Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Works In Progress...

Angels


 


  "The Harvest"  
Acrylic on canvas
6ft x 6ft














I still have a lot of work to do on this one but I wanted to post it to show where my painting skill is at the moment.  I really think that you can still see the struggle in my painting but I'm working on that.  The image is of an angel harvesting cash out of the clouds.  This started off as a collage...

Collage

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Collage


Here is one I designed for my mother -
Beauties bathing as an angel gets her wings....

I started out with this collage and blew it up for the painting.  The collage is only 2" x 3" and the final painting is 4ft x 4ft.    This one still needs a lot of work as well.  I am hoping to have it done within the next few weeks so I can deliver it shortly after the new year.

Painting








"Epic Win"
4ft x 4ft
Oil on Canvas

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Girl-Interrupted



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I have had to take a break from attending Kline Academy due to school starting.  I unexpectedly received funding to go and now I am currently attending Santa Monica College in pursuit of my Business-Marketing degree with certification in Entrepreneurship.  Next semester I will be attending Otis College of Art and Design to finish my Bachelor's in Fine Art-Painting.  I only have one semester left and I am so excited to go back to Otis.  

Despite my change of circumstances I am still pursuing my desire to master painting.  The Mandala is retired for now.  At this point you will be able to see me work on my personal projects, not just student projects.  Again, I am just learning - have done relatively few paintings.  I have nothing but trial and error guiding me now (and the occasional Youtube video).


I welcome your comments and suggestions.  I will try to reply to them as soon as I can.  I hope you enjoy this change in the blog or at least find my struggle amusing. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Day 6 

Mandala

 



Day 6 Supplies:

Canvas:
Your Mandala

Oil Paints:
Yellow Ocher
Cadmium Red Light
Ivory Black
Titanium White (Williamsburg preferably)
Your mixed value series

Brushes:
1/8" to 3/4" brights series

Misc:
T-shirt rags
Palette (round or square - whichever you prefer) or
Palette Paper (grey - not white)
Vegetable oil for cleaning brushes

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Adding Color:  Yellow


Finally I am ready to apply what I learned in the color workshop to my Mandala.  It's not necessary to take the color workshop to do this, but I found it very helpful when I was mixing my colors.  This value series is more complex than our grayscale with just raw umber and white.  I am mixing cad red light and ivory black to yellow ocher in order to get the darks.  If I just mixed the yellow ocher with the ivory black I would end up with a green as the ivory black has a bluish hue.  So I add cad red light to keep it neutral.  I kept my midtone as pure yellow ocher and added white to it to get my light series.

Just like with the previous steps, I started with my midtone, yellow ocher - laying it down right on top of my grayscale.  Then, since my colors were already mixed, it was easy to just add the lights and darks as I did before.


I also used the yellow ocher in the outer crescent to fill out the circle...



On a different note...



We got two new students in class tonight.  It seems the more people we have the more fun it is in class.  They are just now starting the Mandala.  I am no-longer the newbie.  But I have to pick up my pace or they will catch up with me.

I am also the first person to apply this Zorn palette to the mandala project here.  It's a little intimidating as I have nothing to compare it to.  I have no idea what this is supposed to look like if I do it correctly.   

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2-Day Color Workshop: Zorn Palette


2-Day Color Workshop

Zorn Palette

 



Color Workshop Supplies:

Canvas:
2 Canvas Boards:  Provided by Kline Academy

Oil Paints:
Yellow Ocher
Cadmium Red Light
Titanium White
Ivory Black

Brushes:
Small and Medium Sable Flats and Filberts

Misc:
Palette Knife (Medium-sized)
Paper Towels
Plastic Trash bag
Small jar with Walnut Oil or Linseed Oil for cleaning brushes (NO TURPS)
Large glass palette or wood palette (Stay-wet container with glass inside, glass should have grey or brown paper underneath, no mixing on white surfaces!)


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Color Mixing Workshop:  Zorn Palette


This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2-Day Color Mixing Workshop at Kline Academy.  Sixteen students piled into the back studio to learn the nuances of the Zorn Palette...  a limited series of colors suited well for mixing skin tones.  Since the next step of my Mandala would be focussed on the Zorn Palette, I thought it a good idea to learn what this palette was all about.

Anders Zorn


I don't know much about Anders Zorn except that he is the one who popularized using this series of colors to mix rich, beautiful skin tones.  His paintings are lush and lively with radiant light reflecting off the surface of his figures.  I found it hard to believe that he only used 4 colors to mix such a wide range of skin tones and was eager to learn the secret behind his genius.


The Process

Color Wheel Template
We were given two canvas boards painted a neutral pearl grey and with one - a color wheel was traced on the surface and the other - the outlined figure of a man.  The color wheel we were to create first and then that would be used to help us recreate a color study of the man on the other board.

Above you can see the three colors we were working from - Yellow Ocher, Cadmium Red Light and Ivory Black.  The primary colors were painted into the inner wheel then we used white to create the 4 gradient tints radiating outward.  The trick was to create transitions that were as seamless as possible - meaning there were only slight jumps from one tint to the other - not drastic ones.

Next, we filled in the inner wheel between the primary colors...  Those colors were also tinted with white to finish out the wheel.  The strip to the side was made up of all three colors to create a pure neutral greyscale. 

Finished Color Wheel
Below is the male figure we used to implement our color study.  We used a process of "tiling" - meaning that we weren't trying to create a blended reproduction of a photograph, but instead were "tiling" colors from the color wheel where they best matched the larger shapes within the image.  The effect reminds me of camouflage uniforms.


Unfinished Color Study
If you are interested in this process, painting flesh-tones or just want experience in being able to control the colors you mix, you should take this workshop.  Our instructor, Brianna Lee did such an excellent job walking us through the color wheel that I feel unqualified to try to explain it myself any further.  The workshop itself was a blast and I met many new friends.

I am finishing up my color study in my regular Beginning Oil Painting class before I move on to finish my Mandala with the Zorn Palette.  I will post photos of the finished work when I am done.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A Little Time-Out 

Varnishing

 

Varnishing Supplies:

Canvas:
Your finished painting

Varnish:
In this Demo, Dina used retouch varnish by Grumbacher

Brushes:
Foam/sponge Brush

Misc:
Disposable plate or tray

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Varnishing

One of the great things about my art class is the impromptu demo.  Here Dina showed us how to varnish a painting done by our June Student of the Month, Nicole.

Dina used retouch varnish, which is a varnish that you can paint over after it has dried.  There are varnishes that you can't paint over so it's important to pay attention when purchasing your varnish.  She poured a small amount of varnish onto her tray and with her foam brush made vertical and horizontal strokes across the surface of the painting...



You have to work quickly as it is pretty thick and dries fast.  Make sure you don't use so much that it puddles or drips down the sides of the painting.  You can lift the painting and use the reflected light to see any spots that may have been missed...


Here is the finished product.  You can see how the varnish adds depth to the painting where the dark areas previously appeared flat.



On a different note...


Cheryl Kline Maintains a beautiful garden between the two buildings which is where we did this demo.  There is also seating and a fountain with lily pads that make a wonderful oasis to retreat to when not painting.

Day 5 

Mandala

 



Day 5 Supplies:

Canvas:
Your Mandala

Oil Paints:
Raw Umber (any brand)
Titanium White (Williamsburg preferably)
Your mixed value series

Brushes:
You will only be using brights during this part of the Mandala.  I only had 3 bright brushes to work with (1/4", 1/2" & 3/4" Wash/Shaders).  I recommend having a couple of smaller brights as it will help getting into the corners.

Misc:
T-shirt rags
Palette (round or square - whichever you prefer) or
Palette Paper (grey - not white)
Vegetable oil for cleaning brushes

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Mandala Shading (cont'd)

Shading: 3 Largest Crescents


This is probably the most satisfying part of the Mandala so far as it fills in the 3 largest areas and gives me a better idea of how the finished product will look.  First I laid down the mid-tone as follows:


Note that there are now 6 areas set aside for my darks and lights  Remember - the idea is to have a mid-tone to paint into so blending is easier.  I had to make special effort to cover my lines now that I have edges connecting and not just corners...


Laying down my white -  I had to go over this several times to get a nice blend to the fan shape.  Here you see it in the preliminary stage...


The upper edge was the trickiest part.  I wanted just a sliver of dark up there with it keeping true to the crescent shape.  I had to redo this part about 8 or 9 times - starting apprehensively along the edge and working my way into the wet mid-tone.


When getting into the corners I wanted to mirror the previous color as much as possible for symmetry.  Up close you can really see how rough my edges are (cringe).  To make matters worse, somewhere along the line I managed to lean on the wet part of another section of the Mandala and smeared paint in areas it didn't belong...  Oops. 


 Pardon me for a moment while I clean this up a bit...


There, that's better.  Though I wasn't able to completely remove the smudges, it's definitely a vast improvement.  Note to self:  Learn to paint without using the painting for a support.  Dina does this well and makes it look so easy.

On a different note...



I know I could work faster on the Mandala by doing more as homework.  But I am more concerned with learning the technique than I am in finishing the piece.  There are no due dates at Kline Academy.  Everyone is at a different stage in their work.  Some have just started their Mandala, like me...  others are working on their 3rd, 4th, or 5th assignment.

What I get out of taking my time is the one-on-one instruction I get from Dina.  If someone were to have given me the instructions for doing the painting and walked away, I would have a much different Mandala than I have now.  Too many times I needed help with this project to think I could do it on my own.

For beginning painters...  Don't try this at home!  Seek professional help or paint at your own risk. :)






Day 4 

Mandala

 



Day 4 Supplies:

Canvas:
Your Mandala

Oil Paints:
Raw Umber (any brand)
Titanium White (Williamsburg preferably)
Your mixed value series

Brushes:
You will only be using brights during this part of the Mandala.  I only had 3 bright brushes to work with (1/4", 1/2" & 3/4" Wash/Shaders).  I recommend having a couple of smaller brights as it will help getting into the corners.

Misc:
T-shirt rags
Palette (round or square - whichever you prefer) or
Palette Paper (grey - not white)
Vegetable oil for cleaning brushes

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Mandala Shading (cont'd)

Shading: 3 Triangles Connecting Crescents


This part of the Mandala is a little different.  Instead of just a couple of corners being darkened in, in this part - one whole edge and two corners are dark.  Remember to start with the mid-tone, leaving the upper edge and the three corners empty.  On this one I filled in my white first, giving it the arch to mirror the white arch in the triangle below it.  Then I applied raw umber to the outer corners and along the top.

When applying to the top, these areas were just 1/8" thick with each shade.  This allowed plenty of room for blending.  Here is where I found it really challenging to be stuck with only 3 brushes.  I did nearly this entire section with my 1/4" bright.  Because of this, my paint ended up streaky and I lost some of my good edges to blending with too large a brush.  Trying to get a smooth transition into the corners was a challenge as well, but I really liked the end result.

To clean up edges I used the tiniest amount of oil on a clean brush.  This isn't always possible when you are trying to clean up an area where the underlying paint is still wet.  Luckily, though, my adjacent layers had dried in this case and I was able to come off with a nice, crisp line.

On a different note...


The subject came up about brushes.  It seems it is not always easy to tell what kind of brushes you are using as  every manufacturer has their own way of labeling and it's not always written on the side.  For this beginner I got a lesson in the difference between brights and flats.

Brights are what we are using on the Mandala as they are shorter than flats and thus give you more control.  The width and length of the hairs are about equal on brights.  These are good for short brush strokes.  Flats on the other hand have longer hairs and are better for long, sweeping strokes as they can hold more paint and maneuver more easily.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Day 3 

Mandala

 



Day 3 Supplies:

Canvas:
Your Mandala

Oil Paints:
Raw Umber (any brand)
Titanium White (Williamsburg preferably)
Your mixed value series

Brushes:
You will only be using brights during this part of the Mandala.  I only had 3 bright brushes to work with (1/4", 1/2" & 3/4" Wash/Shaders).  I recommend having a couple of smaller brights as it will help getting into the corners.

Misc:
T-shirt rags
Palette (round or square - whichever you prefer) or
Palette Paper (grey - not white)
Vegetable oil for cleaning brushes


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Mandala Shading (cont'd)

Shading:  Outer edge of the smaller 3 circles


So today I got to move onto the next part of the mandala.  The process is very similar only instead of starting in the corners with the white, I had to start in the middle.  This, of course is after I laid down my mid-tone on each side of the crescent shape - careful to leave a small area to start with the raw umber in the corners and white in the center.

Next I went in with the white in the center of the crescent shape using an arching motion on each side...

In the image you can see the banding that appears.  This tends to blend in when I lay down my 2nd and 3rd tones.  Any banding that remains I can blend with a dry brush.  Next, I put in my Raw Umber and blended...


Here is the end result....  The process repeats until all three crescents are done.








Friday, June 22, 2012


Day 2 (Part 2) 

Mandala:  Shading


Mandala Shading
Day 2 Supplies:

Canvas:
Your rub-out Mandala

Oil Paints:
Raw Umber (any brand)
Titanium White (Williamsburg preferably)
Your mixed value series

Brushes:
You will only be using brights during this part of the Mandala.  I only had 3 bright brushes to work with (1/4", 1/2" & 3/4" Wash/Shaders).  I recommend having a couple of smaller brights as it will help getting into the corners.

Misc:
Thin palette knife (best for mixing paint)
T-shirt rags
Palette (round or square - whichever you prefer) or
Palette Paper (grey - not white)


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Mandala Shading

Shading the Mandala

Starting with the inner 3 triangular shapes and my mid-tone, I painted nearly the whole area with my 3/4" brush - leaving only the corners.  This gives me something to paint into - a wet medium to blend my values.  

Next I took my 1/2" bright and painted the white corner with a slight arching motion to my stroke.  The whole corner is pure white, then I moved one brush width down and made a second stroke...  then a third.  By now my brush had run out of paint.  Dina says to just keep going until you use up the paint on the brush.  You can start to see the paint blending as the brush also picks up the mid-tone that I am painting into.  It's important that you don't go back without wiping your brush first or you will drag the darker value into the lighter and ruin the effect..

At this point I moved to my second value...  loading up my brush and starting with the place where I took my second stroke, I laid down my second value.  Then again, kept stroking into the mid-tone until my brush ran out of paint.  I was being careful to keep up the arching motion with my stroke, giving the values a radiating quality to their appearance.

Repeating a third time with my third lightest value, I started laying down the paint where I took my third stroke.  Once more, I kept stroking until my brush ran out of paint.  My strokes were a little bit rough and left me with a banded appearance to the paint.  Dina showed me how to lightly stroke my dry brush over the paint to blend into the mid-tone. When doing this - the brush barely touched the surface of the painting.

Using my 1/2" bright  (would have been better if I had a smaller brush) I repeated the process in the same way with the three darkest values. Starting with pure raw umber in the corners, I took my next two values and blended them out in the same way as my light values. 

I tried to imagine with each stroke that the corner was the center of a circle and I arched my motion around so that this corner would take on the partial shape of that circle.  Getting the strokes to match up into the same circle I have seen really enhances the finished product of the mandala.  It helps give the effect of vibration or radiating light.  If I am successful you will see this in my final work.

When finished, I blended the streaks out then moved on to start the next triangular shape.  Dina wasn't kidding when she said this was all about repetition.  I did find it easier the second time though - and even easier the third.  By the time I was done I felt accomplished and was much happier with the result than I was with the rub-out.

It was time to clean my brushes and pack up.   Dina showed me how to use plain oil to clean my brushes first and dry with a rag.  This makes it much easier to clean all the paint off when I go to the sink and use soap.  This also keeps large amounts of paint from going into the sink drain which is a no no.

Day 2 (Part 1) 

Mixing Colors



Day 2 Supplies:

Canvas:
Your rub-out Mandala

Oil Paints:
Raw Umber (any brand)
Titanium White (Williamsburg preferably)

Brushes:
You will only be using brights during this part of the Mandala.  I only had 3 bright brushes to work with (1/4", 1/2" & 3/4" Wash/Shaders).  I recommend having a couple of smaller brights as it will help getting into the corners.

Misc:
Thin palette knife (best for mixing paint)
T-shirt rags
Palette (round or square - whichever you prefer) or
Palette Paper (grey - not white)


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Mandala Shading

Mixing Values

Here is the fun part - mixing values.  I haven't decided on what kind of palette I want so I have been using white palette paper which isn't recommended.  Colors will appear differently on white paper than they will on your painting - as you can see from the image, my lighter values barely show up.  This is why the grey palette paper is recommended instead.

I put Raw Umber on the far left side of my palette and Titanium White on the far right side of my palette.  Next I mixed my mid-tone which is to be a value half way between raw umber and white.  My Raw Umber is Windsor Newton brand and is a cooler shade than other brands.  The effect makes my mid-tone more of a putty color than a tan.  I think I like it better.

When satisfied with my mid-tone I mixed the other four values for a total of 7 different shades ranging from raw umber to white.  Along the way I had to change a lot and remix many of the values as they are all relative to each other.  This has been true both times I've mixed this palette.  Even after I started painting on the Mandala I had to remix some of the colors as the goal is to have as seamless a transition as possible between them.

Note that this time I didn't use any linseed or walnut oil.  The painting is to be done with the pure pigmented paint only - with no extra medium.  Oil would make the paint spread too much and that would interfere with the process which I will go over in the next post.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 1 

Mandala 

Mandala:  Rub-Out 
Day 1 Supplies:

Canvas:
20 x 20 canvas or canvas board

Oil Paints:
Raw Umber (any brand)
Linseed or Walnut Oil

Brushes:
Basic 2" brush for glazing

Misc:
T-shirt rags
Palette (round or square - whichever you prefer) or
Palette Paper (grey - not white)
Workable fixative spray

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Mandala Rub-Out

First:  Drawing the circles


I had seen the mandalas from other students at different stages.  The main consistency between them was how uniformly the circles were drawn.  I'd wondered how so many different students got the same symmetry - now I know...  My instructor, Dina.  Using a compass, a template, another mandala and some graphite, she drew the circles on the board for me.  She explained how mandalas are all about repetition as she drew one circle after and over another.  We used spray fixative to set the graphite lines - put on enough thin layers of fixative until you rub your finger over the lines without them smudging.  

Another trait I'd noticed about other students mandalas was that their canvases were often dirty - smudges and fingerprints all around the edges.  I told myself I was going to have a clean canvas by being very careful.  As you can see from my final image, I gave up on that dream early on...

Second:  Glazing the canvas


Oil down your palette board so that it's easier to clean.  I didn't have a palette yet, so I used palette paper instead.  I'd never even seen anyone use a traditional palette at Otis, so this was a surprising step for me to learn.

I squeezed out a little walnut oil and raw umber onto my palette and began mixing them in the middle with my 2" brush.  The amount of each depends on how dark you want to take your painting.  The more walnut oil used, the more transparent or lighter the paint will go on.  Walnut oil also helps the paint spread better so it was tempting to use a lot of it.

The goal is to cover the whole board with a glaze of walnut oil and raw umber without erasing the  lines.  Dina set the shade by starting the glazing for me.  I then tried to match how dark she got it and covered the whole board.  This step was pretty easy - finishing by brushing over the whole board in the same direction to line up the brush strokes.

Third:  rubbing the painting


Using a t-shirt wrapped around my index finger, I rubbed from the corners out in an arch.  Dina showed me how to start using a lot of pressure and taking the glaze almost all off.  Then as I moved from the corner I lessened the pressure on my finger gradually till I was a few inches away and barely touching the canvas.  This gave me a series of values from light to dark.

I repeated the process and was surprised at how hard it was.  My hands were not maintaining steady pressure on the canvas and that made it blotchy and uneven.  I also tended to over-shoot the lines with the edges of the t-shirt.  Dina said it was normal but I was disappointed that I'd not done better.  It's not a process where you can go back and correct too many mistakes.  I repeated the process as Dina put fingerprint dots on each of the starting points to guide me.

When all the corners were done I used a wadded up t-shirt rag to rub out all around the mandala.  I was told I could rub as much or as little as I wanted but just to be careful around the edges of the outermost circle.  On the center I was to take it all the way down as white as I could.  You can see that the paint had already started to dry and I wan't able to get it all off.

I only had an hour to finish the whole painting - the rush was due to the fact that this was actually my second attempt to do a mandala.  My first attempt was on a canvas I primed with cheap acrylic gesso.  It soaked up the walnut oil and paint very fast to the point where we could barely rub it off.  Cheryl Kline was kind enough to give me a new canvas board to work on so I wouldn't have to go home and start again the next week.  "Once you're here, you don't leave", she said.  I was glad in the end that I didn't wait till the next week.

College is not enough


For anyone who went to art school, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Old Masters - only to came out with a degree and no painting skills... this blog is for you. 

 I was in my junior year at Otis College of Art and Design when a group of students from Pasedena Junior College transferred into Otis with mad painting skills.  While I was pretty good at talking about painting (I wouldn't give that up for anything), these new students made me painfully aware that I was unable to create the work that I wanted to produce.  I knew I was going to have to find another route to learn the skills I would need if I was going to find any satisfaction in my own work.

So here I am, after life happened and I quit painting for several years, finally setting out on my journey again to learn to paint.  A serendipitous turn of events led me to a small school called Kline Academy.  Located just north of Culver City here in Los Angeles, Kline Academy rests in a small apricot building on Motor Avenue.

3264 Motor Ave, Los Angeles, CA  90034
(310)927-2436


It was founded 5 years ago by Cheryl Kline, petite, gregarious woman who has studied painting around the world.  She wanted a place where anyone could go to learn the classical approach to painting.  I needed a job and just happened to have the odd mix of qualifications Cheryl needed to help her in the office.  I was hired and started immediately doing admin work and shooting and editing video.

I was intrigued by the quality of work I saw the students producing.  Often after just one or two classes the students would walk by me with artwork better than anything I'd produced at Otis.  I knew these were the skills I needed to move forward.  I could see the struggle in my own work and it was getting in the way of the beauty of the images I was trying to create.  I decided I was going to take classes as soon as I could.

The following posts are a chronicle of the journey I  am just now starting.  I want to learn to paint.  You get to start with me from day 1 and hopefully I won't embarrass myself too much by posting my work here for all to see and judge.  But I do want people to see what I have seen...  the progress made by students of Kline Academy, Otis and my journey to learn to paint.  If they can do it, hopefully I can learn to do it too.

Wish me luck...

Jewels