Friday, May 24, 2013

Audio podcast: Drawing On Experience™ by Dave the Painting Guy, David R. Darrow

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Least Expensive Way to Mail An Original Painting

The past few weeks I have been on task with some graphic design work, working on a CD package and some website stuff. It was all fun work, so I actually did not mind that I was not painting much. I've needed a break from painting, anyway, "so I could miss it again..." — time to look through painters' work on Facebook albums and blogs — time to get inspired.

A few inspiring blogs for you to check out later:
  • The Broadview Blog - An interesting approach to understanding plein air painting. Concept Artist Robh Ruppel — also a student of the late Fred Fixler — demonstrates with digital media (Wacom tablet and stylus, plus Photoshop or other digital painting app.) how he constructs digital paintings that are every bit as amazing as those done in traditional media (which Ruppel also handles expertly)
  • Land Sketch and Nathan Fowkes Art — Two blogs by artist Nathan Fowkes who does extremely simple, little color and value studies to truly capture the essence of what he is looking it. Often using a combination of gouache (pronounced 'gwash') and watercolor in his little sketchbooks, these are gems, all. Take a look at his painting kit, shown at the top of Land Sketch. Gouache is the fancy name for high-quality opaque watercolor, sometimes called tempera.

Cheapest Mailing Available

I found a cheap way to mail paintings. The safety and condition is not guaranteed, but the reduction of postage costs is.
Painting Mail

Today, I am mailing to an artist friend of mine, using no packaging, a sketch that I started on a painting panel but know I won't get back to. That's right, I just wrote on the back like a postcard, addressed it, weighed it and put proper first-class postage on it. (I'm not completely stupid: I did wait for it to dry and then I varnished it). ;-)

I have no idea what it will look like when it gets there, but it seemed like a funny idea to me. Much better than tossing it in the trash or a fire. Someone will be surprised. And maybe a few postal workers will get a good eye-roll out of it.

Update: The recipient, my artist friend Annie Salness, called to let me know that it arrived in great shape, "not a scratch on it."

The Broadcast

Not sure when I will be back on (my broadcast Dave the Painting Guy), but I wanted to be in touch. I'll let you know by mass mail when I am back to broadcasting. Should be soon.

I may get on very soon and work more on another demo I started, at right. I painted a fellow named James who came to watch my demo for the Santa Clara Art Association on Wednesday March 2, 2011.

I only had about 1 hour to 1-hour-15-minutes to do an oil portrait (a little too lean on time for my taste), so I did not get terribly far. But as always, I had a great time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How Do I Start A Painting?

Often, one of the most difficult things about creating a painting is simply getting started.

Disclaimer, for art purists: There is absolutely no substitute for improving your drawing skills by participating in critical life drawing workshops. (By 'critical' I mean managed by an instructor who is willing to tell you your drawing is off and how to fix it). You can usually find one in your area. Drawing from the figure or head builds your drawing skills by training your mind/eye connection to accurately judge proportions and measurements. No matter how good you get at painting, you will always be making measurements — whether or not you deviate from absolute accuracy will be a matter of skill and/or style or choice.
You may want to start a painting before your skills are top-notch. And that's okay with me. I made a living for the first eight years of my illustration career before I began to learn to draw well from the figure. My painting improved once I learned, but for the bulk of my 17-year illustration career, I used three methods of layout: an optical projector, the grid method, or multiple tracings and transfer.

In the example above, I demonstrated to a private student how to use the grid method. I can go into this in more detail if enough people are interested, but essentially, your source material (photo, magazine image, quick sketch or cartoon, etc...) gets a grid drawn over it with equal divisions (unless you are trying to distort it, use perfect squares). Then, on your painting surface, larger or smaller, place a matching grid. It must match line for line, also with perfect squares, same number of squares. Whether the subsequent squares are larger or smaller does not matter but will make your drawing proportionately larger or smaller. You will use this to assist you in drawing accurately the contents of each square — example the left-most eye starts at the intersection of 4 across & 3 down on both the source and final.

Next, begin laying in the distinct shadow pattern. Treat it as if you have only a black marker and white paper. Get the pattern in. Just get it in. In this example, I am using a warmish mixture of Alizarin, Ultramarine Blue and Raw Umber for my darks.

You will want to paint in lighter values. Don't. Get the shadow pattern in. In areas that are dark, but may actually be lit by the source light, make them dark anyway. You can always lighten them later. Try to connect all shadow areas to others. No islands.

My apologies for the huge reflections in the wet paint. I had set the camera up over my shoulder using window light, before there was paint on the canvas, then just reached over my shoulder to snap new shots, and did not anticipate the reflection.
After you get the shadow pattern finished, fill in the light area with an average mid-value color for the light side. Reserve your highlights for later.

Be careful not to over-model the halftones in the light pattern. Keep your lights and darks separate. Mind your cool highlights if working with north light.
Once the masses are in, then you can play with edges. Edges are to a painting what spice is to food; what music is to romance. Edges help the viewer see what you see, and guide them to what's most important, what to spend less time looking at (the edge of the hair/background), what to know about the structure (cartilage under skin vs. soft cheeks vs. hair).
Annie in Yellow Sweater • 8" x 10" • Oil on Canvas Panel

by David R. Darrow

Collection of Larry and Kay Crain

Paint Smarter™

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creek at Broad Street - San Luis Obispo

Creek at Broad Streetby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel

Collection of Doris Darrow
Sunnyvale, CA – USA

About This Painting

A few weeks ago I visited San Luis Obispo, CA for the annual plein air event. I haven't been to SLO for decades, so it was nice to see what's changed and what hasn't.

The Thursday night Farmer's Market on Higuera Street downtown beats any street party I have ever seen. With evening light speckling the streets through the trees while the smoky aroma of meat on grills fills the air, vendors display produce, various wares, creams, ointments, incense, health drinks, jewelry and so on — it's a street-fair on steroids every week!

Just around the corner, Broad Street crosses a beautiful little creek, just a few feet south of the San Luis Obispo Art Center where the plein air festival has its gallery. This creek meanders through town, popping in and out of view, sometimes running under several blocks of downtown's multi-story buildings betraying its centuries-old, natural history of following the path of least resistance.

One morning I parked my easel by the creek between Chorro and Broad, and began this little painting in the warm morning sun as passers by chatted or friends gathered above the creek for morning coffee and conversation at any of several establishments with balconies or patios overlooking this serene view from their manufactured vistas.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'll Get the Wine

I'll Get The Wineby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Panel

Collection of Greg Rich
Cheyenne, WY – USA

About This Painting

On a recent trip to Santa Fe, NM, I stopped by one gallery a little ways off the well-known gallery row. Traffic must have been slow for this gallery, for they were closed that day.

The gallery has an inviting courtyard, with a patio and overgrown wildflowers everywhere. Seeing these two Adirondack chairs beckoning two lovers to sit and rest, the phrase "I'll get the wine..." came to mind.  ◙

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Covered In Light

Covered in Lightby David R. Darrow
3-3/4" x 8" (9.5cm x 20.3cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel

Collection of Chris Opp
Bossier City, LA – USA

About This Painting

A quick figure painting on a small, remnant canvas panel, done in a limited palette, using red, yellow, black and white.  ◙

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pouring From A One-Gallon Metal Can

Pouring from a one-gallon rectangular can correctly - no spills!
Okay, this might seem like a no-brainer: Remove cap and tip liquid out. Wipe up excess from table.

But there is a better way to pour that is non-intuitive but takes the spill out of the equation, even with gallon cans filled to the top, like my Webber's Turpenoid Natural, here, or the new Gamsol cans (each of which has a new, easy-open, pull-out plastic seal).

My dad taught me this as a kid filling the lawnmower. To get the cleanest pour, get the pour-hole diagonally as far from the target as possible, or "pour across the can" as he put it.

What this does is keep as much of the liquid away from the edge of the pour hole until you are just past the tipping point, allowing the top of the can to tip down and under, out of the way, with the added benefit that the level of the liquid will not as-otherwise-likely reach the top of the pour spout, sealing it off, causing the "glugging" that makes a huge mess.

Try it! It just pours straight down, no glugging (and, if you aim pretty well, no spills).