Saturday, July 20, 2013

My First Oil Paintings

From inspiration to almost complete, I am super proud of my first ever oil painting. Since this last image, I have added to the pathway, the trees in the background and the growth in the foreground. I love how I channeled van Gogh, was able to capture the haze of the fog and take suggestions from my professor about layering and glazing. 

 This is probably one of my favorite photos from my two week trip. No filters, no editing, Sankatay Light actually looked this painterly. To add to the beauty, my classmates are scattered throughout the landscape, wandering, conversing and taking photos of their own.
The lighthouse was actually moved from the spot in the middle of the shot, there is a person in navy blue, to the current location. On the other side of the black fence to the right is the bluff. The erosion continues to claim the land.

There are still a few strokes of paint I would like to add to this image. However, I am very happy with the perspective and color. I am flattered that based on this image alone, my mom's boyfriend has asked me to paint him something. Just in case I get famous!

I hate this painting! It has changed rather drastically from here, although I don't have a current photo. I think I tried to do too much between experimenting with color and palette knives. It was however good a good experience for a later painting. I hope to go back and add more.

My professor saw this sketch I did, during my mid-term meeting/ critique. He loved how sketchy yet detailed it is. He could tell that I start with a medium ground, add darks and pull out lights. His challenge for the second week was to become a more "sketchy" painter. For me, that makes sense. I was so caught up in traditional American landscape painting, a la the Hudson School, that I wanted to capture every shadow and every leaf and detail. That's hard! I have always worked abstractly, but my brain thought that realistic was how I had to paint.

Given my new challenge, I wanted to try "sketchy painting" out before I started my series.  Just like college, I started this painting after 11pm. I am pretty happy with the sketchy details of pebbles created in under an hour. 

 I think this one is done. Perhaps a few highlights to pull out, but I will wait to see how the others turn out. 

I have a few more layers of pebbles and sand to complete. See the erosion from earlier photos?

Adding the reeds in the foreground just today, has totally made a difference. I still need to add a shadow to the "window" and maybe a few highlights. I hated this painting until today and am finally excited to see where it goes.

 You need to turn your computer from here on out. Sorry. Not sure what happened.

There is still a lot to be done with this image. There will be leaves on the darker trees and a wind turbine in the "window." There will also be a shadow with the window. Like the lighthouse painting, the lighter trees are meant to be images of the future. Hopefully it works out. 

Light, Water, Earth and Wind of Nantucket.

in process... the final images are due on Friday the 26th!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oil Painting Supplies

I was like a kid in a candy store when it came time to purchase supplies for my two week painting course on Nantucket!

SUPPLY LIST provided by the professor

Brushes: bristle flat and round, assorted I spent a solid half hour standing in front of the brushes at the Blick store near Fenway. At least twice a sales associate asked if I needed help. (of course not, I could figure it out! eh) I bought three sizes each of rounds, filberts and brights. I also got a fan brush because Bob Ross always had one! After the two weeks, I realized that I stuck to the brights and rounds, so I will need to purchase more of a selection. After some reading before leaving, I also bought some cheap, one inch wide brushes for washes and a foam roller. I used both.

Metal palette knives, assorted Our professor is loyal to one and only one palette knife. He does not use a brush in his own work. I tried, but they are not my favorite thing. I purchased one for mixing and two for painting, one rounded and one angular, both Blick brand.

Transporting stretched canvas
10-15 gessoed surfaces for painting (minimum 12" x12", maximum any size you can easily carry), choice of stretched canvas, masonite panel or gessoboard The majority of my painting surfaces we bought at Michaels. I kinda hate that fact (since I used to work there and know how marked up things can be), but there was no way I could lug that many canvases on the train home from Blick. I did buy a few from Riverside Art which is a store I would go to in college. It is really out of the way so the trip was more for nostalgia. I bought fifteen and only used eight. I painted slowly the first week, sticking to canvas boards. The second week I used stretched canvas and enjoyed the bigger sizes and the texture of the surface.

Bottle of Glkyd or Galkyd Light oil painting medium
Container of Gamsol odorless mineral spirits
For both of these, I was really happy to have a brand recommendation. I have nothing to compare to, but I liked both. The Galkyd helps with the drying time and while I think I painted with thin layers, I didn't have an issue waiting for paint to dry. However the medium did congeal a couple of times, I am guessing from heat and humidity.

2 small jars with lids I am really happy that I read a book about oil painting before I left, or I would have been totally clueless what these were for! The painting medium and mineral spirits of course.

cotton rags Did you know you can buy bags of these at Lowes? I'll take old undershirts from here on out, but I was happy to know they were available.

wood or paper pad palette I didn't know what I would like best, so I bought both. That's the point of the class to me. I didn't like the wood, but would consider purchasing one with some sort of more washable/less staining varnish or coating. 

6B pencil and small drawing pad for sketches and lecture notes The book I read said never to sketch in pencil. I brought charcoal and drew on my canvas with both pencil and charcoal. I think I liked the pencil better, but I love drawing with charcoal, so I was happy to have it.

1 roll painter's masking tape I didn't realize until the end that this was probably on the list to mask off the edges of the canvases. (Although I find the dribbles of paint interesting, I know it is not professional) I used the tape for the paper palette blowing in the wind, to tie back the curtains to let in the air in the studio and to keep the bags of snacks fresh. I did learn that I prefer Blue Hawk brand to 3M. Blue Hawk held better, but didn't tear or leave residue.

1 roll blue paper towels I had never seen blue paper towels in my life, but in the same aisle in Lowe's as the cotton rags, were blue painter's paper towel. And they are awesome! I like that cotton rags are reusable to a certain extent, but the paper towels were super absorbent and sturdy. I would use them to lay down a wash or to create texture. No crumbly bits left behind!

Beer is most definitely optional, but the box to the right is where I stored my supplies
tool box for carrying supplies I kick myself for getting rid of the tackle box I had in college that held all my art supplies. I bought a new "art bin" from Blick with a removable tray and compartments on the top. Its heavy, but it did the trick.

that's me! my classmate was painting uphill and caught me
folding portable stool or chair This was definitely an optional item. Loving being outside, especially at the ocean, I caved and bought a collapsible stool with a carrying strap, cup holder and back. If you're going to splurge, might as well go big! I used it the few times I painted outside, but I mostly stood. Home for just a few days, I have already used it here!

Artists need beverage options
thermos for water, juice or coffee I always have a water bottle, but bought on the island a travel coffee cup. It was necessary

fast orange or other waterless hand cleaner I was given a box of fifty hand wipes for my birthday and used all of them.

Oil colors:
Titanium white (large tube)
lemon yellow
naples yellow
cadmium orange
cadmium red light
cadmium red deep
yellow ochre
raw sienna
ultramarine blue
phthalo blue
cerulean blue
burnt sienna
burn umber
alizarin crimson
mars and/ or ivory black
This palette was definitely a challenge. In fact, I think it was one of the biggest learning curves for me. I've gotten used to the acrylics and tempera paint at school, so now I had all new colors with new possibilities. And no green! I used lemon yellow the most in order to make green, which was a huge part of my paintings. 
In case anyone is curious, these are the books I purchased and read (for the most part) before I dove into oil painting.

The Oil Painting Book by Bill Creevy I did not read every single word. However there was really great background information about supplies and materials as well as techniques. I was able to figure out a few ways I wanted to start a painting.

Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color by Kevin D. Macpherson For those who have no idea about composition and color this is a great starting point. Once I got through that stuff, there were recommendations about how to start a painting, how to observe, how to build up layers in terms of negative space and shapes and other things we always remind our students but forget ourselves as we are working.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nantucket Adventure: Final Thoughts

Brant Point Lighthouse taken from the ferry home
I have absolutely no regrets.
I realize that people travel and do these kinds of things all the time. But as I have been focusing on my career and education over the last five years, traveling was just an idea. I was fortunate enough to travel to Spain twice as a teenager and cruise to the U.S. Virgin Islands in my early twenties. As a senior in college, two other art education majors and I also took a cruise to Mexico. That was probably one of the most adventurous things I had done on my own up to that point. But like other American college kids, the spring break trip was like a rite of passage. There was hardly any academic educational enrichment happening. Not like the last two weeks.

Painting on Nantucket was an amazing opportunity.
For one, I was able to focus for two whole weeks, on creating. I didn't have to worry about shoving all the supplies back into corners and cubby holes when I was done. There was space.
There was also time. At least four hours a day was dedicated to sketching and painting.
I have said it before and I will say it again, now that my Master's program is over, there has to be time made to stay in practice. And, I can make the space.
My easel from Jerry's Artarama was shipped yesterday!

The amount of time on the island also provided us with the opportunity to understand the culture of Nantucket and to appreciate a group of new people. All of the field trips and lectures gave us a historical and scientific understanding of the island. Adventuring down town, in addition to driving around the island, taking in the real estate, gave us an idea of the people there now. We were immersed in a culture that is still American, but for the most part, different from the cultures we had all grown up and gone to school in.
Being in a group setting for the better part of the day, also allowed us to learn from and about each other. I was so focused on learning how to paint, that it wasn't until I got home a couple of days ago, that I realized just how much I learned from my classmates. We were all there to paint, but in our free time we talked about books, music, movies, artists, you name it. And those discussions were like a breath of fresh air. I really hope that in the fall we can reunite and show our work at the school library.

courtesy of Mickey W.
our professor is on the left, I am on the right and the gentleman next to me was our tour guide of the wildlife refuge, Barry
So no regrets. I am elated that I had the opportunity and the means to have the experience of living and creating on Nantucket for two weeks. Where can I go next summer?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Nantucket Adventure: Wrapping Up

... All too quickly.

It is a sad, gray morning on the island of Nantucket. There are rolls of thunder off in the distance as I drag out my suitcase, happily tucked away for two weeks, and begin to pack for the trip home.

There has been a surge of creativity and feverish painting over the last three days. Today is our last in class time to paint before our critique tomorrow morning.
Our final assignment has definitely been an adventurous undertaking, especially given the amount of time we've really had to complete it. In fact, feeling the pressure, our professor will allow us to continue to work for a week or two when we get home, so our crit tomorrow will be more of an in-process.

Over the last two weeks we have been immersed in the history of Nantucket. We have gone to the Whaling Museum, Sankatay Lighthouse, the Athenaeum, a home called Greater Light, the village of 'Sconsett, and the Coskata- Coatue Wildlife Refuge and Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge. Not to mention a couple of lectures provided by the director of the field station (Photographer Tony Wu (!) who had two sold out lectures at the Whaling Museum) and our own adventures into and around town, including the ghost tour. I also attempted to read a book called A Way Off Shore, which is a history of the island. Last night I even watched (or had in the background while I painted) a Ric Burns documentary filmed with the Nantucket Historical Society.

Our assignment has been to take in all of this and find some inspiration for a series of paintings connected by a theme. How can you not find inspiration on such a beautiful, thought provoking island!? Our landscapes and plen- air experiences last week were just the beginning.

The four days we have had really isn't enough time to fully develop a concept, but I am doing the best I can. I have been going back and forth between four paintings and through the coaxing of my professor, have attempted to bring in more of my drawing style. When I draw, I start with a ground, pull out highlights with an eraser, delicately blend in some places and hash out lines in others. Its all very "sketchy" and I have attempted to do the same with painting... We'll see.

Knowing we have had an incredible amount of work to do by tomorrow, the girls and I stayed overnight at the field station on Tuesday. It was a wonderful idea, but by early afternoon yesterday, we were all anxious to leave.
After about eleven or twelve, the bugs got a little rough.

Where ever there was a light, there were millions of these little, black bugs. Each of us had one or two clip lamps or exposed light bulbs near us in the studio and once we realized we were surrounded, we couldn't help but feel itchy.
I attempted to sleep on a couch. I may have slept for a few hours. Plus, being only feet away from the ocean, having all the sliding doors open made me feel like I was swimming in humidity.
We all got a ton of work done, but it was a long two days.

Today we wrap it up and celebrating the opening of our professor's gallery show this evening!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Nantucket Adventure: Mid Term

Mid Term was technically Friday, but there was so much going on that we only had a chance today to meet individually with the professor. Thursday we had off for the Fourth, Friday I spent working on two of my first three paintings, and the weekend I spent thinking about my final project... and enjoying what the island has to offer.

Friday was a full, long day. We started with a drive to Madaket Beach and the Madaket Mall. The water was a beautiful blue color like nothing I have ever seen in the north east. The effect of erosion was also pretty evident. A portion of the shore line was even blocked off because there were pilings left behind from something that washed off shore.

The Madaket Mall is really the dump. However, there is a "take it or leave it" section. As we pulled in two women were loading their van with rocking chairs and a framed picture. There were old electronics, books, clothes, beach chairs and furniture. I am sure that after the fourth of July weekend that the picking was superb, but I didn't grab anything on Friday.
Due to the heavy fog that rolled in around 7 Thursday night, the fireworks were held Friday night. We lucked out and found a nice spot past Brant Point Lighthouse. Afterwards, one of the other girls and I found a less preppy, less crowded bar, 12 Degrees East, and stayed out for a few drinks. It was the first night I had stayed in town after dark and was very impressed with myself that I knew the way home!
Saturday morning I got an early start, walked to the market, did a load of laundry, met with one of the girls for breakfast and purchased a bike lock for my adventure later in the day. Over breakfast, we bought a paper and read a great article about our professor's upcoming show. I have searched the internet for a link but have not been able to locate one. If and when I do, I will post it.

Later in the day, I rode my bike with one of my classmates, back to Surfside beach. The water was super refreshing and after a few hours in the sun, I was done. I rested up, made some dinner and four of us went into town for a ghost tour. Its exactly what it sounds like. Our tour guide brought us to five different locations and told us of numerous hauntings that took place at each sight. I don't know if I totally believe it, but it was and interesting and unique experience!

I slept pretty well Saturday night after all the fresh air! I was a little slow moving in the morning, but by afternoon we were on another adventure. This time we walked into town purposely taking photos for our upcoming assignment. We then popped into a few stores, including the candy shop, before catching the bus.  We took it as far as we could, then walked about a third of a mile down to the Cisco Brewery. The other side of the island feels totally different from the hustle and bustle of town. We walked past fields and peaceful houses.
The place was super relaxed. It was still really hot, so we posted up in the corner of this tent, listening to the live music and enjoying our day. And of course indulging in a few local brews. I think we all agreed that our favorite part of the day however was the free shuttle back to town. Not that the bus was awful, but this was a direct trip with a Heath Leger circa 10 Things I Hate about You van driver...

We grabbed an appetizer in town before heading back to the condos. I closed my eyes on the couch and woke up an hour later. Needless to say, after a quick hello at our picnic table, which has pretty much become a nightly thing, I was in bed.

Today we got to take part in a really unique and special experience. We met a tour guide, and a 4x4 passenger van, in Wauwinet. This is a narrow stretch of land to the east, that stretches north and back west again, creating Nantucket Harbor and the barrier beaches. For over two hours, we drove through conservation land and were able to see parts of Nantucket that people hardly get to see... unless they have big money for a pass, tour or land.

That little bobbing head is a seal! We couldn't go all the way out to Great Point Light because the piping plover is nesting. From what I have heard, there a lots and lots of seals out there. This guy and a few of his or her friends were fishing and we were more than happy to get out and take pictures.

Everything was beautiful. I feel like I could take landscape pictures of Nantucket all the time and never get tired of their beauty.

We stopped in 'Sconset for lunch and headed back to the field trip for our mid term meetings and initial discussions of our week long assignment. I should be researching, sketching or painting for that, but its about time to meet at the picnic table.