Monday, December 28, 2009

Berries in Blue Pitcher - Just about finished

Hope everyone had a very special holiday, now we can look forward to the New Year and all it's wonderful possibilities!

Painted yesterday and today in the studio and am nearly finished with this piece. More work on the cloth, I think, and some tweaking here and there.

My goals were to use the concept of "intensity", muted colors except for my center of interest. The second was to create a patterned background that was subtle and painterly and didn't overpower the foreground or the center of interest. Do you think I accomplished my goals?

"Berries in Blue Pitcher" (Work in Progress) 16" x 20" Pastel on Wallis Paper

Close-up of "Berries in Blue Pitcher"

Close Up of "Berries in Blue Pitcher"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Update on Berries in Blue Pitcher

"Berries in Blue Pitcher" 16 x 20" Pastel (Work in Progress)

Spent the morning painting in the studio with my artist friend and studio mate, June. We had a very productive morning. Since my last posting I have been correcting values, blending, adding more strokes on top, and painting the flow blue china pitcher. I had to drag out the David Leffel book to see how he paints flow blue. Quite a challenge, but I'm pretty happy with it right now.

It was good to get the detail into the flow blue pitcher as the pattern in the background will be softer-edged, and it would have been tough to tell how soft if I didn't have the focal point detail to judge by.

Left to be painted is the pattern in the background, the large pitcher, berries, and foreground cloth. Can't wait to paint the berries...but painting them will be like dessert!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lighting a Studio Still Life

A few days ago I was asked how I do my lighting for still life painting. The question was whether the lighting on "Berries in Blue Pitcher" was one or two lamps. I thought I would share my answer here and show you a couple of pics of what my lighting setup looks like (not elegant in the least!).

"It is actually one incandescent lightbulb (100 watt) in a silver metal cone that is about 10" across. A shop light basically.

I have a 1 x 2 piece of lumber from floor to ceiling that I can attach the lamp to. It's off to the left of the setup.

I do have a wall of black foam core on the left so the shop light peaks over the top and gives the lighting on the background and since it is wide it also peaks around the front edge of the foam core wall (and an extension...whatever was handy) giving the light falling on the front of the objects. This type of side lighting is important for light and shadow (chiaroscuro) painting, it gives you a structure of light and dark, and moves your eye from left to right.

You know, I have never had anyone teach me how to light a setup until I started studying with Deb. I have learned about cool lights, day lights, incandescent lights and what effects the light has on color.

I am using an incandescent light bulb like you would use in a living room lamp which gives off a very warm light. That means my shadow areas will be cooler than my light areas in color temperature. When people talk about painting in north light (which is very cool) their shadows are warm and their lights are cooler in relationship."

Thanks James for asking!!!!

Close up of "Berries in Blue Pitcher" (Work in Progress)

"Berries in Blue Pitcher" 16 x 20" Pastel on Wallis (Work in Progress)

Spent some time in the studio today working on the background mostly, and a little work on the pitchers adjusting color, shape and value. Will be working on it in class on Thursday night, and will post my progress.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Berries in Blue Pitcher

I was able to get away and paint at the studio today...a lovely way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

Starting a new painting today with a concept of "intensity", which means the colors are fairly muted until you get to the focal point (blue pitcher with red berries) where the intensity of color really makes it pop out. I also wanted a background that wasn't overpowering but would add an element of design.

Worked out the sketch over the Dynamic Symmetry Grid which helped me place my items and get the composition worked out, using a pastel pencil or two.

The third photo is where I stopped today. The work I completed was getting the large shapes of darks laid in, the lights in with an eye toward the value rather than the exact color. I will work up to the final colors as I go. The blotches in the background are where the floral shapes will be painted in the background fabric. At this point I have only used Nupastels (hard pastels).

Photo of Setup - Different Viewpoint than Painting

Sketch on Top of the Dynamic Symmetry Grid

" Berries in Blue Pitcher", 16 x 20" pastel on Wallis (Work In Progress)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Brass Pitcher and Onions Study - Finished

"Brass Pitcher and Onions Study", 10 x 12", Pastel on Wallis White Sanded Paper

I finished this in class last night. I was struggling with a couple of problems:

1. The left side of the painting with the onion in partial light just wasn't working. It was hard to read the onion skin fragment and it led to the left onion with wonky lighting and you got stuck there. So at my pastel instructor's suggestion I moved the left onion all the way back in the shadow. This, hopefully, brings the viewer's eye into the painting at the partial fragment of onion skin, then to the reflection of it in the brass pitcher and then to the right onion which is my focal point. There was some discussion of leaving it out altogether, but decided it might bring a bit more interest to the left side.

2. While I liked the looseness of the painted brass pitcher in the early stages, the onion, especially the one on the right was painted at a more thorough level and the two (the onion and pitcher) then looked too different. So I brought up the brass pitcher to the level of painting of the onion, especially the handle, and smoothed out some of the strokes in the main body of the pitcher.

I learned a great deal from this study (as well as the others):

1. Everything in the painting must have a reason for being there, including how it is lit and what purpose it serves in leading you to the focal point.

2. To put down my blacks/darks first before adding color, especially red, as putting down the color first and then the blacks/darks makes the red shadows look grainy and muddy.

3. Wallis is a far superior paper for my technique than Colorfix by ArtSpectrum. The latter's tooth is completely different than the former which makes filling the early layers very tedious with more blending than I care to do. The surface on finished pieces of CF look lumpy.

Thanks for following along! Back into the studio on Monday for another study...maybe it will be the brass pitcher again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wednesday's Work on Brass Pitcher

Grayscale of "Brass Pitcher and Onions"

Still a work in progress "Brass Pitcher and Onions" 10 x 12" pastel study

I thought it might be fun to see the grayscale today. A grayscale can give you a really good idea of how your values are reading. Color can be tricky to see it's value, so putting your paintings in grayscale in photo editing software can be really helpful.

The work to be finished on Thursday afternoon and evening will be the left onion, it looks a little off to me, and the skin fragment. That little piece of skin should be very transparent and it's looking a little to heavy/solid right now.

The right onion was the focus of my attention today brushing out the old shadow and laying in more black and darks to make the onion really fit into the lighting scheme and the "world" of the painting.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Brass Pitcher and Onions

Another wonderful day in the studio painting with my friend and fellow artist, June. Great music today, a little Loreena McKennitt and Eva Cassidy. (My first time to hear Eva...such a wonderful singer who passed away much too young.)

My last study had a silver pitcher and I wanted to try another reflective surface. In our still life storage I found this lovely brass pitcher, to go along with the red onions I had stored in the studio kitchen.

I find that the brass was also easy to paint, and the shadows on the red onions are giving me trouble (again! just like the shadows of the red tomatoes.) In talking over our work for today June pointed out that I'm not getting my darks in solid enough before I start adding color. Then when I try to darken the color it comes out muddy. This is why I love to paint with June, we are able to point out our observations to help each other out.

You will also find in the second photo my initial sketch over the Dynamic Symmetry grid. Note how the major points of the pitcher fall on the grid lines. The right onion is the focal point and it has been placed in the lower right mean area.
More work tomorrow on the left onions and trying to add more depth to my darks on the onions.
"Brass Pitcher and Onions" (Work in Progress), 10 x 12" pastel study on Wallis

Initial Sketch on Wallis over Dynamic Symmetry Grid

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cherry Tomatoes & Silver Pitcher - Study - Just about Finished

Today was a great day at the studio, just Bob Dylan (No Direction Home), me and my pastels.

Spent the day layering and warming up colors. I worked on the silver pitcher a bit. It is the first time I have painted silver....hence the study. Honestly the shadow areas of the tomatoes have been more trouble than the pitcher.

Tomorrow I will be finishing up, tightening some edges and a few tweaks here and there. It will be available for purchase this weekend at my Littleton Studio Etsy shop.

Cherry Tomatoes and Silver Pitcher Study (Still a Work in Progress)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cherry Tomatoes & Silver Pitcher - Study - WIP

Sketched in and a layer or two of pastel

Another study....this time cherry tomatoes (again, clumpy things) and a little silver pitcher. When I set up the lighting I got this lovely looooong cast shadow from the left tomato. This is 9 x 12" pastel on white sanded paper.

I started the study last Thursday night in class...and was able to get at least a layer or two on the paper before the end of class. I wasn't able to get back to the studio until today and expected shriveled up little tomatoes. Not so...they were just as lovely as they were last Thursday.
At this point I am just layering color and adjusting shapes and values. The silver pitcher will mostly be revealed by it's reflections.

"Cherry Tomatoes & Silver Pitcher Study" 9 x 12" pastel (Work in Progress)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Artichoke Tuesday is Finished

"Artichoke Tuesday" 9 x 12" Pastel on sanded paper

Available for purchase at Littleton Studio

"Close up of "Artichoke Tuesday"

Close up of "Artichoke Tuesday"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just About Finished with Artichoke Study

"Artichoke Tuesday - A Study" 9 x 12" pastel on Colorfix Sanded Paper

Yes, it became Artichoke Wednesday as well as Tuesday since I worked on this in the studio this morning. I still have some work to do on the highlights but will work on that tomorrow.

These studies are wonderful learning tools..I highly recommend them. Approach them as you would a finished painting. Pay attention to set up, lighting, composition, color, value, texture just as you would working on a more complex set-up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Artichoke Tuesday....Another "Clump" Study...WIP

After learning so much from the "Green Grape Study", I decided this would be "Artichoke Tuesday - The Study".

It's hard to do a composition with just AN artichoke, so I tore off a couple of leaves from the backside and used them to set up a simple composition.

This first photo is the color of the 9 x 12" Colorfix paper. It's supposed to be a dark gray, it looks a little blue here. I have drawn my Dynamic Symmetry grid and found the lower right mean (see the tiny little mark?) My focal point (the lit side of the artichoke will be placed along that line. The small leaves are placed on one of the DS construction lines. This is believed to make the angle/the painting more pleasing to the viewer in terms of composition.

Dynamic Symmetry Grid with Right Mean Identified

Using NuPastels I have sketched in the major shapes of the artichoke and it's leaves. Starting to lay in the darks.

Major Shapes Sketched and Darks Being Added

Here I have the major shapes in and have been laying in color, constantly tweaking the shapes. You can see that the top right of the artichoke will be mostly in shadow. I got tired and lost focus today before I could get to the artichoke...will have to tackle that tomorrow.

"Artichoke Tuesday" 9 x 12" pastel on ArtSpectrum Colorfix sanded paper (Work in Progress)

Although I work from life and thus my viewpoint is a bit different than what you see here, it does give you and idea of what the setup looks like.

Photograph of Artichoke for "Artichoke Tuesday - A Study"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Green Grapes Study - Finished

Green Grape Study 9 x 12" pastel on ArtSpectrum sanded paper
Available for Purchase at Littleton Studio

I finished this piece in class on Thursday night by adjusting values and adding a few specific edges, especially in the left shadow area.

"Why would one do a study?", you might ask. My opinion is for the same reason a pianist practices with scales, or a figure skater practices their jumps....until those small components of your art become second nature, or you have solved the small problems. Only then is one able to put the pieces together into a "long" program where ones' emotion and passion creates something complete and whole.

Who knows what's next for a study?? Eggplant, artichoke, plum....guess it will be whatever is in season at the grocery store ;-)

In "Green Grapes" I wanted to practice painting a "clump" of objects where not every component needs to be defined. Which is why I think an artichoke might be a good next's also "clumpy".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Green Grapes Study...Work in Progress

This is a study I started working's 9 x 12" pastel on ArtSpectrum sanded pastel paper. I didn't like the paper for my stroke-y application as much as I like Wallis, but I did eventually figure out how to get it to work.

Here is my Dynamic Symmetry grid drawn right on my paper with a pastel pencil. The focal point of the grapes is placed right on the right mean line (if you look you can see the little green x with a grape drawn on top. I've learned that line is called the Root I line....since the whole Dynamic Symmetry concept is based on root numbers. That's as far as I can explain it ;-)

I've also started to lay in my dark structures.

Here I am starting to lay in the color mostly in the midtones and light areas. The paper didn't take the strokes very well so I ended up using a softer pastel (Rembrandt) to lay some color down, then "smush" with my fingers. Then the strokes would go on top of that.

This is where I am currently...with just a little more work to do on the cloth and then maybe on the shadow area of the bunch of grapes on the left side. But we'll see. I'll take it to class tomorrow night and see what the consensus is.

Our Studio Group's exhibit is opening tomorrow night...if you are in the area stop by and have a glass of punch or wine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pears on Sateen...more work

The April Version of "Pears on Sateen" came out of the closet this week for another look.

I decided a couple of things:

1. The pears looked really flat, plus there were not enough darks to give them much form.

2. The colors used in the painting were all reflected colors bouncing around.

3. Although I did set up the still life, I worked from the photograph rather than real life.

So this week I bought a couple of similar pears, took the painting into the studio and set up the lighting and a piece of fabric of similar color.....and proceeded to work on this some more.

The pears have much more form now and strokes are even more pronounced than they were on the earlier version.

I'll have it critqued on Thursday night in class (so it may not be done), but I think I'm much happier with it.

12 x 18" "Pears on Sateen" Pastel on Wallis
(click on the pic for a larger version_

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Upcoming AUM Exhibit

Lemons and Blue Glass, 12 x 18" pastel by Cindy Haase
AUM Gallery is proud to present
Work by the artists of the
Deborah Bays Studio
and Special Guest
Terry Ludwig
November 13, 2009 - January 16, 2010
Opening Reception
Friday, November 13, 2009 6-9pm
AUM Framing & Gallery
2227 East Colfax
Denver, CO 80206
Hours: Monday - Saturday 9am-5:30pm
Participating Artists:
  • Barney Alexander
  • Karen Carlston
  • June Davis
  • Julie Fisher
  • Pam Poll
  • Amber Schneider
  • Linda Schneider
  • Kang Lee Sheppard
  • Rhoda Singer
  • Gene Smith
  • Valorie Snyder
  • Judy Steininger
  • Tracy Wilson
  • Cindy Haase

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cream & Sugar - Almost Finished

Close up #1

Close up #2

Cream & Sugar, 12 x 18" Pastel on Wallis (High Key....Work in Progress

It's getting there, and more importantly I think I'm almost done with the flutes on the pitcher. Now it's a matter of edges, and adjusting...a little specific here, a little blurred there.

Already thinking about my next piece. I will be doing another high key but this time I'm going straight for the color first and not messing around with grays and neutrals.

(These pics are taken with my camera phone so they are a bit blurry.)

We've had an especially good time at the studio this week. Several of us working at one time...several are starting new pieces so lots of kibitzing about set-ups. One is finishing a piece and we're threatening him if he changes a thing...he tends to do that. Lots of talk of framing before our Studio Artists Group show, which opens on Nov 13.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Critique at LAC on Saturday

"Peaches and Blue Cup", 10 x 7", Colored Pencil on Black Illustration Board

We have a quarterly critique at Lakewood Arts Council's Community Art Center and Gallery, and Saturday was my day to lead the critque. (I'm getting warmed up as I'm also doing an evening critique on Nov 4th for the Mountainside Art Guild.)

I wanted to provide a framework for the critique rather than "I like it" or "I don't like it", so what's better to provide the framework than the 5 elements of design?

1. Line (includes edges)

2. Texture

3. Shape

4. Value (contrast of light and dark, usually on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the darkest)

5. Color

Every painting will employ most, if not all ,of the 5 design elements, however some elements will be stronger than others. If you think of them as tools, you can even plan the execution of your painting such as "I'm going to employ color and texture in this painting", or "I'm going to use values and make my painting high key".

As we critiqued each painting, we talked about which tools were the strongest in play, which ones needed to be strengthened, and how one might improve their understanding of the the elements.

For instance, if you really want your work to be about line, study techniques employed by pen and ink artists, or calligraphy, or Asian character writing. If you want your work to be more about color, study color theory until you see colors in your sleep. Just as you would learn to use a screwdriver to drive a screw (you wouldn't use a hammer!), learn to use the elements available to you to make your work more accomplished.

I am watching a DVD by David Leffel on still life painting and one of his remarks is something to this effect "...your paintings are only as good as your understanding of the elements and techniques...."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fun Week at the Studio

Another picture of the studio with my space on the right. Two other artists are on my left and one more is on my right. There are 8 of us in all.

My dear friend June is across from me at the studio and we try to paint together whenever we can. She is an awesome artist and I so appreciate the energy she brings to our studio experience. Her painting is red silken shoes and purse with a gorgeous fringed drape.

"Cream and Sugar" 12 x 18 Pastel on Wallis (Work in Progress)
Struggled with the flowers all day yesterday and today....till about the last 20 minutes and then I seemed to make some progress. I was trying too hard to "render" them rather than "paint" them. I also sketched in some flutes and put more color on the orange sugar bowl, as well as working on drape in front.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another Studio Day - Update on Cream & Sugar

"Cream and Sugar" 12 x 18 on Wallis (Work in Progress)

Great day at the studio, alot of opera and Starbucks. I'm exhausted, I'm not used to standing for hours on end. But I'm having a wonderful experience.

You notice how I'm dancing around the flutes on the white pitcher and the saucer ;-) Not only that the sugar bowl has a laurel pattern around the top!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Workday at the Studio With an Update

"Cream and Sugar" 12 x 18 Pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper (Work in Progress)

"Cream and Sugar" close up (again with the cell phone camera)

Today was my first day working at the studio space and I had an absolute great time. A little classical music, a Starbucks, a dark studio with a couple of spotlights.....awesome! The time just flies.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Update on Cream and Sugar - Studio Space

Worked in class on layering color in the darks, without losing the abstract structure. Always so much to learn."Cream and Sugar" Work in Progress 12 x 18 Pastel on Wallis (camera phone pic)

I am very excited as I will be working Mondays and Wednesdays in the space where we have class. By paying a few extra dollars a month I will have access to be able to paint whenever I want. I've gone through my calendar and x'd out all the days I plan to work for the next few months.
Starting out with small studies in the mornings will help me get warmed up to work on my bigger pieces in the afternoon.
I'm so excited!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Good Day!

It was a lovely day yesterday!

First of all, I won a Merit award for "Gourd & Peppers" at the Mountainside Art Guild's "Views of the East & West". It's on display at the Lakewood Arts Council's Community Center and Art Gallery this next month.

"Gourd & Peppers" 3.75" x 4.5" colored pencil on sanded paper

The other good news is I sold this lovely little cobalt blue perfume bottle

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Painting - Cream and Sugar

I'm starting a new painting in class, using a lovely Peach Lustre sugar bowl and an Alfred Meakin white vintage pitcher.

This will still be a light and shadow design, but in high key. The light and shadow paintings I have done up to this point have been the full range of values (1-10). High key will keep the values not quite so dark with a range of value from 1-6 with a few punches of 7.

We have also been studying dynamic symmetry (DS) as a design tool. I have included the sketch of my DS grid on tracing paper. My painting is 12 x 18, so I took a piece of tracing paper the same size and drew my grid. Then I placed my items on the grid, moving the still life items as necessary. The idea that DS will help you have a more pleasing composition (similar to the golden mean).

Sorry about the quality of the photos, I was using my cell phone camera in the dark.

A photo of the setup I'm using

My drawing (a little askew) on the DS grid

Wallis paper with drawing transferred and dark (value 6/7) structure blocked in...

Stay tuned!