"Terry", pastel pencil on paper.

On Tuesday evenings I attend the long pose life drawing open studio over at Sadie Valeri's studio. If you haven't seen her work, check out her blog. What an awesome artist to have discovered among my web of friends this year! To draw with a group of women on Tuesday nights, all practicing in the same classic tradition, is... well, I am grateful.

When I graduated from art school in 1993, I went into deep despair knowing that with working full time I would no longer be able to devote my days to improving my skills and perfecting the craft of drawing and painting. Over the years I adjusted and realized that what truly matters is the joy of drawing, learning, discovering in art - and that it never ends. There are still opportunities to learn and grow outside of work, nights, weekends, vacations... It's funny, too, because I swear that even in short bursts, one or two evenings a week, my skills have improved faster than I would have guessed. I'm not sure why that is.

At the same time I cannot deny that having a year or two off from working in order to dedicate my time to creating all the art I have in my head and take workshops would be great. It would. In fact, I'm not even sure how much longer I can hang on not being able to do so. But what eases the yearning a little is life drawing, sculpting, painting, and being able to do so with fellow artists. I am really grateful to be drawing over at Sadie's studio - it came along just when I needed it.


"Fall" work in progress, Part 5

I made a little more progress yesterday, although not as much as I would have liked. Hopefully by the end of today I will have finished all the birds and leaves in the hair so I can move on to the bottom half and background. One more week to go...


"Fall" work in progress, Part 4

This painting is taking forever. I only have nights and weekends to work on this, so progress is very, very slooooowwww...... so many little details yet to paint, two weeks left to go before I need to scan and make prints for APE.

The birds are cedar waxings, which have a field day in the fall pulling berries off of branches. My next step is to finish all the birds, add blowing leaves, branches and berries, and finish up the background, which I would like to be simply stated and soft. My process is pretty straight forward: block in the big shapes in a thinner mix of oil paint, breaking down light areas and dark areas first. After the basic shapes of light and dark were applied, I built up thicker areas on top, with more value transitions in between. For thicker areas of paint, I use less thinner and more medium, which is 5 parts rectified turpentine, 1 part linseed oil, and 1 part dammar varnish. I like this medium because it allows the oil paint to get a really nice sheen to it as it dries, which is the look I'm going for in this one.
I realize the entire painting looks very orange. It is intentional. Since this is a series of four paintings, each painting will have a dominant color. I felt the Fall painting would be predominantly oranges, yellows, burnt siennas and reds. The birds are a bit more gray, so once they are put in I will add some more gray tones to balance out the color throughout the painting.


"Fall" work in progress, Part 3

I used acrylics to do a rough underpainting. I tried not to get too crazy with this; it's meant only to be a little color underneath the oil paint so that bits and pieces of it show through. I brushed in warm tones of raw sienna and burnt sienna on top of a thin base layer of unbleached titanium.