marci, who is also a blues singer. I am trying to be more forceful and adventurous with color, as well as looser with brush work.

Marci II

Preliminary quick sketch

Still doing a sketch before painting, in order to familiarize myself with the subject through observation, and find out the areas likely to cause trouble in the painting, since watercolor can be difficult, if not impossible to correct.

Marci III

As with many things, practice, practice, practice.

Next course is the same, but in oils. Hope I'm able to sign up for that one as well.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Let's Face It

Over the past few years I have tried honing my skills at figure drawing, primarily through the Worcester Art Museum's life drawing sessions in the galleries. Since they have been discontinued, I have signed up for a watercolor portrait and figure class with instructor Randy LeSage.

The experience with drawing has been helpful, as this is my first attempt at portraits and figures in watercolor. The model was Kate, and her fair coloring and delicate features made it a struggle for this first week's attempts.

In any event, onward and upward with the arts!