Monday, November 30, 2015

:: Value Study ::

I find studying values fascinating and I loved working on this little all white pitcher.

I used Ivory Black and Titanium White oil paint.  I could have made my own black but decided since I had a tube of black I would just use it.

My support was a piece of 1/4" plywood that I found in the garage and had my husband cut it to 6" x 6".  I had primed it and had given it a base of some peachy color I had.  In this photo you can see all the plywood grooves thru the paint in the photo below ... that was fine with me, I wasn't trying to make a beautifully rendered piece of art, I was only attempting to get the values right.

Value Study, Martha's Pitcher,  6" x 6"  ©Nancy Van Blaricom

My prop was a simple but beautiful little pitcher my friend Martha gave me.  The above photo is where I've finally decided to call it quits.  I would paint on it one day thinking it was done then come back the next day only to realize that I wasn't happy with one particular area and fiddle with it more in an attempt to get my values right.  Then I repeat this process for a number of days. Now I realize I probably could have left it alone after that first pass and called it done. 
This is a close up of Martha's little pitcher.
Its aproximately 5" tall and  5" wide.
In the above photo you see the little pitcher sitting on a white piece of foam core inside a small cardboard box.  Looking at the pitcher like this I think I see the values very easily.

My set-up for my value study.  
I had a hard time finding a good way to photograph this set-up and to recreate the lighting I used for this study so I ended up moving my easel and turning on overhead lights for this photo, which is not the lighting I used.


Just about the time I was reworking my values for the 3rd time I was able to watch David Gray on Periscope while he was teaching a 4 day workshop in Langley, WA.  He has some great videos on  youtube you might enjoy watching.

Monday, November 02, 2015

:: My first Bargue Plate ::

 ~ My first Bargue Plate, but not my last ~

I had heard about the The Bargue-Gérôme Drawing Course book years ago but never felt I had the time or patience to try to copy a Bargue Plate. When I started working my way through Juliette Aristides Lessons in Classical Drawing, I realized I wanted to learn more, maybe the proper / Classical way to draw and not my hurry up and scribble it down method I've used for so many years..  

While my Bargue copy is far from good I do not feel it is a failure either.  
I have learned so much.   
  • I used one HB pencil and now wish I would have finished up with a softer pencil or maybe I should have started out with a good vine charcoal. 
  • I felt when I was drawing lines to envelope the face I was not pressing too hard but as I got further into my copy I could see I had pressed too hard, indenting the paper.
  • I didn't keep track of the hours I worked on this but I will next time.  Some people spend as little as 40 hours on a Bargue's Plate.  I rushed thru this and only worked on it about 10 -15 hours.  
  • I need to work on my shading skills. Next time I'll do some hatching ...
  • Plumb lines and measuring is very important. Measuring is my friend.
I did a little research and found a few places on-line where I could get some instruction and copies of Bargue Plates without having to purchase this very expensive book.  If you are interested in purchasing a reprint of the famous late nineteenth century drawing course you can purchase a copy of the book thru  Amazon

Here are just a few of the many web links I found that offer a copy of a Bargue Plate as well as information. 
The Home Based Atelier

Mandy Hallenius, This is where I got my plate and instruction.

Sight-Size ...  This is where I will be getting my next Bargue Plates and instruction.

I have read that Pablo Picasso copied the Bargue's Plates and Vincent Van Gogh copied all the plates once and completed part of them again at a later time. I'm thinking it must be pretty good stuff.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

:: Master Copy Sketch ::

To the left is the master drawing of  Michelangelo Buonarroti's Study for Battle of Casina
and to the right is my copy

One of my favorite books on drawing is Juliette Aristies book Lessons in Classical Drawing.  I've owned this book for a couple of years and recently decided to re-read it and work the exercises along the way.

The object of the first exercise was to become familiar with governing lines and directions.

She suggests picking any master to copy. Because I was anxious to start I didn't want to spend my time looking for a drawing to copy so I chose the same drawing that she did in her example.

I taped the copy of the Master Drawing to the left of my blank paper I was going to use for my copy of the master drawing.  I needed to mark lines at the top and bottom to indicated the scale of the drawing.  Then I needed to take a best guess at a single angle direction to see if I can account for some of  the movement of the work.  I don't think I would have seen the same angle Juliette saw if I hadn't used the same Master Drawing she did as my reference and her show an example of this.  Maybe if I were to attempt another I could use my own judgement better.

The second step was to place a few governing lines to get an overall shape to the gesture.

The next step was to formalize the lines into coherent shapes … and from here it was easier to see that my sketch was looking more closely resembling the original.

The last step was to tone the large planes of shadow to separate them from the light shapes..

After I completed my copy I could tell something wasn't quite right about my Master Copy even though I re-measured a couple of areas I still couldn't find my mistakes.

Out of curiosity I taped the master drawing to a window with bright light behind it and laid my copy over it to see where I had made my mistakes.  Ahhh,  now I could see exactly where I had made my mistakes.  The upper torso was good but the bottom half I had not measured correctly at all.  You can see where I should have drawn  by the red Sharpie lines I've drawn where I the original drawing was.  The hips were off as well as one foot … and the leg that is down was off a lot.

I was surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise.  Something about measuring, squinting to see the values better and taking my time really felt good to me.

I'm going to continue working on my drawing skills in a number of different ways.  I've been  doing  some simple daily sketches and working on Bargue Plates and also I plan to continue working through the exercises in this book.  All good stuff.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

:: October 25th, 2015 - International Artists Day ::


    Happy Birthday Picasso….

    Have you heard about International Artist Day and that its celebrated on Picasso's birthday?

    I hadn't until earlier this week when Artbiz coach Alyson Stanfield mentioned it in a Facebook post.

    Come to find out for over a decade International Artist Day has honored the contribution artists have and are making to society. On IAD, October 25, take an artist to lunch, or buy that painting that's been haunting you for the last month. Visit a gallery, or go to the symphony or art museum.  Maybe you’ve had your eye on a painting or sculpture, or feel that your garden could use sprucing up with a one of a kind wind-chime. Whatever the case, International Artist Day is the time to get out and bring a little beauty into your home. If you’re the creative sort, IAD can be an excuse to finally get back to your craft and bring something personal into your life through artistic expression.

     How will you celebrate the day?  Me …. I think I'll go work on my drawing skills.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

:: What's the Value of that? ::

Sometimes when I become frustrated with my work or simply lack motivation I enjoy going back to the basics.  There is something rewarding in rendering a small wooden cube, a value strip or a sphere using graphite, charcoal or oil paint and making the objects look like what they are intended to look like.  

In Juliette Aristides book Lessons in Classical Drawing she writes, "Learning to separate light from shadow is an early and critical step for the creating of a strong image."
Every time I attempt to execute these exercises I'm surprised by how much more I recognize the value change.

Although I do feel they are better than the first time I tried them.  I always enjoy the practice of looking at the different values in simple objects. I will continue to practice the skill of observing and recording the values I see. Practice makes perfect, right? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

:: Local Spring Color ::

Grabbing, once again, from my pile of canvas boards to be recycled, I decided to see if I couldn't capture the beauty & colors of a neighbors Flowering Cherry.  I couldn't ... this year the blossoms were spectacular.
Spring Color © Nancy Van Blaricom
Spring  8" x 6", oil on canvas board,  2015, ©Nancy Van Blaricom

Attempting to take a decent photo of this work, one of the places I took it was outside on the deck rail. I think I like it in the outdoor setting.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

:: Tree Study ::

Do you love evergreen trees as much as I do?

One thing I love about living in the Pacific Northwest is our abundance of trees.  I think I always took them for granted until I traveled to where there were very few.  Now I realize how fortunate I am to be surrounded by all this green.

I grabbed a canvas board from my stack of previously used and ready to be recycled canvases and decided to look more closely to these wonderful fir trees. Below a small study of the tippy top (not a technical term) of a local fir tree.

Fir Study © Nancy Van Blaricom
Fir Study, 8" x 6" oil on canvas panel, © Nancy Van Blaricom 
A few facts:
  • With Washington's temperate climate, abundant precipitation, and fertile soils, Washington has some of the most productive forests in the world.
  • Douglas fir is the worlds best timber producers and yields more timber than any other tree in North America.
  • Forestry is a long term business, taking as much as 40 to 60 years to complete a harves and replanting, or forest management cycle.
  • Douglas fir is the most important lumber tree in the U.S., also used for plywood, Christmas trees, paper and paper products.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

:: What should I have done? ::

I often look at one of my older paintings and ask myself 'what was I thinking', or better yet, 'why didn't I think more about how to achieve what my expectations' were for this painting.

A few days ago I was looking through some old photos of past paintings and came upon this little oil painting of a bunny.   For such a small painting, it is 6" x 6", there is so many things wrong with it that I can learn from.

NVB - Bunny Study

Looking at it now with fresh eyes I can see there is no sense of depth.

The foreground even though its in shadow, should be warmer than the background ... remember, warm advances, cool recedes.  As the path recedes it should get cooler in color temperature as well as the yellows in the grasses. A cool layer of blue glazed across them would help them to recede more. The color temperature is wrong. Also, there needs to be some color snuck into the path even though its in the shade.

The foreground grasses even though they are in shadow I could have added more value variation so that the tall grasses visually come forward, and maybe exaggerate the texture of the grass in the foreground, reduce the texture in the middle ground and really obscure it in the background.

In the tall grasses forward I could possibly have added some darker values ... almost as dark as the bunny, that way, the bunny would be more anchored to the foreground and the viewer.

As I continue to paint, I'm happy to say, the more I learn.
I enjoy revisiting these older works and thinking about how I could change them, or how I could paint a similar piece to make it a better painting.

Do you ever go back to see how you could improve a past work and ask yourself 'what should I have done?'

H A P P Y  E A S T E R

Monday, March 23, 2015

:: Tumwater Fall Park ::

Nancy Van Blaricom - Tumwater Falls Park
Tumwater Falls Park, 8" x 6" oil on canvas, ©Nancy Van Blaricom

Sorry about the glare...
I've had such fun with this painting .... attempting to paint the rapidly moving water and capture the different colors I was seeing.  They all should be this fun.

I'm finding I also enjoy doing some value studies and sketches in my 
sketchbook before I get down to the fun of the oil painting.  
 Value study in oils ...

Sketch in my sketchbook.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Around the Corner

I had posted this last week but decided even though I knew the tree was leaning toward the sun, in real life, it looks better in the painting to have it growing straight. I worked on it a bit more and was able to photograph it to re-post.

Around the Corner, Nancy Van Blaricom
Around the Corner,  oil on canvas,  8" X 6",  ©2015, Nancy Van Blaricom

Studies for Around the Corner - NVB

I thought it might be interesting to see how I came about painting this little scene.

I took the reference photo while we were coming home from shopping one day last fall.  Just as we were about to turn a corner I saw this setting.  I liked seeing the sun on the distant trees and the dark of the shade in the nearby trees.

In the bottom photos you see my studies from January .

I did thumbnail pencil sketch and immediately decided that I had centered the tree.  Then the oil study. I didn't do much better with the tree but I did like the varying heights that made the composition better.

From here I remembered what I liked about the scene in the first place, which was the sun in the distance and the shade in the foreground.

Maybe it was the journey I took to get to the end results, but,  I'm happy with this one.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Annette Bay Sheep

Whew, yes, I've finally finished this larger (for me its larger) painting that I had started around the first of December.  My goal was to finish it by the end of January and today I finished it enough to take a quick photo and post it. That was close ... tomorrow is February.

I still need to varnish it and do a little better job of photographing it, but for now its done and I can get started on a few smaller paintings I've been wanting to attempt.

Annette Bay Sheep © Nancy Van Blaricom
Annette Bay Sheep, 24" x 36", oil on canvas,  © 2015, Nancy Van Blaricom

The reference photo for this painting came from one of our many boating trips to British Columbia.  
We had anchored in this little bay before but I had never noticed any animals, but, this time I noticed in the back of the bay a flock of sheep grazing.  I have always loved that photo and swore I'd one day paint it.   

Below are a few shots of the painting in progress:
Progression shots of Annette Bay Sheep

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Little Birdie Told Me ...

The other day while going through some paintings I had in the studio I found this one that I painted back in 2013.  Now, after finding it again, I think I would like to paint a few more of this cute little bird in different positions.  I like both the bird and the painting more each time I see them.

A Little Birdie Told Me,  oil on paper, ©Nancy Van Blaricom

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ohhh, goodie

Oh goodie, look what came in the mail today?
I have way too many art books, but, with all the rave reviews Carol Marine is receiving on her book I just had to have it. It looks amazing ...

Monday, January 19, 2015

:: January ::

January is more than half over and although I've been working pretty hard on a large project I'm not quiet ready to share it with you. So instead I'll share a few value studies I've been working on. I guess I'll never become an expert at getting my values correct unless I do more studies like these.

The top photo was done in oil and I got out my value scale and really looked at a photo, numbering them as I saw them. The second photo, the pencil sketch, I was feeling pretty good about until I compared it to the more accurate oil study. I think it might be hard to tell these are from the same reference source.

All in all, I'm hoping to do more of these studies and see if I can't improve my value handling better.

What about you, do you ever do value studies?

4 Value Oil Sketch - Nancy Van Blaricom
4" x 6"  value oil sketch on gessoed paper

Pencil value sketch - Nancy Van Blaricom
2" x 2.5" pencil value sketch