Inspired by the dog days of summer. Gouache on paper. Just because it's scorching out there doesn't mean I can't have fun painting. Indoors.
Want new posts by email? Click here.
Summer is one of my favorite seasons, because it's great fun to draw and paint outdoors. But there's hot weather, and then there's HOT weather. And last week New York City was so hot and sticky that I decided to paint indoors. Fortunately I keep a bag of penny candy around for still life emergencies.
I love painting shiny, transparent wrappers, and penny candies are perfect for that. But they can also present problems. Because candy colors are quite intense, and if you're not careful the painting can become loud and garish. So I decided to stay mainly with yellows and oranges. And I threw in a few soft brown caramels to tone them down a bit.
I must be a sucker for a challenge. Of all the colors to see and mix properly, green is probably the hardest. So what did I do? I went and choose a subject with limes and green hot sauce. The letters on the bottle were a bit intimidating too. Sure, I wanted it to look like lettering. But I didn't want it to look mechanical and dry. After all, this is a painting, not a photograph. Too much fussy detail could suck the life right out of it. So I did the only thing any self-respecting artist would do. I let the painting just sit there, unfinished, for a long, long time. What painting?
But an unfinished painting is a low-grade irritant, like a pebble in my shoe. Sooner or later I had to face it. Preferably before the limes shriveled up. So I thought about what my teacher once told me. Don't be afraid to paint something difficult. Just go ahead and try it, and do your best to solve any problems that come up. Otherwise you'll be hiding out in The Safe Zone. And then your work won't be dynamic. And then you won't grow as an artist. And then ... Ay, carumba!
Okay then, so it was finally time to get on with it. But first I watched this cool watercolor demo by James Gurney for encouragement and inspiration. In the video Gurney painted a theater marquee. Lettering and all. He was careful, but he didn't worry about making his letters stand perfect and straight, like soldiers in formation. I decided to give his method a try. And you know what? Hello muddah, hello faddah. It wasn't all that difficult. Actually, it was kinda fun!
Spring is a busy time for me at my day job. I wanted a still life set up that would wait patiently until I got to it. And wouldn't wilt, fade, droop or rot. More traditional still-life subjects, such as fruits and flowers are wonderful to paint, because they're beautiful, colorful, living things, and you can feel the "chi" energy running right through them. But if I don't paint them quickly enough the studio can get a little ripe, if you know what I mean. So this time I chose one of my other favorite subjects, translucent cellophane candy wrappers. I shudder to think that these wrappers, unlike fruits and flowers, will never biodegrade. But what can you do. They're ubiquitous in the modern world. And they're really really fun to paint.
Symbol of love, beauty and joy. I thought roses would make a perfect wedding gift for my friend. So I ran down to the local florist shop and picked out a few lovely pinks for a still life. Then it was a furious race to get them down on paper before they wilted. And though it doesn't smell as sweet as a vase of fresh roses, at least the painting will last a long, long time.
Another adventure in gouache. Two lovely pink ladies from the local Whole Foods Market. Wish I could say it was so easy a caveman could do it. Heh. But in truth this was a complicated subject, and it gave me un sacco di agita. A malady that sometimes occurs when painting tricky still lifes in an unfamiliar medium. However, I hung in there, mainly because I'm stubborn. And because it's the only way to learn.
Okay, that was a good workout. Time to set up another still life and begin again.
When I saw these two pears at the market I loved the way they looked with their beautiful colors and dark purplish leaves. And I thought they'd be perfect for a still life. So I carefully carried them home, hoping and praying that the leaves wouldn't break off. And somehow they made it, leaves intact. But then, just as I was setting up the still life, there went one of them, snap! Oy, what to do? After careful analysis I decided to glue it back on. Who would know? Shhhhh, don't tell.
If you've been following along on my blog you may have noticed that painting in oils is my usual MO. But sometimes it's fun to mix it up and try other mediums. Recently I experimented with colored pencils. For this particular drawing I toned a piece of Stonehenge paper with a medium gray wash, since I don't like working on a stark white surface. Then I set up a still life with a handful of lovely Mandarin oranges, and proceeded to draw them in color. For the finishing touch I punched up the highlights with a bit of white gouache. Here's the result:
Once upon a time I was gainfully employed as a proofreader in a prestigious law firm. How I ever got that job is beyond me, but that's a story for another time. Anyway, we could sometimes go for hours waiting for the lawyers to send in something for us to read. So to pass the time I would set up compositions on my desk with cookies, fruit and soda cans from the well-stocked pantry. And then I'd draw them with colored pencils on copy paper. Looking back, it may have been the best job I ever had.
Recently I've returned to doing pencil drawings again. Here are two of my latest.
Stay tuned, there's more to come ...
My name is Julie Kessler and I'm a representational artist. I love painting in oils with their vibrant, juicy colors. Lately I've been exploring the unique qualities of gouache, watercolors, colored pencils and other media. I started this blog to share my work and thoughts about making art. I toss other things into the mix too, such as painters that I love, and art books and exhibits that inspire me. Your comments are welcome. I'd love to hear from you!