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Old 11-06-2018, 02:44 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

I'm so glad you posted this delightful painting here. That's impressive detail work for a 6" x 6" painting -- those ornaments are only a half-inch around, which means you must've had to use some small brushes. They're really convincing! Please post more.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:16 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

Idavid, that puts me straight into holiday mood! the light brings all memories of christmas lights right back. you've effectively captured the essence of the season.

Grotius, how do you fix something that ain't broken? 😊
the trees are utterly convincing. is it more realism you aim for? or just different edgework? you've expressed the same idea earlier so seems there's a road unexplored. what if you paint the blurred photo? or take a blurred photo of the painting and paint that?

you mention blending, that comes down to brush but also the amount and consistency of paint. if you start without solvent/medium and add medium later on to be able to continue.
create a session where you're free from chasing light, sitting down comfily, indoors.

if it's realism you want, a simple starting point would be to find the total value pattern of each tree and keep it visible very intentionally. i'm thinking of the shapes usually having a unified or dappled shadow gradient that is darkest underneath the canopy. well it depends.. a lot!... on everything... then let medium values dominate.

also, paint dusk. your natural inclination is light, it dances in your work. go against intuition. have a dark register of 30% then medium values 65%. a couple of lighter spots. seek in the shadows. you paint light, now you got the black making lights lighter - could it be you want more medium values back? when working through value patterns you also get more edges to blend, if that makes sense.. yeaaaa shutting up now.
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Last edited by ronsu18 : 11-06-2018 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:26 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

Lisa, beautifully rendered shapes. I like this little painting.

I was painting at the beach nearby over the weekend and here is one fairly quick painting. It isn´t that hot anymore but in the sun temps tend to rise besides I had my cat with me so I could stay painting only limited time.
"Cadiz", 35x25 cm, oil on double oil primed canvas.







I have no idea how the image shows because I have a very bad laptop scr in use only. I´m not with my normal computer until next spring/summer.

The final painting is at this stage atm. I will still paint the white areas that do not have paint but I won´t change the light etc.

Grotius, thanks for opening this thread every month and thanks all of you painters posting wonderful art.
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:18 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

Moscatel, very cool painting of Cadiz! The photo looks pretty good on my computer, so don't worry -- your photography is working fine. And I had no idea Cadiz was so scenic. I've never been there; closest I've been is Tangiers, I guess, and it had some of the same vibe.

You certainly win the award for choosing dynamic painting sites! Scandinavia, Europe, now Cadiz. Where will Moscatel go next? I'm very envious!
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:40 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

joining that chorus, moscatel despite all the wonderful, gentle qualities in your brushwork, i was equally struck by the place pictured in the painting. that sky, that sea, the brilliance of the sunlight, the buildings varied in color, the sense of arriving. thank you for sharing the sunshine!
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:52 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

Ronsu & Grotius, thank you!
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:16 PM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

I started this painting too late in the day, but at least I got something down on my panel. I wanted to experiment with softer edges through most of the painting. I'm afraid the tree looks too perfectly symmetrical, like a lollipop, and there are other issues. It's this distance that gives me the most trouble with trees. Distant trees are manageable, and close-up trees too; but middleground trees I find challenging. All those tiny dots of color I see -- leaves, sky holes, twigs. I know we have to focus on big shapes first, but sooner or later the details confound me.

Still, the picture holds promise. I may go back to the site on our next sunny day -- which may be a while away! "Walking on Hampden Lane," oil on panel, 11" x 14," in progress.

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Old 11-09-2018, 11:54 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

what a happy tree! the couple feels like they're sharing a secret, big secret, the size of the tree. the values look awesome, the shadow pattern on the tree is excellent.

some trees look like lollipops, but i understand what you say. my initial response was, that the dotting comes from the need to add something, the need for finishing touches. this would indicate the need for a revision in earlier stages. i'll just go ahead and write what i know and use, but here the problem is seeing through to what can help your style and how.


after blocking, change mode to 90%thinking 10% painting. do as little as possible.
smaller brush, hold it like holding a torch but lightly. find the grip, thumb to index, brush in between, load so it's possible to paint with the flat underside and not with the tip. keep this regardless how awkward you feel, consider it a blunt pen. then slow down. waaay down.

make marks you'll mold later. break the tree into 3 planes, finding separate parts belonging to each plane then paint little lollipops that all have at least two values. use your entire arm finding ways to hold& move the brush maintaining style not in softness but abstraction. work the lollipops so they look finished to you. that is the crucial part. no detail but a mass. it takes two colors, exaggerate shadow (at first). move to second plane, repeat, third, repeat. if something is wrong/drab, check the shadows, work with shadows.
with a tiny brush& knife make carefully considered dents in the outlines still visible, that you haven't painted over. break all lollipops in 1- 5 places by re/moving existing paint, clean brush continuously.
paint 3 or 5 of the most visible branches/twigs. do count them and choose the ones that count. pack up&go home.
in the studio, take a fan brush and go to town. start with the outline of the entire tree. then a smaller fan brush to soften chosen little lollipops but not all of them, using only your judgement, no reference. make choices for the benefit of the whole.
finally, skyholes. check your reference very quickly, put it away and paint. then detailing on nearest or most contrasted leaves according to your judgement, not reference.

it's easy to soften a hard line. make it impossible to paint everything by leaving detailing later. use constraints at site, the number of this and that. with repetition there are new aspects to discover and your creativity will find ways into the constraints, and once they're a part of your thinking, you can return to your brushwork. it will have changed a bit. things will look a bit more sturdy and less poetic in a couple of places.

it's about technique, tools. order. and finding expression through rules.
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:12 PM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

Thanks very much for that thoughtful post, Ronsu. Lots of great advice there. One piece of advice in particular: to slow down after block-in, and to spend more time thinking than painting. I need to do that more. We've probably all experienced the feeling of painting automatically, the brush plowing along without much thought. I recall reading a book somewhere about an instructor watching students just paint away, often without looking at the subject, not thinking. The brush should not take on a life of its own; it should respond to our direction.

I also like the suggestions about 3-5 branches and skyholes, and the fan brush. I've hardly ever used a fan brush. One uses it to soften edges? To suggest the edges of a tree?

One of the tree parts that I find most difficult is the very edge, where the last few twigs and leaves stick out alone against the sky. If I paint them carefully, they look overworked. If I blur them, things look muddy. Using the edge of a knife makes the edges too hard, drawing too much attention.

Anyway, I'll try your suggestions next time. I'm open to more! I get a couple days to think on it, as it's raining today, and tomorrow I have life class. I'll spend today framing pictures for my upcoming show.
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Old 11-11-2018, 10:35 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

No fall colors in this painting but it does have some low angle light. I painted this at a plein air event at the ruins of an old hospital in town. It was cold and windy, and I wasn’t able to finish it at the event. Will finish it after the paint dries enough to work on it again.
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:09 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

Geoff, ronsu's advice to slow down is important, but I find it so hard to follow through on. Here's some advice from Mitch Albala: https://blog.mitchalbala.com/the-not...implification/ Following that advice, you could pretty much leave things as they are now.

BUT - and I'm telling you this with the caveat that I'm not at all experienced in solving this problem - on a recent tree painting of my own, I found that the kind of simplification he's suggesting doesn't always work. I finally came to the conclusion that what I was painting wasn't really a landscape in the usual sense, but a tree portrait (it looks like that's what you have in your painting as well). This led me to give myself permission to use more detail. I set up three levels of color/value, light area/medium area/dark area and made the last two more sketchy and vague saving detail for the highlights. I'm no expert though, and I really had to struggle for a long time to get a good balance. The point of what I'm saying is that you might consider saving the details areas for the most lit areas of the tree, where the most light hits the branches, and only show some detail there. Think all this through though, because as I said, I really struggled with this myself, and the kind of tree and circumstances (it was very windy), were very different. In the case of your painting, maybe just some work on edges (soft in shade/hard in light) might be the solution; I've found this particularly effective where the light areas abut deep shade, but mid-value areas work too. Or perhaps you could take a photo and do some test revisions in a digital program to see what might work? Again, please take what I've said here as primarily musings and think it all through in relation to your own painting before using any of these ideas.
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Last edited by AnnieA : 11-11-2018 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 11-11-2018, 02:53 PM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

@Tom: Really nice job with that plein air painting, especially the way you've organized the lights and shadows. If you do touch it up in the studio, I hope you'll post the revised piece here. (We welcome studio refinements of works from life in this thread!)

@Annie: Thanks so much for those suggestions. I especially like the harder-edge-in-light, softer-in-shadow idea. I'll try that and your other ideas, as well as Ronsu's. I also brought some of the paintings in to life class to get my instructor's advice; he said some of the same things you guys did. (He's all about creating space in landscapes with overlap, edges, and color, much like Mitch Albala. He thinks I need more space in most of my fall tree series.) It's cold today, so I may spend the day fussing in the studio with the various tree paintings I did last week.

In the meantime, life class kept me busy yesterday. This was the second session of a two-session pose. "Harry and the Hat," oil on panel, 11" x 14."

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Old 11-12-2018, 02:56 PM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

TomMather, the soft palette is very appealing, your colors intriguing, alive. the softness is a good contrast to the strong lines of the building. a special thank you for posting unfinished, much interest in looking at different windows in different stages! i love the way the branch looks now, all surreal.

Grotius yay for the hat, it's perfect! what a controversial, unique painting to boot. more perfection in the green highlight, it's definitely my favourite part. the relationship of the bg and the lighting on his right on the face is not really in agreement. there are a couple of wildly differing ways to continue, if you were to continue just a little bit. i actually think it's one of those disguised blessings you have there.
(i miss plein air!)
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Old 11-12-2018, 07:55 PM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

Thanks, Ronsu. I think part of what you see is glare from my poor photography; there's not as much light on the background as the photo depicts.
That said, the lighting scheme was pretty complicated: we had three different light sources, of different temperatures -- two warmer spotlights from different directions, plus cooler ambient window light. I may fuss with it more, but it's tough without the model in front of me.

Speaking of backgrounds, sooner or later I'd like to do a portrait with something in the background other than empty space. A person sitting at a desk, say, or standing in front of a door, or something. Again, that's hard to do in life class, in which the background is usually other students at their easels. Although, come to think of it, that could be an interesting background too.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:46 AM
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Re: Oil-from-life challenge, Nov. 2018: optional "fall colors" theme (again)!

about the fan brush, sorry! if the thing is new to you, maybe this wasn't a coincidence. how about come rainy day, watch online all different disciplines use it: watercolor, acrylic, oil. there are fan brushes of different types, sizes, materials like any flat or filbert. maybe there's inspiration for realism in trees 😉...

we all know it's not a matter of three lamps for you, only a matter of time. in two hours, i'd manage a portrait of a chair without background. struggling with a commission, a horse. takes forever&ever.
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