Friday, November 9, 2012

SOME THINGS ARE JUST ASKING TO BE PAINTED

MAKE MY DAY   20x16   oil on canvas panel
MID-DAY   9x12    oil on linen panel
Both of these paintings were done from subjects that just jumped out and grabbed me.  The first, "MAKE MY DAY", did just that. It's unusual to come upon something so ready to go.  I did very little rearranging of elements other than to work on designing the rhythms of the shadow shapes.  Running into something like this is like peach pie and vanilla ice cream with good coffee!

The other, "MID-DAY", also surprised me, but not in such a "pie-and-ice-cream" way.  I'm usually not very excited by what I find at mid-day.  The sun is directly overhead, colors tend to be a bit bleached-out and shadows don't offer up the same excitement and possibilities for patterns.  When I saw this one, it just seemed to say, "Oh, come on, try me!".  I enjoyed arranging the elements of the scene into a nice composition, and opening up my thinking to be on the lookout for opportunities to paint, even during the mid-day doldrums.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

KEEP YOUR EYES AND MIND OPEN TO THE UNEXPECTED

DAYBREAK    11x14    oil on linen panel
I came upon this scene as I was heading out to paint near Kerrville, TX. for a planned day of painting and gathering reference for studio work.  I had left well before sunrise, in a big hurry to get where I was going.  20 miles into the drive, my stomach turned over as I suddenly realized I had left my camera by the front door! DOH!!

Nothing to do but turn around and go back for it.  Beating myself up all the way, I was trying hard to get myself back in a positive state of mind after feeling that I had squandered the best part of the morning where I was planning to paint.

I kept telling myself that this could all work for the good, and that it was up to me to see the benefit rather than the loss.  Having retrieved my camera, I was hurrying through the pre-dawn illumination of the sky, wishing I was where I was "supposed to be".  The sun was just coming up behind me as I turned off the Interstate into the little town of Johnson City.  I've been through here many times, but never at this particular time of day.  When I saw this gorgeous display of light and shade, I knew it was time to stop the mind-fussing and get into the moment.  The beauty and unhurried peacefulness of the new morning completely took over, and it turned out to be a wonderful day of painting, and this was the unplanned, high-point!  Lesson:  Keep your eyes and your mind open to the unexpected. 

PAINTOUT REPORT

GANT HOUSE   11x14  oil on canvas panel
I've been scrambling to catch up around here since returning from the Columbus, Texas Paintout.  I'm very pleased to report that my paintings, GANT HOUSE, and HWY. 90 BRIDBE, were awarded first and second place in the competition, and I sold three of the five paintings I produced for the event.  I had a lots of fun, met knew friends and learned a lot.
HWY.  90 BRIDGE   12x16    oil on canvas panel

Thursday, November 1, 2012

WHERE ARE YOU TRYING TO GO?

COLORADO CROSSING    12x16   oil on canvas panel
These are the last of my five entries for the Columbus, Texas Paint Out.  The quickdraw event and judging will take place on Saturday (Nov. 3).  The paint out has been a fun and helpful experience for me.  Competitions have a way of bringing focus to the things you hope to include in your paintings.

In a recent blog post of The Painters Keys, Robert Genn wrote about the benefits of going out to paint with a list of what you're looking for.  This is something that I've done as a habit since the timeI began making a focused effort to improve my paintings.  The list        
STUCCO HOUSE    9x12   oil on canvas panel
evolves as I grow. Certain things become ingrained revealing new areas to work on.

Here are some items on my current list:
• a clear motive that I can radically simplify and visualize as a finished painting
• a clear notan design
• 3 to 5 major shapes
• 3 value groups, one dominant
• 3 spatial planes, one dominant
• focal area contrasts (value,   temperature, edges, size)
• variety of edges (soft, hard, interrupted, broken, lost)

The list can easily become overwhelming, since there is really no end to the things I can  learn as I'm trying to get at what I want to say.  But, the trick is to bring a conscious focus to a few things that I know I want to see in my paintings.  Without a map and a clear destination, we may cover a lot of ground, and stumble on some nice things, but we're likely to waist a lot of time and energy, and arrive nowhere in particular.  It's expedient, and a lot more fun, to know where you're trying to go.