Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Experiments in The Studio

Working With A (Sort Of) New Medium
I've been working with mentor and portrait artist, Bill Chambers, these past few months and learning a great deal. One of his suggestions was to switch from water-based oils to regular oils and to try a simple still life in both to compare brushstroke and application. I posted the water-based oil painting (bagel) last post. This painting (above) was done in regular oils. I can't say I'm totally sold on the regular oils yet. I really like the texture compared to the water-based but I have a real problem with the chemicals used for thinning and clean up. For instance, I'm not sure how to "greenly" dispose of the jar of dirty mineral spirits that has accumulated. This could be a problem. Anyone have suggestions?
Painting: "About Last Night", oil, 11 x 14"

The Value of A Good Critique
This was a painting I "finished" a while ago. Something always bothered me about this painting, but I never quite knew what it was until I spoke with artist Fred Graff during a recent workshop. He pointed out that the two figures in the foreground were completely separate from the background. The high contrast and location of the figures make them compete with the central figure and the building.

So with this information, I decided to make a few changes to the painting, starting with the two figures. First, I reduced the contrast of the figures by adding opaque white over them. Opaque white is really not opaque, but translucent. I then added a darker wash on the sand near the figures to help anchor them to the painting.

I darkened the broken window in the background to reduce the contrast in that area, and I darkened the area in the foreground, lower right corner, to guide your eye into the painting.

Lastly, I recropped the painting to make it a vertical instead of a horizontal. This brought the two figures out of the center and helped move focus to the little boy in the red shorts.

At left is the painting after the corrections have been made.

Painting: "Discovery", watercolor, 20 x 17"


Whitemist said...

turpentine and other mineral spirits do have recycling centers. Hazardous waste facilities (fire station in our town) also handle them. Maybe that is why I stick to water colors? The mineral spirits do also tend to evaporate over time and you end up with an empty jar.
My mom (who was an excellent portrait artist) only used the regular oil based oils for her work.

sam said...

Im not sure you need the two figures at all Peggi/ I love the texture of the wood in the background and how your eye is directed to the little boy by the beach. Lovely still life too, Id not really thought about the turps before. Are the water based oils still easy to manoeuvre, do they stay wet for a bit, or behave like acrylics?

Anonymous said...

this is a very interesting post. i enjoyed reading the thinking behind the changes and how you carried them out.
i actually don't throw the turps away: i top it up every now and then but otherwise it remains in a large jar in which i quickly swish my brushes at the end of the day. then i wash with soap and water. there is sediment at the bottom of the jar but that settles.

Peggi Habets said...

I agree, none of these problems with watercolors. We have recycling centers for those products, but my main concern is adding to the amount of material that needs to be recycled in the first place.

Good point. I thought about removing the figures all together but kind liked the story they added, so I kept them in. Probably would've been a stronger painting with the boy only. The water-based paints seem to dry quicker than the regular oils. Would be best for alla prima or plein air painting.

So you just keep re-using your turp and adding to it. Interesting. Thanks for the info.

Manon Doyle said...

Hey Peggi!!! Good to see you again!! Wow!! I'm always, always in awe of your work!! You are an exceptional artist my friend!!

Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

Absolutely thrilled to discover your blog this morning. Lovely paintings and eloquent writing, much appreciated!! I will be back.

Peggi Habets said...

Aww, thanks Manon!

Just an update on materials:
I contacted Scott @ Gamblin and asked him about the products. He said you can re-use the mineral spirits by having 2 jars and pouring the clean ms into the 2nd jar. After painting, combine the ms in one jar and let it settle again. He is working on a newsletter to address waste reduction/management tips. I'll pass it along once he sends me the link.

Colette Theriault said...

I really liked your explanation of the transformation of the painting and your reasoning for it. The finished painting really does show off differently. And your still life is awesome btw!

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

Hello Peggi - great posts of late and I really liked the reason for the changes. What I feel works so well you did not mention is the fact you cropped the space to the leftside of the pair of figures putting them on the edge and somehow this made their feet point towards the little boy. I too prefer the portrait format for this work. Great learning curve for all your fans.

Marian Fortunati said...