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Painting From Memory Experiment

When most people learn to draw it follows one of a few different styles:

  1. Sight-sized where you place the paper (picture plane) next to the subject, then stand far away such that you can view the subject and paper as if they’re next to each other.  You then basically plot out copying points from the subject to the paper, and since they’re at the same orientation and layout, you can see your mistakes easily.  This method does a good job of making an accurate drawing, but is tedious and requires a lot of space.  It does work very well for landscape painting though, since the scene is always so far away in a landscape you don’t really have to walk back to do sight-sized.
  2. Relative measurement or “measuring” where you pick a part of your subject to be the “unit of measure”, then use that unit to measure the location and size of other objects in the scene.  If you were doing a room, you might pick the width of a door as your “one” (aka unit of measure).  Then you’d use that “one” to find out how wide or tall other objects in the room were, and where they were located.  This method works well and also lets you hold your paper or painting next to you or in your hands.  You can also just use a pencil and some paper and that’s it.  With sight-sized you need an easel and some other things since you have to walk away from it over and over again.  The down side is this method isn’t as accurate as the others.
  3. Relative angle or “block-in”  This is where you use the relationship of angles to other angles in big chunky blocks to locate and size objects in the scene.  Rather than picking the width of a door to find the width of a wall, you’d make a big loose line, then use that line to locate another angle, then that angle to find the edge of a wall, and eventually you’ve got the general location of the big shapes because you’ve lined up their angles to each other.  This creates an integrated drawing, but it has problems when you want to paint because you have to do a lot of erasing and refining.  You can’t just draw the 4 things in the scene.  You draw 4 big shapes, then “carve” into those shapes, and then erase, and then carve more, then find inside shapes, and carve those, etc.
  4. Shapes or “painterly” This is where, rather than find the outlines of objects in a scene, you just paint their shapes.  It works more with paint than with pencil, but you start with painting about 3-6 big shapes, then you refine those shapes down with more shapes inside.  It’s called “painterly” because it produces an image that doesn’t look obviously drawn, and more direct.  Down side is it’s pretty difficult to get right in the beginning, and definitely hard to get super realistic with this style.

I actually use all three of these depending on what I’m trying to paint or draw.  I find sight-sized is awesome for landscape painting when you need to be accurate.  I find I mix measuring and block-in styles when I paint.  I’ll use angles and measurement to locate edges and objects, then shapes.  Many times I also just like to use a painterly approach, but I’ll still lay down some guide lines to figure out where things are in a scene.  One trick to make a painting look “painterly” but still do drawing is to draw the scene, but then use giant shapes that wipe out the lines, then paint into those shapes.  When I use a palette knife I’m almost exclusively using the painterly style, and actually I enjoy that style the most.

Memory Drawing

While investigating these different methods I stumbled on a French guy named Père Lecoq from the 1848 who taught people to paint and draw from memory.  He did this as an experiment with children going to the French Academic painting system to see if having them memorize the elements of drawing and painting would make them as accurate as other methods of teaching.  At the end of the experiment, several students were evaluated and determined that they did in fact draw as well as other students.

Lecoq eventually got fired or quit from the Academy and went on to simply teach on his own, but he did write a small book on how he taught.  I read it, and it was a little confusing, so I found this other book by Darren R. Rousar called Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall. In Darren’s book, he goes through the history of memory drawing, and then has a bunch of exercises that attempt to teach it.  I read  his book, and did about 20% of the exercises and loved how it felt.  It was so weird and different from other ways of drawing.

It seems impossible, but you can actually stare at a scene or a photo, and after about 2-3 minutes of staring at it, do a fairly close approximation of it.  There’s really no way to describe what is happening, but, when I do it I’m not really ticking off a list of points and measurements.  I’m staring at what I want to memorize, and periodically closing my eyes, or drawing in the air over it with my pinky, and then staring with “loose” eyes over the whole scene, and then…I can remember what is where and draw it.  I really can’t explain it.

And, you’d think I’d be way off on my first try, but not really.  I’m fairly close on most of the basic shapes I’ll show you here.  More complex things obviously will be less accurate, but in general I’d say I’m not any more or less accurate in my first to fourth basic blockins than with any of the other methods I listed above.  Eventually I’ll obviously be more accurate with those methods over the long run, but I’m actually not so sure about that.

You see, the process of drawing is actually one of refinement from a gross mistake.  You start off with a guess that’s unrefined and messy or bulky.  Then you correct that and refine it, and repeat this refinement until you have the level of accuracy you want. After years of studying what I found is that accuracy is more a product of time spent refining than any sort of immediate magical accuracy.  99.9% of all artists who paint or draw very accurately either copy photos, start of with fairly messy guesses that become accurate, or don’t actually draw as accurately as you think they do.

Gross Refinement

This got me thinking:  What if I could adjust the Lecoq/Rouser memory drawing style to instead use this gradual refinement process.  In Rouser’s and Lecoq’s book the flaw I saw is that they expected me to be able to memory an entire human head with fine gradations of tone and draw it in a few attempts.  However, that’s completely unrealistic and not how most artists work.

This week I decided to try an experiment where I used my memory to draw some simple geometric foam shapes in different orientations.  I was going to try each of the above processes to see what worked, and also try a few different mediums (charcoal, pastel, oil paint).  My goal was to see, could I use my memory only to get a basic drawing, but use the block-in and refinement process that seems to work best.

When you see these though, keep in mind that I’ve been practicing and training in drawing and painting for a while.  Don’t think that I’m saying someone with zero art experience could plunk down these shapes and bang out these paintings from memory.  There is something strange going on that I can’t quite explain, but rather than explain it I’m just going to try to figure out how to do it by doing it a whole lot.

The process I used is basically this:

  1. Stare at the scene or the photo for 2 minutes.
  2. Cover the scene or photo and then, looking only at the painting, put down the big shapes I remember.
  3. Remove the cover and then check how accurate I am.  Anything that I get wrong, either I’ll erase/wipe it for the next round, or if it’s tiny and a small fix will help, just do that small correction.
  4. Now cover the drawing or painting and repeat #1, but memorizing a smaller part for refinement, or some area I got very wrong.

The idea is I’m attempting to utilize “memory chunking” where, rather than magically memorize an entire photo, I’m memorizing big chunks of the scene.  Then, once I have those drawn I dive into the shapes to memorize smaller aspects of it.

The Results

My first experiment was with an actual object in a dark box I use for cast studies (it’s actually just a black bookshelf).  I did this one in charcoal and white chalk, and used more of a relative measure style of drawing it.  I memorized some of the basic measurements of the big shapes using the width of the right side of the block, and also memorized the general shape of the whole scene.  This took me about 6 rounds to get to here.  One problem though is using a actual object rather than a photo makes it difficult to check my accuracy.  I mean, sure, that looks like a rectangle block, but it’s difficult to really see if I was dead accurate with it.

My next attempt I switched to using a monochrome photo printed out, and using pastels. The photo makes it much easier to tell if I’m being accurate or not, and the pastels makes it much quicker to lay down the shapes I’m attempting to hold in my head.  Pastels also have the advantage that I have to grab actual values of black vs. white.  With charcoal I’m using the paper is a white, and then different amounts of charcoal to get different values.  Pastel I grab a white, or a gray, or an almost black, and when I put it down, that’s the actual thing I see.  This makes it much easier to paint what’s in my memory since it’s more direct.

I did this in about another 7 rounds, and I used the block-in style of drawing then painting it.  First I remembered relatively what the angles of the scene were, drew them from memory, then I memorized what values (white vs. black) when where.  This worked pretty well and the pastels definitely are better than charcoal.

Next I used oil paint, and still from photos, plus stayed with he block-in style of drawing. The oil paint was definitely quicker, and I think I did this in maybe 4 rounds?  Next time I’ll track how many rounds and how many corrections I made.  With the oil paint it was very important to pre-mix the colors so I could work with them like I did the pastels.  I think having to mix would take up too much time and wash out any memory of the scene I had.  The oil paint definitely went faster, but I could see that for the purpose of checking accuracy it might not be as good as pastels.  I will say that I did this very fast before going out to eat, so I’m surprised it was as close as it is.

My final test was again with oil paint, but using the painterly method.  This shape is challenging because of the ellipses involved, but the painterly approach worked in general.  I first memorized the big shape of the dark background and the ellipse.  That basically leaves the front of the cylinder so no need to memorize that.  I then painted that in really sloppy to get a general idea of where it all goes and the shape.  Surprisingly I was pretty close, and on the next round had the cylinder close enough to refine it and render it better on each round.  I’d say it’s not quite as accurate as the oil painting above, so I’m leaning toward using the block-in method to get a general idea of the drawing, then painterly to block it in and refine it.

Surprises

I’d say the most surprising thing is that it works at all and that I was fairly accurate on the first and second round.  In the case of the pastel painting my drawing was pretty close on the first round.  These are simple geometric shapes, but keep in mind I’m copying them from a strange angle with perspective and comparing it to a photo.  If most things are based on these basic geometric shapes then I’m thinking I could keep practicing this and eventually get to combining them in more complex ways.

The other thing that is surprising is how easy it was compared to constantly looking and measuring.  There was some measuring and comparing when I made little adjustments, but overall I just stared at the photo, covered it, and got pretty close.  With regular drawing it’s a constant battle of bouncing back and forth to get the drawing right and I might get a more accurate results eventually, but I’m also doing hundreds of “rounds” in that case.

The ellipse in the last painting is a good example of this difference.  Normally doing an ellipse is difficult, but in this I kind of just whipped that out with a couple brush strokes, then on the next round altered its value some or refined it a bit.  It’s obviously not perfect, but pretty good for just a couple of attempts at it.  I think with normal drawing I’d work on that for quite a while.

The final surprise so far is how it felt.  Doing it this way felt…meditative.  I had to stop and slow down and stare at this photo or object until it melted away and turned into a group of shapes.  I had to focus my attention, but also not really focus at all and just let it come into my mind’s eye.  It was nearly the same sensation as meditation, and then when I went to paint it was like releasing a breath.  As if what I memorized had to come out now.  When I paint or draw other ways it’s more like I’m pulling and working a large rope to pull the drawing onto the canvas.

I’ll continue this experiment with more complex topics and see how this goes.  I’m going to narrow down on the block-in/painterly method, but I’ll still bounce between pastels and oil until I’m more confident which one is easier to work with doing this.

Today’s Portrait Painting Class

Portraits are definitely my most difficult subject so I attend as many painting classes as I can. Here’s today’s class progress shots:


Just a simple drawing and then basic painting of the head, did this in the first two settings. Next shot:


Color and exposure isn’t very good on that but shows the progress.


The final painting at the end of class. Actually I was done last session but then decided to goof off with the tattoos and background for no real reason.

Bob Ross’s Misty Foothills

I did another Bob Ross last night, mistly using the knife but not entirely:


I love using the palette knife to paint like this but I don’t get much opportunity to use it with the classical realism I do. I think my next Ross will be all knife.

Here’s the progression:









Lady Agnew Mastercopy Day 1

I’m doing a master copy of John Singer Sargent’s Lady Agnew painting
in class and have the first drawing and thin grissaille done:
I left a few spots open for now since I wanted just enough to see the drawing. The next layer will be full color but very simple rather than a monochrome underpainting. 

I wanted to do this in pastel but after studying it I thought it would be too difficult. The original painting is huge so when shrunk to 11×14 it becomes mostly photographic. Replicating that in pastel will be difficuly in three weeks.

John Singer Sargent Mastercopy #1

I finished this JSS mastercopy today and will start another one of his for the rest of class. I may try the next one in pastel to practice that and also because I only have 3 weeks left in this class.


Here’s the side-by-side of the print and my copy. JSS would be proud of this since there is obviously something wrong with my version’s mouth.


The purpose of a mastercopy is to learn how another artist would approach the subject.  Painting, especially alla prima, has the history and technique of the artist embedded in the painting. You can figure out quite a bit of their style from the brush strokes and attempting to mix the same colors.

It’s better to do this from an actual painting rather than a print, but I’ll make that a goal for next year.

Second Cast Drawing Nearly Complete

I have been working on a cast drawing of this old man, who I think is a Saint so I call him Saint Anger because I listened to mostly Metalica while I worked on it. This drawing is done in pencil on Ampersand clay board.  Here’s the progress of it that I’ve saved to my phone so far, from earliest to now.

I’ve Been Doing Painting Videos All Wrong

For the last year or so I’ve been obsessed with watching instructional videos for painting. I probably own a few thousand dollars worth of videos, plus a subscription to Lynda.com and ArtistsNetwork.tv and I may add another subscription site. I spend about 2-3 hours a week watching videos, and some weeks I may average one a day, especially if I’m trying to figure out a particular technique. What I would do is watch a video, and take notes along the way of what the artist says to do. Then I would watch another one, or I would test out the technique in a bunch of studies.

That’s all changed thanks to Bob Ross, Johannes Vloothius, and Richard Robinson. Now I approach painting videos very differently and it’s radically made learning to paint way more fun.

It all stars with me jokingly deciding to do one of the many Bob Ross DVDs I have purchased. Normally I watch Bob Ross’s episodes when I’m bored and want some background noise or when I want to sleep. He’s better than a pile of Ambien for going to sleep. One day I thought, “Hey, I know how to paint so what would happen if I followed along with Bob?” About three hours of fun and mess later I produced this:

Did this following Bob Ross

It was a hell of a lot of fun, and his method of painting is ridiculously easy to generate a landscape, but after that I just sort of forgot about it and put it on my list of fun late night things to do when I’m bored.

At the same time I’m watching videos I come across Johannes Vloothius’ ImproveMyPaintings.com where he sells courses in landscape painting that are based on online webinars he does. They’re full of lots of information and I started watching his lectures and painting to learn more of the clichés that landscape artists use to prove they “get it”. Using his videos I painted the first painting I sold:

Large Landscape based on a photo and smaller painting.

Yet, all I did was watch him paint and take notes. I’d remember many of the lecture points and most of the information, but when it came to applying them I’d just do studies or do nothing at all. The interesting thing about his courses is he follows each lecture on a subject with a demonstration in oil, watercolor, pastel, and acrylic. I would watch passively and see what he was doing but not much more than that.

It wasn’t until I had watched a few Richard Robinson videos and then attended a workshop he gave in San Francisco that something clicked about painting videos. I bought a few of Richard’s videos because I really liked his painting style. Johannes’ lectures are full of information and he’s a really good teacher, but I don’t particularly like the paintings he does as demos. They’re alright, and they are very instructive, but not really interesting to me. Richard’s paintings are great, and even the demos are paintings I enjoy.

I figured if he was coming to San Francisco then I might as well take a workshop with him, and man he is a great teacher. During the workshop I challenged myself to paint large or odd formats, and during one day I painted this painting that someone walked by and offered to buy:

Painting of Embarcadero Fireboats at Richard Robinson's Workshop

Pushing myself this way also helped me figure out an idea I’ve had for a new way to do drawings that is easy to do and really accurate. I’m still trying to figure out how to simplify it further so I can write about it, but here’s the drawing I did on the final day of the workshop:

Drawing from Golden Gate during Richard Robinson's Workshop

Here’s the painting I made, although I’m not done with this one since I want to add more atmosphere to this blocked in painting:

Painting from Richard Robinson's San Francisco Workshop

This was all so much fun and that workshop really worked well to push me into new territory with my landscapes, so I was interested in grabbing some more videos from Richard and watching them. I went and purchased this set of four videos from one of his workshops in Hawaii and then started watching them. I was hanging out in a cafe, and was mentally tired from writing all day, just wanting to relax, but I did have my paint box with me. I’m watching the videos, and then it hits me:

Why the fuck am I just watching this?! I have paint and supplies right here. I could follow along!

You’re probably thinking, well fucking duh dude. Bob, Johannes, and Richard all say to follow along. Richard says it repeatedly. I just didn’t listen.

I busted out the paint box and started following along. I’d play the video a bit, see what he did, pause it, then replicate it. Sometimes I’d have to rewind some, or watch it for a bit to see the next move, then rewind and follow. When I was done it was all over and this was the aftermath of about 1.5 hours of painting with Richard:

Me at a Cafe painting with Richard Robinson's videos

Not the greatest, but that’s not important. What is important was that I learned way more from following along with Richard than I ever did just watching and taking notes. In fact, I think I’ve learned more doing this than I do at workshops and classes combined because I can pause the video and watch him do exactly that. I then followed along with the next video and produced this painting:

Following Richard Robinson, Wave Against A Rock

While again not the greatest painting, it is probably the best seascape painting I’ve ever painted and now I know how to make a glowing eye of a wave. This was also done with only two colors and a complimentary color scheme.

Why This Matters

You might be thinking, “So what? Who cares if you can paint from a video?” The thing that this made me realize is I now have a way to always be able to paint even if there’s not a very compelling subject to paint as well as the best way to learn from painting videos. In the past I’d drag my paintbox with me on the off chance I might see something I wanted to paint really quick. I think out of every 10 times I’d bring it I would actually stop and paint once. I’d sit at a cafe, working and look at the paintbox, then look around and see just walls and not really be interested then keep working.

Now I always have a subject to paint because if I have my laptop and my paintbox I can startup a video and paint along with any number of artists. They’ll have the subject there already, so I can follow it, and they’ll be teaching a subject. I can take 1-2 hour painting breaks whenever I want and learn something at the same time. I can even just take short 20 minute painting breaks throughout the day because I can pause the videos between breaks.

This is now revolutionizing my painting self-education. Rather than watch videos and read about painting and attempt the techniques later, I can paint along and get both a painting session done for the day and learn the most from the video.

How To Do It

If you want to do this then there’s a few points of guidance that will help you out:

  1. It’s better if the videos have a straight on view of the canvas while the artist paints. Johannes’ and Richard’s videos do this, which is why they’re easier to follow. Richards are slightly better quality and he also puts in mixing palette to the side so you can see what he mixes and even when he uses medium. Both of which are important when trying to follow along.
  2. If the videos have reference photos then get them and study them first before you start.
  3. Try to match the paints that they use so you’re not frustrated trying to follow along.
  4. Your painting will look different from there’s, so just go with it. Bob Ross says this all the time but I think people don’t get that the video is more of a guide than an exact instruction set.
  5. Use a laptop so you can pause easily and rewind quickly. Just try not to get paint on your laptop. A laptop is also about the right size screen to copy to a small canvas panel.
  6. Use 6×8″ or 8×10″ canvas panels rather than the size that the artist uses. You want to match the size of your screen, not really the size of their painting. With Bob Ross’s videos though you can go ahead and match his sizes since a lot of his shots are from far away and at an angle.
  7. Don’t be in a rush to do it. A professional artist is going to go way faster than you will. It’s better to watch them do something, re-watch it until you understand it, then try it and see how it came out compared to theirs. Also remember that a lot of videos are edited for time and don’t show mundane things like cleaning brushes, cleaning knives, mixing, and correcting some mistakes.
  8. Look for video packages that have critiques in them. Johannes and Richard’s video packages will have a certain number of critiques in them where the artist goes through student paintings and talks about how to improve them. You’ll start to see common patterns of mistakes and then be able to look at your paintings the same way.
  9. The only mistakes in following along are the brush strokes that are totally wrong which you can’t go with. Most of the time you’ll put down a bit of color and it might be different from the artist’s, but you can keep it and work with it still. Sometimes though you put down such a totally wrong stroke that it just has to go. In this case scrape it off and do it again! The biggest mistake beginners in painting and coding make is thinking that adding more paint/code more will fix broken paint/code. It doesn’t. Just scrape it off and try again.
  10. I’d also say this will be way more fun if you already know how to paint a bit. If you know nothing then it’ll be a messy lesson in frustration because you won’t know basics. For example, when I see an artist mix a color I’m strong enough in my color skills that I can glance at it and mix one close enough that works for the painting in about 10 seconds. If you don’t know the basics of color theory you’ll sit there mixing piles of the wrong color wondering what you’re doing wrong. Start with simple basic painting classes, books, and videos on ArtistsNetwork.tv before tackling a full painting video.

Hope that helps you out.

Artists And Entrepreneurs Oh My

The Atlantic has this incredibly long winded and very one-sided view of art history that makes the claim that entrepreneurs are the new artists. At first I thought this was a huge load of bullshit, but then I realized they may be on to something. I thought about it for, like, 5 minutes more and realized that The Atlantic is brilliant! They have nailed it. The entrepreneur and the artist have so much in common.

Sexy

I have this new theory on accomplishment that you can say you are good at a thing once you either get paid or laid doing it. Since most artists never get paid for their work, all they have is getting laid to prove that they’re actually accomplished at making colorful wall decorations for incredibly rich assholes to hide in their mansions. This is why artists strive so hard to be sexy, but they don’t have to try very hard because our society has placed them near the top of the boning scale. When you read about artists you find out that they’re simply banging everything. Men, women, cans of paint, animals, everything. They’re so desirable for their ability to apply pigment in ways that makes wealthy people wealthier that they can simply walk down the street and get some hot BDSM action.

But who’s at the top of this scale of getting laid? That’s right, the wealthy. There are people so wealthy they can throw Nazi themed sex parties with super models and artists in attendance without any problems. The entrepreneur just has to pretend he’s on track to be wealthy and he can viagra his way right to the tippy top boning ranks on the promise that one day he might invent Uber and stop being an ugly lumpy looking trollkin looking thing just like Travis Kalanick.

World Changing

Entrepreneurs and artists are both about changing the world. For the artist it’s by selling piles of garbage, paintings of incomprehensible color patterns, sculptures of dildos, or literally nothing to incredibly wealthy patrons who then hide the art in their mansions so nobody can see it. By selling art to the crazy wealthy, artists are being socially conscious participants in the world and making sure that poor kids in Detroit can see art every day. That’s how you change the world when you’re an artist. You soften the hearts of the wealthy while they’re banging a stripper at their Nazi themed sex parties.

Entrepreneurs are also trying to change the world with their glorious startups. For them it’s all about selling the startup to the same wealthy patrons either through investments or just getting bought out after they’ve driven their business into the ground. They’ll change the world with their “uber for diapers” for sure, and everyone in the company will benefit from their stock options and make like $5000 whole dollars after the investors make their millions or billions. ‘Cause that’s how you change the world my friends. By fattening the pockets of the wealthy while they’re filling a warehouse with meth to give to the strippers they keep in their dungeon.

Entitled

Artists love to say that there needs to be more artists and that means they shouldn’t have to work a shitty day job like the rest of us “non-creatives” to be able to do what we love. As Molly Crabapple said over at Boing Boing:

“The number one thing that would let more independent artists exists in America is a universal basic income.”

Molly sells her art to really super wealthy people, so she knows that in order to have more art end up in the hands of crazy wealthy assholes, you need more artists. I mean, how else can they speculate on the art market if there’s not more people producing art to speculate on? It’s like when banks were hiring crackheads to help fill out loan applications in 2008. If you have wild speculation on something, you will find just about anyone to make it for you.

But read that quote again. Apparently artists are so entitled and so special (and also mostly white) that they feel they deserve totally free money with no strings attached for simply existing. Notice she didn’t say, “The country would a better place if there was a universal basic income.” She didn’t even say, “We could help the poor with a universal basic income.” She said, “The way you take all those rich kids who can afford $180k in tuition and turn them into ‘artists’ is to give them money to blow on heroin rather than working like the rest of us.” I still don’t know why artists think they shouldn’t have to work like everyone else to gain the freedom to do what they love, but apparently it’s super important. Probably involves giving children and the poor things that will actually just benefit someone wealthy.

Artists are so entitled now that they don’t even want to suffer for their art, but if you want even more entitlement then you need to look no further than entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are so special, and so unique, that we debate whether they’re born or made. They are special breeds of humans who are real men taking risks that nobody else will by taking money from incredibly wealthy people in loans that have zero risk to them. Entrepreneurs are the good looking, strong willed, powerful future despots of the Kingdom of Corporate and everyone else is just a worthless nobody who needs to work for them.

And just like artists, entrepreneurs feel they should be given free money just because they exist and can sling together two words around a preposition. Once they get that money their entire life’s goal is to then avoid working at all costs. It’s the entrepreneur dream to make his bank then go steal a public access beach like the Ocean Grinch.

Important

Artists are very important. Why? Pfft. How dare you ask that! Because art is important! No, not everyone can make art silly. Only true artists can make art, and you better not question their socially conscious washing machine scupltures because that’s just an affront to all that is art. How dare you have an opinion on what you like, commoner. You commoners are so lacking in social consciousness it disgusts me. Art feeds the souls of the poor wealthy men who can afford to buy it. Art helps children who’s parents are rich enough to live near schools with art programs. Art is everything, and by extension so is everyone who calls anything they do “art”. Artists are vastly important, and even though everything anyone produces is valid art, not everyone can make just anything like an artist can make just anything and call it art.

Entrepreneurs are just as important. Everything they make is clearly going to change the world. Whether that’s helping Starbucks open more Starbucks, making the cold fusion of batteries, or automating AirBNB, they are definitely changing the world. They’re going to make those poor wealthy investors so much more money that they’ll have no choice but to give their employees another, like, thousand dollars in bonuses once they get sold to Google as a pity deal. Entrepreneurs are the life blood of the world and when they gain power, wow, do they do great things with their money.

Entreprenuers are so important that they are mythological beings who are the sacred guardians of bitcoin (who apparently told a judge he should be released so he can change the world).

Similarities

It’s true. I now see it. Entrepreneurs and artists now share that incredible sweet spot in our society of being given positions of great status for doing so little. They are allowed to produce anything and declare it a sign that they are somehow more special than the rest of us. More important. More deserving of favor than us common idiots who work boring day jobs. No longer should they have to struggle to do their important work of making things for the ultra wealthy. No my dear readers, they are everything in our society and champions of our plight.

Artists and Entrepreneurs belong together.

Tiny Painting At Baker Beach Before The Tide

I haven’t been able to paint outside for the last few days because it has been too damn cold in San Francisco. Yes, all you people living in colder places are so much tougher than anyone living in San Francisco. Sure. Totally. But it was freezing and windy and sucked to paint under those conditions, plus I had a little cold so I stayed inside for most of the week. I’m a wuss.

Today I really needed to go out and get some sun, and I decided I would go to a more secluded part of Baker Beach that is shielded by some rocks and a cliff. Normally I just stop near the entrance and hang out there, but that’s become boring. The only issue with painting by the cliffs is you can get trapped out there if you don’t watch the tide. I found a small spot among some of the rocks, and did a tiny little test run using my “cutie kit”.

Hurrying Before The Tide Comes In At Baker Beach

This kit has a thumb hole in the bottom so I can actually hold it and paint right on the panel while I’m standing. Very easy to do, and doesn’t weigh too much as long as it’s not loaded with paint. I managed to get this painting down in about 30 minutes then the tide was hitting my shoes so I bailed.

From Baker Beach Before The Tide Came In

I ended up making the water way too green so it looks like a weird field of grass rather than water. There would need to be more reflected sky light in the water to make it look less like grass, and even though it was green, more toward the light and blue side than the red and dark side like it is now.

After this I decided to alter what’s in the cutie kit slightly so that the box is lighter to hold and easier to work with while standing. I ditched a lot of the brushes I wasn’t using, changed the colors to just 4 tubes (Yellow Ochre, Napthol Scarlet, Chromatic Black, Titanium White), and that makes it easier to setup and hold.

I also think that I’ll lay the colors out and prepare them on the little palette before going out. Being as they’re oil paint (well Alkyd with some medium I mix in), they will stick to the palette and just hang there without moving while I walk around. It’s kind of a pain to be standing there in the cold watching the tide and trying to lay out blobs of paint before you can paint. A better option is to just have it already to go so I can just take it out of the case, open it up, and go for it.

Finally, I have additional tubes of color in the little case that the box comes with so I can change it up if I want to move the color choice in a different direction. I’ll be writing about this whole setup and how I use it in more depth later so people who are interested can try it out too. These days I carry this little case around with me all the time so I can do some tiny oil paintings whenever I want. Great little hobby in a cafe, but you have to watch for the smell in case people in the cafe freak out about it.

More on all of this later.

Memories of Old Reno, Pass 2

Continuing my exploration of painting a large painting from memory (story so far here) I worked on the painting I’m calling “Memories of Old Reno” again tonight. This time my goal was to refine the edges, get more parts of the painting accurate, and continue to do it from memory. This time I spent less time studying the painting from the projection and would instead study for about a minute, but only a small piece, then go in the other room to correct that piece. I would say I spent about 85% of my time painting and the rest studying in the other room.

Here’s the results after tonight:

Memories of Old Reno, Round 2

For reference here is Pass 1:

Monochrome Block-in For Old Reno Painting

The only thing is I think I screwed up by using a bit of thinner to get the paint less stiff in some parts. I’m not sure what that will do given I’m using an alkyd based paint, but the warning is that this causes cracking. I guess I’ll find out in about six months. The first pass was completely dry though, so hopefully it’s not a big deal.

Incidentally, if you want to see another weird project I did for Christmas check out Alexandré Phoqué, Artisté. I managed to convince a few people on a mailing list I hang out on to let me make horrible weird portraits of their loved ones as white elephant Christmas presents. It was a lot of fun, so I will plan on doing many more of those in the near future.