Saturday, December 10, 2016

My first list of items to remember

As I paint pastels I find myself not remembering all of the steps to follow. 

After painting my latest painting below, while reviewing my reference photo something was bugging me. Then I realized what it was: the grass foreground. The reference photo has three distinct sections in the foreground: back, mid, and very close. Each one of these sections were painted differently. Because the block in values were different it reminded the original artist to use different colors in a different manner. My biggest mistake: I blocked in the grass section with the same brown color through out the section and blew it! Now it is very difficult to fix the painting without residual issues popping out in the finalized painting. It will make it look choppy and broken up. I am at a stand still with this painting. I may start over with this painting because I really like it. But this time I may keep the block in layer as a separate layer so I can tweak it later. I have learned a lot this time!

Here is my first attempt at a list to follow while painting a painting; that I threw together. I need a road-map. I plan on putting it on the wall and will try to follow it while I paint so I don't forget steps. I will update this list if I make hand-written changes to it while it is on my wall:

Steps to follow while painting landscape Pastel Paintings:
  1. Trace the image.
  2. Block in sky colors (3), mountain colors (3), mid-ground colors (3) including shadow areas (blues/purples), and foreground colors (3) including shadow areas (blues/purples).
  3. Light sky to dark foreground throughout the painting for dimension.
  4. Vary shades in every section while painting details. Usually at least 3-5 colors per section should be used for variety.
  5. In trees and bushes make sure to add sky holes.
Total colors to be used throughout painting: 12 block in colors, 20 detail colors: 32 total colors.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Step 2 of my next painting

Here is my next painting "Her Hillside" (NOT COMPLETED):
 2732 x 1355 pixels using Corel Painter 2017

This painting is going to be a simple painting. The image is the half done version after about two days work. Hopefully I will accomplish this painting before I leave. The figure of the lady on the hillside will be in the open spot in the grass. I still need to let the overall painting marinate. I'm not there yet and won't be painting tonight. It is time to start the list against what I have so far. Painting her will be new for me. A first. The first person I have painted. I will put her on her own layer so that I can tweak it. I am also thinking of creating another top layer(s) that will hold textures on them to give the painting a more painterly feel. The new version of painter supports this new feature and I'm excited to try it out. We shall see.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Contour Design Shuttle Pro V.2

I took a chance and ordered the above said item and installed it on Sunday on my iMac. Since then I have been using it to drive ArtRage and I think I am impressed and disappointed too. Here are the Pros:
1) Setup is a breeze on my iMac.

2) The software makes sense.

3) Built well.

4) Came timely from Amazon.

5) Changes take place immediately when updating the software. An ArtRage reboot is not required.

6) Works great!

And now for the Cons (and maybe ArtRage specific):
1) I do not care for the outer jog ring using ArtRage. I think I disabled it because nothing really works well with it. The outer ring is spring loaded to come back to the zero point on the ring and nothing in ArtRage really stands to benefit from this kind of action. At lease as far as I can think of. You can easily change keyboard shortcuts in AR but nothing lends itself to this kind of action.

2) The inner shuttle dial works well; but, in some ways it is easier to use a button that holds down the shift key while you drag with your stylus left or right to change the size of your brush. I'm not sure that I will use the shuttle. Maybe I need to retrain myself? I am so used to using the shift key to do this action that it is a hard habit to break. At least AR only controls the brush size and not the opaque setting like PS does. I find this action strange. But it is probable just me. Matt Hohr does not change Opaqueness in PS, He changes Flow Rate. A downside to using PS because you cannot assign this action to the shift key. AR does not support keyboard shortcuts to the softness setting using the pastel brush. That's a bummer because I do change the softness a lot.

This may not be the Pro V.2's fault. It may just work better using audio/video software that stands to benefit from a jog/shuttle wheel. I'm not so sure it is the V.2's fault at all. That is my thoughts after two days use. It may change and if it does, then I will post an update!

Here's a picture of the unit:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

White Winter Path

It sure is chilly outside today. Burrrrr...  This picture sure doesn't help matters:
12x8   White Winter Path   ArtRage

It's not that bad huh? Letting the painting marinate for two days then coming back to it and tweaking it helped. I have a little bit of spice added to the tress to try and draw you into the picture. I am not 100% happy with the snow, but I want to move on. After you have literally poured your heart and sole into a painting you want to move on. Quickly. You see every flaw, every little hint of nope, everything that you want to fix, and at this point I have no clue on how to do it. I will be interested in what my friends on Facebook have to say about this one. I am green and I know it!

Now, what will I paint next? I have thoughts of painting Liam's latest painting. But I might dig through my own personal photos and paint something from a picture I have taken. That is the whole point of taking the pictures. To use my photo's later in original paintings is my goal. See the world, take photo's and paint them. No copyright violations there!

Tonight I will try and decide what my next painting will be... Stay tuned!

Monday, November 28, 2016

After Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful weekend it was. My relaxation level came to a whole new level of chill!

But the amount of sleep; I didn't get, caused me issues with doing the amount of painting that I wanted to accomplish. I persevered last night. The photo below of the painting I did last night is not ready to post yet. I wanted to prove to everyone that I did work on a painting. I did spend a lot of time this weekend reading and studying artwork. 

I sent a post over to Matt of Ctrl+Paint asking him to do a video on how digital artists need to practice or perform loose painting. The painting below, as you can clearly see is not loose. The last two paintings I have done have not been loose. I need to work on that. Maybe when I am selecting brush sizes I am making them to small and creating to many brush strokes? Does this cause my paintings to be to artificial and digital? If you know the answer to this then please tell me how to do it. I am not getting any usable answers on the internet other than use bigger brush sizes.

Here's this weekend's painting. I am letting it marinate a day or two before I come back and clean it up. I already have 5 points on my clean up list but I may not be done yet...

It's going to be a great week of painting!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful relaxing day!  I had the house to myself (except Hannah and Duncan barked at me a lot today), a bird in the oven (Gertude; we name ours!), stuffing, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes.  It was yummy! The turkey came out perfect and I will have plentiful meals for the next week.  Oh my, I forgot: gravy... It tasted great!

I did some color studies this morning.  I worked on value colors and how they relate to landscapes. I divided a picture into eight different values, which represents 11.11 different segments from zero to one hundred. Then I started to apply those value changes to sky, background, mid-ground and foreground. In the four different divisions of a primitive landscape I attempted to have the values in each section depict relative changes.  As in; I gave the sky three different values, mid-ground three different values, etc.  When I was done painting the blurred landscape it made sense and looked, correct.

I also played with luminosity settings (value) using the color picker and experimented with using all kinds of different hue's that used the same luminosity. All the colors looked great together. But the value's stayed the same. It was great fun to play with. 

This taught me to look at other peoples paintings and visualize what works and what doesn't. Here is a great post about value relationships and landscapes: The only thing the author left out is in the immediate foreground. Usually most painters will have the grass line darker.  Like Karen's latest image: Thankful 18x24 (Karen Margulis). An excellent painting that shows everything done properly using correct values through out the painting and all values are in their proper place. A well done work of art!

Hopefully tonight I will get better sleep so that I will be ready to paint some paintings tomorrow. Copies, no originals yet, but I have so much to learn. You think you've got it then when that blank canvas is looking at you, sneering at you, your knowledge base goes right out the window!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My XKey/24 experience

I spent the day setting up my new XKeys XK-24 unit to be used by ArtRage. It was "some fun"; but I got it dialed in. Labels and all. I rawk! It took a bit to understand that while not being able to program it with my iMac; and I had to use my windows computer, that the command key in OSX is actually the windows key in Windows. Huh. Go finger?

Here's a picture:

That should do the trick for now and should help me to speed the process up some.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! And it's a four day weekend...  Woohoo! A wonderful day to stay in my jams and get some serious painting done. I have downloaded about 10 different references to paint from so I am set. All I need is a good night's sleep and coffee and I will rock this house. Wish me luck and a soft paint brush!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Keyboard Shortcuts and PS/AR

I spent the day looking around for keyboard shortcuts for both programs. I watched several videos from Matt Kroh at Matt also turned me onto A great place that has all kinds of textures that can be used for painting.  The textures are made to be repeatable so the edges always line up.

I continued doing research into if I want to use AR or PS.  In AR I was only using the chalk pastel. I didn't realize that the wax pastel allows blending as you paint. That maybe a better way of doing certain brush strokes since it will blend as I paint. But, it may be harder to control. I will need to experiment with this feature.

PS sure is a different duck that is for sure. It probable works great and better than AR but man the setup kills you. And the pastels do not use the canvas as a texture. Maybe it is just different?

I need to decide which tool I am going to work with and stick with it. Then after a month if I do not get the results that I like, switch. Maybe after two months; to really learn the tool. I am thinking that AR will be my choice. It just makes more sense right now. I have accomplished semi-respectable paintings with it. What do you think?

I have until this Thursday night to make my decision, then it is time to paint.  That leaves me with three days this weekend to crank out some paintings. I will need to line up my next three references to use for painting. "I've got to mister!"

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Photoshop Tutorials

Today, I spent my time investigating using PS again.  I contacted Matt Kroh of Ctrl+Paint and he was very helpful.  Matt is an expert painter that uses PS professionally and his work shows it.  He told me that learning PS would be a bumpy ride but the trip is worth the travels.  His teaching of PS is very insightful and informative when I watch his videos.

Matt gave me the link to another painter's pastel paint brushes (Kyle Webster: and they work great in PS!  Pastels with lines - woohoo!  I should be able to get the sides of pastels and the end tips now too.

So, the one downside with PS is that when you paint there aren't canvases with texture. The surface will always remain flat. You can add a texture to the output of the painting to give it a textured look but when you paint you don't get that texture feel when you paint with the brush. Not that you feel it in the pencil but how the pastel reacts with the paper. That granularity in the painting process is gone.

And the keyboard shortcuts are so lame in PS... Sometimes you just know that this is not a painting program, it is a "I can everything, and paint to program". I am just whining.  I know it.

I don't have any paintings to post today.  I'm tired, miss my wife, Hannah doesn't feel well (our 6 pound Yorkie) and it's Sunday.  Well at least no meteors landed in the front yard taking out my god damn truck!
Men in Black and Edger

He is such a bigot!  But it is so funny how depressing he is!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Afterglow of Autumn

9x12   Autumn Glow   ArtRage

This is also another painting I used from Karen Margulis PSA. Her blog entry for this painting can be found at: If you go to her link you will see how this painting "should be" painted. Her ability of doing natural paint strokes using real pastel puts my work to total shame. I have once again got to start somewhere! This painting is to exact. To many lines are going on. Not enough painterly strokes are happening.  It's to predictable. But I like it enough to post it here.

Using ArtRage the default pastel brush only allows you to use the tip of the chalk and not the side of the chalk. I hope with the latest release of AR they update this feature. There is no way that I can get the lines to appear like Karen's picture gets:

Karen Margulis - Quiet Contemplation

Someday I hope to paint this wonderful painting! She has this one nailed. Notice the brush strokes in the water that have that straight edge to them? I am currently not able to get that effect in AR. She uses the edges of the pastel chalk to her advantage. Something I am struggling getting using AR.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Beginning...

5x7   Happy Meadow   ArtRage

This is a painting I used from Karen Margulis PSA.  Her blog entry for this painting can be found at:  Karen is a wonderful pastel painter that has been painting for many years and gives lessons in her studio.  She has been gracious enough to post videos on YouTube too on how she does her paintings.  A very valuable resource can be found here: Karen Margulis - YouTube.

Currently I am using ArtRage and some of the results are promising.  The lack of being able to use the pastel as a straight line like a real pastel has on its side is becoming a problem though.  I may have to get some help from the ArtRage forum on how to go about using a stencil, a form of a brush, to get straight edges using the pastel engine of the software.  I have not been impressed with stencils in ArtRage (AR) and have considered going into PhotoShop (PS) to accomplish real pastel brushes.  Creating or finding brushes in PS are far easier to accomplish.  And, maybe the engine in PS works better than AR for pastels?  There is a user on that feels that PS has a better output than AR.  The jury is out.

This first attempt at pastels using software came out just dandy.  I have painted using real pastels before but I wanted to try them in the digital realm.  It has promise!