Bob Baker, Still Life With Two Apples and a Vase (2017)
Charcoal drawing from yesterday.
It’s a challenge rendering things in black and white but it keeps you attuned to value. In visual art color seems to get most of the glory but the heavy lifting is actually done by value, i.e. the light and shadows that visually define objects.
Color is important to a work of art but value is even more important. For example, if you lacked the capacity to see color you could still navigate; but if you lacked the capacity to differentiate between light and shadows you’d lack the capacity to see at all. Generally it’s value, not color, that’s responsible for most of the depth and drama of a piece of visual art.
All of which is just a long way of saying that, in a world full of bright colors, it’s important to stay on intimate terms with value. One good way to give value its due is to use a medium like charcoal in which color is factored out.
Bob Baker, Daffodils in a Windowsill (in the Manner of Van Gogh) (2017)
This morning’s painting. In search of a good way to capture the flow and movement of Daffodil petals — how to convey the idea without getting too academic about it — I blundered around for awhile before realizing the Daffodil is a Van Gogh sort of flower. It seemed to work. Thank you Vincent!
Bob Baker, Still Life With Lily and Daffodils (2017)
Here’s my painting from today — Lilies and Daffodils actually go pretty well together! I’ve been focusing on still lifes lately and found Lilies and Daffodils on sale at the grocery this morning. I figured why not? Have a good weekend.
Bob Baker, Still Life With Roses (2017)
Today’s painting. Someone I know has a wedding this weekend and posted some beautiful pictures of flowers and it got me in the mood to do another still life — this time featuring red roses.
Bob Baker, Sunrise, Streid Road (2017)
Here’s my painting from yesterday, depicting the sunrise on Streid Road in Bloomington, looking west toward the airport. This is another little 6″x8″ panel I executed in about a half hour, once again employing the limited palette of Anders Zorn: Ivory Black; Titanium White; Ochre; and Vermillion. Besides the limited palette I also consciously adopted the style of one of my favorites, Canadian artist Tom Thomson.
A quick word about imitating other artists: imitating another artist is one of the classic ways to teach yourself to paint. It’s a great way to see the world through the eyes of another who came before you. Somebody who breathed the same air, smelled the same smell, faced the same problems. Imitation is hugely important. No less an artist than Robert Henri strongly recommended the method in his terrific guide to artistic study, The Art Spirit. To those who worry that by emulating another you’ll somehow lose being yourself, Henri offers the following sage admonition:
Don’t worry about your originality. You couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to. It will stick with you and show up for better or worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do.
Bob Baker, Still Life With Three Apples (2017)
Here’s my painting from this morning. Every once in awhile I like to do a still life so went out to the grocery yesterday, shopping for fruit. These are “Jazz” apples — my son, Joe, and I ate them after their modeling career was over!
Bob Baker, I-55 at Towanda (2017)
Today’s painting depicts I-55 at the Towanda (Illinois) exit around 7:15 a.m. this past Wednesday. We’ve been having some beautiful mornings around here. On this one there was a blanket of fog in all the low spots and it was around 50 degrees — in February in northern Illinois.
Once again I used the Anders Zorn palette: Ivory Black, Zinc White, Ochre and Vermillion. Sometimes I deliberately shrink the palette for effect. The short palette forces you to do things, like amp up contrast and focus on value, that conjure up the past and stretch your abilities. Happy Saturday.
Bob Baker, Edison Park (2017)
This is a little 6″x8″ I did in about a half hour today to try out the Anders Zorn palette — White, Ivory Black, Ochre and Vermillion. You can do more than you think with those four pigments and I will be trying this again. Happy Saturday!
Bob Baker, Ohio River Near Evansville, Sunset (2017)
Here’s today’s painting. This depicts the north bank of the Ohio River near Evansville, Indiana at sunset. For you locals this is the view west from the Angel Mounds boat ramp at 7:00 p.m.-ish. When I started back oil painting a few years back I consciously used Canadian landscapist Tom Thomson as my model. This past week I reconnected with Thomson’s work and was motivated to do this one in Thomson’s style (or as close as I’m able to get). For any of you looking for a great artist to emulate — try Thomson. He’s a legend in Canada and for good reason. Here’s but one example:
Tom Thomson, Tamaracks (1914)
Thomson is to oil painting what Hemingway is to writing. Check him out. Have a good rest of the weekend.
Bob Baker, Pike’s Peak From Garden of the Gods (2017)
Here’s my painting from yesterday. I was out in Colorado Springs last year and was able to get out to the nearby Garden of the Gods – from which there’s a breathtaking view of Pike’s Peak. I’m a flatlander and don’t get many opportunities to paint mountains. You become familiar with the ins and outs of using blue!