Much of Columbus, from the town square and courthouse to the tree canopied neighborhoods, feels like it exists in a time warp of the early past century. As I was painting this little compound of buildings, folks from the neighborhood would stop by and tell me about the history of the place while I painted. Fascinating!
This is another of the paintings I'll enter in their show. I will be returning this weekend to turn in my paintings, and participate in the quick draw event.
It's so nice to know that this peaceful little Texas town is still holding on. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the friends I made on my first visit.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
|GANT HOUSE 11x14 oil on canvas|
I set up to paint this scene at 8:30 in the morning, with hardly a sound but the chirping of birds. I had just about finished blocking-in the color shapes when I heard a series of distant, long, moaning blasts that were growing louder. Suddenly the bells began ringing at the crossing, red lights began flashing and the traffic arm slowly dropped across the road. Three linked diesels rounded the corner a hundred yards down the track and came rumbling and thundering my way blowing their horn.
I was set up about five yards from the track, and it was absolutely deafening as that behemoth began to pass. Diesel engines pounding, horn blowing, crossing bells ringing, earth vibrating under my feet, wheels shrieking and clacking and the wind-draft blowing the pages of my sketchbook and hat. I finally sat down and weighted patiently while over a hundred freight cars of all types clattered by. As the giant retreated and faded away, the quiet seemed extraordinary, and the birds slowly picked up their chattering. I returned to my painting with more keen attention to gathering the crucial information I needed, and a heightened sense of getting down the essentials. I figured there would be another train coming, and the sun wasn't going to hold still. I learned something from that kind of "seeing". It cuts out the finicky dawdling that can sub-consciously plague a painter. I was forced to see the important things in relationship to one another, make judgements, mix colors and values, and put down the marks with an uncommon definiteness of purpose. What may be lost in the way of detail and diddle is replaced by an invigorating vitality of awareness. I wrote a reminder on my pochade box, "Paint like a train is coming!"
Saturday, October 27, 2012
|HWY. 90 BRIDGE 12x16 oil on canvas panel|
When I got back to the studio, I had good news waiting. My phone messages told me I had sold another painting through Austin Street Gallery in Rockport, Texas. Nice! Pays for my trip to Columbus! Then, I checked my email and learned that I have been awarded Best In Show in this years Outdoor Painters Society Associates Showcase for my painting "Morning Walk"! I'm honored and gratified to have received this recognition from this group of very talented and accomplished outdoor painters.
|Morning Walk 8x10 oil on canvas panel|
Monday, October 15, 2012
|GHOST YARD 11x14 oil on linen panel|
I'm reading my new book on the transplanted Russian painter, Sergei Bongart. Nice job of telling his story, but invaluable for capturing so many of his clear and concise pieces of painting wisdom. Here are two that have helped me recently:
Please, first paint dog, then the fleas!
Simple Masses and extreme contrasts are the key to strong design.
A jewel like that can be such a wonderful find! There are no immutable "rules" for design, however there are principles that will help us immeasurably in our exploration of making better art. I've mentioned NOTAN before in this blog. It's one method of synthesizing an arrangement of simplified masses for a balanced and interesting design. It's strength is in the way it forces us to think of the scene in two major masses, expressed in light and dark. Here's a notan version of my composition GHOST YARD. It is not a "value study", rather it is a plan for the way the major masses will interact expressed in "extreme contrast".
By mixing all of your color values to fall within their specific value group you'll gain wonderful control over the color relationships. With this in hand, you'll be far more capable of paying attention to other important things like brushwork, shapes and edges. Which brings to mind another favorite jewel:
Careful planning promotes spontaneity!
It may, at first, seem not to be so, but it will prove to be the case if you try it. The musician who is able to freely
Thursday, October 11, 2012
|Hill Gate 12x16 oil on canvas|
Here’s a brief step-by-step of the painting I did today. It’s another run through of the approach I posted a little while back. If this is helpful, please let me know. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting your time.
This was done from a rough pencil sketch for design and value pattern, and a photo I shot while exploring a wonderful ranch in Kerrville, last weekend. This is just one way to make a painting, and not the only way that I use. The benefit of this approach is that it helps you stay focused on a strong and simple design structure.
In the first stage, you can see that I’ve painted a warm, transparent undertone to represent the mid-value range of the painting, and on top of this I’ve scrubbed in the notan pattern I designed. I’ll talk more about “notan” in another post. For now I’ll just say that it’s a two value design in light and dark meant to represent a balanced and evocative arrangement of the major forms in a design. It’s a good idea to make either the light or the dark shape dominant (occupying 60% or more of the overall design).
In the second stage, I’ve dropped in the light value group, and placed the brightest color note near the focus. In this particular approach, I like to begin with a balanced design, grouping the dark, light and mid-values so as to avoid the spottiness of values that can occur if you don’t make a conscious decision about how they will be grouped. If you’ll keep the three values in simple related groups, and emphasize the focal area (in this case the gate), you’ll have a pretty good chance of making a strong painting.
In stage three, I pre-mix the colors I want in the shadows, making sure they all fall within the shadow value range. In this case, I mix nothing lighter than a fifty percent value. I like to lay in colorful grays. Just a personal preference for what turns me on. If you try this, try to keep the intensity, or chroma of the various colors fairly subdued, or they will have a conflicting relationship to the colors you choose to appear in the light.
In stage four, I finish laying in the canvas by placing a couple of light, mid-value colors over the mid-value shapes.
All of this kept pretty loose and flat without much effort to control the edges of the various shapes. I leave that until the next stage, finishing.
In stage five, I go back into all the shapes giving attention to edges. Edges need to be soft, hard, interrupted, broken or lost. You really only need a couple of hard edges, usually somewhere around your focal area. They will draw the eye right to themselves. Too many will kill the focus and give the painting a brittle feeling. I also adjust the accuracy of the various shapes, the temperature relationships in the three value groups, and enhance the contrasts around the focal area. Once all this is done, I add a bit of calligraphy to tie things together and give some indication of scale, and I’m done.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
|Sheftall Jewel 6x8 oil on canvas panel|
I enjoy these events because you have the opportunity to hear directly from the public while you're creating your painting. The comments and questions can be very enlightening as to what people actually think of your work.
"This is so gorgeous! My friends and I have named you Mr. Shadows."
"So, how do you get the colors so pretty, together?"
"Have you done this before?"
"Hmm. No one else is doing what you're doing."
"I guess you know you're painting for women, right?"
"That's interesting. I guess you couldn't get the rest of the building on your little canvas thingy."
"Your colors are just perfect! How much do you want?"
"Did you mean to leave out the stuff on the door?"
"Oh…my…GOSH! I need to go get my husband. Will you, please, not sell this while I'm gone?"
Are you painting, mister? I like it. Can I paint. too?"
Sunday, October 7, 2012
|SHADY SIDE 8x10 oil on canvas panel|
One of the things I learned was that size actually does matter. (hee-hee) My paintings were all 8x10's. The judges did not recognize work below the 11x14 size range. And I saw more entries than ever before that were even up to 20x24! Not necessarily better paintings, just larger. Lesson: if you're planning to compete, be prepared to work and frame larger. The down side is that the public attending the event is less likely to part with the money to cover the prices of the larger works. So, the sponsors and organizations hoping to benefit from the show, don't see the level of proceeds they hope for from their commission on painting sales. Maybe I'm the last one learning this?
Past events have considered small works every bit as viable as any size in the show. I think that there has been such a burgeoning plethora of plein air events across the country that size has become the means of distinguishing your work in the competition. Unfortunate, since paintings aren't necessarily better simply because they're bigger.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
|FALL MORNING 11x14 oil on linen panel|
This is one of my probable entries for the CFAI "Colors Of Autumn" show.
I'll let you know how it goes, when I get back. Hope I'll feel like posting my efforts.