Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thanks for Listening 2014

Wishing you peace, good health, and happiness in 2015.
Thank you to all my friends, colleagues, collectors, bloggers and loved ones who made 2014 such a wonderful year.
For all of you I am truly grateful.

To my wonderful wife, no words can express how thankful I am for you.

I look forward to sharing more work and ideas about the process of art in 2015!

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
-- Marcel Proust

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Website - jimserrett.com
Studio Blog - jimserrettstudio.com
Landscape Blog - Pochade Box Paintings 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Underpainting Techniques – Demonstration Five - the ébauche underpainting - WIP

I start the painting by creating a preparatory drawing. Working from life I develop a simple but accurate “contour drawing” using a straight line "block-in" and use comparative measurements to find the big relationships "enveloping" all of the objects in the composition as one main shape. Drawing the largest shapes first and breaking them down into smaller and smaller components. The emphasis in the drawing at first should be simple straight lines, thinking in in terms of angles and tilts makes comparative measurements of one area to another easy. This helps in refining the block-in with confidence, creating a very accurate and economical map of the forms and objects. There are some prior posts here about the drawing process.

What I want in the drawing is a strong composition and a good foundation to work from, I want to look at the big picture not the details, check and measure the spatial relationships, and pay close attention to the negative and positive spaces. I will make many revisions on this simple contour drawing until I feel that I have established an accurate map of the major shapes. It’s not that I need a lot of information, I just need truthful information. When I am happy with the drawing I do a graphite transfer to a canvas panel.

Once I have my line drawing on panel I start the ébauche or first block-in with color. The term ébauche is a French word that in translation means “draft” or “rough sketch” and is most often associated with the French academies and traditional 19th century academic training. It is a form of underpainting that uses a thinly applied lay-in of dominant colors that describe the major forms.

As an underpainting “the ébauche” is used to approximate the qualities of color and value in their true relationship and quickly establish the overall appearance of the painting. Painted loosely and thinly, it somewhat resembles a watercolor. Unlike monochromatic under-painting techniques, the wash-in is fully chromatic, which allows the modeling of form immediately and gradually with hue, value and chroma. I like this process and use variations of it when painting on location and from life, it allows you to really establish the overall design and general effect of the painting quickly. 
Next post - the first pass.

Pronunciation -  ébauche: ay•boash
Under-painting Techniques
Painting Techniques

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Friday, October 31, 2014

eBooks Online Resources

The web is full of great art resources with access to so many remarkable free eBooks through organizations like Gutenberg.org, Archive.org, Open library.org and Google books. These have open the door to a wealth of information on art and a knowledge base just sitting there waiting to be explored. I have a real infinity for the older texts, they are an interesting insight into the process and procedures of our artistic forefathers and our heritage as artists.

I have listed just a few of what I consider major reads for an artist. Many are just all time classics like the Andrew Loomis books, Harold Speed and Alfred East. The others I found particular interesting as far as being relevant to the practice of classical and representational painting.  But all styles and genres are equally represented if you spend the time looking through the expanding and expansive list of titles available.

All of the resources listed offer eBook, PDF, web and mobile browser reading experiences.

Google Books - https://www.google.com/googlebooks/about/
Google Books is a searchable digital database that allows you to build a personal library, offering free books or purchased books that are accessed through your Google account.

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". PG has over 100,000 free eBooks available through their partners, affiliates and resources. This site is free, offers many languages and operates on donations.

Archive.org - https://archive.org/
Archive's motto is “Universal Access to Knowledge.” A digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books.

Open Library.org - https://openlibrary.org/
Open Library is another project of the Internet Archive. The site seeks to include a web database for every book ever published: it holds 23 million catalog records of books. It also seeks to be a web-accessible public library: it contains the full texts of about 1,600,000 public domain books in partnership with over 1,000 library partners from 6 countries. Registration is free.

Issuu -  http://issuu.com
Issuu (pronounced 'issue') is a free digital publishing platform for magazines, catalogs, newspapers and more. As a digital newsstand with over 18 million publications and 80 million active readers. I wanted to include this resource because it is really a unique website, started in 2006 it is a self-publishing website.
The basic service is free. Issuu allows you to publish books, newsletters, and magazines to a professional looking online magazine format and distribute your writing to a worldwide audience. There is a lot of mediocre stuff to wade through, but the gems are worth it. 

And here are my favorite and most highly recommended.

The Painter in Oil by Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst

A complete treatise on the principles and technique necessary to the painting of pictures in oil colors.
One of the most respected books available on painting, for good reason. One of the most informative books I have read, this book will enlighten you.

Title: The Painter in Oil
Author: Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co. Boston 1898

The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed

I have mentioned this book before on this blog and truly consider it and his second book “Oil Painting Techniques and Materials” to be the most useful and treasured books I own. His second book unfortunately is not available online, but both are very inexpensive in paperback and I highly recommend them. Because of their intelligent combination of useful advice and sensitive reflection on the nature and meaning of artistic practice, Harold Speed's instructional manuals on drawing and painting have long been considered valuable resources for artists.

Title: The Practice and Science of Drawing
Author: Harold Speed
Publisher: Dover Publications, Inc New York
Originally published by Seeley Service Ltd. 1927

The Practice of Oil Painting and of Drawing as Associated with it
By Solomon Joseph Solomon

This instructive volume introduces not only the techniques of oil painting but also the underlying principles of figure drawing. Written by a distinguished Pre-Raphaelite painter, portraitist, and book illustrator. A recent re-issued by Dover books and with a foreword by James Gurney proves this book to be ageless classic to those that want to understand fundamental and traditional painting procedures.

Title: The Practice of Oil Painting and of Drawing as Associated with it
Author: Solomon Joseph Solomon
Publishers: Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co.
London: Seely & Co. Ltd. 1910

The Elements of Drawing, in Three Letters to Beginners by John Ruskin

John Ruskin, English author, art critic, draughtsman, watercolorist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. The book walks you through a series of exercises beginning with a dip pen and ink and later moving to pencil and watercolor. I particularly like emphasis on Sketching from Nature (life) and the study of nature. The illustrations are pretty sparse but the online teaching collection more than offsets the study of his writings.

Title: The Elements of Drawing, in Three Letters to Beginners by John Ruskin
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Subject: Drawing
Publisher: London Waverley Book Co 1920 edition
The First Edition was published in 1857

The Elements of Drawing
John Ruskin's Teaching Collection At Oxford

John Ruskin assembled 1470 diverse works of art for use in the Drawing School he founded at Oxford in 1871.  They included drawings by himself and other artists, prints and photographs.  These were arranged in series and placed in special cabinets. All of which is view-able online through an interactive. The Elements of Drawing website provides a visual interface to Ruskin's Teaching Collection, uniting his catalogue, comments and instructions to his students with modern curatorial information about each object.

The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour by Alfred East

Sir Alfred Edward East - His romantic landscapes show the influence of the Barbizon school. His book The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour was published in 1906. And is another re-released classic that is available in the public domain, basically this is a solid book on the techniques of painting landscapes. But the writing has a interesting tone to it as written by a man inspired by nature. As I read this book I could not help but think how much of what he wrote in 1905 is echoed by writers today.

Title: The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour
Author: Sir Alfred Edward East
Publisher: Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Co. 1910

Fun with a Pencil Andrew Loomis By Andrew Loomis

Andrew Loomis wrote several great instructional books but I choose to put “Fun with a Pencil” up first because, well it’s just fun. All of Loomis’s books are like that - great information, clear and visual demonstrations and fun. Best way to learn anything. This is still probably my favorite book on drawing, I loved it as a kid and back in the day,… when I was in school studying illustration, Andrew Loomis books were essential in the education of every commercial artist and fine artist. Loomis wrote six major instructional books and many step by steps books on painting and drawing with Walter Foster art books. Even with the lightness to the writing in his books they are filled with practical and serious information for the artist. His “Book Eye of the Painter” I feel is his most important work.

William Andrew Loomis (1892–1959), better known simply as Andrew Loomis, was an American illustrator, author, and art instructor. His commercial work was featured prominently in advertising and magazines; however, Loomis is best known as author a series of instructional art books printed throughout the 20th century. Long after his death, Loomis' realistic style has continued to influence popular artists.

Title: Fun with a Pencil
Author: William Andrew Loomis
Publisher: The Viking Press 1939

Loomis books are in a variety of places online, but all six of his titles can be found at

Issuu is a different type of resource, certainly a more tech savvy and sophisticated format. It has virtual touch, where you turn pages and has high res imagery, making it a good format for visual artist. There is such a variety of publications, you will find yourself wading into a major time sink.
But certainly some great books and publications of interest to the artist are here. Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice by Juliette Aristides, a great book found here.

And definitely do not forget the resources available through Blogger, visit the site of fellow art –bloggers in my side bar and add them to your reading list.  The collaborating and sharing resources online are constantly expanding, what the future brings will be interesting. Please join and support Creative Commons and help keep free access and share your knowledge and creativity with the world.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bottle Collection Two

Jim Serrett, Bottle Collection Two, oil on panel, 9 x 12 in

I really enjoy painting these antique bottle families, with all of their transparencies and reflections they are full of interesting color notes and abstract passages. Observing those things that might be overlooked and the simple beauty in the common place.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July

Frederick Childe Hassam - The Avenue in the Rain, oil on canvas, 1917. The White House
(American Painter, 1859-1935)

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Monday, June 23, 2014

Grapes in Silver Bowl

The manipulation of elements in the picture plane with aerial perspective, is what Leonardo da Vinci called the perspective of disappearance,” which simply refers to the technique of creating an illusion of depth by depicting distant objects as paler, less detailed, and usually bluer than near objects.

Grapes in Silver Bowl, oil on panel, 11 x14 inched © Jim Serrett

The Old Masters push this concept even further with the painting techniques they developed that used a vast array of surface qualities which highlighted and heighten this sense of illusion, thick and thin paint layers, transparent and translucent passages and veils of colors, the words themselves conjure the thoughts of atmosphere. Everything they did was to convince us of this magical illusion of space.

My interest in this method of painting is that through sequential layers of paint, I can dial in the sense of realism, refining and adjusting the vision I am trying to achieve. The mastery of painting involves a lifelong commitment of learning and observing, setting the bar higher on my personal best to improve with each painting and hopefully create work that resonates with people.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Friday, May 30, 2014

In Memory and Appreciation

Robert Genn  (May 15, 1936 - May 27, 2014)
Artist and inspiring author of The Painters Keys.
He'll be missed.

Robert Genn Self-Portrait with Emily Carr Acrylic 24 x30 inches

The Painters Keys

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Clearance Sale

It’s spring cleaning time in the studio, and I am offering all 5 x 7 inched framed Pochade Box Paintings for sale at only $99.00 USD each. These small gem oil paintings are a collection of plein air paintings and still life studies painted from life and direct observation, they come framed and ready for display in your collection.  Any of 5 x7 inch painting you find on my websites Jim Serrett Studio and Pochade Box Paintings are included in this offer.

Please visit my online store or contact me about any work you are interested in.

Please visit my online store (click here and below)
or (contact me) about any work you are interested in.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Crawdaddy Lure

Alla-prima studies from my Pochade Box.
Alla prima comes from Italian, literally meaning "at once". The French term is premier coup.

This antique fishing lure is one item from a collection of things and heirlooms my wife has held onto of her grandparents. It is just beautifully crafted, hand painted and made of wood, my research finds it is probably from the early 1920’s and made by James Heddon, Dowagiac, Michigan. I love the idea that her grandfather was probably fishing for Walleye or Muskie on the Great Lakes with it, making it a family treasure.

Crawdaddy Lure, 7 x 5 inches, oil on panel © Jim Serrett - Click here to bid.

Pomegranate - Punica granatum

I had to paint a pomegranate, isn't it on every painters bucket list? Certainly an exercise in the color red, with several variations of the red family in warm and cool, and it was more difficult to turn the form then one would expect. 

Punica granatum, 5 x 7 inches, oil on panel © Jim Serrett - Click here to bid.


Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Three Pears

Three Pears 8x10 inches oil on canvas panel Click here to bid.

Here is a bit of what has been going on in the studio since I returned home from my Caribbean vacation.

I have been working on some alla-prima pieces, more direct, freer and quicker paintings like I do on my Pochade Box Blog that features mostly Plein Air work. The Three Pears were painted in one sitting, wet into wet (alla-prima).  I am looking at this as a process to get in more paintbrush time and put something out there every day.  Bring a little discipline to my studio time and be more constructive and productive. However my main focus is and will remain with the Venetian and Flemish schools and the traditional indirect painting methods. 

Pochade Box painting alla prima.

The majority of my works are done in-direct, the method that is the technique of painting in layers, where the painting is built up gradually in several layers, with the use of both transparent and semi-transparent paint, glazes and scrumbles. The grapes still life piece is at the dead layer stage of underpainting. I did a preliminary drawing, working out the proportions and composition drawing on paper and transferred it to a panel. I am working through the grisaille very slowly, going for a very refined underpainting paying great detail to the edges and values.

When I was doing commercial art I would produce three to five illustrations a week, I was glad to leave that behind me. Since then I have concentrated on the art of seeing, taking the time to slow down and really digest a idea/concept/picture and truly enjoy the process of painting. Painting has a transcendent power to connect a shared experience, to bring back an emotional connection with the sublime. The familiar and the everyday hold great beauty when we open our eyes. So for me paintings are meditations on and reflections of life. My theory of paintings is that by developing the skill of observing/seeing based on the live experience creates the most powerful form of realism.

However too much contemplation can lead to analysis paralysis, not to support any Contemporary art stereotypes but artists can be real procrastinators when left to their own devices. Someone once referred to procrastination as “the thief of time”. So I feel I need to turn up the volume a bit. Sounds simple enough, I just have to do two things; create work and put it out there. To that end I have added an online store which I can offer work for sale through auction at Daily Paintworks.

Since we are on the subject I might as well put an end to a couple of other stereotypical ideas, the misconceptions that art is easy, that artist do not plan ahead, that it is all freewheeling, easy Jamaica fun time when artist are creating. I think if most people knew how much work goes into being an artist they would be amazed and very disappointed, all of the artist I admire are dedicated professionals who work very hard. But then hell, if it was easy everyone would be doing it. Art takes dedication, persistence, patience, talent, a thick skin, and hard work.

And my favorite artist myth is of the tortured creative, bohemian self-destructive soul that is lost in his art like in the movie Lust for Life (the story of Vincent van Gogh's obsessive devotion to his art as it engulfs, consumes, and finally destroys him.) Whacking his ear off, chasing prostitutes, drinking to excess and getting into knife fights with other famous artists like Paul Gaugin.

We should pay attention to this one, because we have lost so many creative people to this scenario, all types of artist, get cast into this role when they are unable to take criticism, and have some delusional idea of perfectionism. This self-sabotage, I suspect is fear, the fear of success and/or the fear of failure. The fear of criticism, economics, sales, acceptance, of putting yourself out there. If you allow these things to get a hold they will choke the life out of creativity. It can kill inspiration, imagination and invention.  And procrastination is just an aspect of fear and self-sabotage, it is a self-fulfilling prophesy of the worst thing we worry about. So the truth is most artists are just procrastinator, why?
Because art is hard work.

Fear is the enemy.
Be brave.
FILDI   ............... Ze Franks explains this best in video below.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim


Film -  "Lust for Life"

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Feather and Egg

I have posted already a couple of times about this painting, one dealing with my compositional thoughts and later talking about the creative process. I guess what I have to add to this conversation is painting, that is to say - art is never stagnate. 

Feather and Egg – On the easel, this piece was a real problem to photograph just 
so much glare from the texture on the panel and glazes. I will re-shoot it later but 
the two photos will give you a feel for what it looks like in the real.

You may paint the same subject matter a thousand times or struggle with a painting for a thousand hours, every piece changes you, your perspective, and understanding of your craft. Sometimes those changes come fast and sometimes slowly, the real epiphanies or eureka moments seem to happen in those long – slow –deliberate studies. I see and appreciate this in the works of the Old Masters, that long deep study of visual language. And that to acquire such skills and to paint such works of art is a long slow process.

I describe my work as realism, because I am interested in depicting the subjects I choose to paint as I see them in nature. I am fascinated by the way things look, painting is for me about seeing. It forces me to study and understand a thing or an idea, to spend so much time with something that I can really begin to see it and explain the subject with as much clarity as I can. Observing those things that might otherwise might be overlooked. I hope to seduce the viewer into the painting and if they meditate on it for a while, they may discover deeper, more specific layers of meaning.

Feather and Egg - Oil on panel - 9 x 12 in.  -  © Jim Serrett

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim

Eureka Effect