Sunday, February 14, 2010



I got off on the wrong foot with this painting from an old black-and-white photo I found online.
My plan was to identify three values--lightest, middle, darkest--and paint them. Everyone says values make the painting, but I have a hard time identifying or sticking to a value plan, even when I make a value sketch: color distracts me.
Here, trying to think "value," I chose the wrong colors: starting out with burnt sienna and ultramarine blue ... It was too dark, flat. I was going to chuck it, but having nothing to lose, I started floating brighter colors over top--gamboge, quinacridone pink, manganese blue. The paper got very wet and the colors a bit tired-looking, but it's an improvement.
Time to try again, because I really love this image; the little girl is in perfect contrapposto.

I've been thinking a lot recently about what makes a good relationship, and here's my distillation: A little empathy and understanding, reasonable expectations, and a whole lot of knowing when to keep your mouth shut. (That last one sounds cynical, but I really just mean stopping to ask if it's worth it to introduce that note of discord.)
My Valentine is 250 miles away today, working. We knew we wouldn't be together and yesterday I kept wondering if a floral delivery truck would pull up to my house. It didn't--and it really was no surprise: Peter doesn't like to send, or bring, flowers. I know that and have accepted it and I'm really not disappointed ("reasonable expectations").
Today, instead, I'm remembering one time when I was very angry at him for some now-forgotten reason, and I thought, even though I knew how unlikely it was, When he comes walking up my front path, he better be carrying a bouquet ... And, when he came, he was! He had an armful of roses. Add "Timing" to the list.

Re Comments
I've been getting a few spam comments (in Chinese; I can only assume they're spam) and have changed the settings for commenting on my blog to try to eliminate them. (Thanks to Autumn Leaves for pointing this problem out to me!)
If you experience problems commenting, please email me, and I'll review/adjust the settings.
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Anonymous said...

I like the little girl too. I know what you mean about values. It's so difficult. I guess the fact we are aware of it will make us better artists down the road. I have had the same problem with the Chinese spammer.

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Your little girl turned out wonderful. I love the colors you picked and the feeling of the space around her. Values are a toughie... I haven't been able to remember that the pigment has value right out of the tube.

I remember once being mad at my husband for always being loud in the morning while I was still in bed. Then it struck me, what if I never heard that noise in the mornings again. That would only mean he was hurt or that he was dead. The noise hasn't bothered me since I changed my way of thinking ... this time.

Penny said...

I like this too. I too had problems with the chinese spammer, took forever to go through my list and find and delete them all.

A Brush with Color said...

I LOVE this little girl, and I think the colors in the dark segments are oozy and rich, Laura. Woooot! Love love love this. It has such an antique, ethereal quality to it. Keep doing whatever you are.

As for relationships--who the hell understands 'em! I was in a bad marriage years ago, and lived alone for almost 25 years, as a single parent. Out of the blue, I met Joe as we both came out of a movie theatre. I never would have thought I'd be with someone else again. We "bonded," and we've lived together for years. He's 13 years older than me, and has 4 grown kids; I have one. We are in some ways totally different, but we enjoy many things together. It took a real leap of faith for me to give up my independence to be with someone else, but I find many of his wacky behaviors pretty endearing now. He'll seem on a different planet some days, but just when I think he's truly from Mars, he'll do something so phenomenally thoughtful-- I smile to realize how kind he is. Gotta' love him! Happy Valentine's Day, Laura. Your painting is the best!

AutumnLeaves said...

I think this is quite lovely, Laura. Can you tell me what 'contrapposto' means? I was looking at your painting and trying to find the delineations in value...darks, mediums, and lights? I think you have handled those very well. I too get thrown off by color when I hear anyone speak of a value study. I am reminded of value exercises in which values were changed by adding contrasting color to the original hue...Or was it the white the black in graphite exercises? Now I've confused myself again! Sigh...back to the textbooks.

deborahspalette said...

Laura, what an adorable little girl, I love the colors in the shadows. I really like you san fransisco fire escape too! I follow you!
Come follow me at
Art, Inspiration and purpose.
Thanks, Deborah

Barbra Joan said...

Well, I'm glad to hear others have the Chinese spammer problem.. I thought it was just something I'd done or said ...
BTW your so right on with the Valentine and relationship writings. Ask me, I know, I've been married forever. !!

Gillian said...

I love your wet in wet little girl. I just wish my wet in wets would turn out so well.

Joyfulartist said...

I love that little girl, too. It's a great subject and I hope you post your next attempt.
The men on the news progam yesterday morning talked about the "lame men" who were at the grocery store getting last minute flowers and cards for Valentine's day. I had to laugh...guess where my honey was? Aren't men predictable?


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