"If you look into the past of a successful painter you will find square miles of canvas"
-Charles Hawthorne

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The challenge....One year later!

It has been a year since I started my 100 painting variation challenge. I actually finished my last painting months ago and hung them all on my studio wall. It was probably one of the best things I have done to improve my paintings. I learned many things from the challenge but most importantly it reinforced my attitude that no painting is precious...it is only paper and painting should be fun! Yes it is important to know the basics and to study and practice but it is also important to approach a painting with joy and confidence! So now I am ready to take on a new challenge (details to follow) but I need to make room on my studio wall for the new challenge paintings. I will be offering these 100 paintings for sale through my Ebay store. They will be $50 each with free shipping. I will be listing 10 new paintings each week. If you would like to take a closer look at this weeks offerings, here is the Ebay Link.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Snowy Day Variation #66

'Variation #66' 5x7 pastel
My challenge painting have been on hold for the last week as I get ready for our Open Studio sale this Saturday. But I was itching to add to my collection so I managed to paint three new variations. This is my favorite of the three. It was painted on recyled pastelbord. To make the snow, I shaved some white pastel onto the painting and pressed it in with a palette knife. It makes me cold just looking at this one!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some Colorful Variations #67-70

I was reading my Southwest Art magazine last night before bed and I woke up with the idea to paint some variations inspired by John Nieto. I love his color palette and I knew I had just the right pastels in my Jack Richeson homemade soft pastel set. See the photo below for the pastels I used. Two of the variations were done on black paper which I think worked best. This was fun!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The week in Review

This is a collage of the paintings I completed before I left for South Carolina. I have another collage that I will post tomorrow. I think it is fun to see them all together. I am hoping for some time over Thanksgiving to get to painting #75!

Friday, November 20, 2009

High Key Paintings

I just got back from a great week on the South Carolina Coast. I attended a great workshop withStan Sperlak. One of the demos he did for us was to paint the marsh using only a few light value pastels. The finished painting had a wonderful and mysterious feeling. I thought it would be fun to try it on a couple of my variations. I only used 4 pastels for each of these and they were middle light to light value. The support I used was canson board prepared with pumice and gesso mix so it was quite rough. I think I will try a blue, green and purple version!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Interesting Sky...landscape painting

'Variation #59' 5x7 pastel
I am back from a wonderful week painting on the South Carolina coast. I attended a mentoring workshop with Stan Sperlak on Kiawah Island and it was so much fun. I got some painting done but had to put my challenge on hold for the week. Today's post is from before I left. I was experimenting with making the sky more interesting. I did paint a new one today but I won't get back up to speed until after the weekend. I am teaching two workshops this weekend so I am busy doing final preparations. While I was away I thought of some ideas for my next challenge so this blog will be staying quite active! Thanks for visiting. If you are interested in seeing more of my work check out my daily painting blog at www.kemstudios.blogspot.com

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another Moody Sky

'Variation #60' 5x7 pastel
I realized that the first half of the variations had a boring simple sky. Why didn't I play with the variations of clouds and weather? I know I will be focusing on the sky for at least several more. My project will be on hold for a week while I attend a workshop in South Carolina with Stan Sperlak, a wonderful pastel artist. I am bringing 5x7 paper in case I get the urge to paint a few variations. I will be back to posting next week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Painting on Black Sandpaper

'Variation #61'              5x7            pastel
Last week it seemed to be all about texture and I experimented with ways to get the pastel on thick and look more like paint. This week I seem to have shifted somewhat in my style. I am returning to a bit more realistic look and my latest have quite a moody feel to them. This one is my favorite of the last few. It was painted on black sandpaper. A student of mine gave me a sheet of wet/dry silicon carbide paper to try. I know it isn't archival but oh it was so nice to paint on! The pastels went on like butter.

Recycling Old Paintings

'Variation #57'     5x7             pastel
Variation #57 is painted on reclaimed Uart paper. Actually #55, 56 and 57 were once paintings that weren't working. I brushed off the pastel and did an alcohol wash to set this base layer which was for the most part a dark gray. I like how cold and icy this one looks.

Variation #53 Using Canson Board

'Variation #53'            5x7       pastel
This variation is for Jayne!  The other night at class Jayne needed to borrow a piece of paper. I had some canson boards cut down to 5x7 that I was able to share. We don't usually like to work on Canson and this was canson mounted on matboard so the right side or the bumpy side was showing. Not fun to paint on and Jayne was not having fun with it. I had three of those big canson boards that I needed to use so I decided to apply a pumice/gesso mix to it to give the surface more tooth. It worked like a charm and gave me a nicely texture surface to work on. I tinted the mixture orange before I applied it. It worked great with no buckling of the board. Now I have a stack of 5x7's to paint on. I made my pumice mix pretty rough because I wanted a lot of tooth. As you can see in this painting, I couldn't put in too much fussy detail.

Monday, November 2, 2009

October Paintings in Review

At the end of October I managed to complete 50 paintings. I am halfway to my goal of 100. If I continue at the same rate I should be done by the end of November. I am traveling to South Carolina to attend a mentoring workshop with Stan Sperlak so I may not meet my goal this month but I know I will come home energized and filled with even more ideas. I still have this week to paint so come back soon  to see what I come up with.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Using Acrylic Matte Medium with Pastels

'Variation #53'                        5x7                  pastel
You have to love Uart paper. Does it ever take abuse!  This variation was an idea taken from Bill Creevy's book 'The Pastel Book'.  It's a great book for pastel artists with a lot of great things to try. For this painting I started with a loose underpainting using soft pastels. Then using a palette knife I spread some acrylic matte medium over the painting. It softened and darkened the pastel and spread it around a bit. Have a look at the top photo to see how it looked after I applied the matte medium. The matte medium also acts as a fixative so once it was dry I was able to continue building pastel layers. I could have repeated the process building even more layers but I was satisfied with the outcome after one application of the matte medium. Now that was fun!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Variation #51 Winter Sunset

'Variation #51'             5x7            pastel
This painting is another experiment with texture. It was done on a piece of Uart 600 grit paper. After my first layer of pastel I sprayed a liberal amount of fixative and while it was still wet I drew into it with the back of a thin paintbrush. When it was almost dry I started to drag soft pastels over the fixed areas. You can see where it skipped the low areas and left pastel on the raised areas. I find that Terry Ludwig pastels work good for this technique because of the softness and the shape.

Friday, October 30, 2009

50 Paintings Completed...Reflections on the Challenge

A month ago when I began this challenge I knew I would enjoy it but I had no idea just how much it would recharge and energize me.  I was a bit concerned that I would run out of ideas by 50 paintings but instead I am filled with ideas I want to try. I am already planning for my next challenge.  I always tell others that the thing that really improved my work was doing a daily painting....in effect starting to accumulate those 'miles of canvas'. I enjoy doing a daily painting but this challenge has given me permission to paint 'outside of the box'. There is no need to worry about creating a good painting. This is for fun...a chance to try new techniques and color combinations. What have I discovered so far?

  • I tend to reach for the same colors though I have tried to get better about this. This challenge has shown me that I haven't really explored new and exciting color combinations.
  • I have been told I paint loose and painterly but I discovered that my usual style still can be fussy. I still want to 'decorate' my trees with leaves and skyholes.  I am enjoying when I do a variation that is less fussy and more abstract. I don't know where I will go with that in my other work but I am having fun with it here.
  • I am enjoying working on a textured surface and building up thick layers of pastel.

Variation #50 Fixative and fingers in the paint!

'Variation #50'                  5x7           pastel
Now this one I really had fun with!  It started out on Uart paper with an oil paint underpainting which was applied very thin and drippy. After I put down a few layers of pastel I sprayed fixative (my can is getting low!) Then while the fixative was wet I went in and spread the pastel around. When it dried I was able to add a few more layers of pastel. I have been choosing my colors in advance for the last few. It helps me keep the flow of the painting if I already have my colors selected.

Paintings of the Evening

Here are variations #12 and #49.  They are my take on evening and night.  I really enjoy painting nocturnes and want to learn even more about them. I need to be more observant in the evening and see how the colors change at night. The version with the moon reminds me of a windy night. Even the moon seems to be blowing in the wind!  Both of these are painted on Uart paper. The one top has a yellow ochre oil paint underpainting.

Variation #6

'Variation # 6'            5x7           pastel
This variation is totally different from my usual style. It is also an earlier painting. I was inspired by the work of Mark Leach for this one. It reminds me that I need to try more like this one...maybe even flatten the landscape even more.

Black & White Variation

One of my earlier variations #10 to be exact. I used only gray black and white pastels for this one which makes it a simple value study of my landscape. I think I will try more like this and perhaps add an accent of color. Look for that soon!

Variation #48

'Variation #48'          5x7         pastel
Now I am getting into texture.  This one was painted on Uart 600 paper. I did a watercolor underpainting using hot pinks. After I put down my first layer of pastel I sprayed the tree area with workable fixative. I added more layers. Then I put some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and sprayed the painting. The alcohol dried quickly but allowed be to keep adding layers. You can see my trees now have trunks!

The Four Seasons

   This set of variations illustrates the four seasons. They are painted on Canson Moonstone color.  I have been using Canson for many of the variations because I have  a lot of scraps. But i am enjoying using it which is a nice thing to discover.  I am finding that my trees are changing them more I paint them. Sometimes they are big bushes and sometimes they are trees. They are supposed to be a stand of tall trees in the distance. I don't mind that they are changing. It helps keep it interesting.

Variation #47

This is variation #47.  It was painted on dark grey LaCarte Pastel Card. I don't usually like to use LaCarte for landscapes but it worked for this painting. I chose these colors from a small aceo size painting I had done. I just liked the pop of red in the tree.

Variation #40 A Rainy Day

'Farm View #40' 5x7 pastel
I am really enjoying the 100 variations challenge. If I could, I would work on them all day long. I have been painitng every day for the last four years but this is different. Never have I felt more excited and energized about painting. Anything and everything goes and I am getting more and more experimental. I am thinking about putting the paintings in a dedicated blog so I can document the techniques I use for each one. I think it will be fun and instructional to see them all together. For this variation I recycled a used pastelbord by brushing on a coat of pumice/gesso mix tinted burgandy. I used fixative in between layers, which I brushed in for additional texture.

The End of Weeks 3 & 4

If you have been following my challenge you can see that I have had a prolific week. I worked on these in the evenings and it seemed like one idea led to yet another idea and I found it hard to stop! It has been a great learning experience and I am enjoying the freedom to try just about anything. I can't wait to get started on the next batch! In case you are a new visitor, my challenge is to paint 100 variations of the same scene. Each painting is 5x7 and done with pastels on a variety of papers.

Variation #35

When I started the 100 variation painting challenge I was afraid I might run out of steam or ideas. Instead just the opposite has happened. The more variations I paint, the more ideas I have. In fact I was dreaming about variations last night! I can't wait for the weekend when I will have more time to devote to doing more. I didn't set a time limit to complete the project but with 35 finished I figure I will be done in another month. I have 14 new paintings to share. I made a collage which I will post tomorrow.

The End of Week Two

Here are the paintings from week two of my 100 variations challenge. Each one is 5x7 and is done on various papers. I am keeping a log of the papers and techniques I am trying for future reference. I have another busy week finishing two commissions but after that I will have more time to devote to the challenge. It is a lot of fun and a great learning experience so far.