Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Not To Paint

Plein Aire painting can be done for it's own sake, to keep one's hand-eye coordination up to snuff, to spend time in the great outdoors, or hopefully to get a completed small painting. But frequently the conditions, expecially light, prevent one from finishing even an 8x10.  It teaches a healthy sense of one's limitations.  When a study comes out strong enough, even in only a few aspects, to urge one to make a larger studio painting, it's exciting.

What I've found is that the more time one spends in front of the subject, the more information is absorbed, albeit much of it unconsciously: direction of light, color of light, shapes, and so forth. Taking reference photos is also important, another source of details.  Pencil thumbnail drawings and an 8x10 study force one to decide what should be included in the painting and what to leave out.

My painting partner and I hiked for almost an hour assessing subjects on a friend's farm, rejecting one scene after another.

This study was painted in full sun and is too dark and the colors too pale. But the composition made it worth using for a larger painting. All kinds of trees, bushes, etc were left out. Studying the reference photos allowed me again to pick and choose, and invent, additional detail and also deepen the shadows and intensify colors.
Ideally, one would like to come back a second time in the same weather and time of day, and do a larger painting. The following day was rainy, so this 12x16 was done in the studio. In the photos, I noticed the low sun streaming through the trees and incorporated this in the painting. It's a good memory of that crisp fall day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Art "Off the Wall"

Our cooperative gallery, Artists Attic, challenged each of us to create an "Off the Wall" painting or sculpture. A work which was a departure from our normal subjects, style, approach, etc. I responded by doing my traditional landscape but in the form of a Triptych. These traditionally were three-paneled  paintings, typically religious. Nowadays they most often substitute for a single large canvas, which can be hard to stabilize and easier to damage in shipping, etc.

This one recalls our trip to California in July which included excursions to Napa and Sonoma valleys: "South of Sonoma", 12x36 Oil/Canvas.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Big Sky Country

Storm Remnants
12x16 oil (study)

Lexington Kentucky is not known as Big Sky Country, that is reserved for Nebraska, Iowa and points west and north. After recent rains, I was passing by an undeveloped commercial property a half-mile wide and was taken by the sunset. At the easel, eliminating the low buildings and adding some rolling Kentucky farmland nearby and the composition was decided upon. I'm now working on a 20x24 of the same scene and hankering for a trip out west to see more and more of this big sky.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Everyone's Doing It

Yes, everyone around me is painting cows, spurred on by our resident expert in painting cows. I resisted for months, helped by weeks of rain which put a damper on canvases, paints and my inspiration. So here is my entry in the big sweepstakes..."Knee Deep"  I caught these guys by the side of the road in early morning, backlit to give them more appeal. Of course they interrupted their breakfast and were about to come over and see if I had more of it. Not being a farmer, I jumped back into the car and sped off to the next farm for photo-taking. Altogether a great day!

Knee Deep  oil/board 10x12

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Off the Wall"

As a project to do something different, and tired of the snow, I looked through photographs taken last summer in New Jersey at Sandy Hook State Park and decided to do a figurative work conveying the warmth and sun of mid-summer at the “Shore” as they call it.

I worked from a variety of photos, blown up. I stayed with oil on canvas, my traditional media, since the figurative work was enough of a challenge – I normally do unpeopled landscapes or seascapes. Rather than depict a “sea of humanity” as shown in the photos, I choose to have a strong focal point of fewer figures placed near the waters edge. The sand rises 8-10 feet from the water and everyone likes to be near the water. The frequent crowds at this beach insure the sand will be pot-holed with footprints.

I practiced drawing in pencil some individual figures in different poses, then practiced some of these on canvas paper in oil, a cheap and easy surface on which to experiment.

 The 20”x24” size was chosen to be able to include a number of figures as well as my having a frame of that size available. The completed painting: “At the Shore”.  I feel warmer already.