Wednesday, 29 November 2017

What to do if one's ill to "stay in shape"

Last week I had a flu. It wasn't anything bad, just clogged nose, slight fever but it was really hard to concentrate on any bigger endeavour. So I made just few sketches from my bed.

The first is done as a memory with a chat that I had in October with a principal of a JO-JOO circus that visited our town - mr. Jaromir Joo. I made some sketches of Siberian tigers over there (see my old post here)



It is in my watercolour/gouache sketchbook and is about 7x8 inches done in gouache. Picture is done from photograph that I'd taken before he allowed me to have a peek through the open window of the cage with his 600 pound Siberian tiger (To make my self a picture without bars of that cage). After that we had a chat about tigers and life in general. He is a clever fellow that has contributed to the rescue of Siberian tigers with 25 cubs bred within his circus.  

Second sketch is about 8 inches tall and it is from a photo of a miner from internet. In this case I worked with oils. It is hard to work from life if you're confined within your room in order to beat a flu out of yourself. Those sketches are means of staying "in shape" and not to forget your craft. With any given craft it's like a memory training or going to the gym - after while your skill can fade a bit if you don't use it often. 




This is not to say that I have acquired any sufficient skill for painting and drawing I just wanted to remain the skill that I have so far :-) Please notice that I'm aware that there is a long way to master my craft. I want to point out that I think it's important to maintain your skill (stay in shape) in some degree even if you feel like doing nothing. 

So stay in shape guys in whatever is your vocation. 

Pete


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

NEW Painting - Winter's coming.

Hi all of you. I've been thinking that would be nice to share with you how I made my recent painting called "Winter's Coming"

I visited my brother's place on 31st of October to help him just a little bit with the wood that he uses for his heating. After some chopping and cutting I made a few pictures of him in the cellar making finer wood chips. So here's my reference:


I got pretty lucky that a picture in its self had a quite good staging. I tried to get myself going with ballpoint pen preliminary (plus white chalk on toned paper):


BW preliminary sketch for "Winter's coming"

While doing a sketch I realised that in order to tell the story and the movement i.e. "gesture" I have to emphasise few things - so I intended to do the hands and the axe little bit bigger to push them closer to the viewer and to suggest more movement in my brother's right hand. After that I proceeded to small colour study in oils:


Preliminary colour study for "Winter's coming (4x6 inches on canvas) (you can see a little bit bigger hands and the axe and action lines in his right hand)

For this study I pushed colours in his hat and in the axe toward green to compliment reddish colour of his trousers. I declared that a warm grey of the hoodie is ideal and it will support both compliments. After that I proceeded for a final painting.  


Winter's coming - beginning stage

Above is my beginning stage of the final painting. I started with a gesture, emphasising hands and the axe even more and putting even more movement to the whole body. I even tried to put more "air" into the back of the hoodie. I strived to have little bit cartoonish feel (something like Norman Rockwell). I would like to point on the fact that it is not about a mere coping of the photograph but more about telling a story and push your narrative as further as possible (but still maintaining believability) So this is basically the third time that I draw a picture freehand. 
As for materials side of things I used a MDF board with two coats of white gesso and final coat of transparent gesso with tooth which I like so much (I don't like it slick). I used water soluble oil colours Cobra and great brushes Rosemary and Co. As I worked I used my photo reference in BW for proportions and my colour study for my mixtures. 
Painting took about 3 days of interrupted work (I've got troubles to start - yep you have that right - procrastination) and I tried to stand the whole time in order not to lose sight of a whole picture and to maintain gesture within the picture - you can lose it so easily when you get into detail. 

Winter's coming (17x24 inches, oil on gessoed board)

I love this kind of narrative work. There's something familiar in it I think even for a person who never met my brother. I hope that picture can give you a feeling of home, warmth or maybe makes you think about state of mind of the subject (I made him look somehow mysterious)
My opinion is that it is not about a single interpretation but more about what you (my audience) can derive from it based on your experience, feeling etc. And that is so magical in art I hope and that's the reason why I love it so much.

Stay warm, winter's coming! Petr

Monday, 13 November 2017

Evening news series No.III - quickie done from life within 1,5 hours

On this Friday the 10th of November I tested my new home-made field sketch easel in my parents living room, where I tried to depict my father watching evening news in this case . It has been done within 1,5 hours from life without any editing touches afterwards. I had that time range firmly set in the beginning of the session so that I was forced not to fuss about which I tent to do. The result is juicy application of the oil paint and a quick sketch that I'm quite happy about:


Father watching news (oil on board sketch)

It is really important to train oneself to paint from life, it will give you more confidence over time I hope. It's also more fun than photographs where you can't really soak in the character of your sitter. 
(More of a Evening news series here and here)

In the future post I will share with you how I made my sketch easel. 

Petr

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Morning cuddle painting

Recently I gave you a suggestion which of the preliminary sketches should I use for a oil painting. I was a nerve wreck to already start with my lovely oil colours so I made my pick. Since I love to paint people and animals I picked as a topic of my painting my mother with her morning coffee (5am) whilst cuddling her cat Symba. I picked my mother again because I knew that I can do a better job than in the past (see posts: here and here) because those were a paintings for time (around 2 hours) and now I had more time since I was working from photo.

To remind you I used this preliminary sketches of the hot spots of the picture:


After I'd acquired feeling for the expressions of my subjects I started with painting itself on very heavy watercolour paper (600 gms) with two coats of white gesso and final layer of transparent gesso which gives you more of a tooth which I prefer for more detailed work.

Again big thanks to rosemary brushes - working with them is just pure pleasure.

Morning cuddle (oil on gessoed board 10x14 inches)

I really enjoy this kind of illustrative work with traditional media so you can look forward to see more of the work like this. (If you enjoy it of course)

Stay warm beside a nice hot beverage and make sure that you have someone/something to cuddle - winter's coming!

Petr  



Thursday, 9 November 2017

Preliminary sketching

I love to sketch with ballpoint pen and white chalk on toned paper in order to find out which idea would work as a bigger painting and which not. Here's some of my sketches coming from various family members, the final sketch is about 4 by 4 inches in oils - it's my father peeling potatoes expression :-) )

Mother's cat



Father peeling potatoes 1st take


Father peeling potatoes 



My brother chopping wood (future painting "Winter's coming")



Mother cuddling her cat



My brother


Father peeling potatoes

We will see which one will make it as a bigger piece.

Have a nice November everyone..
Petr


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Common place sketches

If you have a time and you have some gouache/watercolour/pen and ink or whatever with you take your time to sit in front of silent/humble/sincere place in your home and appreciate the quiet quality of that place. You'll discover that time can fly while completely silent trying to convey the place on the paper. I try every now and then to sit down with my gouache sketch pochade box and do that very thing. This small pictures feature my "raised and born" house where I'm living right now after my arrival from England. 


It is on one sheet of 300gms watercolour paper (quite rough texture) witch is part of my pictorial pocket journal. Give me a nod via comment section if you want to see it in its wholeness. I can do a post or video which would run quickly trough all the pages...
I love common places like this, There's something divine behind the places like this....

Petr

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Portrait Of My Good Old Friend

On Friday night the 13th of October right after I finished this painting I visited our good old jazz club in Zdar to see my friends that I hadn't seen for a bit (as you maybe know I've spent past two years in England working). It was a cheerful event full of music (It was a jam session night - after some consideration and some wine I resumed to play some old tunes too - it was awful I have to admit :-) ). But most importantly I met a friend that I haven't seen for a while - a great singer and fabulous conversation buddy Zuzana (she likes to talk about life and its meaning and I dig this topic a lot!) So I invited her to come over on Saturday to just talk about life whilst painting her. And She agreed!
It was my third oil portrait attempt in three back-to-back days, big challenge as well - soft light plus young flawless face without wrinkles is deadly combination.

In the first BW picture you can see the setting at the end of the session (3 hours) with her proportion slightly off (I blame her for getting me distracted because all of those interesting topics that we had been discussing :-)


Finished work at the end of the session with Zuzka in my vista

I got a break from the painting till the evening that day. I put my photo on BW to force myself to use colour just from my mixtures done on my palette and adjusted her proportion accordingly. So here's the final painting:


"Zuzka" (oil on board 11x14 inches)

Do you have any suggestion, tips etc how to stay alert and present while doing a life portrait and having a conversation with a subject at the same time? I find it very challenging!

But challenges are here to be overcome so everyone near Zdar who would have some free time is welcomed in my humble room to sit for me!

Sincerely Petr 



Sunday, 29 October 2017

Colour study - Midday afternoon still life

Two weeks ago It was still warm outside so I set myself with my french easel on our terrace and set a small still life near mason wall of our house to see how direct sunlight can effect colours. It was a lovely experience. I have tried to be faithful to what I was seeing but maybe I emphasised some colour a little bit just in sake of my understanding that every shape have a definite colour family - even shadows. I didn't use black in order force myself to use chromatic content every time I put brush onto my painting surface.


This is my setting to se roughly the composition (I put it in BW - I hate a colours of photos - Especially from iPhone - sorry apple :-) )


This is basically first laying with and beginning of some details - In this stage I tried to have every colour shape of a definite colour family


Here's final study (oil on canvas primed with oil primer - I love the surface, 8x7 inches)

Both pictures are taken under a balanced light temperature 5500 K to have colours as truthful as possible.

I have some question for artist friends - has someone tried to study colour from a colourist Henry Hensche's perspective? I'm reading this "free be" article from Camille Przewodek's web pages:


I get an idea from it and I have actually tried beginning stages of study described in the article. But opinions shared in the article are quite strict and I would say doctrine like. For example in mids of it its author says that it is painting strictly with colour and not with values - but I think he misses the point that value is inherent aspect of colour and you can't simply get it out of an equation. 

Another point is that all the people suppose to have a wrong bias for colour given by conception and so on and one should by exercises given by article overwrite those misconceptions. Although I'm on board with this idea - meaning you should try to put colours as you see them and not how you think they are coloured (for example wrong approach would be - I know that that apple is red so I mix red on my palette). We all know that local colour of an object is always affected by light effect and its surroundings. But I'm worried about a procedure - I have to honestly admit that it seems to me really, really cumbersome (It's advised 20 years of development by studies and accordingly author wants from reader some humility) and I would lost my enthusiasm (I thing I would lost that spark that art gives me in the first place) and another thing that I'm worried about is that you can impair your perceptual development sort of speak by doing studies at the beginning with just tube colours (Although If I look at final and complete pieces of Hensche students, e.g. Camille Przewodek I don't think that would be the case.)

And my final point is that I find article quite offensive against any other traditional approaches (starting with just black and white and limited palette and proceeding to a full chroma slowly once you get confident with the basics)

Any opinions on colourist approaches in the comment section would be very well appreciated since I have troubles to get my head around it. Or you can write me an e-mail (stranikp@gmail.com)

Pete






Monday, 23 October 2017

Evening news II - Another sketch - Thanks to Rosemary Brushes

Last week in this POST I covered my first serious life portrait painting in oils. Before that I had managed to do portrait from life just by using a mirror (Link here).

Very motivated the very next day (Friday the 13th of October) I tried a different position more close to my mother (Again watching evening news in our living room). I think you can expect to see more of these because It's a great opportunity for me to study human face from life.

In this particular one I was just twice as fast (1,5 hour - yes I was more confident)

Though I had to deal with similar issues from the previous post (terrible light) I have to say that I had a great aid in brushes that I used. Before I moved out from England (beginning of October) I had discovered that lovely county of West Yorkshire is a home for a great company: Rosemary and Co. They have a myriad types of brushes and they can help you to choose just a right type for you.

I ended up with ultimate series witch is quite similar to hog brushes for rough block-ins and with evergreen series for my tiling technique - especially flats and short flats can give you very desirable chiseled edge - You can see from the picture that I'm the fan of chiseled shapes! :-)


Evening news (oil on canvas circa 9x9 inches)

My newly acquired Rosemary brushes (I have about 20 of them but those four I used mainly for this particular painting)

It's a really good idea to invest in great brushes since painting in oils is a hard task enough to start with.

Lots of love you all, Petr






Thursday, 19 October 2017

Finished sketches from Jo-Joo circus

Yesterday I made a post about my field sketching in circus Zoo. I had few sketches in pencil and one in full colour. Based on that one in full colour (in order to wind up) I finished two of them before bed...



They are about 1,5 by 1,5 inch each just like the previous one.

Have a nice Thursday...Petr

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Circus Came to Town!

Today our small town in the middle of the country in the middle of Europe became a home for upcoming week or so for a glorious Circus called "National Circus JO-JOO" (národní cirkus Jo-Joo In Czech)

http://www.narodnicirkus.cz/index.php?page=10000&lang=cz

They have among other variety of animals lovely tigers (whom I admire greatly since childhood) and they have during a day open circus Zoo for a reasonable toll. So I decided to go there to study them from life and see their majesty in person! There's no substitute for real thing and photographs can't describe the beauty of those animals.

It was really challenging to attempt a sketch because all the tigers were moving a lot in their cages so I ended up with rather scarcity of sketches in my field blog. However I managed to do one portrait in full colour of one of the sleeping fellows. You can see my setting in this video:


I've done this thumbnail (literally) sketch in watercolour with some touches of white gouache. Since I have the colours at least in one portrait (And now I have mixtures on my palette in my travel rig) I can finish rest of the portraits now with that sole colour study and from photos that I made in black and white - I think that os good practise - not to be influenced by colours that see my camera and rather to use colour that helped me to express myself right on the spot.

Remember - there's nothing more than a real thing. Photos are fine but to see things in person and really "inhale" them is completely different thing.


And what is your experience in sketching wild animals from life?  I'm a newcomer to this realm and it's a great and exiting challenge. Next time - cows and horses maybe? 

Petr 



Tuesday, 17 October 2017

My first oil portrait from life

On Thursday 12th of October, 6 Days after my arrival home (Town of Zdar nad Sazavou, Czech Republic) I finally after some minor struggles with organising my work place at my parents house persuaded myself to ask my mother to pose for me for my very first oil portrait from life (I have done some portraits of my parents back in April in gouache). So far I have done paintings in oil of a still life - which is quite easy since the bottle on the table is not keen to move, or have a bad temper when painting gets too long etc.

My mother was quite convenient topic - She intended to watch TV news that evening so she sat basically moveless for me about 2 hours so I had a time to study her vigorously.

Anyway...Lighting in our living room is a nightmare. Intensity is really low so final portrait is quite dark (I have to use additional light for my canvas and palette to judge the colours properly.

On the other hand my task was a little bit easier since I have started use Rosemary and Co. Brushes from West Yorkshire recently - They are superb brushes!! (I love especially Evergreen series)

My Setting to see the bad, bad Lighting (and my lovely mother of course):


Here I used an old gessoed canvas that bared awful attempt from my previous times - I scraped it with scourer)

Here's the final painting - I sketched the proportions with No.1 round Evergreen dipped in a mixture of burnt sienna and ivory black. After that I blocked in general tones of the face and proceed directly with rendering. Sketch took me 2,5 hours. I put bright background to make the picture more vignette like. Hopefully I will become quicker! I want to be like James Gurney - prolific in every instance.
"Evening News" (oil on canvas 11x14) 

Petr

Useful pages:

My favorite brushes:    https://www.rosemaryandco.com
My oils paints - Especially good for indoor painting:


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Getting back - calling of my upbringing

Hi all good people and art enthusiasts,

I guess some of you maybe have noticed that I recently moved back to Czech Republic. The reason is quite simple - I've begun to miss my family. It was a great experience - two years in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire (by the way county where you can buy the best brushes in the world - but I'll talk about it in a future), occupation as a delivery driver for primary schools (there's around 200 places in Leeds and Bradford alone so we have been busy). I met genuine people. I want to give my farewell especially to Istvan Docza (my Boss), Lucy, Jamie-Lee Fogarty, James Lockley, Terry Fogarty (She teached me how to drive on the left side of the road), Peter Cinone,  Shayna, Anthony, Damon, Jason, Dan, Andrew Colburn and his lovely family (and their two dogs Zac and Zephyr) and to the whole gang of GT produce family. I would like to say it was a great sessions (although a few) in the gym with PJ Stone (Hope you'll come to visit mate) and with Sam Hewitt as well! I Have to say I'm so thankful to meet you all! I want to thank to Tony which was some kind of utility guy in our lovely old Victorian house in Beeston, where I has lived past year, and to my  Landlords Mike and Soni (lovely people Indeed!!)

Before I left I wanted to have same handmade memories on the common places, which I don't know why have some precious qualities for me. Let me introduce you some of my pictorial notes from my life mainly from past month (September 2017), I hope It'll not be boring for you. I really appreciate all those little moments in my life greatly and I want to share it with you:
My window (only one in my apartment with some remnants of a grocery)
Gouache on Paper 22 September 2017

This is my art corner in my room before my departure (Watercolour 28 September 2017)


This is Tony (Utility guy) Gouache on Gesso


My self portrait from my driver's seat (Ballpoint pen)


Quick portrait of me and great dinner lady Monica from Harehills Children Centre) (ballpoint pen)




Lady From a bus on my way downtown (ball point)

I thing sketches like this from field (Except my selfportrait and the one with Monica - they are from photograph) improve your skill in execution of drawing and hone your visual memory so I thing practise like this is essential. 

In the next post I'll tell you about my new settlement and about more art that I deal with in current days...

Petr





Sunday, 8 October 2017

Painting exercise - warm and cool painting

Hi all,

I have a feeling that won't cease I think in any time soon. And that is that I stink (artistically :-) ). My visions in my head are always better that outcome on the canvas. I think we all feel that and it is natural. Nevertheless it is important even in times of great disgust with ourself to push through and persevere. One of the action for that is to do some basic exercise from time to time.

It's a great advise from any great instructional book on art that you should learn to see colours in the temperature relationship and warm and cool painting with just two colours is a great opportunity how to see this relationships.

I started my exercise with ultramarine blue and raw Sienna according to my favourite book (thanks to Juliette Aristides: https://books.google.cz/books/about/Lessons_in_Classical_Painting.html?id=SCuJDAAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y

I did a mixtures between the two colours and lighten them in ten steps with white and made this colour chart:





That provided me with an information of which range is achievable with those colours.
Next step was to set up a still life that would be manageable with this range of colours. So I put into my shadow box a pumpkin (warm orange) and blue plate with some blue cloth underneath.


On the image you can see my setup. It was a quick study approximately 4x6 inches just in sake of a practise. You can see my chart above the painting to guide me. 


Here's the outcome. As you can see you're able to achieve a lot just with two colours (plus white). Some things has to be downplayed greatly - for example the green stalk of the pumpkin - but you can achieve believability by mixing a colour that is not green at all but have relative temperature right to adjacent colours! And that's the key of this exercise)

I was so focused on the colours that I put to much of a detail in cloth and the background which ruined the picture but in overall I think the exercise served the purpose. 

I would like to know in comments your suggestions how else to train warm - cool relationships. I strive to get better in this so any advise would be appreciated greatly. 

Sincerely Pete


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Self portrait from mirror - "Nocturnal creature"

It is not that long ago that I decided to paint portrait from life. The reason to paint from life rather than from photograph is that is more challenging because your subject matter is not still and the colour are more truthful then in the photograph. So you learn yourself to be ok with a moving subject and learn to see colour properly. 

And since I'm so slow in process of painting and I don't have enough confidence to invite any sitters into my humble room to keep them moveless for several hours yet I'd decided before I'd ventured to paint with oils someone else to put a mirror in front of me. The great example of this approach is Rembrandt - Throughout his life he made a copious amount of self-portraits. 

I began with heavily stained canvas of burnt umber - it was an unpleasant endeavour from past that I'd had to scrape down (therefore I don't want to talk about it :-))

You can see the settings while I was painting and final painting down bellow. Since I've done it throughout evenings after work it is somehow on the dark side - I have to rethink lighting setting of my work place :-). The final picture is really really dark. But I think it conveys some kind of mystery at least about a person depicted. If you don't stick the picture under a strong daylight the face is barely visible. 


Me painting myself...


Final painting - Nocturnal creature (oil on canvas 11x14 inches)

Best wishes to all of you, Pete





Thursday, 10 August 2017

Late quick invitation

Hello all you good people from all around!

I have to admit that I'm not the most disciplined person when it comes to keep people updated. Maybe reason is that I have a still life to work on and that lemon in it turning already green (ouch - gross)

I have an announcement to make - Tomorrow (I know :-/ ) and day afterwards I'm exhibiting my work at Ilkley art show that runs from 10:00 till 17:00 daily. Venue is in The Kings Hall/Winter Gardens, LS29 8HA, Ilkley

http://www.ilkleyartshow.co.uk/art-exhibition/

Here's a rough staging of the pictures that I will exhibit - They're all gonna be for sale! (Caution - Not all work in this photo has made it to final selection!)


Thanks to all of you for your time in this overwhelming age! Petr
 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Brief flashback No.1

Back in April when I was on my holiday back in Czech Republic I brought up my gouache sketching set to record my visit somewhat differently than just with a camera. I think that to record things from life with paint or pencil improve one's appreciation of any given moment - because this sketching usually takes some time not like a mere fragment of a second with a digital camera.

Here's some of my sketches of my family and home surroundings:


Mom - pencil portrait  4th of April


Father sleeping 06th of April 2017


In our living room 6th of April


Pilská nádrž (date unknown)


My mother's cat


Mother sleeping 


In the cellar 

Enjoy your summer wherever you are. Petr