Saturday, October 27, 2007

Granny Smith #2

Granny Smith #2
10/26: Granny Smith #2, oil on canvas panel, 5x5 in.

While I'm happy if I only partly succeed in modeling a spheroid object, I'm happier if I can convey some of the dignity of a thing - especially if I like it a lot, as I do a Granny Smith apple. (People paint apples all the time, and it bothers me when somebody can reduce one to a series of flashy strokes but lose the simple essence of the fruit.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Illustration Friday: "Grow"

10/25: Grow, oil on coated paper, approx. 7.5x8.25 in.

Well, somehow I've gone a whole day without posting (sigh). I'll have to paint an extra piece of fruit or something. At least I tried the IF this week - by chance I came across this story in The Penguin Book of English Folktales, edited by Neil Philip (whose introduction is far more exciting than most of the tales in the book):

The Turnip and the Horse

A poor man near Brighton grew a huge turnip and sent it to the King. The King graciously accepted and sent the man a guinea. Hearing this an individual (whose descendants are living, so I leave out the name) bought and sent King William a beautiful valuable horse. The King accepted, and immediately sent the huge turnip in return, saying the horse was so fine that he must give something in return that was equally fine of its kind. The man who had expected a valuable gift was not pleased.
This version dates from a 1912 source, but writes Philip, "Here we find a story popular in medieval jestbooks, which is told as true and attached to a nineteenth-century monarch." I'm struck by how nonchalant the narrator sounds - the man simply "grew a huge turnip" - and that's why I made my farmer unsurprised, and maybe as if about to say "that'll do, turnip. That'll do...." But I didn't intend for him to look like a doll.

I printed my sketch (with the reddish outlines) on a scrap piece of Rives paper, used acrylic matte medium to coat the image then mount the paper onto a piece of board, blow-dried it, and went to oils - this is a decent shortcut as long as I use a thick sort of paper and "glue" it down with a lot of medium, mainly to reduce the chance of air pockets (there were a couple here but you can't tell in the end). I tried some Galkyd Lite for the first time here and it's wonderful - it's thin like the old Markowsky medium I used before I did a stand oil mix, and it dries fast enough that I can start layering thin colors on one another like glazes. It's like rediscovering something I'd lost. I could have pushed this farther but just tried to get it done fast.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Illustration Friday: "Grow" sketch


I almost didn't post anything today, which means yesterday I didn't paint (the posts are usually a day late). It was good however to step back and think on all that I had done these last few months and the many kind people I had met (or gotten reacquainted with) through this blog, and then catch up on a little sleep. Thank you to all who have visited and sent your thoughts, bought a piece, and inspired me to keep going and growing.

Well, I couldn't not do something today, and luckily I happened upon a little story in a book of folktales about a man who grows a big turnip....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


10/22: Cucumber, oil on canvas panel, 4x5 in.

I'm trying to remember to use more neutrals throughout, instead of picking up pure ochre or a red earth. I think I either 1) like the pure color, or 2) have just been lazy.

Old English word of the day:

eorþæppel [ĕərTH'-ăp-pəl]: literally, earth-apple.
No doubt due to the wave of Christianization entering Britain, this term would be replaced by Latin cucumis (and evolve further under French influence). But it appears in the Old English version of the Book of Numbers 11:5, speaking of the foods in Egypt: "cucumeres, ðæt synd eorþæppla," "cucumbers, which are earth-apples." It's funny because the earth-apples I'm used to are the much more recent pommes de terre, potatoes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Autumn arrangement

autumn arrangement
10/21. Autumn arrangement, oil on canvas panel, approx. 6x10 in.

I may leave it at this point. If I do any more work on it, a few areas could use some touching up and varnishing to get rid of the dullness, but for the most part it feels like I wouldn't have much more to "say." It has some of the explosive chaos of the environment from which the arrangement got its inspiration. And as a color study there's a lot going on.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Work in progress

in progress...

brownsI used some more neutrals, mainly some greys and a light warm brown-ochre sort of color, which I had been doing for a while but for some reason hadn't used lately. I took this photo more as a reminder to myself, as I have so many blobs of paint "saved" on my easel that I no longer know what's what. It's beginning to come together and I can see the end of the tunnel from this point. Loosening up a little has helped a lot, and I'd be happy with even more impressionistic color dabs. (I don't know where the background is headed; some of it was just an attempt at more sprezzatura or something.)