Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Little by little

Bit by bit. Many things to finish, but in general, tiny bits of progress. My eyes can't take much more than an hour or two a day. They go blurry and start hurting sometimes. I paint with my nose, someone once told me. I have some things that the detail I put in is so subtle that now I almost cannot see it!

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm too picky!

Well, it looks a little better here as a small photo-image. I'm not happy with the background. First too dark, then too white, now too blue. Any suggestions appreciated. Otherwise, this supposed daily painting is going for a rest in the back of the studio, while I work on something else.

Stoplight Parrot Fish


Trying to paint this guy two inches long. Below, he's upside down biting some algae or something to eat off the coral rock. Parrot fish are named that because their two front teeth, upper and lower, are fused together, and look rather like a beak. Vegetarians, they 'graze' the coral reef.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More stuff

I need to improve my photography!

What's new? A second Barred Butterfly fish, rough-ins of Soldier fish )one finished on the bottom) and a Tang and a Gray Snapper, and a big green sponge. Ah, well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Splat, an Eagle Ray

Well, not finished, but there he is. Spent an hour on two fish in the unpainted coral, just to wipe them off. Funny how you think it'll look OK, then returning from a break I see: fish too small. So you have to just wipe out what you've just done. Seat of the pants painting! Perhaps I should back up and do some planning!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

painting some...

Hmm, think I'll put a lobster in the "front corner"

Two hours fiddling with the lobster. They are the dickens to paint! Meaning difficult.

Wandered outside for a bit to rest the eyes, and when I looked at the painting again, "too small!" Owell, lobster, we'll try again tomorrow.

Friday, February 15, 2008


This is as close as I've ever been to a shark, in over a thousand dives. Here he comes, there he turns, and bye bye, there he goes back to deep water. In the bottom photo, the drop-off is clearly seen. The sandy area is about 100 feet deep, the drop-off goes to more than a mile deep, a mile offshore.

I guess at the closest, the big fish was sixty feet away. The flash of my camera probably frightened him. Her??

Sunday, February 10, 2008

White, but doesn't look this way

Here's where the camera starts playing it's tricks. The painting looks much whiter and smoother than this.

There are some flowers, and some corals, and some other things that look one way to the eye, but another to the camera. One blue pigment always photographs more purple than it is, so for paintings that are to be reproduced, this pigmant must be avoided. I think it's Prussian, but I'm probably wrong here. It's one that I've never used, anyway. My blues are Pthalo, Cerulean and Cobalt.

I was struggling with this, "It doesn't look like the photo at all", I thinking, haha. I felt the word, "Stop" inside my head, so this is it, for the sand. Thank you, Lord.

OK, you paint, get dry!

Too brown

Now to slosh on more white. And TRY to make myself leave some brush strokes!

For comic releif from my fanatical, perfectionist efforts at photo realism, I also paint non-objective abstracts. Perhaps I should post some of them, but perhaps in a different blog, so as to not confuse things.

And to look for a decent easle! This wobbly thing is driving me nuts! I cannot scrub with my paint brush without the canvas going sideways, and the whole shebang slips down sometimes. Wowee. I saw one advertised a while back that is designed and built by a painter frustrated by the same problems, it cost a fortune, BUT...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ho hum

Had to cancel a seminar that I was to attend in Florida next week with Nicholas Simmons, one of the top water media painters in the USA. I'm still on steroids, still tire too easily, and am dizzy at times. And although I am not near 100% OK, I'm a million times better than when I came home early from Greece! With a compromised immune system, I think it best I stay off airplanes, away from strange cities, and just hang around my little Island home.

So here's a photo for you. I don't like to post without a picture of some sort. This is an Elkhorn Coral. They can get quite large, ten feet tall(3meters) This one is about five feet tall. They are one of the faster growing of corals, maybe a half an inch(2cm) a month. They break very easily, as they are quite brittle. Fish like to hang out in their shade, and snorkelling spear fishermen sometimes grab limbs of the Elkhorn, in order to stay still to aim and shoot, and accidentally break them off. I always want to build shelters for the fish designed so fishermen cannot get to the fish!

"When I buy St. Croix next year," is a favorite phrase of mine. If that Genie pops out of the bottle, my first wish would be for twenty trillion dollars! I could buy St Croix and make illegal to do any fishing at all! But people like to eat fish, so what to do? Make Tilapia taste really good, somehow. And make all my friends into millionaires! OK. Silly me.

This coral, along with Staghorn coral, is on the Endangered Species list. They fall prey to plant and soil diseases that have been washed into the sea by poor erosion control on land. Bonaire has some gorgeous stands of the much smaller Staghorn corals, but here in the U.S. Virgin Islands there is almost none left, boooooooo. But then I don't remember seeing Elkhorn in Bonaire, the other Island where I've done a lot of diving.

All the little white "Cheerios" in the water are tiny speck sized critters called Copepods(COH-pee-pods), sort of like crabs or shrimp. Teensie, you could put six or ten on the head of a pin. They are a basic source of food for corals and tiny creatures and newly hatched fish fry. Sometimes there are so many Copepods that they drift around in little brownish clouds on the reef, making it impossible to take photos! I like to think about how many there are, "Millions of billions!"

Today is for working on that sand I started yesterday, try to make it look like sand! haha The corals, fishes and rays will be more fun to do than little shadows and specks in the sand. I'm going to leave some brush strokes, so people ~might~ remember this is paint when they look!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Got a start on the sand today, and found how transparent Flake White is. Oh, I found some back in a corner.

And now I see that I need lots of photos yet to finish this to my satisfaction. I'll put in the coral gardens in the far distance that the water covers like fog.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New beginning (Almost!)

Well, and oh dear. I was reading "The Artist's Handbook" which goes into great depth about the materials that are used for different types of painting, watercolor, oils, tempera. It said zinc white, which I used to mix with the blue for the sketch below, becomes brittle with age. "Zinc white is considered of greatest value in a simple, direct, one-sitting painting" So my 8X10 fishes are OK.

I want my paintings to look good five hundred years from now, if there's still a World then, so I am concerned with knowing the right paints to use. The book recommends Flake White highly. Flake White is made from lead, which, for safety concerns and manufacturing expenses, is very expensive, and I don't have any!! "Old portraits which have been thinly painted except in the faces, where a heavier coat of paint consisting principally of flake white which has been used, are often found to have disintegrated except for the faces, which are in perfect condition."

Now you know! Whether you were interested or not! Haha!

Guess I'll take the sketch out onto the porch, for fresh air, and scrub off most of the blue, that has zinc white in it, so my painting won't get cracks and peels in the near or far future. I've seen too many lovely paintings ruined by Time by having been painted with no regard to the "Fat Over Lean" rule, and other discreptancies and ignorances of the proper use of pigments, chemicals, and techniques.

Four by three feet(122X92 cm) Oils.

Another painting begun, but I feel very different about this one, might actually finish this time. Instead of doing laundry, I worked on the painting. Hmmmm. Odd how the stretcher bars and braces show through. I don't like that. The canvas is on the easle, and there's light coming from behind. I have one other canvas like this one, I might give it a coat of gesso before I begin a painting on that one.

Oboy, with the projection of the 'base photo' on top, it shows there's a looonngg way to go. Maybe I'll keep track of hours on this one. Now I need more fish, and a conch or two. This is a place I enjoy visiting in Cane Bay, here on St. Croix. The water slopes up from about 45 feet to 25 feet(14m to 7m) in this photo. And this is one Eagle Ray that swam by. I always take as many photos of them as I can, they're so graceful and beautiful. I've seen as many as seven in a school.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Where's her eye?

Couldn't finish. All afternoon, and evening. Owell! Will fool with it tomorrow. This is an Intermediate Stoplight Parrot fish. I really like the colors and patterns of the scales, even though I now see glaring mistakes. Picky me. I'll correct on the next fish!! Too many hours on this one already. Tomorrow, fishie...

Oh, boy...

This turned out one of life's little disasters that we are supposed to learn from, I suppose. As I spent yesterday thinking about working with the Cheerios to make them into Polyps, the paint was in the meantime(mean?), sneakily drying MUCH faster that I expected. The Cheerios had a skin of dried paint over the still wet-underneath-the-thick-parts. I thought all of it, the Burnt Sienna underpainting also, would be still wet enough to work with. So, it's experiment time! Wheeee. Out on the porch for fresh air, I scrubbed with turpentine and a bristle brush, and blotted with cotton cloth. Wound up with a rather interesting abstract pattern that I'm going to go with this time. Realistic polyps next time! Still need to use a few layers of either darker or lighter washes or glazes to push the coral behind the fish. Too much in the same visual plane as is now. Not easy to bring blue foreward of warm brown. Tricks time!

A painting a day, yeh, right.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Painted some last night, a big pile of Cheerios!

I think I tried to post a verticle format photo, and Blogger stretched it to fit the long horizontal. So here's part of the porch in the background! I wonder if Daily Painters have a photography studio set up for their daily posts?

A big pile of Cheerios! Eeek!

Boy, why do I do this to myself? Sometimes when I'm painting, I get so that I feel like I cannot see. Strange feeling. But tonight's effort will be to make the Cheerios look like polyps. Oboy. I hope I have a brush little enough! And, no, the fish isn't finished. Queen Angels have yellow edged scales on their sides, so I'll be painting hundreds of little yellow crescents before too long. Am I a perfectionist?? So much for my origional idea of painting a fish a day!