Doug Condon

art blog and portfolio

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Website Repairs

Well I am pretty happy with my new website running with the power of WordPress.  I thought everything was up and set until today when I noticed that half of my old posts pictures are now broken.  Also the tabs at the top appear to be empty now.  Hmmmmm.

So I am on the case and will get things corrected soon I hope.  In the meantime allow me to share a small watercolor I did today with my little travel watercolor set.

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Website Changes

As you can see my website is changing.  Having built my original website using Dreamweaver, a program I had zero experience with and knowledge of, I thought a makeover was long overdue.  I have decided to take my much prettier blog and to use it as the basis for my new website.  As you can see, it is now a work in progress as I figure out just what kind of things I want to put up on it.

This means the end of my WordPress blog as I will just be updating here from now on.  But you can always follow me elsewhere as well:

https://www.facebook.com/DougCondonArtist

http://instagram.com/dougcondon

 

Reworking an old painting

I have read a lot about painters who worked on painting for years and years.  They would add details, rework areas, paint out figures and keep fiddling in general until they thought the painting was finally just right.  Personally I haven’t ever really done that, to me once a painting is done it’s done.  I would try my best to realize my idea and once it was complete then I would move on.  If there were things I wanted to do different then I could always apply it to my next work.

This mode of thinking is no doubt influenced by my own commercial art background where a deadline is a deadline.  There is no time to tinker when something is past due.  You get a job and get it done to the best of you abilities on time.  That’s the way I have always thought or maybe I should say that was the way I used to think.

Take for example the painting I blogged about before, my submission to a show entitled “Invincible Summer.”  If you want you can read about my idea for the painting and why I painted it as I did but either way here it is:

Invincible Summer

The final painting turned out as I hoped.  It fit the theme well and was accepted into the show.  As a matter of fact the painting stayed on display for a few weeks after the show ended since it fit the space so well.  The only problem for me was the more and more I looked at it the less I liked it.  I really enjoyed painting it but in retrospect I felt the “summer” aspect of the painting was ruining the “winter” part, the part I liked better.  If the painting had sold I would have felt happy about it and I wouldn’t have thought about it but once it came back home it just annoyed me.  I decided to do something that could be potentially stupid, I decided to repaint the parts I didn’t like.

Having never done this before I was faced with a few new problems.  Since I framed the painting myself taking it out of the frame was easy.  The first real problem was in getting the acrylic painting ready to be reworked.  As I do for almost all my paintings, I had applied a coat or two or varnish when it was completed.  This meant that I needed to remove the varnish, a scary idea.  This process was made possible only because I used GamVar varnish which had been developed to go on and come off a painting easy.  All it took was a few cotton balls and some odorless mineral spirits and the varnish was off in no time.  I was back in business.

The next step was the actual painting, I had to remove all the hints of summer.  For the ground area this was pretty easy to do.  I literally plopped on a few layers of white paint to eliminate the grass ad flowers.  Once all traces were removed I then went back in painting in the variations of the snow and shadow.  The harder part was repainting the sunlight which illuminated the ground.  I had to work the same way as when I originally painted the background, starting with the sky and working progressively forward in space.  It was at time frustrating as I found it hard to keep painting the detail in earnest without trying to replicate what I did before too closely.  I believe that sometimes when you try to hard to copy you kill the painting and stiffen everything up.

It took some time but I managed to get everything done and I had a winter scene that I liked a lot more:

WinterRabbit

You may not agree but I think this painting is far superior to the first time it was finished.  It’s a bit ironic that the better painting you not have gotten into the show it was originally intended for as it no longer fit the theme.  In the end though its more about the painting though, right?

I forgot to mention I also added a small rabbit to the painting to liven it up a bit.  Here is a detail shot of him in the renamed work, “The Winter Rabbit”:

WinterRabbitDetail

A Surprise Painting

My Father’s birthday just passed and I decided to make him a painting as a gift.  He recently got a dog, a beautiful Red Labrador named Cayenne.  Needless to say my father loves his dog and I think I have been replaced.  Since he loves his dog so much and since my father is very difficult to buy for I thought that there would be nothing more that he would enjoy than a painting of his beloved pet.

I had done a commission of a dog portrait a few years ago so I had an idea of how I wanted to paint this one.  I wasn’t able to work on the painting right away as a family vacation interrupted the painting time.  So based on my past experience and a shorter time frame I decided to break out my trusty Winsor & Newton acrylics for this portrait.  I also decided that I would try to take a few photos as I worked and document my process a bit.  Here is the first shot:

Computer

During a visit up to my parents, my wife and I took a bunch of shots of the dog so I would have plenty of reference to pull from.  The first step for me then was to look through them all and see what would work best.  The picture above is from when I was working on the computer in Photoshop.  I liked the picture in the middle the best but it was very dark and hard to see some of the details.  I took the middle picture and lightened it up a lot and saved it as a separate file, shown on the left.  I like the color of the middle photo but I wanted to make sure to draw in the details correctly even if they would later be obscured in shadow.  The photo on the right was just one of many I would look at as inspiration and to take small details from.

Since I had the picture I wanted I was ready for the next step, sizing the board and printing out some reference;

Printouts

Sometime a small painting, no matter how detailed, can get lost on a wall.  Since I wanted the painting to stand out, I decided to work at a decent size, 16″ by 20″.  I had a gessoed board ready so my next step was to print out some reference.  Above are the examples of the printouts I used.  On the left is a good color reference of the most important part, the face.  On the right is an at size composite of four printouts.  I could use the as size composite to pull a tracing from to transfer to the board.  It isn’t necessary to trace every detail, just the main shapes and features as a road map for the painting.

TracingPaper

Here is what the tracing looked like before I transferred it on to the board.  I am a huge fan of the trace transfer method of transferring drawings.  Simply said you use the tracing paper like carbon paper.  Trace out an image, flip the paper and draw over your lines with a soft lead pencil, flip the tracing paper again and draw over your lines with the white board underneath.  What you get is a light transfer of the image.

Traced1

The picture is there but it is very faint.  Some people may choose to paint with this light image but I didn’t.  I like it when parts of the drawing sometimes come through the paint so I wanted to darken things and solidify the drawing.  I also think of this time as practice for really learning about the shape and the features of the subject.  Even with a good tracing I could ruin the likeness really easily if I didn’t pay attention.  All of the drawing was getting me ready to paint.

FinishedDrawing

Above is the completed drawing.  Using the printout, as well as looking closely on the computer, I felt like I had a good foundation to start the painting.  The first step would be to get some basic color on everything.

Paint1

This is what it looked like after the first washed dried.  Some basic color for me to see how it would work and a bit of shadowing to establish dimension.  A lot of the shadowing was due to the black pigment of the drawing getting pulled and pushed around by the wet paint.  Once it dried along with the acrylic paint,  the pencil would be permanent and would not darken subsequent layers.

Paint2

The process of adding layers was repeated over and over.  I focused more attention on the head since it was the most important part.  In the head I added more layers of colors and black.  I spent a lot of time on the eyes since they are the detail that I think makes a painting come alive.  The rest of the body was still pretty washy at this point but overall it was still coming along.

Paint3

This picture shows the painting coming along further again.  The head has been painted in for the most part.  Details like the tongue are 3/4 finished but until I get the body done more they will stay that way.  I remember teachers telling me in the past that painting is a push and pull kind of activity.  When you work on one spot it affects everything around it.  Now that area X looks good it makes the area around it look weaker.  When you work on the surrounding area  and make it look better it eventually makes area X look weaker.  Then you switch back to area X and so on and so on.

Paint4

This is the painting pretty close to the end.  In the beginning I work with the biggest brushes.  In the middle stages I work with the medium brushes.  When the end comes around I work with small brushes.  For details like whiskers it’s all about the small brushes for precise lines.

Cayenne

And here it is – the finished product.  When the painting was done it was time to apply a coat of GamVar varnish and frame it.  I love this style of frame from Dick Blick and I think it works really well with the painting.  My only regret with this one was that I didn’t finish in time for my Dad’s birthday.  I had to surprise him with the painting only half done and finish it over the rest of the week.

 

Edit:  I decided to add in a close up of the details of the eyes.  Here they are

CayEyesCayEye

Have watercolor, will travel.

A friend and former student of mine asked for a recommendation on a plein air setup.  Little did she know that this was no simple question.  Immediately I starting thinking of the basics: What medium, acrylic, oil or watercolor?  What size paintings?  How much time per painting?  How far does the equipment need to travel?  How heavy is too heavy?  How much do you want to spend?

All these questions got me thinking about my own setups, specifically in watercolor as that is the medium she decided she wanted to paint in.  I then thought that I would share my three watercolor sets and how I set up to paint.

Set #1-

DSCN2088

This is my everywhere set as I carry it everywhere I go, everyday.  This is a Schmincke 8 pan set with a reservoir to hold water and a cap which attached to make the water cup.  Literally everything you need except a brush and paper is all in this small little box.  There is room so I added four more pans of color to round it out a bit more for my use.  As I said it is small and super portable so I carry it at all times.  I love this set not only for the construction but for the quality of the paint itself.  Schmincke makes very good watercolors with exceptional color.  I also like Schmincke because the tube watercolors and the pan watercolors are the exact same product.  When a pan runs low I fill it up from a tube and let it dry.  This is not the case with most other watercolors and I have found that sometimes the paint does not dry out well at all.

Along with the paints I have a pair of Utrecht travel brushes, a small water spritzer, my sketchbook and a cloth or paper towel.

Set #2-

DSCN2090

This is my oldest watercolor set.  When I got into art school my Dad bought this Winsor & Newton watercolor set for me.  This set and I have been together for a long time and have ruined, I mean created, many many paintings.  I have been really careful to replace the pans with the same color the set came with when they run out.  Within the wooden box I inserted a color chart to make painting a bit easier as I hate when you pull paint from a pan that looks completely different in the box as it does on paper.  Kind of like a nerdy watercolor cheat sheet.

I keep this set in a sturdy messenger bad along with: a glass bottle with a lid, a glass jar, a spritzer, a few more Utrecht travel brushes, a 1″ flat wash brush, a rigger brush and a watercolor pad.  I generally keep this set at school and use it for demonstrations and so on.

Set #3-

DSCN2091

This is my most serious set and it is a watercolor set that never could have afforded to buy.  When I was working in animation as a colorist I worked on the computer.  Animation art had long since gone fully digital as traditional hand painted art was more expensive and labor intensive.  I will never forget the day that my friend and I noticed a bunch of large boxes labeled “art supplies” were loaded onto the conference room table.  We asked the guy moving the boxes what they were and he said they were old supplies that they were getting rid of and we could take what we wanted.  Like two young children fighting over candy my friend and I both jumped up out of our seats and started punching each other as we ran to open the boxes.  In the first box we opened we found two of these Schmincke 48 pan sets.  Naturally he claimed one and I claimed the other.  As we did all the other artists in the studio burst into the room and we scurried back to our seats clutching our prizes like Gollum.  Needless to say I was over the moon to now own such an expensive set.  I refilled a few pans, swapped out some of the more unnecessary colors and turned in into the set above.

I carry the watercolors in a small hard topped travel bag along with a glass jar, a metal cup, a spritzer, a watercolor sketchbook and the box of brushes above.  The brush box originally contained a few awful brushes that I bought only to throw away and use the box.  The brushes it now holds are the best brushes I own, Raphael and Winsor & Newton sable watercolor brushes.  I have owned those brushes since I was in college and have taken excellent care of them.  They were expensive but so worth the price!

 

So those are the sets I use.  I should mention that I usually have a tube of white gouache in my bag as well.  I like the transparency of watercolors but I also like to have the white gouache to add highlights in an opaque white.

As to my recommendation to my friend about her setup these were my exact words “You lazy shit, half the fun is setting up a kit for yourself!!”  My only suggestions are to buy the best quality watercolors and brushes you can afford and to have fun putting a watercolor setup together.

I am a terrible blogger.

The tip most often given to new bloggers is to keep updating.  Put up new stuff often to keep people coming back and grow your audience.  Clearly I have failed at this since my last post was on April 30th while today is July 1st.

There are many reasons why I haven’t posted anything sooner, some good and some bad.

Good reasons: Busy at the local art fair, Attending the opening for one of my painting included in a group show (the painting sold that night), Spending time with my family, Going to the gym.

Bad Reasons: Enjoying the World Cup too much, Drinking too much beer, General laziness, Letting tiredness get the best of me.

For reasons both good and bad I have been lax in my duties but I am glad to say that things are looking up.  I have a bunch of new paintings in the works and a few opportunities to show my paintings.  Its summertime, the time of the year I get to draw and paint the most!  So I hope the next time I update I will get to show you the panels and canvas below in a finished state!

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Spring Has Sprung

Things have gotten very busy.  With the arrival of Spring I find myself neck-deep in projects and paintings.  I have done a few works to submit to local shows, a few works for myself, a few works as part of a series I am developing and a few works like the ones below:FlashGordonExamplesm

TheCrowSmI did these two paintings as demos for my students as they work on a movie illustration project.  The first is from 1980s “Flash Gordon” and the second is from one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Crow”.

I have to admit I enjoyed working on these.  There was definitely a time crunch to get them done but it was kind of fun putting on an illustration hat to work on them.  I am almost considering doing a few more for fun but it will all depend on time.

There are so many paintings to paint!!!

 

Tufted Titmouse

Many years ago I took part in a silly Facebook challenge.  The idea was to create a work of art for the first 10 people who commented on your post.  I had a few friends post up they were participating so I signed up to receive a work of art from them and then decided to try making something as well.  I posted that I was in and in a few minutes I had 10 people interested in a work of art from me.  Needless to say I neither sent out or received a single work.

Fast forwarding a few years I saw a friend has signed themselves up for a similar challenge.  Once again I signed up to receive a work and once again I have agreed to create a few works of my own.  The only difference this time around is that I actually intend on completing the 10 paintings.  To prove my intention here is the first watercolor:

The watercolor above is of a Tufted Titmouse, a native bird in the Northeast.  I did the painting based on a photo taken at my parents house in Warwick NY.  The only negative, for those birdwatchers our there, is that I made the coloring a bit too blue.  According to additional reference I have found, the bird is more grey in color then I painted it.

So it felt really good to get this small painting done and to mail it out!  I was even more pleased with the good reaction it got from its new owner.  I have 9 more little paintings to get done and I am really looking forward to it!

Happy New Year, Happy New Paintings

My last entry on this blog was in August.  It is amazing how quickly time flies.  This past summer was spent painting and drawing in England.  Once September hit, and school began again, all the time spent painting and drawing disappeared.  Although that may sound discouraging it isn’t, I just appreciate the time I do get to make art that much more.  And it isn’t as if I have no time, let me show you my last finished oil:OneKoi

“One Koi” oil on board.  This was another fun painting to create.  I am really surprised how much I enjoy painting in oil.  Watercolor is by far the hardest, acrylic the most versatile and oil the most fun.

So aside from the Koi above I got to do some plein air oil painting before the summer ended.  Both painting below were painting in Warwick, NY:

Aside from some other new paintings in the works my plan is to add some new content to my website and change some stuff up there a bit.  So once again, sorry its been so long since this blog has been updated but I am on it!

Back at home, back to painting.

Some people may find it odd that during my summer vacation abroad with family I spent so much time painting.  I don’t find it odd, I find it awesome.  Hoylake, England is a beautiful place with so much to be inspired by.  Walk ten minutes one direction and you are painting cows in pastures, ten minutes another and you are at the beach.  Everything is close by and it made for a much-needed change from New York City.

On my return I went through countless photos and decided to do a painting based on all the Koi Carp I spent way too long watching while England.  Aside from watching the fish in several aquariums I visited, I saw quite a few small backyard ponds stocked with Koi as well.  Here is the completed painting as well as a work in progress photo collage.  (The work in progress shots were taken with my phone camera and put up on Instagram as I was working, forgive me that they aren’t the clearest of photos):

Koi,MatlockBath

Koi-inprogressThis painting was completed very quickly, mostly because I was enjoying working on it so much.  I worked in oils which has shockingly started to become my favorite medium.  I think all the watercolors I have been working on lately have really helped improve my skills and working in a more forgiving medium let me show it.

While I wait for it to dry out a bit before varnishing I have already submitted it to a gallery show and have ordered a frame.  Now on to the next painting!

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