Friday, June 27, 2014

Fine Art Connoisseur Featured Article...Featuring Moi!

Posted by: Kate

I'm delighted with a recent article written by Jeffrey Carlson for Fine Art Connoisseur's weekly newsletter, Fine Art Today: Katherine Stone: A Poetical Passion.

If you read through to the bottom you can see that there is an option for sign up for the newsletter.  I highly recommend it.  They put a lot of effort into the weekly articles.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Poison Tree: Part I (and an auction, suckas)--SOLD

Posted by: Kate

A couple of years ago an idea for a painting took root.  A lot of my paintings take several years' germinating.  At the time I couldn't think of the right models, but as I waited and the idea grew, two children in my family also grew until one day I realized they would be perfect for the painting.  Which unfortunately positively reinforces procrastination.

I'm going to change things up a bit and show you the finished painting first:

On the left, Paul reaches for an apple while Emily watches from the right with a gimlet eye.  If you recognized the boy, kudos.  He was also in "Huntsman and Herdsman."  And you might recognize Emily from a little head study I did years ago.  And you might also recognize a big sprinkling of influence from Jules Bastien-Lepage, whom I am all over at the moment.

The inspiration for the painting came from "A Poison Tree," by William Blake:
I was angry with my friend; 
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe: 
I told it not, my wrath did grow. 
And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears: 
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles. 
And it grew both day and night. 
Till it bore an apple bright. 
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine. 
And into my garden stole, 
When the night had veild the pole; 
In the morning glad I see; 
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Totally.  Killer.

My own interpretation of the poem is, I know, quite different from what Blake intended.  Personally, I read it as kind of a dark nursery rhyme-cum-cautionary tale.  Nursery rhymes back in those days were pretty brutal anyways.  Ever read the cautionary tale about Little Suck-a-thumb who had his thumbs snipped off as punishment for being unable to keep them away from his mouth?  No?  My parents read it to me.  But they were also the sort of parents who assured me there were no bears in the woods when we were camping, just crazed axe-men.

To me, the poem cautions us against bottling up our resentment; better to let it out. This is why Dave punches a United Airlines employee in the face every time we fly. If we keep it to ourselves, and allow our hateful thoughts to take root, they will grow large and unmanageable, bearing toxic fruit.  Because it sounds to me like a children's rhyme, I chose to use child models.  Emily, who can put on a piercing dark glare when she wants, plays the role of the cultivator of the poison tree.  And I cast her brother Paul as the hapless apple-eater because our siblings really are our first friend-foes in the world.

I left the photo shoot dead certain that I didn't have a single good photo of Em, but luckily, somehow, there was one picture, and one picture only, of exactly the right facial expression.  I pieced together her body and hands from other photos.

I decided to put Paul next to Emily to make it easier for me to keep them the right size in relation to each other.  I was drawing from my computer monitor and things could have gone south very quickly.  I didn't have room on the left side, so here he is on the right.  By the way, the real hero of the photo shoot that day was the mother of the two kids.  The reason Paul is reaching upwards with so much convincing gesture is because his mum had mindfully brought a package of M&M's with her and she held them out to Paul until I was able to capture the perfect shot.

On the left, a vellum colour study.  On the right, a larger, more comprehensive colour study on primed paper.  I changed all of the greens in the landscape from acid hued to blue-green, plus I added a giant blue mountain in the distance and house and barn.  This early incarnation also saw more apples and a watering can, but I nixed these later on.

Pass number two on the larger colour study.  Colours have been more carefully considered.  I am now ready to bring out the big guns and get to work on the painting proper.

After toning the panel, I carefully drew a grid in vine charcoal over the surface.  This grid is still visible  in places (above)  although the first colour wash is partially completed.  I used the grid to scale up a smaller drawing of the composition, less the figures.  The figures were carefully traced from my original drawing and transferred with the oil transfer method.

I planned to paint kids' clothing in such a way that the paint layers "breathed" a little and the tone underneath whispered through, so I did a tester area on Paul's shoulder.  I found that the tone was a little too light.  Where it showed through, it jarred against the values of the sweater.

So I toned Paul's clothing with two different dark umber washes.  I did the same with Emily's clothes.

I just can't get into painting unless I make a real mess for myself.  Once I do that, panic or something else sets in and I quickly set everything straight.  So I always start off by laying down some horrible mud.

Looking more presentable an hour later, but still needing a couple more passes.  I am averse to spending too much time noodling around for a likeness during round one.  If I get too "precious" with my work early in the game, I will pussyfoot when it comes to making major changes later on.

A start on Paul's face.  His forehead is very high and wide because I like to model the whole forehead first and then place hair over top.  Paul has wispy hair and his scalp is very visible through his curls, so I have to be careful to avoid a sharp transition between forehead and scalp.

First pass on hands.  I kept them very simple and architectural at this point.  Painting into a wet background is the only way to nail edge quality, so I worked some tree trunk colour around the fingers.

Suddenly Emily is looking human thanks to a second pass on the face.

Wonderful, dense, woolly texture achieved with the help of Impasto Putty by Natural Pigments.  Unfortunately they don't make this anymore because it's too stiff to put in a tube, and anything that comes in a can will eventually dry out.  This doesn't bother me, but there were complaints.  People.  Stuff is supposed to dry up in the can a little.  The very idea that artist materials should have an indefinite  shelf life is a very recent concept.  Do you go into the grocery store and look for some magical coffee creamer that never expires?  I always tell myself that if something dries up before I use it, I wasn't painting enough.  Rant over.  I do still have half a can left.

Crumbly ribbing achieved with the help of Rosemary Ivory Long Flats.  They have a tight, precise point and a firm springiness.

By the time I worked my way down the sleeve, it became apparent that Paul's forearm was about a centimeter too long.  So I painted out his hand so that I could redo it properly.  If you zoom in on this picture, you can see how the tone underneath shows through the sweater.

Now, I'm just going to take a minute to brag.  I made the cloak that Emily's wearing.  It's 100% wool with wine-coloured lining and it has a detachable hood.  Plus, I jerryrigged the pattern out of two existing patterns.  I know.  But hold your applause because I need to show you how I painted this bastard.

First of all, I got the drawing of the plaid shapes out of the way.  Simply using white paint, I accurately drew out the lighter bands in the plaid.  I also laid down the dark value of the dress and stockings.  This is important to help me gauge the correct value of the cloak, since I don't have any background colours to help me.  All my background colours will be conceptualized anyways.  In order that the dress kept its value and didn't sink in, I added Epoxide Oil liberally to my paint mixtures on my palette.

The idea of painting that cloak gave me the willies.  Like bare feet on communal yoga mats, it was one of those things that would make me silently scream when I woke up in the middle of the night and thought about it.  I carefully premixed my colours, added a bit of Epoxide Oil to saturate the colour fully, linseed oil to increase flow, and then I got to work.

 It went surprisingly well.

And, just like filing my income tax return, it ended up not being so bad as my imagination made it out to be.

Up for auction:  "A Poison Tree (Preparatory Sketch)."  Because you don't have to wait until Christmas to buy your spouse a present that's actually intended for yourself.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

One Final Huzzah!

Posted by: Kate

Hey people, just a reminder that I will be taking orders for "Huntsman and Herdsman" giclée prints up until June 15th.  After that, there will be no more additional prints for sale.  I am only printing as many as I pre-sell.

This print is ideal for cat lovers who are unfortunately allergic to cats, or for people who really like kids but are unfortunately allergic to kids.  Now you can have both in your house, hanging on the wall, and you don't have to feed and neuter them either.

True colours are a bit less chromatic than this in real life.  Blogspot is stripping metadata again.  Wily Blogspot!!
Again, print size will be 11x17" on paper, and the price is 65 USD plus shipping.  Please email me at

Thank you to everyone who has placed an order so far!

Sign up for Underpaintings

Posted by: Dave

As some of you are aware, Underpaintings has recently moved to a subscription based service.  You can read about the reasons why here, but what I want to talk about is just how important this blog has been to the recently revived realist art movement.  Ten years ago I remember how difficult it was to find images on traditional painting and drawing, let alone finding educational resources and information on galleries that exhibited this type of work.  All I knew for resources was the ARC (which was great but still in it's infancy), American Artist Magazine, Joseph Shepperd's instructional books, and that there existed 3 schools in Florence that offered unaffordable but amazing traditional training.  (I remember having a brochure from the Florence Academy pinned to my wall.  I kept thinking "some day I'll get there" and I would get all energetic and excited like Lennie did when he found out he would get to tend the rabbits at the farm in "Of Mice and Men."  But like George, I never got there...but unlike George, it wasn't because I was shot in the head as a result of petting a girl to death).  Anyway, Underpaintings fills in the gaps for a lot of people's needs.  Matthew Innis started his blog several years ago and it elevated the amount of information that was readily available to students and artists.  Most importantly, he is an excellent writer and an impressive researcher. I would have no idea where to start coming up with the quality of information he provides, which is why our blog focuses on 80's movie references, chainsaws, and using ultra hip swearing like "shit just got real."  Signing up for a subscription not only gives you access to a world of information, but it also is supporting a great cause run by a great man with a ton of not so great cats.  So, don't be a jerkface and subscribe now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pew Pew Pew

Posted by: Dave

This painting is pretty well under way and so far I am pretty pleased with the results.  The last experience I had with a narrative painting was quite a bit like my last experience watching the movie "IT."  So many times I was scared of what was going to happen next, but in the end it just turned out that the scary clown was really just a big dumb spider and there was nothing to fear all along.  I guess we all have a big dumb spider inside all of us when it comes to art.  Not to go on a tangent here, but remember the first time you saw that movie and how much it pissed you off when the guy from "Night Court" had to face "IT" and it ended up just being a crappy animatronic spider.  That's some Mickey Mouse bullshit.  Pretty obvious they ran out of budget after the first 3 and half hours of that movie or Tim Curry simply quit part way through filming.

Anyway,  I try to do as much prep work as possible until I get bored and just want to start painting.  I have to say working in natural light makes the colors and harmonies about a million times more easy.  The last one was a bit of a nocturne and I had to conceptualize a lot.

Head Study of Allie

Head Study of Marco

Preparatory drawing of work

Where the piece stands now, about 68 percent finished.

As far as the story behind the work, it's really about relationships.  The young confident girl represents me and Kate is represented by the chiseled man with the twirly mustache.  Kate is leading me through the woods and showing me how to cap forest creatures. The piece is also about identity, existentialism, meta-cognition, and using thesaurus's. 

Welp, here is some other stuff I finished below as well for the Uncanny show and also a commission.

The Thief

Medicine II

Friday, June 6, 2014

"O Sorrow" Drawing Auction--SOLD

Posted by: Kate

Exactly what it sounds like.  Take a look.

This signed charcoal and white chalk drawing was executed on 19x25 inches of grey paper.  The picture above has been cropped slightly to remove the margin of bare paper left by the masking tape.  More about this drawing here, and the resultant painting here and here.

Now, although eBay for some reason wanted to put my drawing into the "Developmental Baby Toys" category, I don't recommend that you purchase it for your toddler.

The auction ends on June 11th.  Cheers, party people!