Mini-Tutorial: Experiments in Water Mixable Oils

WORK IN PROGRESS, 6×6″ water-mixable oil on stretched canvas.

Oy. My current schedule has not been conducive to painting and it’s very frustrating. But hopefully it will be back to “normal” (what qualifies as that for me!) soon.

I haven’t been able to spend much time at my studio, so I set up a very humble corner at home where I could paint. But painting with solvents (like paint thinner) was a no-go, so I thought I’d break out some water mixable oils I had, and see what I could do. I’ve done two paintings so far, neither finished, and I post the more “finished” looking of the two. It’s just a simple oil sketch of one of my made-up people (no model or photo reference). It needs more tweaking, which I’ll do as soon as it dries.

MY IMPRESSION OF WATER MIXABLE OILS:

Right now the main advantage I see with water-mixables (also known as “WMOs”)

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Back again, with a landscape!

“Tunnel View” 8×10″ oil on canvas panel.

I return to this blog, bearing a landscape. I don’t do many landscapes, something which I find a terrible pity, so I’m working on rectifying that, and here’s my latest effort.

Apologies for not updating the blog sooner, it’s been a hectic month—and a frustrating one—because other duties prevented me from painting as much as I’d like. I have several works half-done, but this is the first so far that’s ready to be shown. I’m determined to do more painting from now on. It’s been too long away from the studio, and that is unacceptable!

I did this painting at a recent workshop with Adam Clague, who is primarily a figurative painter but also is delving into landscapes (and doing a magnificent job!).

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Pretty Boy

“Pretty Boy” 6×6″ oil on linen panel.

This is a bit of an experiment, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

I didn’t use a model or a reference photo for this painting, but instead made it up completely from my imagination. While this portrait is not that unique (I make up faces all the time, for fun), it’s not typical for me to do what I did with the color on this one. Instead of simply inventing the flesh tones, the lights, darks, pinks, greens, warms, cools, I consulted a photo (with a different pose, with a different person) just to “get” the color. Not sure I was completely successful, but I think it’s a worthy exercise and made me really think.

After studying with Adam Clague, I am taught to look for the warms and cools on an object, as well as value, and what color is it (blue? green? magenta? orange?). One of the “rules” is that if you have cool lights, you have warm shadow. If you have warm lights, you have cool shadows.

I applied this rule (as best as I could) and so this portrait has cool lights (flesh tones with a more magenta tint are “cooler” than flesh tones with a yellowish tint) and warm shadows (I used a lot of Transparent Red Oxide in the shadows). While this portrait is just getting me started, it was gratifying and fun to do it.

The title “Pretty Boy” refers to my penchant to draw pretty people when I am inventing faces. I guess this harks back to my childhood, and all the handsome TV heros I grew up with, and sketched in my sketchbook.

EDIT: Ah, such is the life of an artist. A crazy, crazy artist. I pulled an “all-nighter” in my studio and tweaked this painting. And tweaked it. (And constantly updated this page with a picture of each new tweak.) I’m not saying it’s better or worse now, just “different.” Oh boy.

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Jason in Shadow, oil on Gessobord

“Jason in Shadow” 5×7″ oil on Gessobord. Thanks to Jason Aaron Baca (model) and Portia Shao (photographer) for the stock photo I used as reference.

I classify this as oils, but to be more specific, I used fast-drying oils (alkyds) on this painting. They are one particular flavor of oils and have been around for a while. (Read more rambling from me about them on this post.)

I’m a big fan of Jason Aaron Baca’s stock photos on DeviantArt. So much drama! Dramatic poses, dramatic lighting, what’s not to love? So here’s another little oil sketch based on one of his photos.

With this painting I was working again with trying to capture the light and shadow, and of great interest to me, the warms and cools. He had a lot of cool tones in the highlighted parts of his face. I’m also working on making more pronounced brushstrokes, more strong and visible. I love bold brushwork and want to get more proficient with that!  So exciting!

So, another one done. Put a fork in it! Now onto the next oil sketch. I have several in the works!

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Recent Road Trip photos

Continental Divide, Colorado, June 2014

Here’s a non-art themed post! I thought I’d post some pretty pictures from some summer road trips I took this year. I went to Colorado, Texas, and Arkansas. (Two different trips.)

Road trips, with the intention of seeing pretty scenery, are a family tradition. I like seeing attractions like Disneyland too (I grew up going to Disneyland at least one or more times a year) but to be honest my favorite thing is to go see beautiful mountains, beaches, and lakes. And take lots of pictures. Maybe do a painting or two. (I had hoped to do some painting this time, but it was not to be! How foolishly optimistic I was to think I’d have time . . .)

On the way to Telluride, Colorado, June 2014.

Some of these photos will make great reference for paintings later, though!

Ouray, Colorado. Pretty tourist town with a stunning view. June, 2014.

We also tried to see some galleries and such in Colorado:

Ceramics exhibit at The Art Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. June, 2014.

We were investigating some spots in Colorado, because we’re talking (just talking, mind!) of moving there eventually. Colorado has some wonderful galleries and resources for artists. I loved The Art Center (not to be confused with Pasadena’s Art Center).

Aromatic trees in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. August, 2014.

In August I went to Texas and Arkansas. What I saw in Texas (I didn’t see much) was mainly a bunch of dead armadillos by the side of the road. I need to explore Texas more at a later time, because it is a great state!

In Arkansas, I wanted to see Crystal Bridges (a fantastic art museum in “Wal-Martville,” aka Bentonville, AR), and then visited the lovely tourist town Eureka Springs (about an hour away from Crystal Bridges). I took a lot of photos inside the museum, which I must transfer to my computer and prepare for publishing online.

Having lived the majority of my life in California, I have been spoiled by the intensely aromatic incense cedar found in the Sierras and other mountainous areas. When you drive up to Yosemite (which I have done countless times, it’s my favorite place!), your nose is suddenly struck with this glorious, pungent “pine” smell. Impossible to miss. I always associate it with the mountains.

So it makes me sad to not experience the same strong smell in Colorado or the forests in Arkansas. BUT—there is still some hope, because occasionally I get a whiff of it. In higher elevations in Colorado (Rocky Mountain National Park), I smelled the glorious pine smell. Not as strong as incense cedar, but unmistakable. And the same wonderful smell could be detected, albeit fleetingly, in Eureka Springs!

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Hooded Man

I don’t quite know how to explain why I chose this subject. I liked the expression and thought it was dramatic and evocative, I guess.

“Hooded Man,” oil on panel, 8×10 inches. Credit goes to djwar93 on DeviantArt for the stock photo I used as reference.

There was a lot of time spent on the values, shadows, and some on the colors (which areas were cooler, what areas were warmer?). The expression of the man came together on its own; he seems at times to me to be merely intense, thoughtful—other times he seems angry and sinister. I’ll let the viewer decide!

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Lady in Green – portrait study

This is a first for my blog, and I feel a bit geeky about it. I’m posting this from my studio! I have a nice computer set up here ($100 used Mac Mini–who says that these older computers are obsolete?) and have finally configured it to upload files to my site, scan and edit artwork in Photoshop, read photos from my digital camera, and the whole bit.

Anyway, back to the painting. I’ve fussed with this one for a few days and have to say I’ve very much enjoyed the process. The reference photo used had some lovely skin tones—warm and cool, subtle shifts in color, and a calm, and beautiful expression on the model’s face.

I’m also trying to paint a little more boldly and thickly, though I guess it’s not enough yet to be obvious in the painting itself.

“Lady in Green,” 6×8″ oil on linen panel. Thanks to WhimseyStock for the use of the stock photo as reference!

I used a DickBlick linen panel for this painting. I haven’t used this brand of panel before, but I have to say I enjoyed it. There’s something about the texture of linen, and I’ve really warmed to it. This is one of the Blick’s “high end” line of panels, I assume meant to compete with brands like Fredrix’s archival linen panels. I like both brands and will pick whichever is on sale!

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