I am not going to paint till after I am back from traveling, but while I am preparing for the trip, I do take my daily walk in the park and do a few sketches. The following are what I did this afternoon.
I wasn't satisfied with the painting this morning. Maybe because I tried to clean the paint box and was stingy with fresh paint. In order to improve my mood, I did an ink wash with New Masters Academy.
I planned to clean my paint box but didn't want to waste the leftover paint, so I drove to Packinghouse Road this morning, intending to paint again at Sweet Madeline Honey House since people there were so friendly last time that I felt comfortable to paint there. However, maybe because it was Saturday, the gate was closed. I made a U-turn and drove in the opposite direction. Suddenly, I was impressed by a small wood with dark shaded ground and some sun-lit spots. When I tried to stop and park my car, I began to panic. The dirt road had almost no shoulders with fences on both sides. I would have to block the traffic if I left the car there and set up to paint. Seeing a lady coming out of a house about 50 yards away, I immediately drove to the entrance gate of her residence. The lady's name was Donnetta and she was very friendly with a contagiously happy smile. Upon hearing my request to leave my car there on her property, she immediately agreed.
I planned to make a portrait of one of my friends this morning. Unfortunately when I got his home, something happened out of schedule and he had to take care of it. Since it was pretty warm today, I didn't feel like doing plein air around noon time. Therefore, I came back home and decided to do what I had been thinking of doing for quite some time. That is, like Wendy Artin, using ink wash to draw figures. Unlike Artin who uses live models, I went online and found some figures from Croquis Cafe and New Masters Academy and with the Pause button, I stopped the video clip to hold the pose. It was not cheating because my purpose was to study the techniques instead of practice. Like water color, ink wash has an issue of time. Too wet or too dry, I can't get the effect. Wendy Artin uses clean brushes to suck excessive water. I tried to use Q-tips and cotton balls. It works for me. Again, I felt it was a struggle with myself. You shouldn't allow yourself too much time. As you can tell, I stayed with it too long in water that the surface of the paper gave away.
I drove along Tuckhoe Rd. west-bound this morning till it intercepted with Packinghouse Rd. I made a right turn onto Packinghouse which was still paved, but it was not in the opposite direction. Shortly after I was on Packinghouse, I noticed a two-story wooden building with staircase on the outside, very eye-catching in the sun. There was a warning sign at the gate about bee stinging. Out of curiosity, I drove in. There were a couple standing there. I asked them if I could paint there. The guy said they were not the owner but he was sure the owner would not mind and he would be there in no time. It was true, Robert, the owner, was very hospitable. So was his brother-in-law Lane. After I painted for a while, Lane said to me, "Why don't you take a break and let me show you our donkeys and chicken." So I hopped into his truck and we drove deep into the farm. There was a big chicken coop with more than two dozens of hens there. We didn't see donkeys. I said maybe next time they would come out when I came to paint them.
I didn't go out till after lunch today, so I didn't want to go too far. I stopped at Woody's dockyard and found a shaded area by the dock. The spots touched by the sun were very eye-catching. I immediately set up to paint. I had painted Woody's sailboat before but in a different angle. Mosquitoes didn't bother me much. However, ants were such a nuisance that I could almost tell how they dropped from the tree and crawled down from my head to the neck and then to my arms. I simple brushed them off. When I heard thunders rolling and getting closer, I called it a day and began to clean things and loaded them into the trunk. Glad I got home before it poured down.
I didn't go out to paint today but stayed home, doing some chores and reading. When I was reading, I looked up, from time to time, at the painting of the Burroughs Home I did yesterday. Somehow I felt there was something wrong with the picture but was unable to put my finger on it. Finally, I could not hold it anymore and simply laid down the book and kept staring at it, lost in thoughts.
I recalled yesterday's experiences and tried to figure out what was wrong. I knew I got the form right, but in a way I didn't feel the strong sensation of the striking contrast between the bright yellow house in the sun and the heavily shaded veranda. I never take pictures with camera when I was painting plein air. I don't think I will change it because I believe it might help a little bit with value, but it would do more harm than good for color. I remembered that when I first got there, I had a feeling as if I suddenly took off my sun glasses. I realized that I got both value and color wrong in the picture. It began to dawn on me. As I was painting there over the two hours, gradually I was forgetting the important initial feeling as my eyes adapted themselves to the dark shaded area where I stood. Looking back, I guess what I did was what psychologists call "incubation."
OK, now is the aha moment! I imagine myself standing outside the shaded area and rationally visualize how I should see the scene during the first two seconds after I arrive there. I believe I got the right relationships in value and color. I have just embellished the picture from my memory and am happy about the effect. I have also added some details, too, for enrichment. Now you may compare it, before and after.
I am glad I finally did that. It reminds me of what cartoonist Scott Adams said: Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
This morning I went to downtown Fort Myers with the Lee Plein Air group to paint some grand mansions which are the preserved historical buildings and are now the tourist hot spots, especially the Burroughs and Langford Kingston Houses. Around 100 years ago, these are the gathering sites for the local social elite including Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. What I did today was only the veranda of the Burroughs House. It was a Georgian architectural style mansion, with which, after living in southern Georgia for a dozen or so years, I am pretty familiar. Verandas or covered corridors are a big thing for Georgian homes. When I set up to paint it, I knew the shadows and lighted spots would change quickly and I needed to prepare for painting out of the effect. Overall, I remembered and painted everything as I first set my eyes on it except for the shadows on the building itself. Later I realize that it was not bad to leave the whole building walls in the sun instead of partially.
Thursday, Punta Gorda VAC's Portrait Day. This was the second time I painted Stephanie. You may find the first portrait I made of her in the Painting Gallery of this blog. She told me she would like to be presented as an angry lady. I am not sure I did her justice the way she liked me to.
You may have noticed that I've been painting a lot trees and woods. Yes, by doing so I have understood the importance of value and color much better, of course, especially in painting tress. Also, you must not paint tresses mindlessly in whichever way you bend the branches or their overall shapes. Recently I often went back to my computer and "read" how maters such as Isaac Levitan and so on painted trees. By comparison, I knew where my problems were. For most part of the painting I used palette knives instead of brushes.
This afternoon, I went out kind of late, so I simply dropped in at a friend's farm and noticed the setting sun shone through the cracks of the woods and made sporadic shimmering patches on the ground. It was the dry season and there was no water at all in the creek.
I went to the bank this morning and did some sketches of the customers there while waiting. I also included here some sketches of skateboarding kids, which I did the other day but didn't have a chance to post.
This is the same site on the Caloosahatchee as I painted the small camouflaged boat. I met the the property owner, Mr. Grant and his polite children. Mr, Grant happened to be an artist himself even though he was in eyeglasses business. He was very nice to let me paint there again. The subject of the sketch was the Grants' neighbor's boat dock. When the morning sun shone on it, the bright colorful boat was very eye-catching. Somehow, it reminded me of a kind of orange color hazelnut-shaped candy which people usually give away on Halloween. I don't know the name of it.
It is a study of managing a large number of objects and figures and also a practice of outdoor lighting. Denny of Lee Plein Air Group had E-mailed to inform me of this activity. When I was painting, there were two artists who did stop by and talk to me, but I didn't see other artists in painting. It is true there was such a bog crowd that it was difficult to find other members. Friday Farmers Market will end at the end of April. My feeling about this kind of painting is that you have to focus on form and relationships, that is, things like perspectives and proportions. Once you are sure of the two things, you simply block in color masses. Interestingly viewers would fill in information themselves.
It was Portrait Studio day at VAC this morning. Today's model was Tony. Actually I painted Tony before. The second painting below is what I did of him the first time. He is a very interesting personality to paint as you may tell.