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Renoir's Blog

I sometimes feel like posting my paintings is begging for attention, but since I do want to receive feedback, I've chosen now to just post paintings as I go along on one post/thread.  

So, I kind of went off the rails last night. I had a small canvas upon which I had started a very flawed painting. So I plied the palette with burnt umber, ultramarine blue, and alizarin red to prepare for a new painting sometime this week. 

But the urge to paint hit me and I started "sculpting" from the dark background:

Never true to the original, the painting ended up being an amalgamation of many photos taken as well as a live reflection.

I have to say, this was extraordinarily fun! I am now convinced that the only way to paint is from real life. Yes, I will get down to some serious self-discipline and kick out some true-to-Carder paintings, but while I'm waiting for my studio, the best thing to do is to keep a paintbrush in hand and the fire in the belly.

The discussion of abstract art has been on my mind since there currently is a post about it. So lo and behold as I looked through my phone I saw this lovely composition. I just love it. But then, I love colors. Big juicy colors. 



  • Is the first photo the final painting? :)

    I have blog on the forums too for general updates and some non-realism paintings.
  • @Richard_P - yes, I think that will be the final painting. I like it being raw and very wet. I focused on more clarity with the left eye so that would be the focus and you can see as you go away from that, the lights/darks become chunkier and more 'abstract'. To be honest, these kind of exercises help me understand light/dark even more. Painting is such a challenge to the brain's understanding of common things. I always fight against a stereotypical concept to try to see the blocks of light rather than a line drawing.
    I know Mike Derby has a blog I don't remember that you had one, Richard?
  • All painting is good , I like the free brush work on this - keep posting and keep going at it I say 
    I personally have not done anything other that DMP for the last few months, so I might be due a more loose approach soon,..
  • The way you painted your hair is really good - look at the gap between the hair and the top of the forehead - there's nothing there, but it's perfect.  Negative space.  Glad to hear you thoroughly enjoyed this.

    The blog is a good idea.  Posting paintings is more like begging for feedback and guidance than attention, I feel.  Don't hold back from posting paintings - it's certainly what I want to see most here.  But a blog will give us a continuous timeline, which is a way to watch you experiment and grow as you move along your path.  @Richard_P's blog is one of the great threads on this site, you watch him go from toy giraffe to a flawless Vermeer reproduction.  Same with @MikeDerby's Portrait blog, or Austin blog, @alsart's cheese/wine/bowl epic - great threads.
  • @PaulB - Yes, the negative space with the hair was a startling discovery - really exciting. It isn't that I'm not knowledgeable of the concept, it's the application which is the challenge. So being able to experiment and discover is really part of the process and quite an enjoyable one at that. So perhaps I will use this primarily to show 'process' and learning rather than a focused, complete work. 

  • @PaulB - Yes, the negative space with the hair was a startling discovery - really exciting. It isn't that I'm not knowledgeable of the concept, it's the application which is the challenge. So being able to experiment and discover is really part of the process and quite an enjoyable one at that. 
  • edited January 2018
    I like how you used the term "sculpting" from the dark background, in your intro above. I am also a sculptor and this has occurred to me through oil painting process as well, that I was sculpting to 3D from my background but with oil painting technique. I was struck with inspiration by that insight and the seemingly parallel similarity while painting my own portrait recently. Glad you are having fun and enjoying it!
  • @Forgiveness - That is awesome! I would love to sculpt some day, it would be fantastic to truly feel the art emerging. Sometimes I get just a little taste of that when I draw the human form... feeling the face emerge from nothingness. 
    What do you sculpt? What materials do you use? So fascinating!
  • Like running barefoot through a meadow not caring about all the cowpies. Very liberating when we follow our impulses and so, so fulfilling when we get results like this. Congratulations. It's a wonderful painting and something you can look at to raise your spirits when you're feeling down.
  • edited January 2018
    @Renoir thank you for asking. I used to carve in soapstone, small animals and ornaments, and wood, making small musical instruments, mainly wood flutes, kalimba, some stringed instruments (harps), some small drums, as some parts with ornate carving for decorating them, some parts made of steel made by my hand. I also worked with clay in pottery, molding and carving. I am still in process of carving parts of wood for a marionette/puppet of myself for assembly later, I may use it in an oil painting sometime. Most everything has been set aside since around this time last year to focus mostly on oil painting, although I recently made a pochade box for plein air and about to make a 2nd one (smaller). Also not good to do carving or wood work in the same studio space as painting for dust and particles.
  • @Forgiveness I never realized there were so many ways to carve and sculpt. It sounds like you are very creative and enjoy doing lots of new things. 
  • I like the spoon, abstract but still a spoon, nicely done with the shape on the right jar @Renoir
  • That jar on the right is perfect, as is the metal spoon.  I'm impressed with that spoon.  When I look closely it's dabs of white.  When I stand back it's a silver spoon.

    Sorry to hear about turmoil, and I agree about painting as a balm.
  • Looks lovely! just keep on painting.
  • You did this without an underdrawing?!  I agree with @PaulB . Great work, @Renoir!   :)
  • Thank you, @alsart @paulB @Forgiveness @tassieguy
    I really appreciate your encouragement. I think using a blog makes it easier for me to see what direction the paintings are going as a whole and I feel free to post experiments or incomplete art. That frees me up a lot. When I focus on 'perfect' I produce nothing. 
  • RenoirRenoir -
    edited January 2018
    So this morning in my half sleep I was thinking (dreaming?) about where I feel led in these endeavors. Ultimately, I would like to paint like the 'masters' or maybe I should say in the style of the masters.

    In the immediate term, I think a good way to learn is small still lifes with a variety of simple materials. For example, I would have never guessed to have any success with metals and yet several of you commented on the spoon above. Those are the types of experiences which are a delightful discovery... I have no idea how I will approach it, but I match some of the colors and make sure to have a contrasting, not blended, highlight, although not white unless the color requires it. And when it happens and turns out to look like the material and it's just blotches of paint? well, that just tickles my fancy and I want to do more. 

    The other thing I discovered while painting is that there is the slightest whisper of reflection in the belly of the cream colored jelly dish which is hard to see in a photograph but can be seen in real life. I still desperately need to work on ellipses, but I have to say, I think the ellipses on both glass jelly jars turned out well, but oh my goodness, the pot and the tea saucer... ! So I will work on some saucers and covered tea pots or jelly pots in some future paintings. 

    La joie de l'art!
  • That green line around the saucer really brings out the reds. The spoon is really good too. Painting to make yourself feel better is the best reason I can think of.
  • @Renoir I think it is fabulous that you are painting - I didn't see this post until just now and I also LOVE your spoon and the jar and I know you didn't finish the left side but hope you find motivation to finish because it could be a very nice painting.  I think the white sugar bowl is trying to take attention away from the spoon and jar on the right as far as focal points.  I would even love this if the white sugar bowl was gone - it would make a nice composition but what the hell do I know.  Thank you for sharing! I hope your turmoil ends soon. 
  • @BOB73 - that is a good point about the green. The actual objects, which I will show in a photo below, do not really go together, there's a bit of discord among them so I'm glad you bring this up. I could swap out the jelly jar and replace it with a coordinating sugar bowl to the tea saucer and that would bring out more of the green. I'm terrified of doing any of the patterns and I was just satisfied with hinting at the color and pattern of the saucer.

    @Julianna - I looked at that jar on the left side this morning and thought the same, I would like to finish it. I may tone down that jelly jar and make it into a sugar bowl which is much smaller but would bring out the complimentary green to all the red tones. We'll see how far I get. Doing lots of laundry and house cleaning today so I may not have uninterrupted time.

  • Honestly, I try to stay away from painting art objects, and the design on this Villeroy & Boch is, to me, really more like art. @Julianna maybe I should just do as you say and eliminate that monstrous white jam pot and not include the sugar bowl... unless maybe I create a very simplified version of it....
  • I painted from life, not from this photo. I've become far more aware of the extent to which photos distort objects and the correct lighting is difficult to capture. Of course, this is using a cell phone so go figure...

  • Musings:

    When I first started this endeavor, my college roommate, a professional artist, kept telling me that I needed to retrain my brain... create new paths to seeing things and then translating to paint which viewers could understand.

    I had always been the sketch artist and she was always the painter. My brain is entrenched in its pattern of thought.

    What I am beginning to comprehend is depth created by form.

    Creating depth to me is critical to any painting. Absent this we create a flat image
    To a degree, depth is not so important in drawing because the lines give you the idea of the thing. But to a large extent, painting is like many pixels in all different shapes and sizes, so that at its core it is abstraction, but abstract as a plane rather than as a line. 

    Mark Carder has perfected this by breaking down each form to its smallest part and in following his course we can re-train our brains. For a number of reasons, getting to that level of detail has been impossible for me, but conceptually, I get how important it is. I did follow it as well as possible with some early flower paintings, but I find now that I really love the feel of paint how it slides over the canvas and how with a turn of the paintbrush a mass of color can become a living thing.

    Ultimately, the final product is always subpar, but the experience of creating something from nothing, like Adam from a scoop of mud, transformed to a living being. That's what it feels like, doesn't it?

  • edited January 2018
    I love that you are painting from life!!!  Isn't it nice not to worry about exposure!  Ok, I collect cups and saucers and china and silver pieces etc... so I am biased to beautiful dishware etc...    That jam pot is distracting and needs it's own painting  I am trying to edit myself lately so I would even think of taking out the far left jar also - you'll have 3 beautiful and interesting items and no competition.  It is just my instinct though and my opinion - perhaps others can chime in but for me, I think you're done - paint out the left jam jar and the white...........   :) .      

  • edited January 2018
    oops I think we were typing at the same time - I missed your latest post.  You may be interested in this artist - she has beautiful bowls, vases etc... and I think she renders them beautifully.  It is interesting how sometimes, she takes the pattern out for simplicity - the sound is HORRIBLE so you may need to crank the volume way up but I love to watch her process      
  • Oh my gosh! She is so good and wow, she moves fast! Ok, this points out to me that I need to take time out to make a full batch of SDM and put all my tube paint in jars. Mixing on the palette doesn't cut it. Sometimes my paint is far too dry.

    @julianna - My mother collected china, tea cups and saucers. In fact, before I did this most recent still life I had set something up to paint with items from her, but it was too complicated, too emotional, and I just couldn't get a good composition. 

  • Patterns? We don't need no stinking patterns. We got shapes! We got colors! We got light and we got shadows. We don't need no stinking patterns!  no rules, you don't have to paint the patterns just watch out for the reflections in other objects those unseen patterns make, @Renoir ;
  • Good, bad, or ugly, I added the matching sugar bowl into the mix. This is sugar bowl placement only. I"ll put in the real colors tomorrow. I got to paint today.
    It is a good day to paint.
  • I keep thinking that is Geneva paint in a jar.  I think there is a symmetry problem in the sugar bowl lid.  Love that spoon.
  • Terrific. That jar has square sides and you managed to represent that perfectly in spite of the elliptical at the top and bottom. The highlights on the jar and spoon, although subtle, suggest there should be some obvious highlights on the sugar bowl and saucer that I don't see. Maybe it's just me.
  • Trying to complete the bowl and saucer. Once I have the colors down, I'll need to buffer the whites. I think they may be too much next to the jar and spoon. 
    Right now painting as a stress relief so I'm not real focused. 

  • edited January 2018
    I know you're painting from life, but if you turn your painting upside down and look at it in a mirror it is easy peasy to make jars, bottles etc... symmetrical. You may see something in that sugar bowl that will be an easy fix.  I almost always paint bottles, jars, etc... upside down in the end. Have fun!  I like this composition much better.  Isn't painting wonderful!  Keep going!
  • Thanks Julianna, good advice :-) at this point any and all feedback is appreciated. :-)
  • The only thing that appears off to me is this little "kink" in the rim of the lid.  It's really minor, but it coincides with the edge of the sugar thing, which seems to accentuate it to me.

    I've done some recent from-life still life simple little paintings using a fat brush and no rigger or magnifier.  It sad to see how poor they look.  It is difficult to do well.

    But this is wonderful, I'm very impressed with the way the sugar thing and the plate have been improved.
  • Holy Toledo! is this the same painting? Wow!
  • Wow, @PaulB, you have a keen eye! Still working in that sugar bowl.  Usually I give up well before this so it's kind of an exercise in perseverance.

    I can't even imagine that your still lifes are as poor as you claim!

    When I'm done with this I plan on doing a single flower from a photo. 

  • @BOB73 yep, same painting. I'm working on that sugar bowl now. I've decided to take a stab at it because it's so complex, at least it is for this novice. I'm going to take a stab at some of the pattern and the leaf and flower(?) applique on the top of the bowl. 
  • I need to do something with this ugly background.  I cannot seem to fix the edge between sugar bowl and jelly jar.
  • The pattern looks very good. I'm at a loss to suggest a remedy for the background or the space between jar and sugar bowl.
  • RenoirRenoir -
    edited January 2018
    this was a 45 minute quickie. Haven't decided if I'll do more on it or.set up a new one for a serious painting. I really just did it for the colors. The flowers are.a.mess,.bit.gnd leaves aren't awful. 

    On a happy note, I'll get to I will move into the room that will serve as my studio this week. I'm very excited. First, because I'll be able to organize my equipment, and second, because I'll get my dining room back!
  • RenoirRenoir -
    edited January 2018
    Woworking from left to right now on second flower. I find flowers challenging to create overall depth when each petal has its own depth. Trying to overcome that here.
  • Bringging the tdddark backgroundd downn haas helped and the first flower is terrific.
  • another tip: don't try to type with superglue on your fingers.
  • RenoirRenoir -
    edited January 2018
    @BOB73 ; I had to google translate to decipher superglue language Ha!!! Yes, I agree I'm happier with this background. I have a little secret though. When I go to arts and crafts shops I look for oil paint on clearance and experiment with colors. In this case, the red background is Venetian red mixed with some ultramarine blue/burnt umber and an occasional splash of yellow ochre and a dash of viridian green.. if any of that makes sense. I feel a lot freer to experiment as a result and that makes painting fun :-)

  • I know what you mean about the additional colors. When I look at my palette with just the primary colors I think they look lonely and unhappy. I love yellow ochre. My keyboard was malfunctioning before that's why I made the superglue comment.
  • This is looking great 
  • Yes , very impressive! 
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