Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Portrait challenges

They say that the best way to learn portrait painting is to do self-portraits. My problem though, is that I wear glasses and they add a level of complexity to the face. So, I was wondering what would happen if I try to paint a self-portrait without glasses, which means - painting without seeing well.

Well, in spite of having almost no resemblance, I like this portrait as a painting. This experiment forced me to work loosely and there was no risk of fiddling. I like the accidental spills of pigment, the un-softened edges and the quick suggestive brushstrokes. So, does bad vision lead to looser painting? Or... is loose painting a sign of bad vision? ;-)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tunisian village

Sidi Bou Said, Arches, 25 x 30 cm

Continuing with the Mediterranean theme... this is by a photo taken in the Tunisian arts-and-crafts village of Sidi Bou Said, located near the site of ancient Cartage.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quiet morning on Patmos

Patmos, Arches, 38 x 28 cm (11 x 15 in)
This is based on a photograph we took when visiting the Greek island of Patmos a number of years ago. We hiked on an early morning from the port up to the hill town of Chora. The town was quiet and serene, there was hardly anyone yet on the streets and the restaurants on the main square were still empty. My favorite time of the day...

Lately I have been watching one of Alvaro Castagnet's DVDs. I love his style - very loose, using bold colors and stark contrasts. This painting was influenced by him, I did it quite fast, trying to focus on the big shapes and main values. While there is still much to be desired, I had fun painting it and am happy with the way it turned out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rookiepainter challenge 33

This time I decided to try the challenge suggested by Jen at Rookiepainter. I intended to do a more free interpretation, but it was all new to me - the shiny surface of the creamer and the texture of the thread bobbins. So I ended up fiddling quite a bit and producing a much more realistic type of painting. In the end though it doesn't look too bad.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Red peonies

Arches, 40 x 30 cm
My goal was to paint this loose, with the focus on value and contrast. And I'm not unhappy with the result...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Autumn in Muskoka, yarn on cotton warp, 75 x 120 cm
This is not a watercolor or a painting of any kind. It's a woven tapestry, which I made a few years ago, but fully completed and hung on the wall just this week. Finally the result of long and tedious efforts is on display.

The second picture shows the process and the frame loom that I built for the purpose. My initial intention was to make a series of  four panes, representing the seasons. But  unlike weaving rugs, where the whole row is the same color and can be easily automated, this tapestry style involves all manual work similar to embroidery. Unlike embroidery though, here if you don't like something, you have to undo everything back to that point. Not my kind of work!
So, I am left only with the Autumn. Maybe I'll revisit the four seasons idea in painting...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Portrait studies

Some times the studies turn out quite decent. Unlike other times, when.... oh well....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Celebrating color

Santa brought me several instructional watercolor DVDs. One of them by Jean Haines - a DVD bound to build up your enthusiasm and make you pick up the brushes. After watching the demonstration on painting cockerels, I had to try it myself. I understand now why Jean is so excited about this subject. It gives the opportunity to really enjoy color.

Arches 140lb, 28 x 19 cm
I found a couple of  photos of roosters that I have taken on my vacations.  The photo of this first handsome guy above was taken in the Swiss ethnographic village of Ballenberg.

Arches 140lb, 19 x 28 cm
And this cocky guy (pun intended) I saw pacing self-importantly on a sunny city square at Key West, Florida.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"To do" list

First I want to wish everybody a Very Happy New Year!

I don't make new-year resolutions, because I believe that the best time to change my life is today, whatever day it is. But I constantly make checklists, which sometimes annoys those living with me. Here is my list of things, related to painting, which I want to learn or improve in 2012: 
1.      do more portraits and figures;
2.      start painting larger sizes – half sheet (maybe full sheet);
3.      paint more from life and en plain air and overcome the fear of by-standers;
4.      paint faster, loosen up my style and focus on simplifying the subjects.

And, as today is the first day, here is my first portrait of the year ( approved by the subject )

Arches 140 lb cp, 19 x 28 cm (n/a)