Sunday, December 27, 2015

Is Indigo Blue or Purple?

color study, 7x7

I took the puppy for a walk this morning, hoping to wear her out so I could have more time to do the things I'd like myself, and the sky to the west was a deep, rich blue that I would call indigo, though when I searched the web for definitions, I was surprised to find many people who believe that indigo is really nearly purple:

I have always thought that indigo was a deep blue, slightly toward the red scale, the name derived from the natural dye used on the original Levis.  More like this:

Needless to say, my color sketch didn't quite catch a true indigo, either.  Working from my fast-fading memory of this morning's sky, I veered a little toward Prussian blue and not really fully Ultramarine.  Maybe cobalt would have been a better place to start.  Still, the quick sketch managed to catch something of the mood of the tree line on the crest of the rolling field.  I think I ought to assign myself the task of gathering visual memory on my morning walks and then committing it quickly to color studies, in order to improve the feeble memory that operates now.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Kayaking the White Salmon

White Salmon - 24x30 oil

Working from a decades-old black and white photo printed on copy paper, I tried to introduce color in a way that maintained the feeling of cold beauty.  Flowing water is a tricky thing to paint, since any competent boater will be able to tell when it is not true to nature; the most important skill is being able to "read" the water, knowing where to place yourself so you end up where you want to be down river, using the map printed on the surface of the moving water.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Artist at Work

For no apparent reason, I thought I would take a look at artists working in their studios.  Maybe I'm just trying to work up enough motivation to get in there myself.  It's pouring down rain and will continue to do so for at least another week, a sleepy puppy is at my feet, needing a walk, but not in this rain, and it seems like a quiet, dead time in December.
So if you are interested, bored maybe, see if you can identify all these fine folks at work:

Compared to this, my studio is spotless.

Runner up in the messy studio contest.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.” 
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

I've always loved Steinbeck and his love for the common man, his connection to the earth and the simple truths.  He lived in a different time, and his preference for individualism (as noted in the above quote) seems very American, in both the good and the bad ways, but he also believed in the social contract, the rights of man and something much bigger than just the individual.  And then again, he was also a really good story teller.  I went through a period in my youth when I probably read every thing he had ever written, including journals and letters, but that was so long ago that it is probably time to revisit his best pieces, like The Grapes of Wrath, or some of the warmer, funnier ones, like Tortilla Flat.

This painting was started a little differently, for me, with no drawing at all, no checking to see if proportions were right: I just slapped down some thin paint and blocked in a rough head, simple masses, then worked the darks and then the lights to try to place facial features.  I wouldn't say it is a perfect likeness - I think Steinbeck's face was meatier, fuller, craggier.  But it caught enough of a resemblance to satisfy my goal, which was to test my feel for laying out a face without much measuring.