Monday, April 26, 2010

Art Show

Color show now on display

The Renaissance Art Gallery will host a reception for both artists and the art loving public May 2, 2010, in the Kumkum Majumdar Exhibition Hall. The reception is for the 3rd Annual Spring Fine Arts Exhibition. Every one is invited. Admission is free. Refreshments will be served. Reception is from 2-4 pm.

The theme for this show is Color complements, and it is a colorful show! Vivid and subdued, the range of work is outstanding. Included are abstracts, realistic paintings, impressionistic paintings as well as woodcarvings and glass sculpture. We have fabric artists and expressionist as well as several experimental pieces along with a Color Wheel Installation by the Junior Fine Arts Class.

Reception is from 2-4 pm at:

The Renaissance Art Gallery
900 8th Street, Suite #20
Huntington, WV 25701

Gallery (304) 525-3235
Appointments: (304) 453-3187

Gallery hours are:

Friday & Saturday 12-4 pm, Sunday 1-4 pm
Studio hours Monday 10-Noon, Wednesday 1:00-7:30 pm and Saturday 10-Noon

Color Complements will run for the month of May.

Complementary colors Exhibition

This is the press release I am preparing for the opening reception of the Spring show.

I know all you artists enter these shows, and remark on all the work you do to get ready for them. I also read how disappointed you are sometimes when how you and your work fair and are treated.

But I have to wonder if you have any idea how difficult it is to pull off one of these shows?

I have been working since last December on this, and frankly, I should have started sooner, and done more! The photo shows just two walls, and we have six for this show. I did not hang this show myself, two other members of the gallery did so, but all of us worked flat out to bring this show together.
From the early planning through this weekends event, putting on an quality art show is difficult, but so rewarding.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Artistic Struggle

Trying new mediums is one of my artistic goals this year. I am comfortable with oils, love the rich colors and butter feel of working with high-grade professional oils. I love them! I have no intentions of abandoning them.

But I have never really painted with anything else. Oh I have toyed with watercolor. Who hasn't today? But they are a bit unforgiving, and in my early days of painting, I needed a lot of forgiving!

Still do for that matter, but that is another story.

With this spring’s Fine Arts Exhibition, and my own earlier sickness, I really did not have time to fully develop 3 oil paintings, so necessity has forced me to actually keep my goal for this year. I hate to admit it, but although I have always wanted to try other things, I am a bit of a coward, and was reluctant to strike out. Especially I did not want to show anyone my struggles!

So, as usual, I have reverse order over most artists. Instead of starting with watercolor and acrylics, I started with oils, and will work my way backwards!


As it would happens, the local hobby shop had a sale on artist quality acrylics this week. The dye was cast.

Acrylics are texturally very different from oils. While I knew, intellectually, this would be true, I don’t think you are every ready for it in practice.

But I digress.

I needed 2 more paintings and I needed them fast, at least to dry fast to give me maximum time to dry. I also wanted to change things up a bit, try for something different. Acrylics was as close to an answer as I was going to find.

For the first painting I decided to try something a bit more graphic, less detailed and flatter. Usually, I work hard at creating depth in my landscapes, but this time I was going to use non-local color and a more abstract style. I worked out my thumbnail, and sketches, and with vine charcoal placed just the basic shapes. This is all I intended to paint, block in the basic shapes.

I used a limited pallet of Violet, Yellow Ochre and White. To achieve any distinction between objects I had to manipulate the values of these pigments, darkening some and lightening some. Mixing them together would give me the grays to add some shading.

Mixing Paint

These paints were much softer than I was used to, and a bit tricky to mix. For the first time I had to worry about drying times, not in hours and days, but in minutes. Usually I spread my paints widely, into rather thin strips. but if you do this with acrylics they dry before you can use them. Also, keeping a spray bottle at hand is a good idea. There are medium you can use to delay this drying time, but naturally, I had none of these! In addition, my standard pallet knife seemed awkward with them. I persevered, I did find a small plastic spoon was a better mixing tool.

The resulting painting is a 12 x 12 square, another departure for me. I tend to stick with what I am comfortable with, and work either in standard landscapes sizes of 18 x 24 or with miniature sizes of about 4x5. So even the format is outside my comfort zone.

The second painting is again a modified landscape, again in acrylics. This is a waterfall of sorts. Large graphic rocks splashed with rapids of an active stream, but with found colors dominating. Emphasizing the blue of the water and the red-orange rock colors, the painting does not try to convey a realism that is more typical of my artwork, but a warmer, more whimsical interpretation of rocks in a stream. Again, this has a limited pallet. Here I worked with a mid-blue and its complementary orange with white. The sky blends into to the river and flows over the rocks whipping up the spray onto the bank.

Even the first trial and error blocking in did let me work with the medium. While I would not call the painting a roaring success, even our failures teach us something. I strongly believe that without the failures you cannot achieve real success. Well, I have the failures now!

While there is a certain amount of success in these paintings, they are far from masterpieces. These paintings are not really very good, from a purely artistic standpoint. But they represent the struggle, the attempt to mastery of a medium and of artwork. They are simply steps along the way. Some of the many hundreds need to complete the journey from painter to artist.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Staging the Color Wheel

Working With The Color Wheel.

We hear about color wheels and color complements and triads, but how you to apply this to real life? The colors you see printed on the wheel don’t always match what you run into in life or in paint.

My junior drawing class took a stab at relating to the color wheel this week in preparation for the Spring Fine Arts Exhibition, “Color Complements”, being staged at The Renaissance Art Gallery next month.

Today, rather than doing all the preparations myself, I engaged these art students to help work on an installation piece, “Working With The Color Wheel”.

First we needed a color wheel to display in the welcome to the exhibition. Also we needed to highlight primary colors and their complements and show what happens when you mix them.

First came the color wheel. I am sure you remember how boring doing this can be. But this had to be more than a simple wheel, it also had to be art and decorative.

I collected a basket of silk flowers, a grapevine wreath and a pair of wire cutters, put them on the table and away we went.

After an 15 minute explanation of the color wheel, and a simple demonstration via watercolors, the students had to sort through the silk flowers and find the best examples of the colors needed. This is where they found their understanding of the wheel was not as good as they thought! You remember how your eyes crossed in class when color theory was presented, but listening to teacher and working it are two different things. And with the various shades and highlights presented in the flowers they had to think about it!

After the sort, the flowers were cut, inserted and the wheel hung.

Next we needed the color complement display. Glass marbles served as the color constant, placed in clear votives, they shine through. Next, the best complement was selected from the remaining flowers and stood up in the votive, the votives were arranged in the window, where light can shine through them.

Food Coloring and clear glass bottles make up the last presentation, working with color. Batches of water were mixed up with the 3 primary colors, and 3 bottles were filled with these. Then the remaining colors were used to mix the complements, and the last 3 bottles were filled with these. Then the bottles were arranged on the windowsill where the light will shine through them. A little fiddling and re-arranging for the most pleasing presentation was made.

This installation piece both brightens the gallery and is already proving to be a handy learning tool. The adult photography class, which follows the junior class got a first hand look at color and how light effects it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Red-Green Composition

This spring the show theme or challenge however you want to look at it is color complements. So the painting has to be predominately done in a primary color and its complement. For this paintings I chose the red-green color complements, and will use Cadmium red and sap green plus titanium white. These, I think will give me the range of colors and shades I need to do this work.

As you can see, even this limited pallet gives a full range of values. Red-green giving a really rich brown, which can be darked with more of either color or lightened by adding white.

After blocking in the major areas of the painting with paint thinned with mineral spirits, I began adding the gross details, locating and starting to shade in the background trees and vegetation and laying in some of the rough shapes of the rocks that will bracket the falls. I like to work in a impressionistic way at this point, simply laying in colors and letting them blend on the canvas itself. For this I use larger brushes, 1" flats, and 1/2" filbert. Once the basic shapes are in, and I am getting a range of values, I used a script brush to simply flick through the paint to give an impression of tree branches. With some large thin blocks of color I can give the idea that there are building beyond the park, but I don't have to give them any details, this will all be covered by the trees.

With a small painting knife I began building up some of the values that will make the rocks have depth and texture. This is one of the biggest challenges of this painting, as the sandstone of the park has a real rich range of color tones, and for this painting to work both the colors of the rocks and the warmth of the day will need to come through.

I laid in the seated man in red, but will as the painting progesses I will add more and more green to him. After the rapid waters of the falls are added, the darker values of the green will give him a sharper contrast to the foaming water and tie him into the foreground vegetation. I have added the painting as it is after the first painting session. Tomorrow I will beginning to define and finish the background and move onto perfecting the rocks and adding the spray and foam of the falls themselves.

The background is pretty much done, I like the way it looks very wild and unkempt. And I thing the rocks work. Now I just have to get the water to have both depth and foam. A real challenge. But over all I think it is coming along very well.

What is missing so far? Depth to the water, details to the foreground and shading and shadows to the man. This will show the light souce and help the painting hang together. I also think the river looks uninteresting like this. It needs to look more active, containing more life, as it truly does. Although it very rocky in this place, there is a great deal of vegetation cropping up all around.

Now I feel the falls looks more active and real.

Painting the Falls Green

Finding just the right reference photos is not always easy. Sometimes the perfect reference photo is a combination of many photos.

For the upcoming Spring Fine Arts Exhibition, I wanted to do one painting with a waterfall. Now, I have take more than one photo of a waterfall. Actually, I have boxes of photos, many of which contain waterfalls. But I wanted something with a little human interest. Something that would help put the viewer into the painting.

I printed out a selection of photos I took in Greenville, SC at Falls Park on a lovely late spring day in May.

I laid out the photos, but did not fine one that had it all. So taking a sheet of tracing paper, I selected elements from several photos to see how they would work together.

Combining what I liked from several photos gave me the composition I thought would work. So I sketched it out on a prepared canvas.

Those of you who have seen my works in progress before know that I am allergic to painting on white canvas! This canvas is toned with yellow ochre, which will give it the lighters, sunnier feeling this day deserves.

Standing back. I decided on a few adjustments in the banks and rocks, then with thinned paint blocked in the main shapes for this painting.