Friday, May 29, 2020

Painting the Farm River - Part III

Welcome back to Painting on the Farm River. This is the final installment of this series. I hope I have inspired you to go out and paint from life nature in its beauty among the birds, butterflies, and nefarious bugs. If you've never tried it, it seems daunting, but be brave! You will learn so much by working from life, I promise.
Last week, I threw the gauntlet down, and challenged you. The response has been lukewarm and my armor is getting heavy. It would be fun for everyone to see your artistic inspirations, so you have one more week to share.

Aerial Perspective

The view from where I stood included a tree line at the farthest point of the river that stretched two to three miles. To understand how to paint objects in the distance, it is important to understand how Aerial Perspective works. Aerial Perspective is the atmospheric distance between objects in a painting. The presence in the atmosphere of moisture and tiny particles of dust and similar material causes a scattering of light as it passes through them, the degree of scattering being dependent on the wave length which corresponds to the color of the light.

Because light of short wavelength (blue light) is scattered the most, the colors of all distant dark objects tend toward blue. For example, distant mountains have a bluish cast, and yellow disappears as it recedes, followed by red.

The heavier the atmosphere, the more pronounced the effect. It is most apparent in lower elevations that commonly have higher amounts of moisture in the air. There are value changes as well. All things become cooler in color (except white) and lighter as they recede into the distance, and their edges soften. White takes on a warmer and darker shade.


"It would be impossible for me to paint slowly out of doors, even if I wanted to... There is nothing immobile in our surroundings. Water curls up all the time, clouds change shape as they change places; the rope that hangs from that boat over there swings slowly back and forth; the boy jumps; those trees bend their branches and raise them up again...But even if everything were petrified and fixed, it would be enough just for the sun to move, as it does continuously, in order to give a different appearance to things... One must paint quickly, because so much is lost, in an instant, and you never find it again!"

–Joaquin Sorolla, speaking of his time spent painting in Javea

From My View


Three hours had passed by since I began painting en plein air and the painting was starting to take shape. I’m more than ever aware of values and edges as I mixed and applied my paint.
The bushes and trees in the distance were lighter in color, and value, so I lightened them with white (a cool color) and used less yellow in the mix. The vines and trunks became a lighter red/purple. I also softened the edges quite a bit to push them into the distance.
The sky was a nice light blue, with no clouds. The sun was in front of me, overhead but not within sight. It provided some beautiful reflections on the water.
Since I began, the sun had moved and the light was beginning to change, so I stopped. When painting outdoors on a sunny day, you only have between two and three hours before the light changes, affecting the values of the subject and the length and direction of the shadows. Cloudy days are more forgiving.

I finished the painting in my studio, with the memory of the river still fresh. The blue in the water needed more emphasis, as did the moss greens, the rocks, and the lightest highlights on the water, rocks and the hemlock tree. I also darkened my shadows under the fallen trees and near the rocks. I had a photo, but only referred to it for detail information.

Next

Some photos of your artistic endeavors.

"Painting, when you feel it, is the greatest thing in the world. No, I've said it wrong, it's Nature that is beautiful."
-Joaquin Sorolla

Consider Yourself Challenged!

I can’t believe that only two of you have been working on art since the advent of this pandemic. At least, I’ve only heard from two since I’ve started this email lesson. I know there are more of you being creative during this time of seclusion, so step up to the challenge!

Hey, this armor is getting pretty uncomfortable so give me a break. If you've been drawing, painting, doodling, etching, coloring with crayons, sewing, knitting, embroidering, sculpting, making origami or any other type of creative art, send me a photo. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Painting on the Farm River - Part II

Welcome back to Painting on the Farm River. I wanted to tell you why I go out in all types of weather in all kinds of places, and put up with bugs and car fumes and all manner of smells, noises, and, at times, strange conversations, to paint, and why I love it. Maybe you will feel inspired to do the same one day.

As far as the painting, I'm going to show you the painting process and my thoughts behind it, I've included some tips to be comfortable while standing outside in one spot for 2-3 hours at a time. Finally, I'm throwing the gauntlet down, and challenging you!

Why I Love Plein Air Painting


My knowledge of painting took a huge leap forward when I started to take lessons and workshops from artists who paint and draw from life. I learned a great deal more about drawing, composition, value, edges, and light. I bought a cheap French easel and began painting in my neighborhood and took it with me on short trips. My bookshelves slowly filled with books written by famous artists and I carefully studied their methods. I also logged on to artist forums on the Internet and studied other artists, their work, philosophies, and critiques.

In between studying other artists, I painted as often as I could. The night before I went out, I would gather my canvas, easel, brushes and paint together and set them by the door. The next day, I would get up early (usually on the weekend), and be set up and painting on site by nine o’clock am. My first few canvases were nothing impressive, but it didn’t matter. I was hooked.

Unlike working from a photo, when painting en plein air, the world around you caresses all of your senses and sends you to a meditative state of mind. There is a sense of urgency to quickly capture the astounding array of color, light, and sound that nature presents like a buffet at a king's banquet. Painting in the country, you are enveloped with delicate sounds, wild flora and musky aromas of the woods, grassy fields, babbling brooks, and the wildlife that live there. Once, I saw a skinny silver fox tiptoe across the road not fifty feet from where I was painting. In the city, there’s the buzz of bus and car engines, the clanging of the train, the bustle of people rushing to do their errands, and the aroma of freshly made hot coffee and donuts seeping onto the sidewalk. You can’t experience these sensations when painting from a photograph. Sitting indoors at an easel, you don’t feel the warm sun on your skin, smell the scent of honeysuckle floating in the breeze, or hear the birds singing in the trees. It's more than just putting paint on canvas, it's the whole experience.



Painting in a field of sunflowers on a warm summer day, the bees buzzing all around me!
Photo by Dennis Beaulieu

Doing a Quick Drawing

I first decided what area I wanted to include in my composition. When you paint outdoors, you have to eliminate some things, and having a view finder helps to focus on one area. I then did a rough charcoal drawing. I used my chopstick to measure distance and relationships of the trees and water, and I put in some values.


Transferring the Image to the Panel

Next, I drew the picture on the canvas with vine charcoal eliminating some trees and branches. No need to worry about detail here, just get a good drawing with good perspective. I'm drawing and checking my measurements, both horizontal and vertical. I look at my drawing on paper and the scene in front of me.


Block-In Stage

The block-in stage is for filling in large areas with fairly thin color. Here, I filled in the darks first, then worked my way through the middle values. The downed trees had some nice shadows, and some of the river was a golden/rusty red sand that contrasted nicely with the blue from the sky.

The hemlock was a soft green with great highlights from the sunlight. It contrasted nicely with the browns of the surroundings. I put in rocks, the dark greens of the hemlock, and the moss on the bank. I decided to remove the dead limb that was blocking the water between the downed trees. Doing this, the eye is now better directed into the picture and up to a point where the river disappears.

I'm refining my shapes here, checking my values. Not a lot of detail yet.


"The sky is the key to the landscape because of the quality and quantity of the light falling from It determines color unity and value contrast of the remaining elements."
- John F. Carlson

Clothing Suggestions for Plein Air Painting

  • Wear loose fitting clothes for ease of movement and added insulation during cool times.
  • Dress in layers so you can adjust based on temperature.
  • Wear drab or dark colors. Bright or light colors will reflect onto your painting surface and effect how your painting appears in color and value. Some bright colors will attract critters. (blue attracts some)
  • Use a wide brimmed hat to shade your eyes. Ventilated in summer and insulated in winter.
  • Never wear sunglasses. They dilate your pupils thus changing your perception of values, and they skew colors.
  • Take a wind breaker or light poncho in case of inclement weather. An insulated jacket in winter.
  • Wear comfortable high-top shoes or boots for getting into those out of the way places.
  • Good quality socks; (wool will repel water, good cotton will cool.)
  • Cotton or wool gloves with the fingers cut out in the winter. Perhaps some of those chemical hand warmers for your pockets.
  • A scarf or jacket with a hood to protect your neck in the winter.

 

I have a Tin Cloth Packer Hat that protects my face and head during cool or hot sunny weather. It's also water resistant. Hat and Hooded Utility Jacket are from Filson.

"We must not imitate the externals of nature with so much fidelity that the picture fails to evoke that wonderful teasing recurrence of emotions that marks the contemplation of a work of art."

-John F. Carlson


Next

In Part III, I'll take you through the last steps to completion, including my thoughts about painting water.

Consider Yourself Challenged!

I have heard from a few of you since I started posting instructional emails. The comments have been encouraging and kind. A couple of you have said that they are drawing or painting, but I know there are more of you being creative during this time of seclusion (and if not, what are you waiting for?).

I've squeezed into my armor (not the most comfortable bodysuit I've ever worn) and thrown the gauntlet down. CONSIDER YOURSELF CHALLENGED! If you've been drawing, painting, doodling, etching, coloring with crayons, sewing, knitting, embroidering, sculpting, making origami or any other type of creative art, send me a photo. You have approximately two weeks to think about it and create something. Send your photos to pmeglio99@gmail.com and I will post them in my email once this series is done.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Painting on the Farm River - Part I

I live near the Farm River in Northford and love to paint there, especially in the spring. The Farm River begins from a small brook flowing off Pistapaug Pond, which is partially within the towns of Wallingford, Durham and North Branford. From there it flows southward sixteen miles and empties into Long Island Sound. Near the shoreline, the fresh water mixes with sea water and it becomes an estuary. The area that I chose to paint is surrounded by open fields owned by the town. Trees and wild undergrowth line the river on both sides. The river draws wildlife including deer, rabbits, turtles, and coyotes.

I had spotted this place on one of my hikes in the area and knew it would be a great place to paint, especially before the vegetation filled in and blocked the view. There was a good down river view of water, new growth, fallen trees, and light rapids with nice contrasts of light and dark values. Looking in this direction, I decided where my focus was going to be, then I positioned myself on the bank in a shady area, with the sun shining overhead at around the eleven o’clock position.

My Setup


When I paint plein air, I use a Guerrilla Box with a very heavy camera tripod. While it’s a bit heavy for travel, it’s sturdy in windy conditions so I don't need to worry that a gust of wind will send my box flying.

 The canvas board is small, 9H x 12W, and fits into the lid of the box. Behind that, I stored my drawing paper. The box comes with a slide out wooden palette, which makes it easy to clean. I can store some items under the palette in the little compartments. I put my brushes, gloves, pencil, small can for the gel, my chopstick, a thin bag that I use for dirty brushes, and charcoal in those sections. In my backpack, which is a light nylon, besides my box, I packed my phone, water, mineral spirits, paper towels, trash bag, and bug spray.

My Palette

Because I hiked for a distance of around ¼ mile, I packed as light as I could. I prepared my palette ahead of time with the colors and only took a tube of white with me. My palette consisted of Titanium white, Cadmium yellow, orange and red, Alizarin crimson, Transparent Oxide Red and Brown, Permanent Green, Viridian, Cerulean, Cobalt blue, and Ultramarine Blue. I also added a spot of Liquin gel in a small can. I brought one medium bristle and two small synthetic brushes.
I put some mineral spirits in a very small jar, took a few paper towels, a piece of paper and some vine charcoal. I prepped the canvas a light green ahead of time, to help save time.

"In many ways, a painting is a synthesis of opposites: light and shadow, warm and cool, sharp and soft, coarse and fine. These polarities, when integrated into the picture, create vibrancy and dynamism."
-Gregg Kreutz

Packing List for Plein Air Painting

  • A full size French easel, Guerrilla Box, or Pochade Box
  • Nylon backpack
  • Phone
  • Leak proof solvent container
  • View Finder
  • Nylon gloves
  • Small pad of paper
  • Pencil
  • Vine charcoal
  • Small panel or canvas that fits into the lid of box
  • Insect repellent
  • Drinking water
  • Extra paint
  • Trash bag
  • Poncho
  • A wide brim hat
  • A sandwich, trail mix, or some kind of snack
  • Earbuds for phone or iPod for music
  • Umbrella that can be attached to the easel (for working in the sun)
  • A rope to tie to a large rock to suspend from box for windy days or tent stakes.

I carry the box in a back pack when I find I will be walking quite a distance to my subject.

When painting from photos, above a certain lightness, everything in a photo is a washed out white and below a given darkness, colors become one unidentifiable color. The human eye is much more sensitive to color and values and is able to detect vastly more of each.

Next

In Part II, I'll take you through my process, from composition to sketch, then my steps for painting this beautiful bucolic scene. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Remodeling a Painting - Part IV

Welcome back! I’m excited to share with you the last in the series of Remodeling a Painting. This step-by-step instruction has been a great way to motivate me to take a second look at a painting that wasn't working. It's also a great way to show you what I'm doing and explain my approach as I work on it. I am pretty happy with the way it's turned out. 


In this last segment, I'm addressing shadows and the color in the shadows, edges, highlights and loads of details. I've warmed up the background color a bit as well using a technique called scumbling. I've included my palette so you can see the color mixtures.

I hope that you've enjoyed this Remodeling a Painting series. Please drop me a line and let me know what you think. 
The Composition  18H x 24W, Oil on Canvas   

Edges

When considering the focus of a painting, you need to think about your edges. Edges are the borderlines between shapes of color. They are where things fit together, and define where the transitions occur. In painting, edges are either "sharp," "moderate," "soft," or "lost."
Sharp edges attract the eye and are often used with contrasting values to bring attention to a subject. It's a good idea to use sharp edges near or on your focal point.

Soft edges are like wall flowers, they don't want to attract attention, so the edges are blurred or softened. I use a dry brush to soften edges.
Lost edges occur when you can't tell the difference where one shape of a color begins and another one ends. Lost edges can provide mystery and a quiet atmosphere to a picture. They also help to depict movement, such as in a waterfall.

In this painting, the sharpest edges are the pen, tambourine and the lower part of the mandolin The inherent shapes of the mandolin and the guitar provide moderate edges, but I've also sharpened the edges of the pen and tambourine with contrasting values. I've softened the edges of the fabric, especially at the top edge. 
 

The Sheet Music and Fountain Pen

The paper was the most conflicting part of the original painting, partly because of the coolness of the color. For harmony, I warmed up the color by using various shades of yellow, peach, and gold. The shaping and position provided interest and, with the pen and pattern in the fabric, directs the eye into the picture. 

For the writing on the music, I added some notes and lines, but only a few. I first worked it out on the drawing before I transferred a design using charcoal onto the canvas. The idea is to provide a suggestion of music, without getting too detailed. I softened the "ink" to a dark gray so that it wouldn't stand out too much. 

The fountain pen is important as are the ink drips, so I sharpened the edges and added some highlights.

Shadows and Temperature

The color in the shadows of a subject are directly related to the temperature of light. If the light is cool, the shadows will be warm, if the light is warm, the shadows will be cool. Shadows on a cloudy day will be warm, whereas shadows on a bright sunny day are cool.

I've maintained from the start that the light source in this painting is a warm incandescent light. For this reason, the shadows are cool in temperature. I've used some blue and green in my shadows in the fabric and near the instruments. In the shadow of the tambourine, a reflection off of the instrument also includes local color in the shadow.

A color changes its appearance when either the light changes or its adjacent colors change.

Scumbling Technique

For the dark background, I used a method called scumbling. Scumbling is the application of a thin layer of paint with a dry brush and a loose hand over an existing layer. The idea is to allow parts of the already existing paint below to remain exposed. In most cases, scumbling is used over dried paint. My dark background was a bit cool, so I decided to warm it up slightly by scumbling alizarin crimson into it. It's very subtle change, but one that really makes a difference. I used a large bristle brush and pushed and pulled the paint over the dark areas with wide motions.

My Palette

My palette consisted of Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Ornge, Medium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Transparent Oxide Yellow, Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber and Titanium White.

I used a #8 bristle round for the background scumbling, and various medium and small sizes of synthetic rounds and brights brushes

Next

There's nothing better than painting en plein air on a beautiful warm spring day.

En plein air is a French expression meaning “in the open air”, and refers to the act of painting outdoors with the artist’s subject in full view.

My next series, Painting on the Farm River, will take you step-by-step with me as I paint this beautiful section of the Farm River on a warm and sunny day.


Don’t skimp with your paint on your palette. Put enough out so that you have something to work with and so you don’t have to keep stopping to mix and add paint.

Questions? Comments?

I hope you enjoyed this last of the four-part series, Remodeling a Painting. Feel free to share with others. I'd love to hear from you. Are you feeling inspired? What are you doing to stimulate your creative side?

Visit my website for more information about me, classes, exhibitions and for photos of my work.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Remodeling a Painting - Part 3

Welcome back! The remodeled music painting is progressing nicely. There is one change since Part 2, however. I had a revelation when I was painting and decided to switch my boring guitar with one a musical friend, Ron Anthony, designed and built. It is a beauty, with lots of detail and style. And it sounds great too! Of course, it doesn't hurt that Ron is an amazing musician, song writer, and singer.

As before, I'll walk you through paint mixing and application, still going from dark to light. For those who would like to know more about the drawing, I decided to include a mini lesson on perspective, using the tambourine.
I've included some information about color temperature, since I'm at the point where it's important for the harmony that the colors are mixed taking into account the temperature of the light on the subject.
There are wonderful books on art out there, so I've included a few of my favorites.

Going Thicker

In Part 2, I showed how I prepared the canvas and put in a thin coat of paint for all of the large shapes. This time, I'm beginning to use thicker paint, with no mineral spirits. I start with the darkest areas, which is the background, the tambourine and then the guitar and mandolin. I'm always working from dark to light, and thinking about where the light source is. I'm using a medium size bristle brush (#6) for the background and a medium size sable (#4) for the instruments. For smaller details, I use a sable round (#1).



For interest, I prefer a slightly turned view of all of the instruments, rather then a straight on view. I think it's more interesting and also, it helps to provide some depth.

I also started to add some shaping and color to the fabric, and strengthened the stripe that leads toward the tambourine.

Perspective Study of the Tambourine

The tambourine is a side view, making the shape more of an oval, The vanishing point (a point where parallel lines appear to converge) is off to the left, so to check the accuracy of the drawing, I first measure both the width and the height of the instrument using a pencil or my trusty measuring chopstick at arm's length. I put those measurements down, then I add my lines for the perspective, knowing that the vanishing point is off to the left.

I next put in vertical lines that are perpendicular to the perspective lines. To find the center, I draw a line from each corner within the square diagonally to the other. From here, I can draw an oval for the center negative space. I can measure the width of the inside and outside of the tambourine at the halfway point (see dotted line) and add those points.

This is a basic way to draw an ellipse. It works great for drawing things like tires on a car parked at an angle or any round shape that is viewed at an angle.

Mixing the Colors

Here's my palette for this lesson. I've mixed my dark background black, then I'm using Transparent Oxide Yellow for the guitar and for parts of the mandolin, mixing with cadmium yellow and titanium white for the lighter tones. For the paisley fabric, cadmium red, orange, and yellow in various mixes. For the green, Chromium Oxide Green and some Viridian. I'm also using some of this mixed with a tiny amount of red (remember, mix with the complement to subdue the color and in this case, give it a warmer tone). Always check the temperature of your colors and their relationship to each other. If one of the colors is unintentionally standing out, it could be that the temperature is either too cool or too warm.

It's important to note that you can mix all of these colors using your basic complementary colors, so don't feel the need to rush out and buy them. Sometimes, when I order paint from Jerry's Artarama, they send me tubes of odd colors for free. That was the case for the Transparent Oxide Yellow. I normally would mix my own, but since I had it, why not use it?

I'm leaving the music paper for last, since it is the lightest area. The titanium white is too cool, so I will warm it up a bit.

Use Professional Artist Grade paint whenever possible. Student grade paint is full of fillers and has less pigment, making it harder to cover an area. The color is weaker and will also lose its color strength over time.

Why Color Temperature is Important

Local colors in a subject are influenced by the source of light, whether it is warm or cool. When approaching a subject, the first thing you should do is figure out whether your light source is warm or cool. If it's a bright sunny day, it would be warm, if it's cloudy, it would probably be cool. Indoor light can be either warm or cool, depending on the source. It the light is from a fluorescent light, it will most likely be cool. Once this is established, you should keep the temperature of your colors consistent throughout the painting.

In this painting, the source of light is a warm incandescent bulb, so when I mix my colors for my subjects, I'll know to use or mix warmer shades of each color. The shadows are different. We'll talk about how to do shadows in Part 4.

Words on Paper

Some of my favorite painting books are:

  • Alla Prima II by Richard Schmid
  • Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson
  • Color Harmony in Your Paintings by Margaret Kessler
  • Landscape Painting by Mitchell Albala

Some great drawing books:

  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
  • How to Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna
  • Drawing for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink


Next

In Part 4, I'm going to continue to work toward the lighter tones of the painting. I'l be paying attention to temperature and color harmony as I go. I'll tighten the details and drawings of the subjects and put in the music paper and pen. I'll also address folds, edges, and shadows. By the next email, the painting should be complete.

Use a palette knife to mix your paint on your palette. However, don’t be afraid of mixing some color on the canvas as you work. You may find some interesting results.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Remodeling - Part 2


Welcome back! I hope that you are enjoying this step-by-step process of remodeling a painting. I find it challenging to revamp a painting, but to me, it's well worth the effort.

Preparing the Canvas

Now that I have a drawing, I'm ready to transfer the new design. But first, because there is paint on the canvas that might have some texture and my design has changed, I'd like to have a smooth surface to start with. To do this, I take a fine grade sanding sponge and lightly sand the surface that I will be changing. Some of the paint will come off and the surface will feel smooth once I'm done. Then, I take a paper towel and wipe off the excess dust from the paint.





Transferring the Design

Now, I'm ready to transfer my design. I decided that I would use vine charcoal to draw the design on the canvas. Vine charcoal will not show through paint later, and is easy to draw and correct. I taped the pencil drawing high up on my easel above the painting so that I can refer to it while I draw on the canvas. I don't bother to put in the shadows, just the outline of the design. As you can see, I added the guitar, moved the tambourine down, added the outline of the sheet music and the border for the fabric. I also added the fountain pen.

Start with Darks

Now it's time to mix my darks. I squeeze some Ultramarine Blue and Transparent Oxide Brown on the palette. I add some Rose Madder (I could also use Alizarin Crimson) and some Veridian. The mixture is about 80 percent blue and brown with a touch of rose madder and veridian green. I thin it out with a small amount of mineral spirits and begin to apply it where I want my darkest darks, which is mostly in the upper background.



Mixing the Colors

Next, I mix my greens for the tambourine, then the golden yellow for the guitar, the fabric, and the pen with a small amount of mineral spirits. I am only doing large shapes at this point, no details. I don't get too concerned with mixing the exact color nor do I worry if the drawing isn't exact. These will all be addressed as I proceed. I work my way through the whole painting like this, from dark to light, ending with the thinned out titanium white mixture for the sheet music.






 There’s no fear in oil painting! Be daring!

Final Block In

Here's the finished first coat. All of the paint was very thin but not runny. Wow, what a transformation! The original design is nothing more than a memory at this point!



References

I taped the drawing above my painting for a reference while I paint. It's important to have the drawing within view in case your design on the canvas goes astray.

I'll also have the instruments and other still life items set up nearby, if possible or have a photo reference, if not.


Next

I''m going to let this painting dry for a a day or two. In a few days, I'll post the next step in the process. I will not use mineral spirits at this point except to clean my brushes. I will also pay special attention to my color mixtures and to the color temperature. More on that later.

I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of Remodeling. Perhaps it will inspire you to pick up that brush and rework one of your paintings!

Tip: Draw, draw, draw first before you paint. Consider different compositions, move elements round, look at the values and ensure that you have a good balance of darks and lights, and get a feel for the design.

Friday, April 17, 2020


Remodeling Part 1

Greetings! I hope that you are safe and in good health.

I am like everyone else trying to keep busy, stay productive and remain healthy during this health crisis. All of my classes are on hold and there's no way to tell when they will start again. I know a lot of my students are anxious to get back to class and I do miss my students and teaching.
I am not much of a remote instructor. I enjoy hands on teaching and love the interaction with my students. However, that not being possible right now, I think a lot of you would be interested in how I go about planning and executing a painting.

Most of the time, I start a painting from the beginning with a drawing, canvas prepping, transferring of the design to canvas, and then I spend a few days painting and it's done. Sometimes, though, I revisit a painting that started out okay, but then suddenly stopped dead in its tracks. Usually, I am not happy with the direction it's going and rather then go raging mad and rip the canvas apart like Cezanne often did (though I admit occasionally the thought does occur to me!), I set the painting aside and look at it now and then. I think about how I can modify and improve it. I call it "Remodeling," though I don't use a sledge hammer.

By the way, if you haven't seen the Netflix movie, Cezanne et moi, about the friendship of Paul Cezanne and Emile Zola, I highly recommend it! You can find it on Netflix.

But I digress. I started this painting about three years ago, and was unsatisfied with some parts of it, so I have been pondering over it ever since. I'm now ready to tackle it with a fresh new perspective. I thought that some of you might be interested in how I rework a painting, so I'm going to post the original artwork for this first post, and I'm going to show you how I'm planning to change it. I will send out additional emails that will show the steps that I take and will tell you the reasons for my steps.

Here it is:


The Drawing

The first step is to start with a brand-new drawing. I had some drawing paper that was the exact size of the canvas, which helped. I began working on a new design using a soft pencil and a kneaded eraser. I decided that I liked the mandolin and tambourine, so they will continue to be part of the setup. I liked the colorful fabric because it gave an interesting texture to the design but I didn't care for the white fabric and felt the small objects were lost in the design, so I discarded these. I re-positioned the tambourine and added the guitar, sheet music, and pen. The background will be very dark except toward the bottom where the fabric will be reintroduced.

It's important to note that my drawing is not just a line drawing, but also includes the dark and light areas (values) which I believe are critical to the design. If there's a nice balance of contrast, the picture will be more pleasing. This design shows a good mix of light, medium and dark values. The position of the items is also important. The eye should always be "invited" into the picture like a welcome guest and "asked to stay."



In a few days, I'll post the next step in the process. So sit back and relax. I hope you enjoy this free instruction. Perhaps it will inspire you to pick up that brush and paint a masterpiece!

Tip: Measure as you go, check accuracy by turning the canvas upside down and/or use a mirror.

Another Kind of Remodeling

Finally, I managed to get past some of the problems that prevented me from rebuilding my website. I'm happy to say that the new site is up and running. You can now view it from a computer or mobile device. I have a new Art Instruction page and a new Contact page. The dates for instruction and exhibitions are not current since I designed it before the pandemic shut things down, but I will update it when I have good dates.

I'm hoping that classes resume in late spring, but if they don't, I will be offering the same classes in painting and drawing this fall at Hamden Adult Ed, and Wallingford Adult Ed. I hope to offer classes this summer at Artsplace and continue with painting classes at the North Haven Senior Center. Stay tuned for updates.


There’s no such thing as talent. Good art takes a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of patience. A good artist has earned his way.