My Blog About Art

Vials Series: Moon Vessel Finished December 06, 2016 18:46

Moon Vessel work in progress 112316I got the base painting of the crab done. I used titanium plus a bit of green I mixed to start the underpainting of the body (and didn't go further on, because it was not the right color for that). The crab is not symmetrical, which I know is going to drive me nuts, but then, real crabs are not symmetrical either. I am forcing myself to stop being so OCD about symmetry in things I paint. It's just another way of letting perfection turn into an obstacle instead of being a tool. 



Moon Vessel surreal landscape by Harold Roth acrylic on canvasI finished the crab part of Moon Vessel but ended up with the crab being too dark and had to do it over. It was worth the extra work, though, because the crab shows up much better from a distance now. I still have lots of work to do when it comes to keeping contrast in mind while painting. I need to get in the habit of looking at them from a bit away on a regular basis. That's a good technique for checking contrast and whatnot. 

I like the vibe of this painting as somewhat like a tarot card. I'm really glad that I started this series. It is much more to my taste than anything else I've done recently. It gets my imagination going and I feel like I am producing much more interesting images. I get to use my landscape skills, but honestly, it's nice too to be reminded that I can draw. I don't have to trace anything or use a grid or a projector or anything like that. I can just look at my reference photos and draw the image in pastel pencil with whatever modifications I want, thank the godz. I am totally grateful for this gift, because it saves me buckets of time and allows me to be freer in my image choice. 

It also makes me remember a youtube video I saw of a German hyperrealist painting a very large (over 5 ft) portrait of his son from photos about the size of a sheet of letterhead. I thought, how could he do this? He didn't draw it on the canvas first, just started painting and kept looking at the photos and then back to the canvas. And he wound up with this really fresh and good hyperreal painting. I wondered if he in-between takes maybe used a grid or a projector, but now I know that he did not. He was just really darn good at rendering. I've seen hyperrealists who trace or copy from a photo in little pieces in a way that just makes me feel awful to look at, but clearly there are others who use reference photos like this guy. I hope someday I can have such rendering and painting skills at my fingertips. Practice practice practice! 

I've got the original and larger prints available on this site and smaller prints on Etsy. I've been trying to post work-in-progress images on Pinterest, but it is just such a wiggy, buggy, and as far as I'm concerned, just plain creepy system that tonight I gave up. So from now on, I will post work in progress on my Facebook art page and here in my blog. 


Finally Here! September 06, 2016 10:01


My Blick Light-Duty EaselI moved from Elmira, NY to Pawtucket, RI on August 18/19, but it's taken me all this time just to get sort of settled in. I still have stuff to unpack, but "only" about 15 boxes, mostly kitchen stuff, clothes, and more importantly, all of my art stuff. I love my new place--a loft in an old fabric mill. This space is filled with light from ten windows and has more room than my former house. And I can walk to all sorts of things and take the bus to others. It's fab.

I did take some time the other night to put together the easel I bought from Blick a couple months ago. I'm still missing the bit that holds the top of the canvas, but I remember putting it in a box and so I just haven't gotten to that yet. Meanwhile, the easel is there to spur me on.

Someone on FB posted that Blick is having a canvas sale, and even though I've got 5 or so 18 x 24" wood panels and one 16 x 20" canvas on hand, I bought 6 18 x 24" canvases. I've gotten used to gessoing the canvases and how they feel with a lot of gesso layers that allow me to paint without any "bounce" but still leave enough flexibility for me to press the canvas against the scanner glass so I get a good image for reproduction. I didn't want to deal with gessoing the wood panels and then trying to photograph them correctly right now. So they are going to wait until I have enough time to do that. 

I have a lot of ideas for new paintings. I still want to work on water images and have a raft of reference photos I took on my last trip up to Seneca Lake, my favorite of the Fingerlakes. It was a great day for photographing--the water had that sort of oily quality it does sometimes when there's no wind. So I look forward to trying that out on canvas as well as doing some little wavelets against the rocks and some nice contrast between surface reflection and weeds and rocks below. I love those sort of palimpsest type images. Layers on layers! 

But I also downloaded a bunch of reference photos of all sorts of industrial buildings, inspired by a photo of a very foreboding prison, now abandoned, that stands in a town I lived in as a teen. That photo sent me down a rabbit hole about industrial buildings which in turn gave me all sorts of ideas for new paintings. I would like to move toward more complex images on larger canvases that allow for that a bit better, so I will try it on one of the new canvases as soon as they get here. I'm planning on two series, neither of which is about clouds or water, although they might be included in these images.

I've got notes about color and two reference photos ready for a basis for a sketch for the next painting--not on the actual canvas but on a sheet of paper I can in turn use as reference for the illustrations for my forthcoming book on herbal magic. I got the idea from the way I used notes in grad school--the very act of writing down the information was enough to sort of fix it in my mind. I thought drawing might work the same way, and it did for the plant illustrations, so I'm going to try the same technique for paintings: Put together a drawing based on arranging and aspects of various reference photos and imaginary stuff to come up with a drawing that I use as a reference for the painting. I'll take photos of the process.