Jac’s 100 days of skies and trees

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Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 141 total)
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    No points.

    Day 27 6/08/2022

    • So I spent a bit more time finishing up the portrait for the Russian Drawing Course. The sanguine medium was definitely a struggle. As always, I’m in awe of what Iliya achieve. He captures a real sense of character, a momentary expression and atmosphere.

    • I also continued to work on the overcast landscape – mostly just experimenting shifting the values around, trying to understand why it isn’t a good picture. To be honest, struggling to draw any real lessons from it. I think I’ll give it another hour and then just write it off as a stinker.


    Practice Time: 2.5h

    No points.

    Day 28 7/08/2022

    This one has been sitting in my room for a while and the bails of haylage kept annoying me, so I took a bit of time to paint them out. I think it looks better without them.

    I also spent half an hour just pushing a bit of paint around on this one before deciding it was just never going to come good.

    With both the overcast picture and the painting above both being duds, I think I’m overdue a bit of a post-mortem. See if I can figure out why they’re no good and why I couldn’t make them better.

    Feeling a bit listless, I thought I’d practice another portrait. This one a bit rougher and less finished than the assignment for the Russian Drawing Course, but I liked how it turned out.

    Kearns Blog

    He suggests you should ask yourself with every brushstroke:

    • Is this brushstroke in the right place?
      • Mostly about drawing; measurement; relative size. When you place a note down, double check nature to ensure it’s right.
    • Is it in the light or is it in the shadow?
      • As no value occurs in both light and shadow, you should know which youre placing down.
    • Is it the right value?
      • Start with what you see, then adjust if needed based on design decisions. Always consider what plane you’re depicting (virtical, slanted, horizontal, etc)

    Practice Time: 4h 30

    No points.

    Day xx -/08/2022

    Unfortunately I picked up Covid, so I won’t be getting outdoors to do any landscapes for at least a few days. The timing sort of works out though, as I needed to get a bit of enthusiasm back after a few bad pieces.

    I did a quick sketch in charcoal of David’s nose.

    I also started another portrait in conte, but it was a total disaster. Ripped up the paper, which I never do, ha! So I restarted in pencil, but I’m struggling with this too – perhaps being unwell has just blunted my focus a bit. We’ll see how it turns out tomorrow.

    I also read a bit of John Constable’s Skies and watched an hour of Finding Your Voice As An Artist, which I never did finish…

    Practice Time: 2h 30

    No points.

    Day xx 09/08/2022

    Still a bit sluggish with Covid, so just working on some portraits.

    Man I struggled with this so much that I just sort of gave up. Whereas the portrait from 07/08 just flowed, this was a grind. I picked graphite as I thought it was my dry medium of choice!

    Onto the next…

    Kearns’ Blog

    Brushstroke checklist…

    • Is it the right color?
      • Start with the tube colour most similar to what you’re after, then question how nature differs.
    • Is it the the right chroma, that is, is it too saturated or is it too grave ( gray)?
    • Is the temperature of the color correct, is it too warm or is it too cool?

    Practice Time: 2hrs

    No points.

    Day xx 11/08/2022

    Practice Time: 2h 30

    Day xx 12/08/2022

    Practice Time: 2h 30

    I’m just about getting over this covid business – so hopefully it’ll be back to the challenge over the weekend.

    No points.

    Day 29 13/08/2022

    I’m still feeling a bit low-energy from covid, but I was determined to get out of the house. So I did a 1.5h drawing of a tree in a nearby field. I definitely need to get outside to draw more – I had little to show for my efforts. I attempted it using the same process for drawing casts – angular proportions, separation of light/dark, gradual build up of tone,etc. – but this took a long time without getting the effect I was after.   I’m not sure I’ve ever tried to draw a tree outside before? Inexperience prevailed.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t have a stretched paper panel prepped to continue the Russian Drawing Course, so I just started a still life of some sweet peas from the garden using a limited palette. I’ll probably pick this back up tomorrow.

    Kearns; Blog

    • He writes, “A common problem with the usual atelier trained artist outdoors is a tendency to try to slavishly copy nature.That literalness also leads them to paint a lot of viridian and cadmium yellow light greens, that while very common in nature, don’t usually make for an attractive picture.” This resonated with my experience of trying to colour-match vibrant new foliage.
    • He also writes, “Pixilation is not the only way to capture the look of nature, but its a good way. ” He’s talking about the appearance of brushstrokes portrayed an abstracted perception of nature. The pixel shape can be different, a dot, a slab, a slash, a rice shape. You must know before you apply a brush stroke which kind you intend.
    • “A brushstroke can run with, or along the form. Often this is used to show strength,” but brush strokes usually look better against the form. Brush strokes can obscure the form (basket weave pattern, or a flurry of strokes)
    • With every brushstroke you must consider the edge effect it’ll create.
    • Full question checklist:
      • Is this brushstroke in the right place?
      • Is it in the light or is it in the shadow?
      • Is it the right value?
      • Is it the right color?
      • Is it the the right chroma, that is, is it too saturated or is it too grave?
      • Is the temperature of the color correct, is it too warm or is it too cool?
      • Should the brushstroke be be visible or invisible?
      • Should the brushstroke run along, across, or obscure the form?
      • Is the edge painted correctly?

    Alla Prima II by Richard Shmidt
    I’ve had this sitting on my computer for a while not, and as I’m not currently reading a ‘how to’ book, I thought I’d give it a go. I read the first 20 pages – looks promising.

    • Three important components to painting:
      • Knowing why you want to paint your subject
      • Analytical grasp of what you see
      • Skill to control the process of painting.
    •  Painting is a visual language.
    • He also talks about taking breaks from painting to ‘stay fresh’. “Your work, after all, reflects you and your state of mind more than it reflects anything else”.
    • Practice sessions should have a specific goal in mind, a specific problem to solve. This involves a compromise between what you’d like to do and what’s actually possible.
    • Once you’ve decided what the subject of your practice is, ignore the rest. A full poorly rendered painting is worse than an incomplete but well put together sketch.

    Practice Time: 4h

    No points.

    Just ignore this…

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by JackJack.
    No badges. No points.

    Your work is outstanding! I’m drawn to the portraits because that’s what I’m concentrating on, but your landscapes are exquisite as well. Your commentary is very helpful too. Thank you for all the inspiration!

    No points.

    Thank you for the kind words Jan.

    I’m leaning towards a portrait 100 day challenge next, so we’ll see! I hope to see more of your work here and on Discord in the future.

    No points.

    Still stuck at home with Covid! It’s no real excuse for not having done any work with skies/trees – but I’ve been enjoying the Russian Drawing Course instead. I’m a big believer in riding waves on enthusiasm when they naturally occur, so long as the practice is still productive and helps in your long-term goals.

    I basically spent 2-3 days working on the portrait with hands assignment. Not easy as I struggle with charcoal.

    Practice Time

    14/08/2022 – 3h

    15/08/2022 – 1h

    16/08/2022 – 3h


    Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some reading…

    John Constable’s Skies

    So I’ve (finally) finished the book. It has opened my eyes to the importance of understanding the science of meteorology for landscape artists, from cloud classification to aerial perspective, a basic knowledge can heighten perception. I’ve picked up a “Short Introduction to Weather” to learn a bit more, and I might take a MOOC – science has never been my subject, but if it helps me paint!

    The early chapters were particularly useful. The latter chapters were more about Constable and his work, and were just as interesting but less informative from a technique point of view. There were a few titbits in the last chapter I thought worthy of noting down:

    • Ruskin’s ‘5 lanterns’ can be used to assess landscape works:Power : a measure of excellence of the finish, style, dexterity of artists touch, the colour, the tone. The strength of it’s message.
      • Imitation:  the illusion that transcends the appearance of the medium.
      • Truth: faithfulness of the imitation of nature, specificity. Not just any old tree, but a particular specie under specific conditions.It can be materialistic or moralistic.
      • Beauty: moral idea, everything unspoiled by man, reflective of God.
      • Relation: intellectual challenge of painting – success of artist putting across a message.

    Alla Prima II

    • Schmid talks avoiding thoughtless painting, “licking”. Instead, every stroke should be intentionally placed, then step back to analyse the difference between intention and reality, step back and adjust or move on. Every stroke.
    • Technical problems sit in one of three areas:
      • in the subject
      • in the circumstances you’re working in
      • in you
    • Usually, it’s you. So you have to ask yourself what you’re doing wrong. When painting from life it can only be one of two things:
      • Painting something that is not there in the subject, without a good reason.
      • Not painting something that is there
    • The problem will rest in one or more of the four visual elements: colour, value, drawing, edges.
    • A second technique, which I hadn’t heard of or considered before, is it to use a sheet of paper to slowly reveal your work – analyse each section as it’s revealed. This help isolate problem areas and might help you identify the cause.


    No points.

    Day 30 +31 17-18/08/2022

    Back to the challenge. The weather is pretty ropey out there, so I’m going to work on a master study of a piece by Edward Seago. I’ve also got a book of his paintings which I recently purchased, which I’ll dip into for insight into his technique.

    Practice Time: 3.5h (over today, more practice needed!)

    Backyard Meteorology 
    As part of my goal to learn landscape painting, I think I’d benefit from understanding some of the basics of meteorology. I like landscape pictures that describe a precise moment and place, and implicitly a specific atmospheric and weather conditions. So I found this  6 week MOOC that I’m going to run through on the side. Some notes:

    • Unite of pressure is millibars (mb).
    • Rapidly decreasing pressure, say 980mb, suggests approaching storms.
    • Clear day might be around 1030mb.
    • Atmosphere made up of air parcels, which are acted upon by pressure. The larger the pressure the difference, the strong the wind.
    • Buoyancy. Air that is warmer than it’s surroundings is less dense, will rise under a buoyant force. (think air balloon). There’s a continuous process of air warming, rising, expanding (letting off energy in the process), and cooling.
    • Wind speeds at ground level are often lower than at higher altitudes due to transfer of force when it hits objects, friction, in other words.
    • Air pressure decreases with altitude. Think of gravity pulling all the air parcels downwards.
    • Air cools about 5c every 1000km in height. (relevant for clouds) (or 3.5f per 1000ft)
    • Most weather happens in the troposphere, the lowest level of the atmosphere. The upper limit of the troposphere is called the tropopause, the height of which varies based on latitude (e.g. ‘bigger skies’ closer to the equator)


    The Cloudspotters Guide

    •  Stratocumulus form when there is inversion – a warm layer of air above a cooler layer. So as warm cumulus clouds rise they hit the warm layer and are prevented from rising further, spreading out instead into stratocumulus.
    • Stratocumulus can also form when stratus clouds gather in clumps caused by wind, or (in thin layered stratus) by warming from the sun.
    • Four ways which heat travel: convection (warm air carries heat upwards), conduction (heat travels by touching), vaporisation (like sweat, vapour carries off heat), and radiation

    Edward Seago

    • Thicker layers of paint in the foreground to give the illusion of rough ground; thinner washes to suggest distance.
    • Tended to use a limited palette: flake white, y. ochre, a. crimson, french ultramarine, blue black / indigo, chrome yellow, viridian, earth red, vermilion, and burnt sienna.
    • Worked on a highly textured surface with ridges and whorls, allowing the application of thin translucent layers that still had texture.
    • Employed a lot of visible brushwork.
    • Sometimes he represented foliage using a palette knife with several colours on it, which would mix on the canvas.
    • Other times he simply loaded a clean spatula and applied a single bold edge of paint.
    • The book talks about Seago becoming more selective and discerning only with familiarity; that he recommended painting from sketches and colour notes when painting new places, only going out of doors once familiar.
    • Apparently he had a great memory, which he felt could be trained, and often worked up detailed pieces from memory.
    • He relied heavily on disciplined sketching and note-taking.
    • He worked dark to light, with tricky bits like figures left to last.
    No points.

    Day 32 18/08/2022

    • Finally tested negative for Covid, so I got outdoors for the first time in a couple weeks (at least). I intended to do a longer 1-2hr sky study, but it was too late and the rapidly darkened. Not before (what I believe were) cumulus fractus clouds jolted quickly across the sky. Wind speeds were 8mph, from the south-west (so left to right in the picture), or “gentle breeze” on the beaufort scale.

    • Now that I’ve completed the Russian Drawing Course up to the portrait, I’ve started to pick up Todorovitch’s Introduction to Painting Portraits course. I started this a while ago but stopped because I lacked the drawing skills. I’m hoping now I can keep up a side practice of drawing and painting portraits, which I plan to do more of in the winter when getting outdoors is less of an option. So with that in mind, I started to rewatch his grisaille demos and start the initial assignment.


    Alla Prima II

    • Chiarascuro – the use of high contrast of light and shadow to not only show form, but also to impart dramatically moving light effects. Pioneered by Carravaggio.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by JackJack.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by JackJack.
    No points.

    Day x 19-20/08/2022

    For about the third time, I’ve accidentally closed Chrome whilst several days of notes were typed up ready to be posted! Silly way to do it really, I should start using a note taking app…

    I spent two days watching Introduction to Portrait Painting, working on the exercise. I’m not going to count these towards my goal until I get in the regular rhythm of skies/trees. I don’t mind the occasional deviation from the challenge, but I’m spending more time on portraits at the moment than skies and trees!

    Anyway, ended up with this:

    Practice Time: 3h

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by JackJack.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by JackJack.
    No points.

    Day 33 21/08/2022

    I got outside for a couple hours of painting – close to a spot where I completed a little panel a month or so ago, that is, I think, the best thing I have painted to date. My plan was to see if I could bring together a composition that might be suitable for a much larger painting.

    Conditions: Winds from SSW, 13-15mph. A lot of cloud cover. It seemed like a mix of nimbostratus and stratocumulus. There was passing rain, settling into persisting showers.

    Unfortunately I got caught in the rain. I was also stopped a few times by people passing by for a chat, so it wasn’t the most productive two hours. I worked on it quite a lot when I got home.

    The plan is to leave it dry and now, as it’s thick with paint, and to see where to take it.

    Meanwhile, I’ve had a productive few days of reading too. Unfortunately, my notes got wiped out when I closed Chrome(so I’ve started using Notion).

    But I’ve been reading up on Alla Prima 2 and watching Backyard Meteorology (MOOC).

    Practice Time: 4.5h

    No points.

    Day 34 22/08/2022

    • I read a bit of Cloudspotters Guide on altocumulus clouds.
    • I read a few entries on Stapleton Kearns’ blog, mostly about the business of the art world. Instructive, even if a potential career out of it is years away. He mentions having 6-10 finished and framed pieces to show galleries, and having an online portfolio (probably something of a novelty in 2009). Good things to aim towards in the upcoming years. He also provides tips for writing a bio – god help me if I ever have to do that.
    • I went outside for 45 minutes to do a sky study. This was less successful than my previous – the quick moving skyscape quickly becomes overwhelming. The clouds stop resembling genuine formations. I think it’d be good practice to complete studies of different cloud types from reference…. I might do that when I get to the end of the cloudspotting book.

    I’ve also continued to work through Introduction to Portrait Painting, still working through the grisaille studies.

    Practice Time: 1h 30m


    Day 35 23/08/2022

    • I’m continuing to work through Introduction to Portrait Painting. I struggled with the drawing of this one.

    • I’m also making my way through a book on Edward Seago – good for inspiration.
    • I also watched Week 1 lesson of Intro to Inking. My hope is to have a more portable drawing medium where I can go out and scout compositions or undertake sketches for larger oils. It does mean I’m working on a few classes at once, which I do try to avoid…
    • I’ve also started on another Seago master study, but only had 30 minutes to get in an initial tonal drawing. More on that tomorrow.

    Kearns’ Blog

    • I’m reading more of Kearn’s blog, he’s continuing the theme of the art business – not a current consideration of mine, so I’ll come back to this section when needed. But he does mention that frames should cost no more than 5% of the painting’s value – which doesn’t seem a lot. £500 painting, can you get a frame for £25?
      He also writes about McEntee (who I need to research), and how his paintings carry a nostalgic and melancholic sentiment – contrasting it with those whose only goal is to paint the scene before them. “If you only paint the day, all you will get is meteorology.”
      This is very thought provoking because, admittedly, I had considered ‘painting the day’ to be of prime important. What I admire in Constable and Ruisdael is the accuracy of the time and moment, the lack of an ideal. But perhaps there’s something to be said for shaping the here-and-now in a way that is rich with sentiment.
      Kearns shows this work by McEntee, which is a good example. It is definitely a specific place and season, but it also isn’t just a weather report. It does suggest, as Kearns points out, the memory of specific place and season, “a far away sadness”, rather than the crisp experience of the moment.
      The passages in this blog post are among his best (thus far, I’m only in 2009) – really gets you thinking about what sentiment I wish to express in my own paintings…

    Jeff Watts video

    • I’ve watch Jeff Watt’s video “How to train to become a successful working artist” a few times, but I listened to again as I worked. Here are some notes that stood out to me:
    • What are my short term, mid , long term goals?
      How is my time allocated? How much time do I have for art? break down your day, make commitments for art, know what is mandatory and what you can drop.
      Repetition is key.
      Emulation is the fastest way to proficiency – more master studies!
      1-3 years as a beginner should be focused on drawing, charcoal will help transition to painting – but it should be 70/30 drawing/painting.
      4-6 years


    Practice Time: 2.5h

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by JackJack.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by JackJack.
Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 141 total)

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