Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to the Gym

Happy New Year everyone. I’m well into the “off season” as I like to call it ... no plein air shows to worry about in these winter months. This is my time for reflection, exploration, and working-out some different muscle groups. If we want to stay healthy and keep in shape, exercise is the key, right? One of my choices is figure painting. I’ve studied the figure for as long as I’ve been interested in art, but with my “landscape” career in full swing, I don’t get much of an opportunity from spring to fall. So, winter becomes an excellent time for me to get back into shape. So with the new year upon us, I’ll discuss my approach to self-growth. (also see my entry: And Now for Something Completely Different).

Since I don’t have a trainer saying this or that will achieve better color, more interesting compositions, or this certain exercise will hone my brushwork, I’ve had to come up with my own methods. One of them, is exploration in different areas of painting. Growth for me is stumbling across something new by a process of trying different things to see if anything sticks. I’ll try to use different palettes or brand of paint. Paint looser, tone my canvas or maybe just slow down to see if there is some new approach that is appealing in one way or another. Which brings us to the painting above -- “Party Life,” 12x9 in oil -- was an experiment for me on multiple levels.

First, this was a figure painted from a photograph. While I usually only paint figures directly from life as I believe this is the best way to see structure properly, I was curious of my result otherwise. Second, I decided to use a different color palette than my norm. After doing some reading, I came up with a creation of Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cad Yellow Light, Naples Yellow, Quinacridone Rose and Titanium White, and my brand was the M. Graham walnut oils. I also used their Walnut/Alkyd as a medium, which is fast drying with a high gloss sheen. Lastly, I decide to use a broader stroke while painting, worrying less on an exact likeness and more on defining planes with brushwork. This resulted in a lush painterly feel, different from some of my past figurative studies which were stiffer and I felt my skin tone choices were too brown. I also enjoyed the fresh, high-key tones from the different color combinations.

All in all, I came away with a couple of nuggets that I will add to my repertoire. Not everything ends up being a success, but discoveries such as these would not happen for me without this exploration. Trying hard now ... getting strong now. Enjoy!


  1. OU that is a good narrative, inspiring ideas i.e. different brands dif. pigments, good reminder to shake up whatever we become USED to doing. I adore the broader stroke.

  2. I wonder if this is the season for moat artists doing just as you have mentioned as I too find I spend the next several months experimenting and doing things I have wanted to do for the past year.
    Good luck with yours and have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR

  3. Hi Greg.
    I have just found your blog on one of your students blog, Kim. I love your loose style Greg, it`s brilliant. I am a follower of yours now, but also I would like to receive your latest painting via email. It seems there isn`t an option to do this on your blog. I gather you don`t allow this, is that right Greg? If so, It is a terrible shame. People will miss out in seeing your latest works. All the best Greg.