Monday, May 15, 2017

PAINTING THE LIGHT

Painting the light is what I'm trying to do in my landscapes. This scene changes dramatically during the day as the sun moves through the sky, and I paint it every now and then. This is one of my favorites. Part of the fun is to select color that is not the expected and then try to relate the values and hues in such a way that I still portray what happens to a scene because of the existing character of the light.  Iin this case, late afternoon on a bright sunny day.  A couple of the main influencers I'm using here is recognizing that color in the foreground will usually be more saturated and contrasty.  Moving into the distance, color tends to get cooler, lighter and grayer.  It's a great exercise for becoming more aware of the beautiful effect of light on my subject.

LATE AFTERNOON
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
12X16  oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

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MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

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Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Painted in the studio, after re-inventing a plein air study that doesn't look much like this. I was mainly trying to capture the time of day and suggest the depth in the scene. I decided to jump into a more complex problem, after my exercises with simple compositions. I really had to apply the things I mentioned in my last post. Simplifying things down to design the shapes in the light and the shapes in the dark into two big separate groups. Then, we have a chance at painting what otherwise would result in visual chaos. It always impresses me how important it is to work out the separation of values in the big shapes. I try to block-in each of those simple shapes as flat silhouettes in their average value and dominant color. If we get those properly related it's easy enough to go back and add a lighter or darker value shift to suggest more "detail" without trying to paint "things".

HILL COUNTRY MORNING
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
16x20 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Jimmy Longacre_subjective realist landscape paintings_ VALUES AND COLOR SELECTION

One of a series using simple compositions to practice value separation of shapes, and color to indicate depth.  Learning to arrange the various shapes in a painting so as to make a clear value interpretation of a scene is the biggest help in choosing "right color".  

Value must come before color, because above everything else it makes order out of the scene we want to represent.  I work with a range of nine values, #1 is the lightest possible light, #9 is the darkest possible dark. The painting is blocked in using only values #2 through #8.  This way I can reserve the high-lights and darkest darks to place the accents as I'm finishing the painting.  With the values worked out, first, I can then select hues with confidence.  Almost any color will work if it's value is correct.  In this painting I have intentionally selected the warmest, most high chroma colors for the foreground, and the color becomes cooler and grayer as it moves into the distance. 

EARLY SUMMER
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
12x16 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Thursday, April 6, 2017

SIMPLIFICATION – THERE'S THE KEY!

Whether we're painting from life, or photos, our job is not to copy what we see.  The complexity of detail, color and the range of light in nature is overwhelming, and photographs are full of all kinds of lies and errors that are deadly to our art.  Painting is about the composition of shapes, values and color designed to evoke something beyond simple recognition of the subject matter.

All the skills and information we are amassing are the tools we use in our efforts to interpret the subject.  Our interpretation is more important than what we're looking at.  The subject reference doesn't present us with much that's ready to be painted.  Life or photographs are just the painter's departure point.  There is much thinking and planning to be done, before we mix the paint and put it on the canvas.  Questions to be answered about how we'll arrange things. and solve problems.  All with the hope of creating harmony, balance and a connection for the viewer.  So many things that can frustrate our efforts!  Much of what is seen will need to be discarded when we see that it is non-essential to what we're trying to paint.  Simplification is necessary to managing the ingredients that go into a painting.  There's the key!

ROCKY HOME
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
20X24 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ZEROING-IN




My last couple of posts have dealt with identifying and emphasizing one thing that you want to communicate in your painting.  Here's one example of what that can mean.  The reference photo, above takes in a lot of beautiful subject matter, and a number of compositions could be derived from it.  The photo on the right zeroes-in on one aspect that particularly interested me, and you can see in my painting how I ended up cropping the subject and emphasizing the burst of light in the right-mid-ground.  Then, I edited-out things that did not support my concept, and did all I could to emphasize my main point of interest.

Often, in my workshops, I see students take on everything in a reference photo simply because that's what's in the photo!  This mental attitude is what I refer to as "thing- o-vision".  If we don't consciously shift into "art-o-vision" we automatically begin taking dictation from our reference, whether painting from life or photos.  This approach effectively rules out our opportunity to exercise our design and compositional choices that make our painting interesting and expressive.  Among other things to do, before beginning to paint, try "zeroing-in" on one concept that excites you about your subject, and then make a game of showing off that one thing.  Don't bother with anything in the reference that is extraneous to your concept, and think of ways to emphasize your concept.  More coming up on that.

BLUE CREEK
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
8X16 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TELLING ONE STORY - THE BIG PICTURE

It takes many of us a lot of painting experience to begin to realize that good painting needs a clear concept of what we're trying to do.  There are so many fundamental things about painting we need to understand and put into our work that it's easy to get lost and overwhelmed long the way.  With consistent effort we move from plateau to plateau, and without a burning desire to "get there" we  would surely give up.  Too many disappointments and failures.

The thing that has helped me the most to keep on keeping on is the realization that all our technical skills begin to come together as we use them to express one clear idea.  Excellent rendering ability alone won't do it.  Learning the rules of perspective won't do it.  Understanding how color works, and any number of other individual skills won't get us there.  Composition and design remain arcane mysteries wrapped up in too many "do's and don'ts" until we begin to see what it is that drives the whole process.

So, what is it that puts us on the track of really enjoying making our own paintings?  I'd say it's wrapped up in doing everything we can to emphasize one clearly seen and felt idea about our subject.  Until then, we are spending our energy on external motivations and rules and frustrations.  Trying to approximate the look of the paintings of artist's whose work we admire while wrestling with problems that in and of themselves can't assure successful paintings.

However, surprisingly, once we learn to clearly identify what one thing we're trying to emphasize about our chosen subject, the "what for" of whatever skills we have take on purpose and meaning in our efforts.  The fun begins, and our power starts to grow.  Our own work begins to interest us.  Even our beginning, rudimentary efforts begin to produce interesting results when we know what we're trying to do.   I want to say more about this in my following posts.
 
RUST & FADED PAINT
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
9x12 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS   
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Friday, February 24, 2017

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Knowing what I'm trying to accomplish in a painting is primary for guiding every other decision I'll have to make in creating a composition.  If I'm simply beguiled by an attractive "thing" (tree, barn, creek, whatever…), I'll wind up taking dictation from that thing without thinking through how I can compose it so that it will emphasize what I find beautiful about the scene.  That, for me, is the fun and satisfaction in painting.

Almost without exception, composing requires stopping to think about what I want to say and what I have to work with.  It's rare that I find something that's ready to paint just as it is.  For instance, I may try several ideas for cropping the scene and identifying the focal center.  I may then want to remove unrelated clutter, rearrange what's there for better size and balance relationships, or any number of other things that I feel will give my primary concept emphasis.  I find that my best paintings are about one thing, and one thing only.  That concept must be the star of the show. Everything else plays a supporting role, and a lot of what's there won't even make the cut, when I've answered the question, "What's it about?"

IN THE GROOVE
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
12x16 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Thursday, February 16, 2017

ICE CREAM, CANDY AND COLOR

No restraint  on color is like gorging on ice cream, candy and doughnuts.  I know this, but it's so hard to put the sweets away.  If you've looked at my past work, you know I enjoy pushing the color.  I've made some pretty sweet confections at times.  I'm learning to reign it in, and liking how it tastes.  This piece is by no means somber, but I really had to tone it down from where I began.  I fell in love with that riot of fall color on the river bank, and just went overboard on the doughnuts. Anyway, what I'm learning is, with just a bit of pure color in place, it's the grays that make it appetizing.

 INDIAN SUMMER
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
14X18 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings
MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Friday, February 10, 2017

FIRST IT'S A DESIGN

WHEN I WANT TO PAINT,  I HAVE TO CHANGE HOW I SEE.  It usually requires a conscious effort  to make the switch from what I call "thing-o-vision" to "art-o-vision".  Our normal mode of seeing, "thing-o-vision", habitually identifies the proliferation of things and details we see as our eyes bounce around from one "thing" to another.  Art-o-vision sees only shapes, values and color in a simple integrated pattern.  If I don't make the switch,  I can only take dictation from the myriad things and details before me, and the fun of painting turns to tedium and disappointment.  Art-o-vison allows me to see the simple beauty, and harmony in the scene.  Then, the fun is in trying to arrange those simple shapes, values and colors into a design that will focus upon and emphasize the beauty I've found.  Everything else plays a subordinate role to enhance my idea.  Now, I'm ready to paint!  But first, before anything else, it's a design.

SUN-STRUCK CYPRESS
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
12X16 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Saturday, February 4, 2017

REPORTAGE AND POETRY

REPORTAGE AND POETRY are literary terms that describe a difference of intent in writing.  But it can be very useful for painters to consider these terms in relation to our work.  We can say that reportage aims to present facts and details, while poetry gives special intensity to the expression of feelings and ideas by a distinctive style with attention to the elements and principles of visual language.

The "elements" are the marks we can make: line, shape, direction, size, value, color and texture.  The "principles" identify what we can do with the elements to create: dominance, contrast, repetition, gradation, harmony, unity and balance.  Some folks enjoy paintings with tremendous amounts of descriptive detail and literal rendering.  At the other end of the spectrum of visual language is pure abstraction, with little or no regard for identifiable subject matter.  

The usefulness of this distinction for the painter is in how expressively we are learning to communicate using visual language.  We can all make marks, but it's the application of design principles that raises the poetic quality of our paintings.  

MORNING HAZE
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
14X18 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Sunday, January 29, 2017

BEING WILLING TO FLOP

HEY, I'M BACK!  I've spent the past few months doing the almost unthinkable: abstaining from social media!  I felt it was time to take account of what I was doing.  In the words of an old song from my youth, "I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in."  (Kenny Rogers and the Fifth Dimension.  If you remember that one, our memory traces the same years.)  Anyway, as fun and helpful as it may be to post and hear from you, I wanted to take time to just play and experiment with my painting.

The cycle of painting and growing as a painter requires an occasional healthy dose of "free-forming it".  Time to play with no one looking over your shoulder.  Experimenting with ideas,  following interests without worrying about where they're leading, and being willing to flop.  That's where the fun and growth really kick in.  I may write more about that in coming posts, but for now I'll show you some things that have come out of my little retreat, and just see where it leads.

This painting was selected to be included in the 2017 Plein Air Southwest show, put on by Outdoor Painters Society.  It is one of the results of my experiments, and pointed to a fresh direction for me.
I'll be back with more results.

REDBUDS
©Jimmy Longacre 2017
12X12 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

Friday, September 2, 2016

TAOS WORKSHOP ALERT

This was done in mid-August, before these last, wonderful rain storms.

WORKSHOP ALERT: Two spots still available for my TAOS WORKSHOP in September! 
I hope you will join us in painter's paradise. This workshop is for those interested in building solid plein air painting skills. We'll be focusing on seeing "the big picture", subject selection, design, notan, values simplification, and paint handling.
Last year we had a wonderful time exploring favorite painting locations of painters who are drawn to the area. Rivers, mountains, desert and canyons, from Ghost Ranch to the Wild Rivers part of the Carson National Forest. You can get all the information about the workshop and accommodations below.
LOCATION: Taos New Mexico
DATES and TIME: September 18 through 24 (9 to 4 daily)
MEDIUM: oil
SKILL LEVEL: beginners with basic skills to intermediate
SIGN-UP NOW: contact: Ursula Beck, Founder/Director, tas@laplaza.org, 505-758-0350
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Taos Art School
http://taosartschool.org/georgia_plein…/georgia_pleinair.htm


UNDEVELOPED
©Jimmy Longacre 2014
12X16  oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

MY WEBSITE
MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

GALLERY LINKS
Fredericksburg Art Gallery Fredericksburg TX
Mustang Island Art Gallery Port Aransas TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX