Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Art Opening a Success!

Last Saturday's art opening at the State College Framing Company & Gallery was a wonderful event. It was especially nice that I had already sold three of my bird paintings prior to the event - the Male Cardinal, the Downy Woodpecker, and the Red-breasted Grosbeak all have found a new home.

Meanwhile, I had the first three of my Raven series framed in time for the show. I love how the frames work so well with the artwork! Here they are for you to decide if the frames are right for the birds!

All the above are available at the moment. Here is the gallery pricing.

I also brought a newly completed painting - not a portrait, but a Great Blue Heron on a 15"x30" canvas. I strongly debated adding something to ground the heron, but decided to allow it to stand noble and free of any distractions. I may change my mind, of course. I've considered adding a simple pencil drawing of reeds towards his/her feet. I'll think on it awhile longer before I make any changes.

And I'm gearing up for a large series of Raven portraits, like the three above. The canvases are now double-coated in black and ready to go. I've selected 10 photographs from Wendy Davis Photography after she graciously agreed to my using of them for reference material. Wendy has a great Facebook page here, if you are interested in Ravens and other wildlife in British Columbia!

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Raven Comparison...

The "before" photo, when I was really trying hard to add color to the Raven...

Baby Raven - (c) Pat Dolan - 2017 - 12"w x 9"h -

The "after" photo - when I was allowed to add some little bit of color to this Raven! This one is now ready to be framed by the State College Framing Shop and Gallery.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Beginning a New Bird Portrait Series: RAVENS

Raven Watching and Raven Warning (c) Pat Dolan - 2017 - 9"w x 12"h - Available

I've long been an admirer of Crows and Ravens. I've collected photographs, stories, websites and more in my efforts to learn more about these intelligent birds. And since I've been painting bird portraits for awhile now, it was only a matter of time before I began a series on Ravens/Crows.

And since my first Hereford portraits on black canvas, the idea of painting Ravens on black canvas was a natural first step into this series. I had originally planned to add colors - to liven up the personalities of each bird. I've seen wonderful crow paintings by such artists as Dean Crouser and Bev Jozwiak and I love all the colors they add to their works of art.

My first attempt on black canvas included using blues, purples, black and white to illustrate what I believed to be the personality of the Raven I was painting. I generally work on several paintings at a time, and I had three separate works on two easels and my drawing table. The second and third paintings wouldn't allow me to use anything other than black and white paint to portray the Ravens I had selected. The longer I worked, the more it became obvious that MY paintings were destined, at this time for sure, to remain monochromatic in black and white! Much as I wanted to add a dab of bright blue or shocking red, the birds involved were very much against such a portrayal!

Raven Watching (c) Pat Dolan - 2017 - 9"w x 12"h - Available

As artists, we do learn from our works. It sounds absurd that a painting tells the artist how to paint it or what colors to use, but the longer one works as an artist, the more one pays attention to the communication between the art and the artist. It is vital now, for me, to pay attention to what my piece wants to say and how it wants to say it.

Raven Warning (c) Pat Dolan - 2017 - 9"w x 12"h - Available

So here you see the three paintings I have thus far been working on. The one on top is, I think, not quite done. The other two are now at the framers to be suitably enhanced by a subtle black with silver-rubbed-into-the-wood frame. We tried lots of different frames - the black frames did nothing to enhance the work. The gray frames that had the slightest tint of wood tone or other warm color definitely clashed with the work. Finally we tried the black with a hint of silver and the paintings both shone with delight. The art also tells you what frame to use!

All three in the Raven series are 9" x 12" acylic paintings on black canvas. I'm uncertain as to whether or not the top Raven - which feels to me like a young bird - is complete or not. I have the feeling that it is not, so I'm just waiting for it to tell me what's next...perhaps a touch of blue to the eye, guaranteeing that it is a juvenile Raven. Time will tell - or rather, the bird will let me know!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

And the Sling is OFF! Yay! And Studio Work

The sling has been very supportive... but also restrictive. I'm still supposed to wear it when I go out in crowds, to minimize the possibility of being bumped or hugged or some such that might pull the joint before it's totally healed. But today, there was freedom to work in the studio!

I've started working with Charles Reid's book, Painting by Design: Getting to the Essence of Good Picture Making. I enjoy Reid's watercolors because they look so loose and free - but they are really not at all that loose since he spends hours placing appropriate drops of paint in appropriate places on his paintings! However, his compositions are excellent and his drawings are superb. I can learn a lot from Charles Reid and use the information that fits my style of watercolor painting as it evolves.

Painting by Design: Getting to the Essence of Good Picture Making

Here are a few of the exercises that I've done in the past day or two - with a focus on contour drawing, learning to draw without looking at one's paper, teaching the hand/pencil to move along with one's eye as the eye travels slowly along the edges of the object(s) being drawn. This type of drawing is definitely a favorite of mine, although I haven't done it for years - even though I used to teach it back in the day! So brushing up on this technique has been fun and also has reminded me to slow my eye down and to encourage the eye and hand to work together for more effective representational drawings. No, they are not realistic, however, they are accurate - or become that way with practice/experience.

Today, I was inspired to get out some newly ordered/arrived small canvases and to prepare them for what has been circling around in my mind for the past month or two. I prepared 5 of the canvases with black house paint (used as gesso) so that I can continue painting my farm animals. I really had fun with the Hereford cows on the black canvas, so I figured I might try painting roosters, hens and sheep on black, also. Who knows how that will work out, since these animals/birds aren't black! But it will be fun, and that's the important point for me right now. Alas, I'm fairly certain that I'll need to add a second coat of paint to make sure the canvases are totally, completely black and evenly coated.

The remaining 5 canvases were painted with Daniel Smith's Watercolor Ground. I'm thinking it will be fun to try my hand at painting watercolor on canvas as opposed to watercolor paper or illustration board. I'm not sure, but I may need to give the canvases a second coat, as well. First, I must wait 72 hours for the first coat to dry.

Notice my drying racks? They are kitchen accessories - cookie cooling trays. I've never liked them because they are supposed to stand up and be stack-able, but they don't stack at all well. But they work well for drying racks for small items in the studio! We use whatever we can, don't we?!

So that's my adventures of the past few days. Hope you are having fun, too!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Still in a Sling and Still Taking Notes...

Just finished this book - pretty much all about color, contrasting & harmonious. Not too much new in it, but still it was a good refresher, reminding me that I rarely think about changing the colors that I see...

For instance, in the chapter entitled: Energize Your Paintings with Contrasts and Complements, Janice Gennaway says, "Like emotions, colors are a reflection of life." Connie Zekas BAiley says, "Color brings excitement to a painting, whether pure and bold or through gradation. Courage to change the color of what I see to what I WANT to see enables me to aim for a bold, colorful, sparkling statement."

Here is one of Connie's paintings illustrating the colors she WANTED in the white areas of the cat and in the background.

In Splash 15, Joyce Hicks makes a big point about changing the scene to say what you want to say with your painting. Here are a few photos from that book to illustrate that point.

Here you can see more about reflected color in a different cat!

Here are a few other examples concerning the use of color in our paintings. First, making connections with color. The artists used the complementary color of lavender/purple to connect her primarily warm floral composition.

Below, the artist used both geometric forms in the background and softened complementary colors to create a wonderful composition with the humble cows as her subject matter.

Here is an example of analogous colors (3 colors next to one another on the color wheel) and how to use them effectively (with the use of one complementary color - opposite the analogous colors on the color wheel).

And, of course, there are monochromatic colors that work extremely well for creating mood and atmosphere, as shown in the paintings below:
Above, the artist is creating the feeling of HEAT with the use of various shades of yellow.
Below, the artist is creating the mood felt at sunset, when the world is calming down. He's using the same yellow tones, but dimmed with a lot more of of the complementary color to diffuse the power of the yellow as it stands alone.

So you see, one can learn by reading, exploring the art of others, listening to their reasons for what they have done, noting the composition and color selections and why they work successfully, or less so, depending upon the painting!

I believe I will pay a lot more attention now to what I really want to bring forward in my painting, rather than simply looking at my palette and choosing the colors that I see in what it is that I have chosen to paint. Color choices make a HUGE difference to all paintings!