Saturday, December 21, 2013

How to Paint a Mural- Step Nine- Grassy Meadow

Happy Winter Solstice!!  :)

Well, back in September I had the opportunity to get a few good painting sessions in, and that means.... progress!  I got all the grasses blocked in.  I used a variety of green, with more browns at the base. For the foreground grasses, one is more a yellow-green and the other a blue-green.  In the background I used a grey-green to help push the distance.

So far, around 70 hours.  I figure I'm aiming for 80-90.

Step 1- Grass Blocked in with highlights

Step 2- Scrumbling and Glazing
In the end, I felt the green was too green, and that it need to get toned down.  I also wanted to try out glazing and scrumbling, so I thinned a green-brown mixture I'd made with Acrylic Glazing Medium and painted it over the green and then "scrubbed it out" with a dry rag.  The effect is subtle, but there.  It basically got ground into the deeper crevices of the wall's texture, and pushed that experience more.  It looks as if there's a "heavier shadow" in the second pic, but there's not.  Same exact lighting, just a darker brown is ground into the wall's texture.

Step 3- Additional mid-ground grey green
I decided to add one more layer of green, to overlap and push the back, well, farther back, and the foreground farther forward.  I like the effect.  It's busy and alive, snake-like, but all very vertical.  It still reads as grass to me, busy and varied tonally, but, hopefully, it doesn't detract from what is the true center of the image- the red poppies- and instead leads the eye to them in a lively, winding sort of way.

edit- Addendum-
I took this closeup photo and made some notes to show the step by step process I went through in making the grass.

I pondered layering it a darker shade at the bottom of the wall, on a gradient upwards, but the truth is I think that ship has sailed.  I should have done it at the beginning, and didn't.  Now it'll be an incredible pain, and I'm not sure if it'd be worth it for the effort-- it already reads well enough, and I don't think I could replicate the feathering I got in there with the greens.  In the end, I think it's a lesson to be learned for future experiences, and this will just have to represent the best I can do now.

Here's the current panorama that I've got as of mid-December.  Getting there!  I may make it to the finish line in 7-8 months! LOL!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Poem- Thank You, Mary Oliver

I've been wanting to share a number of "older" poems from the last few years.  This one, in response to the poetry of Mary Oliver, was finished a few months ago, but started in late 2012.

I like Mary Oliver, but I'm not a "fan" or anything.  I've read her work, and own a book.  Her words are worth reading and giving your time to.  But a year or so ago, she spoke in SF at the Arts Center.  They broadcast it on NPR.  I hadn't written much for over a year at the time, and felt very dry creatively.  I was driving home in the dark, I'm not sure why or from where, but you could hear her coming on stage.  Her voice was old but steady.  She read some poems and spoke, and she gave, in speaking, each word the kind of respect that's heartening to hear.  And something sort of woke up in me.  I sat in the driveway in the car,  in the dark, and listened and listened until my throat was full.

Thank you, Mary Oliver

Those words were dead
when I found them in your dark pond.
I listened to you
pull them from the water.  They glistened
like seal skin or trout
in the moonlight, as you lay their bodies
on the sand.

Thank you Mary Oliver.
You did not bow to the twig,
but embraced it.  Americans
don’t like bowing, but are game for a good conversation.
You conversed with the twig
as it hatched the morning
from its calloused spindles.

Mary Oliver, you
had a kind of cadence
I agreed with. 
Where words have hands
and are used for lifting.
You weren’t afraid of silence,
or that the smooth gun metal chain might break.

You laid your hands upon the fish, no fuss,
and words began to slap against the peppered sand.
Eager for the baptism, you barely had to help them
scootch from the shore.  I liked that— no fuss
about the word laid sideways
in the service of life.  So thank you, Mary Oliver,
for the smell of tadpoles and the rippled ink.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Making a mural with my daughter in her room

I just wanted to share something different today.  Many, many months ago my daughter, Natasha, asked me if we could make a mural in her room.   She's 5.  I think it was after I started working on the big one in my bedroom.  I had gotten her a smock for Xmas last year and she was eager to use it.  I said sure, and so I sat down with her around May and had her draw up some pictures of what she had in mind, asking her questions and guiding her.  She had some birthday money, and so she decided she wanted to get her own paint.  We went out to Michael's and got some simple bottles of acrylic paint and some simple brushes. 

We sketched things out in pencil first. I helped some with that.  But then most of the bulk painting was done by her.  I mostly came back along and cleaned  up the edges now and then, gave some pointers about color design, put in the perspective on the chair to make it read.  Stuff like that.  It's been very piecemeal over the last 6 months, a bit here and a bit there, depending on her mood and mine both matching up, but we finished it the other day. She's an artist! :)  Fun!

Here's the preliminary drawings she made.  They're of a dinosaur teacher and a dinosaur student.  I did the actual writing, but she did the rest.  There's a lot of joy in these images.