Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back to reality

We leave at the crack of dawn to drive back to Ann Arbor tomorrow.
The chicken paintings are done. I began them at the same time but finished one before the other, feeling more confident and loosening up as I went along.

Key West Chicken 1
Key West Chicken 2

Key West Chickens, take 2

Having painted in oils, or oil glazes for decades, I'm taking advantage of time away from assignments to relearn acrylics. Even though I'm using the new-ish Open line from Golden, I'm finding the same frustration with drying time that I remember from my early days working at the Free Press. The positives include: paint stays wet on the palette overnight with no covering, blending is easier than conventional acrylics, layering is faster and easier than oils. The big negative is that thin applications of paint still dry in minutes, necessitating careful planning and isolating work areas.
We leave to come back to the frozen north tomorrow, meaning that these will be quick exercises. We'll see how it goes.

 For a look at my commercial work:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Key West feral chickens

One of the first things you notice while strolling around Key West is the overabundance of chickens sharing the streets and wandering into the bars, restaurants and shops. Depending on who you talk to, they are either descended from fighting cocks or from the Spanish, who introduced them to the area as a domesticated food source.
They're protected, and Key Westers have dealt with them in various ways. At one point they had an official Chicken Catcher and last I heard they still held an annual Chicken Round-up, with the birds supposedly shipped off to a "sanctuary" on the mainland.
Drawing on canvas, ready to paint.

 For a look at my commercial work:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mini donuts, finished

The painting is finally finished, thanks to an uninterrupted work day and the good sense to know when to stop. No FedEx at the door, no deadline – this is close to heaven.
The bag, cup and cigarette were left for last. I added some white to pop the yellow stripe color, the girl's hat, and other highlight areas. I'm happy with the composition and reasonably satisfied with the color and tonal balance. My aim is still to get the blending and strokes closer to the look of oils. On to the next project.

 For a look at my commercial work:

Keys Kondo, Bow Channel

Freestyle Keys living, rent free. Check out his website:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mini donuts, take 5

Rolling along with my flea market scene. I'm trying for a variety of cool and warm grays in the buildings and ground, keeping their values similar. The shadows that morning were sharp and heavily contrasted. I've lightened them up considerably except in a few places. The foreground figure's head and hair are adjusted and I've enlarged the middle figure's hand slightly. I think I'll leave some of the areas unfinished and I've resolved to keep things looser with the next painting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sunset at Geiger Key

View from a great wharf-side spot with good food, catering to the trailer park crowd. Can't beat the view.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mini donuts, take 4

Beautiful weather again today. Too windy for boating but perfect for painting. We're renting a house on Sugarloaf Key, which is a quiet and peaceful antidote to the craziness of Key West.

Work continues with the painting. I've developed a rhythm with a new palette each day, foil covering the previous day's paint in case touch-up is necessary. I'm happy with the way things are going with the cluster of figures in line. The large figure on the right needs some adjustments in the head shape, hair and flesh tones.

For a look at my commercial work:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mini donuts take 3

Continuing on with my personal work from the Lower Florida Keys. After years of working in oils, I am teaching myself, or relearning, how to work in acrylics. These are the newish Open paints from Golden. Liquitex makes their own version. The paints stay wet longer and, while a poor substitute for oils, they allow a certain amount of blending not possible with regular acrylics. You can mix open and regular acrylics, switching back and forth depending on how fast you want the paint to dry.

Here I've reworked the head and hat shape, painted in the flags and a bit of the shed in the background.

For a look at my commercial work:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Personal work from the Lower Florida Keys: Mini donuts, take 2

Working in the trailer, signage. A little too tight, too rigid. I'm not happy with the shape of the middle ground figure's hat and her head and body proportions need to be readjusted.

For a look at my commercial work:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mini Donuts

We're on Sugarloaf Key, 17 miles north of Key West. A must-do every Saturday morning is the Big Pine flea market. The stated goal is the fresh produce trucked down from Homestead, but the real draw is the all the rest. Booths manned by locals, east-coast-accented professional hawkers and snake oil salesmen sell every thing from head shop gear straight out of the 70s to ladies balloon underwear, 3 for $12. The people watching is THE best: retirees, bikers and their gal pals, ageing hippies, conchs and crackers.  The center of activity is the donut shack, the inspiration for my first Keys painting. Acrylic underpainting, just beginning.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bear with my newbie self as I navigate my way through the wondrous world of blogging.

Blackberry Addiction for the Washington Post
Ok, here we go....

After grumbling for years about the lack of content contained within the average blog, I have capitulated and am now on a path to contribute to the clutter. An empty-nester, with a little bit more time on my hands, I have decided to take the plunge while on a sabbatical of sorts. My husband and I are in the lower Florida Keys for the month of March and I am re-learning how to paint. My excuse for blogging is to show what it is like to stumble over process, which I hope will be of some interest to someone out there.

In the meantime, this Washington Post assignment was my last hurrah before heading to the land of the laid-back, anti-establishment crowd of lovers and ne'er-do-wells (heaven to me).

So stay tuned as I become my own student again.