Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Snowing Again!

Down my way it was supposed to "no accumulation." Well, we'll see about that! Everything is white...

Earlier this evening I drove over to a spot across the lake to catch the snow. I got a bit but mostly a scene of some ducks frolicking.

Snow on the Lake from John Perry on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rhododendron Leaf

My pencil exercises inspired me to try something botanical so I snipped a bit of rhododendron. The paper is not my usual Stonehenge and rather on the rough side; next time I'll use my favorite.

I oftentimes seem to lay on a lot of pencil, trying to build the entire form. Here I thought I'd leave out mass and detail. I like the result, how just a bit of shadow can provide enough clues for form.

Rhododendron Leaf

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pencil Range

How far can a pencil grade reach? Last evening I'd use a bunch of grades to span the chart values. That left me wondering how I'd made certain assumptions about which grade to use where. What does this all tell me? Well, if I was going to be stuck with only one pencil I'd go for the 2H. Second choice would be a 4H for burnishing into the paper's tooth.

Faber-Castell Grade Test

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back To Basics

I want to practice value, just the basic white to black. My tool for setting values is the Gray Scale & Value Finder from The Color Wheel Company. I'm using Faber-Castells from 4H to 4B. It's so cool to be back where I started, with a pencil that is. I remember at when might have been the first botanical exhibit I ever attended, this absolutely beautiful rhododendron, 16 x 20 or so, done up so finely with graphite.  I'd never realized the possibilities of the humble pencil.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Glass and Folds

Continuous tones are fascinating and challenging! My thought is not to overthink the image but to simply record the tones. What interests me about this painting is the technique of handling tone variations with acrylics. I think this exercise takes me to two simultaneous paths--studying continuous tone with graphite, and practicing the mixing of tones in acrylic.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Glass Restart

Tonight was a total restart on this painting with a new foundation and glazes. I used a printout with white colored pencil for a transfer and began the piece with shades of gray. Not only is glass new to me but the cloth with folds is another interesting challenge.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rough Glass

Here's a first cut at the glass. I experimented with various glazes to build a background with depth and then botched it when I mistakenly used mars black for jenkins green. Oops! I can always build it up with semi-opaque layers and then transparent.

What's different this time is that I apply an entire background and then go back for subjects. It's thought that a feeling of depth is easier to come by if one doesn't need to deal so much with borders. I suppose with backgrounds have a lot going on that that would be the case.

For those who read posts via email subscription or Facebook, it's a really great read to take in yesterday's comments. They are smart, sensitive, and fun. Check 'em out at!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Call me fickle...

but I am off with a new image. I would like to get back to the English Ivy, and the Magnolia, and tighten them up, perhaps frame them...

But for now, I'd like to explore glass in my cardboard light box. Timothy slept through the shoot, vastly simplifying my work. This is my very favorite brush holder; it's not tipped over even once.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just a bit more this evening...

This darned cold has kept me out of work and pretty much away from painting so tonight was all about little bits of housekeeping. The beauty of acrylic is the ease of making corrections. A little bit of sharply applied dark blue gets me out of all kinds of trouble! The same goes for that wonderfully opaque titanium white. Also went in with with blue washes on the branch, looking for those lost edges.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Magnolia poco a poco

Here I pushed the background into a midnight blue and added more color to the petals. Rather than mix colors, I'm laying cerulean blue washes over the magenta to pull the color towards purple.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Magnolia With a Bit of Color

I refined the grays a bit and then applied some light washes just to get things started.

Spring in Bridgewater was heralded in with light snow most of the day!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Magnolia Starter

I thought I'd try the magnolia in similar fashion as the English Ivy. I'll probably take another evening to work out the grisaille more smoothly before applying color washes. Also thinking this might be interesting to attempt on black paper with gouache, which I've never tried.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Magnolia Blossom

I planned a photo of the first magnolia blossom in a half opened state but in a matter of a few hours it popped out fully! This is another study of single source lighting with my cardboard box lighting booth.

Magnolia in full bloom

Center closeup

By the way, the most recent NESBA post contains images of all the show paintings.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mallards in the Swamp and the NESBA Flower Show

This time of year when the swamps are full, the ducks feed and paddle about, right in my own back yard.

I spent a few hours at the NESBA booth this afternoon, meeting artists and greeting visitors. It's hard to describe just how exciting it was for me to have one of my paintings hanging there. It was so over the top to watch folks with their noses right up at my painting! For an inside view of the exhibit:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

English Ivy Acrylic II

I've been learning a lot with this piece...

Emphasizing a light source means that everywhere that light falls must be consistent.

Heavy strokes are okay only if well controlled. I got into trouble with dark stripes that needed a good deal of attention to correct.

Acrylic washes are very cool, reminding me of egg tempera.

And, every stroke counts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

English Ivy Acrylic

This evening I reinforced the grays and then began applying washes. I like washing with my sables, but they're my lovely W&N's. I need to pick up a handful of synthetics and save the good ones for watercolor.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Magnolia Sketch - Bud's Opening

Those Magnolia branches I brought in are beginning to pop. The outer shells have mostly split and this one even has an inner split with the purple showing!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Iced In

Although the pussy willows are heralding in Spring, there are still reminders of Winter's recent touch. Today's air was chilled with light snow and this past weekend the lake was still iced in protected areas.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Acrylic Attempts

Here I painted in each area separately, trying to take in shading while not paying a lot of attention to proper coloring.

In this second attempt, I first placed over the entire panel layers jenkins green followed by layers of quinacridone burnt orange . Then came the foreground with a mix of titanium white and mars black in grisaille fashion. I'd like to refine fore and back ground before laying color over the grays.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pussy Willows!

Each year I find Pussy Willow as my first sign of Spring. It's tradition! :-)

This is the first year that I notice the willow beaked gall, created by the midge Mayetiola rigidae.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Retry of Last Night's Image

A cardboard box with a small cutout covered with parchment paper gave me more control than last night's image.

Continuing with thoughts of Old Master's properties, here are a couple of links to articles by Koo Schadler:

What I am seeing from this is that by design she is referring in good part to lighting.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Experiment With Light

Tomorrow I drop off the painting, and a week later I visit it. So, it feels like that endeavor is now behind me. I've long been attracted to dramatic lighting of the kind attributed to the "Old Masters" style. Now, I know just about nothing on this subject and will probably jitter about as I find my way, but I'll still try to learn a bit here.

This change of tack also satisfies my need to get up to speed with acrylic for my upcoming workshop with Koo Schadler, "Old Master Design Workshop", which uses acrylics. I'll also want to get back to egg tempera for the second workshop.

So, that's the general plan for the near future, if I can hold my focus. No small feat over here! ;-)

Firstly, I thought I'd experiment with some lighting and layout. Although a dedicated mini studio is probably in order, this example was just an underexposed quickie. Still, it's rather good for stimulating further ideas.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wrapping Things Up

Experienced artists know the effort involved in setting up a show, efforts I am now learning to appreciate.

The flower show exhibition is surely an incredibly well choreographed series of steps. I am privy to a bit of the behind the scenes planning and execution, but then there's plenty I'm sure I'm missing.

One step involves each artist packaging up the painting and delivering to a regional drop off person who will then lug a bunch up to Boston. Then the setup team works the layout and hanging. Gotta be tons of work.

NESBA provides instruction on how to package and even includes necessary labels. Here is my first adventure with bubble wrap. While I wrestled with stuck tape, Timothy the cat took to attacking the whole situation. That cat simply loves bubble wrap!

Pretty it ain't but I hope it does the trick!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

2011 Boston Flower & Garden Show

NESBA created invitation postcards for the upcoming flower show. Here our graphics illustrator joined the images for an onscreen presentation. Rumor has it that there could be as many as 35 pieces of botanical art on exhibit! By the way, I will be hosting the booth Friday the 18th between noon and 4 pm. Do try to drop by!

By the way, the cyclamen is Joyce's. Awesome, Joyce! :-)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Aloe Silverpoint Wrap

A bit of background and a bit of toning down highlights to pull up the center and that's that. If I have learned one thing well from this piece, it's that easy does it. Slow and gentle buildup is how this works.

There's a great article on silverpoint by Linda Heppes Funk in this ASBA Journal:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Magnolia Sketch

Magnolia has such interesting branches. I need to learn more about the biology of this species but for now it's enough to simply observe and try to capture. My thought is that if I can nail down the branching that I'll be better prepared for when the blossoms appear.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Magnolia - First Looks

A sign of Spring is the swelling of the Magnolia buds. My Mom's tree lost a few branches during our heavy snowfalls and even the fallen branches are showing signs of life. I've taken a few cuts in water. Even if they don't bloom, the branches will provide wonderful studies in themselves.

Interspersed between my photos are a few facts from Wikipedia.

"Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating to 95 million years ago. Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals."

"In 1703 Charles Plumier (1646–1704) described a flowering tree from the island of Martinique in his Genera. He gave the species, known locally as 'talauma', the genus name Magnolia, after Pierre Magnol."

"Magnol's most important contribution to science is without doubt the invention of the concept of plant families, a natural classification, based on combinations of morphological characters, as set out in his Prodromus historiae generalis plantarum, in quo familiae plantarum per tabulas disponuntur (1689). In Magnol's day it was common belief that all species had come into existence by divine creation as set out in the Book of Genesis, in which case there's no cause to assume family ties between species. Remember that Magnol was a convinced Protestant. Nevertheless his work may be regarded as one of the first steps towards the composition of a tree of life. In his Prodromus he developed 75 tables, which not only grouped plants into families but also allowed for an easy and rapid identification by means of the morphological characters, the same he used to compose the groups."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Back to Silverpoint

As soon as I viewed this scan, I realized that the background should be toned down. I'd been careful this evening to pull down highlights away from center but had over looked the back color. Perhaps a bit of gradation into center?

More tomorrow...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rosemary Framed

All framed and ready to go! Now to finish the artist's statement and a bit of paperwork and I'll be prepared to drop off for the show.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aloe Silverpoint 5

I am wondering how long it will take for the silver to begin tarnishing. It has a good deal to do with local air conditions. Introducing a sulfurous gas would help--egg yolks, sulphide compounds... Meanwhile, progress continues albeit slowly. Silverpoint is not a fast moving medium!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Aloe Silverpoint 4

A little bit more...