Sunday, March 27, 2022

Another painting motif

I wrote in my last post about the lake motif that I've been using in my daily painting.  Another motif that I've used several times is a hand.  Simplest execution you can imagine: trace around the hand, fill in with color.  

I've been using this motif to experiment with color: not so much which two colors will go well together but how to lay down the color within the hand and in the  background.  I don't want a flat, uniform coat of paint; instead I'm looking for ways to vary the tones and achieve an interesting texture.

Because I don't wash out my paint palette dish at night, I always have five or six dried-up blobs of paint in different colors ready to be reconstituted.  I tend to mix up a supply of my main color, then vary the strokes by occasionally dipping into one of the side colors.  Sometimes the colors blend smoothly, if they aren't too different in value and if the first color has stayed pretty wet before the second one comes on.  Other times there are distinct lines between one color and the next.

I find that I like both approaches.  I also like varying the shape of the hand, either by moving the fingers or cropping the shape on the page. 

When my granddaughter was visiting one day I showed her my hand paintings and she let me trace her hand a couple of times.

I am also using these motifs as a way to practice carefully laying down the paint.  I don't paint a background first and then put the hand over the top; instead I paint the hand first and then paint the background color exactly up to the edge, trying to leave no bit of white between the two colors.  It's improving my hand control!

When I showed these paintings to a friend, she suggested that I try to make my depiction more realistic by shading to show dimension.  I thought about that for a while, but then decided that I like the flat look, at least for now.  Maybe after I've gotten more comfortable with the paint I can circle back and focus more on the "drawing." 

(I even thought about extending this flat approach to other mediums, cutting hand shapes out of patterned paper or fabric and collaging them.  Might hold that thought for another day!)

I'll show you my next recurring motif in another post.  Meanwhile, you can see all my daily art on my daily art blog.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Painting update

The last time I posted about my daily painting project, I had just purchased a whole array of gouache paints, plus some new brushes, and had started experimenting with this new-to-me paint.  The glory of gouache is that it's opaque enough to totally cover whatever was underneath (helpful for fixing mistakes) and able to lay down a beautiful matte surface if you want.  Or you can dilute it for washy watercolor effects.  I've been trying both approaches.

Frankly, I've been way more interested in learning how the paint behaves than in coming up with artistically rewarding compositions.  I have been fixating on a certain motif and doing it over and over, changing a little something each time I do it.  Today I'll talk about my first repeated motif, the lake.

Maybe it doesn't look like a lake to you, but it does to me.  Not that I have any particular lake connections that this brings to mind (my childhood lake, Huron, is so big that it more resembles the ocean) but it's a nice shape.

I know that other painters can make their gouache expanses look like paint chips -- perfectly smooth and without color variations or brushmarks -- but I can't.  I can get close, as with the pink lake, but that's not really a goal I want to work toward; I find the mottled surfaces of the sky and land far more interesting.

I've played around with the composition in several ways, with multiple lakes, upside-down lakes and portrait-format designs.  All of them have the narrow white outline between the different colors, sometimes rendered in white paint but other times achieved by very carefully leaving white paper between the painted areas.

One of my early lakes was a disaster -- why did I ever think it would be a good idea to give it a handle?

So several days later I decided to paint over the bad part.  It was an experiment in whether I could successfully match the color, and whether I could actually conceal the color underneath.  Success on both fronts, and I find the composition much more pleasing.  The original lives on digitally but at least when I page through my sketchbook I'm not faced with that ugly version.

After 18 days of lakes, I was ready to move on.  I'll show you my next motif in another post.  Meanwhile, you can see all my daily art on my daily art blog.