Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Oil Painting Class Calendar

I will teach five 8-class sessions of oil painting in 2011.  The first session begins on February 2nd, 2011.  Each session is $280.

The sessions are as follows:

Session 1 - 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 2/23, 3/2, 3/9,  3/16 & 3/23
Session 2 - 3/30, 4/6, 4/13, 4/20, 4/27, 5/4, 5/11 & 5/18
Session 3 - 6/1, 6/8, 6/15, 6/22, 6/29, 7/6, 7/13 & 7/20
Session 4 - 7/27, 8/3, 8/17, 8/24, 8/31, 9/7, 9/14 & 9/21
Session 5 - 9/28, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9 & 11/16

There will be no class between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.

Thank you very much for being my students in the past and I look forward to seeing you in class again!

Happy painting,
Mary  Mulvihill 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

December Class Syllabus

The focus in December is on figurative painting. A figurative work is not a portrait. It is about the interaction between the figure and the environment around it.  A figurative piece has a narrative quality.  It can be about the light, mood or design. The figure is a prop in the larger design.

December 1st - Design Day
Bring several pieces of reference that interest you. The reference should have enough information for you to paint the figure, but you also need an environment in which to place them.  It is possible to supplement the environment with reference from a second photo.

The class will work as a group on black and white comps from everyone's reference. You will need drawing materials - pencils or markers and a sketchbook. Comps are the start of the design process, not the ultimate solution. Do a lot of comps and work further on those that are more successful. Always do design comps in a rectangle that has a specific ratio. 1:2, 3:4, etc. You cannot judge a design without related to the four edges of the design space. Work in large shapes of black and white or black, white and one value of gray.  

December 8th - Add Color 
You should have several black and white comps with good potential. Today, color is added to the mix.  Bring small canvases (5 x 7", 6 x 8", etc.) that have the same ratio as your black and white comp. Paint quickly in large shapes. Don't put in detail or worry about edges. Black and white comps deal with design and value.  Colors have value but the property of chroma or intensity is added. A larger shape of low chroma may not have the same emphasis of as a small shape of high chroma.  

December 15th - The Big Picture
Choose the best color comp and enlarge it to a full size painting. Remember, the larger painting must be the same ratio as the color comp. Start by blocking in the large light and dark value design shapes. Because the majority of the design decisions have been made, painting should go quickly. You can focus on paint quality, edges, light temperature, detail and focal point. None of these are enough, however, to make a great painting if you do not start with a good abstract design.

A few words about reference:

Your goal is to become an artist and that is not so much about painting what you see as painting your response to it. Find a subject that inspires you, has meaning to you - not what would have meaning to me.  This is your journey.  Look at you family photos until you find one that excites you.

Very few reference photos, if any, make a good painting as they stand. Shapes need to be rearranged, focus identified, oddities eliminated, composition improved, etc. Don't search and search for the perfect photo. You won't find it. You will create a great painting by the creative decisions you make.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Gauntlet is Re-thrown!

We have done this before and several of you took on the challenge.  At the Colley Whisson's workshop he re-threw the guantlet!  I double dog dare myself and all of you to meet Colley's challenge of painting quick still lifes.

What kind of still life? Anything simple. No more than one to three objects. Don't focus on the finish. 

Colley's take: Use large brushes.  Don't spend more than a half an hour or so.  Focus on the light and dark masses (light and shadow).

My take: Concentrate on juicy, accurate color spots. One for each plane - front, side, top, turning, up-plane, reflected light. Anything that makes one spot on the object different from another. Make the stroke ... and let it be. 

Relax, this is practice! They can be small, 5 x 7" or so.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Realism Show at Laguna Wendt Gallery in December

The Wendt Gallery in Laguna Beach is having a realism show in December.  

Upcoming Laguna Beach Exhibition
Champions of Realism
December 2 - 27, 2010

Open Reception: Thursday, December 2 from 6 - 9 pm

A group exhibition featuring works by:

Joshua Langstaff
David Gray
Bryan Larsen
George Gonzalez
Glenn Harrington
Cesar Santos
Peter Van Dyke
Serge Marshennikoff
Tang Wei Min
Patrick Devonas
Jeffrey Hein
Casey Baugh
Juliette Aristides
And More...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sonoma Plein Air Festival

Here is the application for the Sonoma Plein Air Festival.   Additional information and the artist's choice awards for recent years are here.

Please join us this spring for a week in the beautiful wine country of Sonoma Valley! It all happens at the 7th annual Sonoma Plein Air Festival, May 23-28, 2011. 
Application Deadline: January 26, 2011
Application Fee: $50.00
Paint on location in private estates, wineries and coastal locations. Our area is chock-full of vintage barns, Victorian houses and water towers, eucalyptus groves and meadows dotted with Valley oaks, rolling grassy hills and wooded waterways - Plein Air heaven. Commune with other Plein Air artists from around the country.
We provide complimentary lodging, maps, suggested scenic locations,welcome wine reception, many meals, ticket to the Gala on Friday, and much more.

What's That Twitter Feed

You may or may not have noticed my Twitter feed in the column to the right in this blog.  I link through my Twitter account to many interesting art related blogs and websites.  So, glance at it occasionally.  Today I linked to a new blog devoted to the teaching notes of Frank Reilly, one of the greats in American teaching of the figure.  It's good reading.  You don't have to have a Twitter account follow the links on my feed.  Just click on them.  

Here is a link to The Reilly Papers by John Ennis.

PS  Yes, I do talk about the weather a lot on Twitter, too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Usual Palette

Tsk, tsk, tsk ... someone asks what our usual palette is!  The full palette is titanium white, burnt umber, burnt sienna, raw sienna, yellow ochre, cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow light or medium, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, ultramarine, cerulean or phthalo blue, viridian or phthalo green and sap green.  I'm about to drop the burnt umber and replace it and the burnt sienna with transparent red oxide.  Add the ultramarine blue to TRO and you have a cleaner, more transparent burnt umber.

Feel free to try Colley's palette.  There are fewer colors but they do get the job done. I missed the warm blue, though (cerulean or phthalo blue).  Maybe the sap, too.  You can mix a warm green with Colley's palette, but they tend to be opaque and, as you know - I love transparent darks!

Colley Whisson's Supply List

The medium Colley Whisson uses is Chroma Arcihval Oils Lean Medium. Dick Blick carries it. The medium contains an alkyd drier that speeds drying time between layers. This can be an advantage and a disadvantage ... so like all new materials and techniques, there is a learning curve. The quick drying time allows you to move through the stages of your painting quickly. It also shortens the time you can work wet into wet.

Colley paints with large flats (#10, #12) in both bristle and synthetic.  He also uses a #6 bristle filbert and a #2 or #3 synthetic liner brush.  As always, it's the artist at the handle end of the brush that counts!

His palette is Chroma Archival Oils in titanium white, light red ochre (Venetian Red in Winsor Newton), yellow ochre, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium orange, cadmium scarlet or cadmium red light, permanent alizarin, ultramarine blue and phthalo green.

Colley paints on a variety of surfaces, both board and canvas panel. The board was primed with amber shellac. The canvas was primed with acrylic gesso sometimes toned with a light wash of acrylic paint in red ochre. It does not matter what the surface, Colley is a master painter.

We will use our usual palette in December, but give the medium and larger flats and liner a try.  A substitute for the Archival Oil Lean is Gamblin Galkyd Painting Medium. It is slightly thicker in consistency but can be thinned with OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits). When using either, keep your brushes clean as you work, because the paint will set in your brush much more quickly than when working with paint alone.

David Curtis, "Painting with Impact"

I own all of David Curtis's books and never tire of looking at his art.  His newly released book, Painting with Impact, is a delight - both the text and images.  His paintings get better and better.  I recommend his book to anyone inteerested in landscape painting and plein air paintng.  He works effortlessly between watercolor and oil. 

Painting with Impact

These images are from David Curtis's website. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Kettleness Point

Gunnera by a Pond

Last Light, Staithes

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Earth Reds

Here is a color comparison of the earth reds.  Colley Whisson has light red ochre on his palette.  Archival Light Red Ochre by Chroma, an Australian paint company is made of PR101, a synthetic iron oxide, and is opaque.

Winsor Newton carries a number of earth reds, all made from PR 101.  They are all opaque with the exception of Transparent Red Ochre. (Click on the chart to enlarge it.)

Archival's Light Red Ochre leans to the red violet and WN Venetian Red appears to be the closest match.  Anything in this family will get you where you need to go.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What I'm Up To

Class was great yesterday.  Welcome to our new student, Susan. I love it when we work on drawing and faces.  Congratulations to everyone for jumping in and being fearless.  Tim, your best portrait drawing yet!

This morning I was up early and painting.  I corrected the lay-in from yesterday's demo - meaning I looked at shapes, shapes, shapes and made better decisions.

I started a painting using a limited complementary palette of blue/orange. The palette is from The Yin/Yang of Painting: A Contemporary Master Reveals the Secrets of Painting Found in Ancient Chinese Philosophy by Hongnian Zhang.  This book is out of print, but well worth searching out. There are major sections on value, temperature and chroma; a thorough explanation of the three complementary palettes; a look at creating texture and then three chapters where Hongnian Zhang applies all of the above to the three genres of still life, landscape and figure.  I highly recommend this book!  

The Yin/Yang of Painting: A Contemporary Master Reveals the Secrets of Painting Found in Ancient Chinese Philosophy

The blue/orange palette is cadmium red scarlet, cadmium orange and cadmium yellow deep as high chroma oranges with burnt sienna as a low chroma orange.  The blues are blue violet, cobalt blue and phthalo turquoise blue as high chroma blues with indigo as a low chroma blue.  The palette also includes titanium white and ivory black.  Notice there is a warm, cool and true hue for orange and blue.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reference Books for Drawing the Head

I recommend the following books for study of the head:

"Drawing: The Head (HT197)" by Andrew Loomis covers the proportions of the head for different ages, the placement of the features, visualizing the head in planes and the simple bone structure of the head and neck. $8.95

"The Human Figure" by John Vanderpoel focuses on the features of the face as shapes of light and shadow.  It is text dense and not an easy read, but very worth the effort.  The margin drawings illustrate the text description of the planes and muscles of each feature from different angles.  I recommend reading the text and copying the margin illustration in your sketchbook. $6.95
"The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head" by William Maughan is excellent for both drawers and painters.  It covers line versus value, form and cast shadows, negative shapes, the two masses of light and shadow, perspective in the head, proportion and anatomy of the features.  All of the drawings are in white and sanguine pastel pencil, but the information and approach applies to all media. $16.50 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Portrait Reference

These photos are courtesy of the WetCanvas archive.  I will post them temporarily so you can see if there is something you would like to work from.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monet Exhibit

Jacques Demarthon/Agence France-Presse

OK, who is organizing our Christmas trip to Paris to see the Monet exhibit at the Grand Palais?

Here is the link to online catalog of the exhibit.  It is the best online presentation I have ever seen.  You can enlarge every painting in the exhibit to full screen.

Here is the NYT's review.  The photograph of the two Monet's side by side has me drooling.  Click on the image in this blog post to enlarge it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Class Starts October 13th

We are on our break and class will begin on Wednesday, October 13th. Watch the blog over the break because I will be posting my work over the break - starting with the finish of last week's landscape demo.

Class in October will focus on portraits, or the face - so be looking for reference photos to work from.  Remember - no flash photography.  The best photos have a single light source.  Shots taken outdoors with only the light from the sun work great.  Unlike a portrait photographer, however, look for strong lighting that defines the planes on the face.  Pose your model with the sun coming from the right or left.  Photos with the sun full-on or backlit are more difficult to paint, because the planes are not clearly defined.

I'm going through reference now and will post some for you to choose from, if you don't find something in your photos.

Have a great break!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Frame Source in Irvine

The frame source that Michael Jacques recommends is Fine Art International, 13 Autry Street, Irvine.  Their phone number is 949-859-7898. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Compose It Grid

This is the grid that Jen had in class.  It is 8 x 10 inches and has six common canvas ratios divided into thirds.  It cost $15.29.  It will save money to combine postage.  If we order six there is a price break.  Think about it and we will put an order together in class on August 18th.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Let It Go

"Painting should never look as if it were done with difficulty, however difficult it may actually have been."  Robert Henri

A good reason to clear out old paintings, unfinished paintings or paintings you are ambivalent about is if they look labored, tired or overworked.  It doesn't matter if you've solved the problems.  If you've lost the joy, you've lost the painting.  Let it go.

If you need an art book to pack in your suitcase, read in bed before you turn the light out, or carry in your purse for when you're waiting in line - try The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.
The Art Spirit

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mini Comps - Color Notation on Site

I was  pleased with class last week.  All of you dove in and spent the entire class working in sketchbooks on black and white comps.  I feel that the process clicked for a few of you.  Do more this week at home.  They don't have to be landscape comps.  It is about seeing the abstract shapes in any design ... so you could do a comp of the breakfast dishes before you clear the table.

Remember next week in class, July 21st, you will be working in color on several small landscape paintings from your black and white comps. I will bring in examples.  In the afternoon, however, you are invited to stay and try mini color comps, no larger than 2 x 3".  This is a dry run for the class on the 28th.  Place only enough color spots to describe the light and shadow families of landscape.  Hopefully, this will develop into a quick notation system you can use on location, one that will record information about chroma and temperature (hue).  A black and white comp can record only value and design.  Why is this important?  Because a photograph simply does not record the wealth of information about color that a color sketch or even written notes taken at the scene can.  Also, if you take the time to do a color spot sketch or take color notes, you will remember the scene much more vividly that you would taking a photograph.

I will add some examples of the above to this post before class next week.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Class Syllabus July 2010

The floral still life from June was a breakthrough painting for everyone.  Color, composition and creative wild abandon for all.  Congrats!

We will focus on landscape painting this month, from your photos.  Please bring some to class.  You'll need a sketchbook, pencils or markers, small canvases (no larger than 8 x 10" or 9 x 12"), and on July 28th a gessoed piece of cardboard and a ruler.

If you have Kevin Macpherson's books, bring them to class because we will be referring to them.  I will recommend sections to read and field questions.

Consider trying Kevin Macpherson's limited palette.  See what you can mix from a few colors.  His palette is titanium white, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and cadmium yellow pale (lemon, pale, light are all OK). After you have worked with the basic palette for awhile, see what happens when you add phthalo green.

14 July
We'll take a look in class at pages 92 to 95 of Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color and pages 56 to 61 of Landscape Painting Inside & Out.  We will do some black and white comps from your photos. 

21 July
We will continue in the same vein, but move into a small color study.  Look at the demos on pages 80 to 88 in Landscape Painting Inside & Out.  Take it step by step.  Simple is the answer.

28 July
Look at page 69 of Landscape Painting Inside & Out, the description for Day 4 and the top and middle photos.  Bring lots of photos to class; put your name on them so we can pass them around.  Bring a piece of cardboard you have gessoed or some canvas paper.  We are going to work quickly and paint tiny color studies.

Class Notes:
  • We have the classroom for the full day this month, so paint into the afternoon.
  • Class meets on 7/14, 7/21 & 7/21.
  • I will hand out invoices on 7/14 for $105.
  • Adria will be back east this month for Marlena's second surgery. Marlena and Adria, you are in our thoughts.

Reference Books for Landscape Painting

I recommend the following books about landscape painting.  Start with Kevin Macpherson's books for your first foray into the subject.  

by Kevin Macpherson
Start here, this basic book covers the basic building blocks of painting - seeing color, mixing color, light and shadow and seeing shapes with a focus on small plein air studies.

Landscape Painting Inside & Out by Kevin Macpherson
A follow-up to Kevin's first book takes plein air sketches into the studio for larger works.  A masterful breakdown on the creative process and design.

A classic must-read, but not an easy read.  This book is dense on text, short on illustrations and requires attentive reading.  For the serious artist, but well worth the effort.  You will find something new with every reading.

A compilation of the best from many good books on the subject of landscape painting, including technical and equipment difficulties.  The author accurately sets up the challenges of painting light with pigment.  If you didn't know what you were up against as a painter, you will once you read this book.  The solutions are what your journey as an artist is about.

An excellent study of design and composition with a focus on landscape and still life.  The leap from "a painting is a picture of things" to "a painting is the abstract design behind the shapes" is a difficult concept to grasp.  This book will move you from making pictures to creating paintings.

A classic by one of the greats of the golden age of landscape painting.  Text-dense and a challenge to read.  Don't tackle this until you are well into the subject.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shawn Mckelvey at the Ralph Love Plein Air Festival

Shawn McKelvey won the People's Choice award at the 2010 Ralph Love Plein Air Festival, held the last weekend in June in Old Town Temecula. Here are two of his paintings. Great job, Shawn!

"Hot Summer Nights" by Shawn McKelvey

"Come Sit a Spell" by Shawn McKelvey

Thursday, June 24, 2010

July Critique Session for Artists

Temecula Valley Art League July Feedback Forum for artists is Tuesday, July 27th at 7:00 p.m. It is open to all artists and does not require membership in TVAL. Meet with other artists to critique work, network and exchange ideas. The first meeting is Tuesday, June 22th, at 7:00 p.m. The forum will continue to meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Bring a finished painting or a work in progress. The Feedback Forum is the fourth Tuesday of every month.

I was at the June critique forum. All levels of artist and media were represented. Several excellent artists and teachers assisted with the critiques. It was friendly and helpful and would be beneficial to any artist working to take their art to the next level.

TVAL Gallery is located at 41789 Nicole Lane, across from the Costco entrance on Overland. The gallery is in the Creekside Plaza along with Frankie's Steakhouse and Seau's.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Impressionism at the De Young

June 3, 2010, The Week Magazine

De Young Museum, San Francisco, through Sept. 6

"Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musee d'Orsay"

While the Musée d’Orsay undergoes renovations, two exhibitions assembled from its collection of impressionist paintings will travel the world. The De Young Museum in San Francisco is the only musuem that will host both.

While its historic building undergoes renovations, Paris’ Musée d’Orsay “is taking its act on the road,” said Charlie McCullom in the San Jose Mercury News. The world’s most important collection of impressionist and other 19th-century French art “has packed up its Monets and Manets, its Cézannes and Renoirs, even that painting of Whistler’s mom.” Two exhibitions assembled from the collection will be crisscrossing the globe this year, “but only one museum in the world will host both”: San Francisco’s de Young Museum. The first show to visit the de Young attempts to trace the creation of the impressionist movement by showing some of its finest exemplars alongside lesser-known contemporaries.

“Rather than presenting a mere hit parade,” the show illuminates what was truly so different about the impressionists, said Janos Gereben in the San Francisco Examiner. The then-dominant art style, academic painting, rendered historical and mythological scenes in a polished but often lifeless style. The impressionists introduced an appreciation of “visible brush strokes, an emphasis on changing light and movement, and a focus on everyday people.” Paintings such as Édouard Manet’s The Fifer and Gustave Caillebotte’s The Floor-Scrapers challenged viewers by showing them humble subjects from the real world. Likewise, artists such as Paul Cézanne confronted them with a style that seemed almost primitive, said Jennifer Modenessi in the Contra Costa, Calif., Times. The indistinct forms and rough surfaces of his Gulf of Marseille Seen From L’Estaque “must have looked very strange to people accustomed to slick, highly finished paintings.” It can be hard for today’s museumgoers, long accustomed to the impressionists’ innovations, to “look at these famous works of art with fresh eyes.”

It may be even harder for us to give the impressionists’ predecessors a fair shake, said Kenneth Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle. Take Adolphe-William Bouguereau’s Birth of Venus—an airy mythological scene that has all the “calculated false feeling, historical irrelevance,” and other qualities that the impressionists hated. Even if you agree with their judgments, however, you “must admire the technical dexterity” of such a work. This exhibition defines the fault lines between traditionalists and innovators, but also points out the complex connections among, say, mythologists like Bouguereau, symbolists like Gustave Courbet, and impressionists like Pierre Auguste Renoir. “Forget nomenclature for a while, and look hard at the rich range and variety of physical detail in the paintings.” Unless you travel to Paris, you’ll never see their likes again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Len Chmiel - Part 2

Len Chmiel, the more I see, the more I am in awe. Composition, abstract design, paint quality, quality of the light.

Len says, "A successful painting for me must satisfy my intent to convey beauty, however obvious, subtle, or ambiguous, while pushing the boundaries of reality rather than merely depicting it. "

All of these images are from Len Chmiel's website.

Shawn McKelvey at the Merc

The new art exhibit at the Merc in Old Town Temecula is landscapes by Temecula artist, Shawn McKelvey. Shawn was the Best of Show winner at the 2009 Ralph Love Plein Air event. The reception is this Friday, June 4th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. You can also see Shawn's paintings on his blog.

The Merc is at 42051 Main Street in Old Town Temecula. Click on the image above to see a larger version.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ralph Love Plein Air Event

The Ralph Love Plein Air event will be held in Old Town Temecula on Saturday and Sunday, June 26th and 27th. Entrants register in advance, at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening or at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday morning.

There is a $500 Best of Show purchase award and a $200 First Place award.

Further details are in the prospectus.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Len Chmiel

Len Chmiel

A few paintings by Len Chmiel, a new favorite I found a the "Masters of the American West" exhibition at the Autry Musuem.  I am impressed by the quality of the light in his paintings.