Saturday, August 29, 2009

Three Roses

Oil on Canvas Board
11 x 14

My grandfather bought a painting by Sergei Bongart a long time ago. It hung above the mantel of his fireplace. I was always intrigued by the bright colors and the bold brushstrokes. I recently decided that I wanted to learn about him and his method.

Fortunately, he has a website. Even though he has passed away, his very pretty wife Patricia created a DVD where she demonstrates his painting style. I bought it and watched it a couple of times, taking notes. She defiantly knows what she is doing.

I tried to incorporate what I learned in this painting. The image was from the Wet Canvas Image Library. Thank you very much to the contributor.

For me, there was a lot in common with Bongart and Susan Sarback as far as the steps go. Sarback’s basic steps are:

Block in colors and define the light and shadow areas.
Another layer of bold color.
Highlights, darks and edges.

The Bongart method has these same steps. The palette has lots of juicy colors piled high, just like Sarback.

1. Drawing.
Patricia tones the canvas with a wash of pthalo blue and black. She makes it VERY thin, like a watercolor wash and slaps it on quickly. Then, with the same color and thin brush, she sketches in the drawing very loose and very wet. She only uses turps at this point, no medium. She works very fast.

2. Block in colors.
Again, with colors as thin as water color washes, she blocks in the basic colors, working over the whole canvas simultaneously. She focuses on hue, value and chroma, but it still looks flat. Then she adds the shadow areas to give it form. She works very fast. At this points, she lets it dry. I read somewhere it is good to have at least two paintings going at once, so you can work on one while the other one is drying.

3. Use retouch varnish to refresh the colors and then go at it just like before, but this time use thicker colors. Work on the large blocks of colors over the whole canvas before you start fussing with the details. Keep everything in a relatively medium value, don’t worry about highlights and darks.

4. Now go back, and with the thickest paint, put in the highlights, darks, and most important details.

Watching Patricial Bongart slap around that paint really gives you an idea how to make something “painterly”. She never shows you the set-up that she is painting from, and she never says what colors she is using, but she shows how she takes that #12 filbert and put it to work. I highly recommend the DVD.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I won four blue ribbons at the Ventura County Fair! Last year I entered three paintings, and I won 1 blue ribbon, and two second-places. I was happy that I won anything since it was the first time I entered. I said to myself, “Next year I will be better, so I will try to enter as many categories as possible and try to win blue ribbons in all.

This year I had four paintings that I felt were good enough to enter. I entered “Two Trees with Delphiniums” in the Landscape category, “Montezuma’s Castle” in the Architecture category, “Olivas Adobe Arch” in the Ventura County Scenes category, and “Pink Roses” in the Floral category. They all had blue ribbons, and “Two Trees” was also nominated for Best of Show, so it got an extra ribbon. It did not win Best of Show: that went to a little pen and ink sketch, about 4x5.

This year’s goal is now to start trying to sell my paintings. I have been investigating the local galleries. Most galleries, because they need to pay the rent, are very picky about which paintings they accept. They must pick paintings that they believe will sell. So of course it is difficult to get into those.

The local Art Association will take anyone because they basically charge the artist to hang their work, and you MUST rotate it every 6 weeks. This keeps up a steady flow of revenue for their gallery, whether or not anything sells. When I go in there, to me, most of the art looks amateur, and I don’t see anyone hanging around and shopping. Also, the artists MUST volunteer their time babysitting the gallery. I understand that also keeps down the costs, but some artists are not as good of babysitters as other. I have popped in on the weekend, and someone’s husband is doing her shift. I come in and he instantly he pounces on me, drags me over to his wife’s work and starts telling me all about it. Her work is okay, but it is all about Indians, which is not my thing. I want to see what the other artists are doing. If I put my work in this gallery, and he was there, no one would get a chance to look at my work.

Then I found a new gallery that is just opening up in the local tourist trap shopping area (the Ventura Harbor). Apparently it is run by a wine shop next door. I walked in and found a very eclectic range of art: fading Thomas Kinkades, photos of rock stars in guitar frames, pseudo Indian rock art, glicees of oil landscapes (which I don’t consider “real” art, but basically $200 posters), and surreal art of a woman with four eyes, like a bug. The gallery takes 50% of everything that is sold (which is normal), but since they are so new, they don’t care what they display. Some was good, and some was BAD. I figure if I was in a “high class” gallery, they would be taking 50% anyway, so this spot is good enough. I am going to approach them after the fair is over.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tulips in Tin Pail, Knife Painting

Oil on Canvas Board

I am intent on posting all my paintings, whether good or bad, and I don't think this one is one of my better ones.

This was an image from the WC image library. Thank you to whomever posted it. It did not turn out like I had hoped, but I learn from each painting.

This is what I learned:

1. I got more of a feel for the knife.
2. I tried to make the painting “vibrant”, but like Larry Seilor says, “when everything is shouting, nothing can be heard”.
3. I think the tin container came out the best, because it was an actual shape that I was able to model. But the tulips just came out like blobs, even though I worked on them. Therefore, if I do this technique again, I need to pick large, specific objects, not fussy little things like flowers.
4. I need a smaller knife to get details.
5. I think the subject is too dark. I think it would have looked better if I had used a lighter subject.

I will try these tulips again with a different style.