Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The value of a value sketch.....

I find myself using value sketches more and more when starting a landscape.  I combine a small thumbnail with a bit of a more finished sketch, ending up with a "thumbnail value sketch".  The size is a bit larger than a thumbnail, this one is 5" x 7".  I sketched it using vine charcoal on some paper I prepared for pastel, Arches hot press watercolor paper with pumice gel applied with a foam roller.  My original intent was to just do the value study as a gray scale underpainting, and then start pasteling.  I kind of like this, so I think I'll just keep it as is.  It will be useful in developing a larger pastel painting I think.  I'm going to try to use it as my reference, and disregard my photo from this point forward.  This way I won't be "married to the photo", sort of a freeing experience I think.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Note to self...... "use lighter colored paper when sketching with vine charcoal...."

Let me just preface this post by apologizing for not posting anything these past few months.  I had a personal loss and have been dealing with the sadness.  I have been unable to paint and I just let it be, knowing that eventually I would come around.  Yesterday seemed to be the day that broke my hiatus.  I somehow was able to find some joy in my art again. 

This was sketched at a portrait workshop last night.  His name is Billy, and I sketched from life, it was done in about 45 minutes.  I started it thinking I would do a full color pastel sketch.  My thought process was to block in the face using darks, to sort of have the image appear using the negative space and dark values.  I've always wanted to try this approach, and I found it is quite difficult yet very effective.   As I progressed I found I liked the vine charcoal and the effect I was getting.  I didn't want to introduce anything else into the mix (like a light colored pastel to show my lights..... sigh....), so I just let it be.  I like the way this turned out despite the fact that the paper I used is a bit too dark (Canson MT is the paper I used.)  Next time I will just decide in the beginning that it will be a charcoal and use a lighter toned paper - in a perfect world anyway... we all know how that goes.  Sometimes when I plan it goes against me.  More often I get these "happy accidents" (thank you Bob Ross, I've always loved that phrase), or serendipity (thank you Richard McKinley, another great descriptive....).  It's a good thing I at least know how I achieved this, sometimes serendipity occurs but the vehicle used to get there remains a mystery....


© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Workshop with Stan Sperlak at the Noyes Museum, New Jersey

I had the pleasure of taking a workshop this past weekend with Stan Sperlak.  He is a very accomplished artist who has mastered the art of simplification.  He specializes in paintings of the Jersey shore, as well as nocturnes.   He paints with passion, he loves what he paints and it shows.  Here are some photos, I learned a lot and had fun as well!



Can you believe this gorgeous painting by Stan?  The size is massive, it's absolutely magnificent!  He truly is a master of simplification, and his paintings make such a statement.   One painting was better than the next, the room was filled with eye candy!


I went to this workshop with my friend Cindy.   We decided to take a short drive to the marshes for some quick sketching and photos, then back to the museum to do some painting.  Most of the students stayed and sketched and painted the scenery in the back of the museum.  We were more interested in the marshes, so off we went! 


After I painted my first sketch, we broke for lunch, had some discussions, and then headed back to our easels for more sketching.  Stan challenged me to take the same scene I sketched and do four more, smaller in size, and different in color/time of day/season, whatever I wanted.  He told me to "just make it up"..... not something easy to do.  Well, I'm not one to back down from a challenge, so off I went back to my easel for some very quick paintings.  The first one was somewhat successful, and the second one needs some tweaking.  When he came by to check on me he then challenged me to make the third one a nocturne, and the last one in the fog.  I ran out of time for the foggy scene, but I did get in my very first nocturne.  It helped that I was surrounded by his beautiful paintings, most of which were nocturnes.  All my paintings are done on Uart paper, 500 grit.


Painting #1 from my sketch at the marshes, and from memory as well as a digital photo (I looked at my camera a bit as I painted, though the image was pretty small).  Size is 8" x 10".


© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


Painting #2 was made up, I really was just trying to use a different color palette.  Size is 4" x 5 1/2".

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


Painting #3 is also made up.  I had some trouble with the color palette on this one, I don't think it was a successful as the last one.  Size is 4" x 5 1/2".

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


Painting #4 is a nocturne.  This was my first time trying a nocturne, but as I said it helps to be surrounded by nocturnes done by a master.  Size is 4" x 5 1/2".

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


Here you can see that I just took a larger piece of paper and taped it off into four sections so I could paint smaller.  You can also see the fourth one was started (the foggy scene), but I ran out of time.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.



In honor of this workshop I finally set myself up with a small Dakota box.  I brought it with me to the workshop, I found it quite nice to have all my pastels in one place! 


Filling this box with pastels was quite a lot of work, and this may not be my end result.  I just may add more darks and lights, and remove some midtones.  I have to work with it some more to be sure, I think it is a work in progress.



It was a great workshop!   I highly recommend Stan's workshop to anybody that loves pastels, loves to plein air, and wants to learn to simplify.  He can release you from the slavery of photo references, I'm sure of it!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"In a Mood", charcoal sketch, 8 1/2" x 11 1/2" on Canson paper

This is a charcoal sketch I did quite some time ago.  I was intrigued by the expression on her face, and I wanted to play with some new charcoal pencils I bought.  I figured it was a good subject to play with.  This was completed pretty quickly, and I was pleased with the result.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Veronica for Dan - #2, Pastel, 11" x 12 1/2", painted on Wallis Belgium Mist

I know I haven't posted a painting in a while, life has gotten in the way but I'm now hoping to get back on track.  I had this one on the easel for quite a while, I just wasn't able to complete it until just yesterday.  I'm quite glad it is done, I really hate it when something sits for too long in an unfinished state.

The lighting was a bit difficult, it was coming from her right, but almost behind her as if backlit.  Not much in the way of shadowing, it was a challenge to model the face properly but I think I got it.






© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A rare look at a master

I found this video clip on artist Ken Elliot's blog, and I thought I would post it here also to share with my followers.  It is facinating to me to be able to actually see this master in action, too bad we cannot see the painting he was working on.  Nevertheless a very interesting peek into the past.

This was originally uploaded to Youtube by Nick Wallace Smith.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gentle Push, 11" x 15", Pastel painted on Canson paper

I finished this one up today. I really only tweaked some areas, I didn't make any big changes. This was a first for me, a seascape, so I treaded somewhat carefully. I'm thinking the next one will be on sanded paper with a watercolor underpainting. Pastels are way too much fun - it should be illegal!


© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gentle Push, Pastel painted on Canson paper (felt gray), 11" x 15"

This is currently on my easel.  I went to Maine last summer, and I took tons of reference photos.  We were on the coast, so I got lots of water photos.  This was taken at a resort in Ogunquit, Maine.  I was above the water on a path going along the coast.   It was a beautiful spot, the ocean was so clear and the foam so bright.  I was able to zoom in with my camera and capture the swirl of the water against the rocks.

It is the first time I've attempted a seascape, and I'm finding I quite like it.  It's much like scribbling with pretty colors while trying to get the foam patterns believable.  It's not done yet, I've got some tweaking to do in the upper right and left areas, as well as below the right hand rocks.  Also, the bottom left foam needs a bit more tweaking.  I may enhance the foam at the tops of the waves too, maybe some warmer lights to lift the wave.

I'm currently using my 80 pc Plein Air Sennelier half stick set, along with my Plein Air Ludwigs.  The softies are really working well for this subject.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lost in Thought, workshop sketch cropped, painted using Girault pastels on Canson paper

I came across this old workshop sketch that I did quite some time ago.  This was done in about an hour, which is why it has that unfinished look.  I thought I would share it here because for some reason it was and still is a favorite of mine.  I cropped it to a square format because there was something going on that I didn't like, yet I was pleased with the bold colors I used in the skin tones.  I know it seems a bit "out there" with regard to the colors, yet for me it somehow works.  The photo is a bit fuzzy, I may try to take it again to get a clearer shot (This will require some digging through my old sketches, though I'm sure it's in there somewhere!)  The square format seems to work as a "save", though IRL I didn't crop it yet.  I just might though, it looks interesting this way.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Uncle's House, Tuscany for Dan, the ultimate feeling when doing a commission.......

The painting "My Uncle's House, Tuscany for Dan" was recently delivered to my client, and I received the ultimate compliment.  He said when he looks at my painting he feels like he is walking down the lane, approaching the house with a glass of wine in his hand.  He said my painting takes him back to his vacation better than the photo did. 

There's nothing better than a happy client, and that kind of compliment makes it all worthwhile!  Now on to the next one, a portrait.......

Friday, April 6, 2012

Two Red Pears, 5 1/2" x 12", Painted on sanded paper, Unison Pastels

I painted this from a photo in the WetCanvas reference image library back in September 2011.  It was for a "Spotlight Challenge" in the Pastel Forum.  I really don't like painting still life from photos, but I was pleased enough with this one.  I like the color of the pears and the soft cloth they are sitting on.  I used strictly Unison pastels for this.  I hadn't used them in quite a while, and I forgot how nice they are.  I broke a rule with this painting, the pears are "kissing", which normally makes an uncomfortable tangent.  Because of the interesting cast shadow on the left pear, I think it works.  Sometimes breaking the rules is a good thing, it forces you to think outside the box.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Uncle's House, Tuscany for Dan, 10" x 15", the final product

This one came together better than I thought it would.  I put in the bush on the right, got rid of the trailing greenery coming out of the window flowerpot on the left (it was becoming the center of interest, and I wanted the yellow house to be the focal point, the greenery had to go), and tweaked the stonework on the bottom of the yellow building.  The yellow building is Dan's uncle's house, full of old world charm.  I enjoyed painting this, it was something I wouldn't normally have the opportunity to do.  I've never been to Tuscany, maybe someday I'll get there!

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Uncle's House..... Tuscany for Dan, another update

I've worked on this a bit more.  I refined the windows, worked on the stone wall some more, and added the path.  I think I will start the tree next, then I'll know if the path is right.  I think I also need to refine the greenery coming off the left wall, it's looking a bit fuzzy.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Uncle's House.... Tuscany for Dan, Pastel 10" x 15", Painted on Uart 400 grit sanded paper

I thought I would post a work in progress here.  I'm currently working on a commission for a dear friend that visited Tuscany Italy recently.  This is a painting of his uncle's house.  I started out with a watercolor underpainting on Uart 400 grit sanded paper.  Here are a couple of stages, this top one is where I'm at currently.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


This is the previous stage:
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


And some more steps:
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

The watercolor underpainting with the sky blocked in using pastels (I forgot to take a photo before starting the sky - oops!):
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The challenge to simplify, a slide show

You may remember that just a short time ago I posted a painting I call "6th Street".  I painted it as part of a challenge by artist Terry Miura to simplify a city scene.  Artists from around the world took up the challenge, and they've submitted their paintings to Terry.  He has taken all the paintings and made a slide show.  You can see the slide show here.  If you want to see the paintings as a collage, take a look at them here.  It was a great learning experience, it really forced me to do something out of my comfort zone.  I will forever look at cityscapes differently, and now maybe I'll be more encouraged to paint them!  Thanks again Terry!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sanctuary, Pastel, 17" x 11" Painted on Wallis sanded paper

I call this painting "Sanctuary" because it really is of a bird sanctuary.  It is a beautiful, peaceful place full of georgous birds.  There are cranes, heron, kingfishers, hawks, and all of the "ordinary" birds one might see at home.  I'm sure there are more unusual ones, I'll have to go back and take a look.  I'll use any opportunity to get more great reference photos.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A challenge to simplify...... "6th Street", Pastel, 11" x 14", Painted on Uart sanded paper

Artist Terry Miura posted a challenge on his blog to simplify a citiscape.   Artists from all over the globe are participating, and you can see the results on his blog.  There is some really beautiful work, thank you Terry for challenging me to work outside my comfort zone - waaaay outside my comfort zone!

I found I really enjoyed painting this, so much so that I just may try another sometime.  I honestly thought that I wouldn't be able to accomplish the goal but I did, for me this is pretty 'simplified'.  No windows on the buildings, not much detail in the cars, and the distant ones are just dots!  The trees don't even have much detail, this was a real accomplishment for me.

I took the original photo and cropped it to what I thought would be a pleasing composition.  That was one of his "rules", crop the photo, don't paint everything you see.

Here are my steps, starting with a watercolor underpainting done on Uart sanded paper, 400 grit.
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

For my next step, I just started pasteling.  I worked from back to front, just because it felt right.  No real reason other than it felt natural.  I used strictly Ludwig pastels, and this painting just intensified my need for more of these lucious pastels.  They are just georgous, fantastic for working on edges.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

You can see in this step I started painting the cars.  They were much easier to paint knowing I didn't need to put in any detail.  I just concentrated on the larger shapes.  I used the colors I used in the buildings, I tried to keep my palette harmonious.  The same reds were used in the signs as were used in the cars.  Even the blues and purples are the same.  Terry is right, selecting a color palette and sticking to it keeps everything harmonious.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Here is my final step, I completed the cars, put in the distant red lights, and added some street "lines".  I'm calling this painting "6th Street" because the street sign actually reads 6th Street.  I have no idea where this is, but it is "6th Street".....
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Emma and Bubba, Pastel, 11" x 14", painted on Wallis Belgium Mist

Meet Emma and Bubba, two pals that don't have a worry in the world.  Talk about cute, these two are absolutely adorable!  I painted them back in February 2011.  The painting was a present for my client's wife.  I really enjoyed painting this one, it was fun to paint white fur without using white.  Emma is on the left, she's a little lady, and Bubba is on the right, a big ol' guy.  I think the size difference between the two is amazing.  Emma really is that tiny, and Bubba really is that big!  This is one of my favorite paintings.  I love painting dogs, they have so much personality.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Two more gouache paintings, 3" x 9 1/2",painted in a Stillman and Birn sketchbook

Here are two more gouache paintings.  Both are of Sunken Meadow.  I'm really enjoying this gouache, I have a list of reasons why I'm finding it so enjoyable.  I'm sure I will be using this new medium regularly, alongside my pastels. It may be time to do some underpainting with it, using the pastels on top.


"Sunken Meadow Looking North"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


 "Sunken Meadow, First Snow"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In the spirit of sharing more tiny sketches........

As usual my never ending devotion to pastels is surfacing again, and I feel the need to post a few more of my favorites.  This is a group of teeny tiny paintings I did back in the summer of 2011.  I had purchased a small box of Terry Ludwig pastels.  He calls them "Mystery Boxes" because they are made up of 14 sticks of mystery colors.  When you purchase the box you have no idea what you will get, and his motto is "you get what you get, and you don't get upset".  The reason for the mystery is because he is selling them at a discount and he randomly takes pastels from his "seconds" stash.  These pastels "seconds" are those that aren't quite good enough for the pristine new boxes of pastels he sells, yet they're really fine for painting, not at all defective (they just might not be as "pretty or pristine", they have bubbles and chips which don't affect the quality of the pastel or their usefulness).  Ludwig pastels are a dream to work with, I will jump at the chance to buy some at a discount, pristine or not. 

It was a fun project.  I took the 14 sticks and painted 9 teeny tiny paintings using just those pastels and nothing else.  This is the beginning of my thoughts into starting some kind of sketchbook.  My problem was one, namely pastels and their smudge factor.  Not conducive at all to sketchbooks.  These little ones are now in a large frame floating on black foam core, sort of like a collage.  I didn't know what to do with them, putting them in a book was not an option.  So, the evolution of a sketchbook of some sort started to emerge, I just had to find a medium to do it with!  My first thought was watercolor, but since I've discovered gouache I think that will probably be my "go-to" medium for sketchbooks and thumbnails.  I'll still use watercolor and keep trying to figure them out as well, but gouache for me is a great discovery!  Nothing will ever replace my beloved pastels though, there's something about their sparkle and juicy color, you just can't get that with anything else.  I just love the "look of them", they're like no other medium.

Here is the box of pastels I received:

My first painting,
 "Sunset on the Northside"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


This is how small it is:

The rest of the paintings are just as tiny, I posted this so you could see the scale.  It was like painting with bricks,  you can see how big the pastels are in relation to the size of the painting.  They say to use the largest brush you can when painting, I guess I did just that!  Pastels are our brushes.  This first one is my favorite, I hope to do a larger version of it sometime soon.  I used a scrap piece of LaCarte paper.  I even bought a large piece of the same paper in the same color.  My intention is to use just the pastels in the box to do a larger version.  I used a sunset photo I took a few years back while we were vacationing in Montauk, Long Island, a beautiful place.

Here is another one, the reference was a photo I took of the North Fork of Long Island.  It is wine country, and the landscape is beautiful.  Actually, all but two of these sketches are from photos I took of that area.

"Treeline"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


This is the tasting room at Corey Creek Vineyard, Southold, NY

"Corey Creek Tasting Room"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


I took quite a few photos that day at Corey Creek.  Here is another one showing a small house in the distance.  I'm not sure if the house is part of the vineyard, but it made for a nice painting.


"Corey Creek"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


This is the same house as above, but from a different vantage point.  I like the texture I achieved with this one, those Ludwigs are juicy for such a dry medium!


"Corey Creek House"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


The last one I did from Corey Creek is one that started out with the vineyards in the landscape.  The "bricks" I was painting with were too large to actually convey  believable rows of vines so I eliminated them and just painted a landscape.


"Farm in Field"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


On the way home that day the sunset was, as usual, magnificent.  The lighting on the east end of Long Island is remarkable.  Not only can you get great photos, but the paintings I do seem to have a certain quality about them that is unlike anything else I do.  Lighting is everything, it truly is.


"Northfork Sunset"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


While I was painting these teeny tiny paintings I was supposed to be getting ready for a vacation in Maine.  I was obsessed with them, turning out three or four at a time.  I was on a roll and felt I needed to get these out of my system.  If I waited until I got back from vacation the "roll" would be gone, and maybe the inspiration as well.  So, I rushed to paint as many as I could before time ran out.  This next one was inspired by a photo I took at a local "zoo".  It is a small place with some goats, chickens, turkeys, they even have some bears and large cats.  It was the end of a winter day, Santa was coming to greet the kids, the sun was setting and the moon was rising.


"Sunset at Hoyt Farms"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.


When I got back from vacation in Maine, I still felt inspired enough to try another one.  This is from a Maine photo, though the colors are nothing like how it looks there.  Because I'm doing this with a very limited palette I had to give up the notion of  "capturing Maine".


"Wildflowers in Maine"
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some watercolor sketches, and some gouache sketches.....

I purchased some Stillman and Birn sketchbooks with the intention of using them to figure out watercolor.  As I started to play around with them, I realized that even though the paper is extra heavyweight, it is not very condusive to watercolors.  At least not in a way that will help me to figure out watercolors.  Out of desperation I pulled out some gouache paint that I had laying around in my studio for years, and I mean years.  I never used them because I really didn't now what to do with them.  I had read somewhere that gouache works well on smooth, heavyweight paper, and the paper in this journal seemed it just might fit the bill.  So, I started painting a few thumbnails.  The first few paintings are watercolor, as they were the ones that "told me" that this paper wasn't going to work very well with watercolor.


This first one is a watercolor.  The paper in this journal just seems to let the watercolor "float" on top of the paper, and it doesn't want to allow clean, smooth washes or any type of glazing.  I got through it and finished this one, so it wasn't a total loss, just not what I was looking for.  I call this "Pomegrapples" because they look like a cross between a pomegranete and an apple.  They're suposed to be apples, but I'm not sure they really look like apples!  But, I like the colors, and being the color fiend I am, that makes me happy.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.



This is another waterclor, and I was starting to get very frustrated.  I am happy with this, but the paint was not cooperating.  Again, issues with smooth washes and glazing.  I do like the way this turned out, I couldn't have achieved it on Arches cold press, so the experiment was a success in that I ended up with something I like.  I also began to realize that this paper and watercolors just might not work together, and I needed to figure out another wet medium to use in this sketchbook.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.



Watercolor and ink, and lesson learned:  don't ink first!  It's too much like coloring in a coloring book.  I just may go back into this with some gouache, it may save it.  Right now I'm not happy with it, but this was a turning point for me.  I now know that watercolor and this paper were not a match made in heaven.

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.



This is my first gouache.  Much better, the paper and the paint liked each other very much.  I've never painted with gouache before, and I found myself really liking it.  It is similar to pastels in that is an opaque medium, so my brain wasn't going into opposite mode like it does with watercolors...... a good thing.  I felt so positive about this one.  I know it's not perfect, but for a first gouache it's not too bad.  I liked how the paint worked with the paper and now I'm thinking, "this may work, I need to try it again!"

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.



Another gouache, and now I'm really thinking this could be a great medium to use in sketchbooks for color thumbnails!  Yes, I am one happy camper right now.  I can see this one and the tree done in a pastel on a larger scale.  It's nice to be able to work out a painting in a color thumbnail and imagine it as a pastel.  Pastels are not condusive to sketchbooks, the smudge factor is just too much of a pain.  So, discovering gouache is turning out to be such a plus, I'm very excited!

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.



I'm really lovin' this gouache, who knew?  I've always wanted to paint this scene, it is from a photo I took at a local state park called Sunken Meadow.  This area is a bird sanctuary, and is quite beautiful.  I could do this in pastel too, and now I have a road map of how I think I want to approach it.  I also think I will add a bird somewhere.  Oh happy days.....

© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved.