Artist Diaries: Create dimension and stucco, but avoid mustaches

Oil Painting of Lucie Stern Theatre Palo Alto

This art class, I was able to add more detail to the three arched windows at the center of the painting. Although overall I am happy with the results of this painting so far, I did learn a couple of things this week which I will try to remember for future painting sessions.

Firstly, I didn’t plan the sequence of the areas I was going to paint in art class very well. I was eager to make corrections on the bottom arches that leads to the theater doors of the Lucie Stern building. I had noticed a couple of days ago that the arches were too narrow. I quickly widened them with a mixture of my foundation color (blue and umber) and a hint of purple. It was only when I started to paint elements higher up in the painting did I realize that I should not have started on the lower part of the painting. The entire bottom half of my painting was wet and I struggled through the rest of the class to paint the windows and the terracotta roof without smudging the dark paint onto the white stucco areas.

Secondly, I realized that dimension in this painting will be difficult to get right. Dimension was something I thought I would struggle with in my last painting which had many different angles to the buildings and I had taken the photo from a strange angle as well. However, I am beginning to realize that the subtle angle from which I took the photo of the Lucie Stern building may be equally, if not more challenging. Getting every window, arch and detail to lie on a consistent plane will be difficult. I keep using my paint brush as a marker to see if the angles on the windows and arches line up.

Finally, I’m working on textures and figuring out how many brushes I really need to paint well. My goal is to use as few brushes as possible. Lee came by during class and used her finger to smudge some dark colors into the stucco to bring out more texture. Seeing her do this, I tried it as well. There is something liberating about finger painting! In the photo of the painting, you will note that I added the shadows underneath the windows in anticipation of the balcony that will be painted in next. I don’t have the texture quite right on it. Currently, it looks like a mustache. Since noticing this, I have corrected it by smoothing out the texture of the shadow…with my finger.

On another note, I finally started to set up my art studio at home with the help and encouragement of Clint. I am constantly reminded of the support he gives me in all my endeavors. I’ll take some photos of it one day to share with you the progress of this studio area. I’d love to have some walls torn down to let extra light into the studio, but perhaps this is a little too hasty. Let’s see if I keep up with oil painting for at least a year before I consider renovation plans!

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