Head On: Painting a Foreshortend View

Head On, Foreshortened Figure
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 7.5×5.25″


Foreshortened views are always challenging and this image presented its challenges. I think the viewer of this might have to do a little thinking about this. I am not as intimidated by views like this as I used to be. I figured out that I had to find the forms in space. I have to ask what shape is in front or behind or in between. I like the shapes and colors that came out of this, but time is always my enemy. I like to work a little slower when working it all out.It may not be as clear here as I would have liked.
What was closest to me was that hand at the bottom with the arm traveling away to connect to a shoulder hidden behind the top of the head. The circumference of the shoulders is behind the head. I couldn’t see a rib cage or abdomen at all. Of the hips, all I saw was the left hip and thigh, then, the calf and foot in order behind that. Her right knee is resting on her left calf and I had to do an E.W.A.G.(Educated Wild Ass Guess) on the location of her right hip to determine the correct angle.  I concluded that to be directly behind her head.Just this lengthy and involved this explanation is an indication how complex the thought processes are in figuring it all out. It’s different for each situation. 
Paul Cadmus did some beautiful drawings of male nudes with the most extremely foreshortened views and pulled them off with great success. You can see some of them here. Your local library will have the book-form compilation of them if you care to study them. The internet is too low resolution for study.


T F m
September 28, 2013

More Neighbors to Paint

Blue Trunks
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10.5×7.5″


This is from the location of the previous landscape watercolor painting just down the street from my house. It’s really a tiny stand of trees in a suburban setting. It seems to be something much more in this little painting. The woods were back lighted. The paper was very wet as can be seen by all the soft edges and bleeds. I am always tempted to tidy up some of the less clear parts but I controlled myself this time. I wanted to keep a spontaneity and the sense of a quick execution.
When people are asked what color the trunks of trees are, they usually say, “Brown.” In actuality the trunks of trees are all variety of colors. Yes the intensity of their colors are reduced to nearly the neutral but they still have an element of color and color temperature. They can also be covered in lichens and mosses rendering them blue-green or yellow green.The colors you see here have been cued by the colors I saw before me, though I have exaggerated them. 
I am not a fauvist but I have the feeling that the fauves may have come up with their arbitrary color schemes suggested by what was before them. The practice of going outdoors was still relatively new and through that practice came the realization that things were not necessarily what was commonly taught. As light changes, so does color. Reflected light and color changes the colors of the surfaces receiving the reflections. The sky is not always blue and the color of water is a reflection of sky. What was seen through careful observation became a stepping stone to greater invention. That’s pure speculation on my part. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

T F m
September 20, 2013

A Good Relationship: Watercolor and Masa Paper

Standing Poses on Turquoise Grounds
Watecolors on Masa Paper, 7×5″ each


Standing Poses are not my favorites especially with an undecorated model stand. It think its the unremitting verticality that bothers me. I could zero in on some details but that seems too easy. It’s always a challenge to get a nearly whole figure down in proportion in a fast, single go (20-30 minutes). 
That said, these two little watercolors are examples of what I like about masa paper. The paper is wet, but not sopping, puddly wet when I work. That paper state can be seen in the softness of the edges made by the spreading of the watercolor on the paper. The edges are not crisp as they would be on dry paper. One has to work in generalizations when the paper is in this condition. As the paper dries one can get a little fussier about details. That’s exactly as it should be. Details are the last things to be dealt with when making a painting or drawing of anything.
Another of the characteristics are the way heavier pigments granulate as they dry. If you click on the images to enlarge them you can see that more clearly. And finally, this paper is more forgiving to correction. I can lift color more easily or add color to correct contours with equal ease even when wet. If I am correcting with heavy pigment on a lighter dye color, the heavier pigment granules will just push the lighter color aside as I put the heavier one down. A draw back is that, if you fuss too much, the tooth of the paper will abrade and the surface of the paper will pill like a cheap sweater.
The speed of drying is dependent on atmospheric conditions. On a humid day that time is extended. If it’s a very humid rainy day that could extend the drying time to hours instead of minutes. That can be either a boon or a curse depending upon what I want from the painting. I have been carrying the love affair with this paper on for at least seven years. I’d have to go through my image files and check for the earliest dates to know for sure. (All this information has been gleaned over that time.) So far, the relationship has been satisfactory, albeit with a few ups and downs. I think it will continue for some time.


T F m
September 13, 2013

A Good Afternoon: Successful Painting Session

Tree Row
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 7×10″


This watercolor is from the location as the image from my previous post. In fact, it was done first. I was attracted to the diagonal arrangement of these trees. I think it makes for a more interest image.

It’s smaller piece by half. I usually work from smaller to larger. Sometimes I start even smaller than this. Working small outdoors give me the opportunity to finish and to make more than one piece. A good session produces three watercolors. If I have three paintings I consider to be successful then I have had a very good afternoon. I have one more painting to post from this session.  So, I did have a good afternoon.

I usually work in the afternoon because I exercise in the morning. I have been going to an outdoor water aerobics class and I love it. I have never enjoyed the gym thing but I really enjoy the water and swimming. I’m afraid my swimming days are over as I have geeza issues. I used to be able to swim a mile at a session but, my shoulders just don’t want to move in the way they used to. However, I can tread water for a full hour in a full-out deep water aerobics class. Now I have moved indoors for my water work out but, no deep water. Boo! Hoo!

T F m
September 10, 2013

Art is Right in the Neighborhood

Neighborhood Trees
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 14.5×10.5″


This scene is one from down the street adjacent to the local school’s playing fields. It’s right at the edge of the fields where the suburban homes are, along with their landscaping at the perimeter. The school buildings were behind me as I painted. Those buildings are planted in an empty grass covered plain with little of interest from the position I had taken. I’m sure I could find something for a painting in those school buildings if I nosed around a little bit.

The rectangular hedge in the left of the middle ground of this watercolor is the boundary between the two areas. There is a house behind the red maple and the ornamental trees planted around it. I think there are a few more paintings to be made from this location. I just have to drag all my stuff back to it.

This is an example that illustrates my contention that subject matters for art are everywhere. All the mundane aspects of our lives hold the potential for art. In fact I think the collection of mundane experiences I have had were the raw materials for my best work. Most of us don’t live the lives of action heroes. It’s the meanings we attach to the little things that make them powerful. Granted, these pleasant little watercolors are not profound but they part of my life’s journey and part of the bits and pieces of what could be profound art.

T F m
September 1, 2013