Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wow how time flies! Christmas is just around the corner! I hope everyone had a fine Thanksgiving. Ours was great! Not to brag, but in a show of discipline and dedication to the cause of plein air painting, I managed to packed on a couple of extra pounds of “personal insulation” – handy during these cold winter outings.(some day you too may be so dedicated) Of course now that I’m prepared to paint out doors, I’ve been working on projects in the studio.
Recently I’ve been sparing with a painting of my beautiful granddaughter Maycie. I enjoy painting people and portraits, but painting portraits of children are, to me, one of the most challenging subjects of all. Children have such subtle features that my tendency is to focus too hard on every subtly turning the painting into a technical exercise in duplication rather than an artistic expression. There is a lot of emotion attached to painting one’s own granddaughter and I want to be carful not to lose that emotion in exchange for a mere illustration. Because small children are not known for sitting still (unless they are watching cartoons in which case you are limited to one particular pose) working from a photo will be the first strike against you. When I have a photo in front of me, I know that it has nowhere else to be, doesn’t need a break, isn’t getting bored, and the sun won’t set on it. I know that I can stare at it all day and longer if I like, get to know every color, value, shape, and detail. One might think this is a good thing, but, combined with a slightly overactive imagination, and it’s not long before I’m staring and arguing with myself that I see warm tones that earlier looked cool, green where it was blue, new “better” shapes inside of other shapes, and details inside of details. There are plenty of other times when staring and mumbling are perfectly appropriate, but now is not one of them.
Time to step back, freshen your approach, and reaffirm the elements that drew you to this painting in the first place. One way that I like to do this is with a small fast paced color “sketch” sometimes several. I will often relax the “precision” requirement from drawing, which allows me to focus more on the overall “idea” and key elements. If I were “hip” I might even say “loosen up dude!”. Painting this "briskly" is helpful in keeping my mind focused, yet still gets paint down before I have time to talk myself out of one color -(that I see) in exchange for another color -(that I think I see.) Now I have a nice little set of “notes” to remind me were I’m going with this painting and I can save the staring and mumbling for things like preparing my taxes or just standing in line at the grocery store.(Grampa’s can get away with that)
Here is my small (5"x7")color sketch of Maycie - Almost finished with the actual painting - will post it soon. -Take care,
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Looks can be deceiving! - What a fine title for an art-blog entry full of possibilities! Sadly - I will not be going into an arty discussion on the fascinating ways colors “look” next to one another, or how values can be “deceiving” depending on their surroundings. “Looks can be deceiving” simply means that I looked outside on Saturday morning and was deceived by how warm it appeared. It was not – warm. As my Dad and I headed out for a little “plein air” painting session, we were pleasantly surprised by what appeared to be mild fall weather. Setting up to paint, I was struck by how cold it seemed even though it was blue skies and sunshine. Trying to ignore the urge to shiver and figuring that I would get used to the cold, I began painting. Ten minutes later and I was shaking like a victim of the old "drop the hairdryer into the bathtub" prank. I couldn't figure out what was going on. I had been painting before, in far nastier conditions, freezing rain, wind, snow - I once wandered 3.2 miles (according to my gps) in mostly waist deep snow looking for that “perfect scene” to paint (see -“painter zombie” from previous blog entry) even then, the cold didn't slow me down – exhaustion- yes, but cold no problem. Here I am - barely an hour into my painting, shaking so badly that I'm seriously considering pack up for the day – plus I was beginning to feel a little guilty by the looks of pity from passers-by as they tossed their spare change into my pochade box. I hated to be the first one to quit, but after receiving a bagel along with an “at least you can't drink this” from one of our local seniors, I felt the extra money collected was probably not worth me having to explain to my wife why every time we go out in public she is told to “be strong” as I am looked at with grimacing disappointment. I had barely put anything on my canvas, so I quickly wiped it clean, packed up my paints, and headed about ten yards over to see how my Dad was doing. Approaching his easel, I was surprised to see a nice little painting taking shape of a fall colored tree and an old wooden fence. As I watched Dad continue to paint, the words “lightweight” and “wimp” were beginning to enter my thoughts and attack my fragile self-esteem. Fortunately, my pride quickly pointed out how the light morning breeze was a good ¼ knot slower over here - hmm...leave it to my Dad to take the good spot. “Almost ready?” Dad's teeth chattered in code. Having not used Morse-Code since receiving a pair of walkie-talkies for my 9th birthday, I was pleasantly surprised that I still remembered it. “Whenever!” I chattered back, pretending to humor his coded banter while doing my best to not chip a tooth. We soon packed up and set about shivering all the way home. Luckily we had been painting right down the street from the house and were inside for hot coffee and eats within minutes. “Wow! That was a cold one!” Dad said aloud, signaling he was no longer playing the "code game". “Blue sky and sunshine...Looks can sure be deceiving!” he said while sipping a hot cup of brew. “They sure can!” I answered, through a mouth full of bagel, “....they sure can.” **
**Please accept the above accounting as sufficient explanation to why I have come up empty handed today. Regarding future entries to my art blog, I promise to do my best to provide more art and less excuses – and to beat my Dad to the good painting spots before he gets to them!
Friday, November 6, 2009
WOW! What can I say about painting on location. I could spend a week on this subject and still not do it justice. For you painters out there, if you haven't tried painting "en plein air" (French for - "in the open air") then you are truly missing out! When I first started "plein air" painting a few years ago, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information that was getting to my eyeballs! It is as if I had been painting in the dark and someone switched on the lights. Most often I am only able to complete a small painting or color sketch before the light changes too much, but trying to "beat the light" is part of the fun. Experiencing all of the sights, sounds, and smells, as well as standing in the sun, rain, wind, or even snow- truly adds something to the paintings that come from the experience even if the painting is later finished in the studio. I will try to post often some of my "plein air" paintings and photos. Below are just a few photos from painting on location.- Enjoy!
This is my Dad (Jerry Dame Sr.) painting on a very cold winter day.
Just a word of warning. - When my Dad and I first started"plein air" painting, we found so many things to paint out there, we at times would get sucked into "Painter Zombie" -( the act of endless wandering and squinting, in and effort to find the "perfect" subject for painting.) The only known cure is to just pick up you brushes and paint. While my Dad has gotten much better, I still suffer from this affliction on a regular basis.
Above is a "nifty" little painting that I did last weekend while out painting at my Dad's house. You can see the color sketch that I did outside, and then the (nearly) finished piece 5"x7". Speaking of "nifty" - Just for fun and to say "thanks for your interest" all E-mail newsletter subscribers are eligible to win some "nifty" art prizes throughout the year. A congratulations goes out to Wayne and Jan Prigge as they are my first winners and will be receiving the above painting as soon as I get it signed. Thanks for stopping by!
-Have a great day everyone!!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Here I am! - going high tech with my first blog entry! Just because I have a blog now, doesn't mean I will be taking everyone's calls with computer questions - so don't get any ideas.
Since this blog is about art, I thought that I would start by introducing you to my favorite artist, teacher, and "plein air" painting partner - My Dad - (known to many as Jerry Dame Sr.) My Dad has been an artist all his life and I have had the good fortune to follow in his footsteps while exploring the fascinating world of painting. We try to get out about once a week to paint on location, and it's always great to get together, not just to paint, but to learn and share ideas. He is a great instructor, as many of you who have attended his workshops will attest, but he is also a great person who is always kind, patient, and considerate to others. -Love you Dad - your the best!