Monday, April 8, 2013


MORNING ON THE FRIO    16X20   oil on canvas
Hey, I'm back!  I won't bore you with circumstances, but it's good to be posting, again.

I had planned to get outside to paint today, but the weather isn't very promising.  So, I pulled out some of my reference from my trip to the Frio, this past fall.

I'm attaching a couple of steps I used in approaching this subject, so you can see how it develops.  Before I go to color, I have usually produced a thumbnail arrangement in black and white, so I know that I have a strong foundation to build upon.  You can see for yourself what that would have looked like if you'll just squint your eyes way down until you can see the painting resolve into only two value shapes.  The light and the shade.  I don't really care much what the actual scene looked like as far as specific details.  I am always after a poetic unity based upon the feeling and arrangement of the subject.  In this case, there were small broken shapes of light here and there in the background, in the overhanging trees, and scattered in the foreground.  To include them would have only lessened the impact of the overall design.  I want simplicity to create with.

The lay-in
Once I have a simple arrangement that I like, I'm ready to go fearlessly into the color.  Here, I'm just scrubbing color into the canvas without any white.  It's fairly transparent / translucent in most places. The beauty of color comes out as the hues are mixed to correspond to the value shape they belong in.  Right color demands right values! So, although there are various "val-hues" within each family (light and shade), no hue can be lighter or darker than the value family it belongs to. This maintains the integrity of the design.  Get those values correct, and you can pretty much put in whatever colors turn you on.  Once you commit to the color shapes, everything must continue to relate, values, hues, warm and cools.

First pass
 In my first pass, painting on top of the lay-in, I'm not concerned about detail.  I also try to keep the edges relatively soft while I further develop the shapes and color relationships, still taking care to remain within the simple division of light and shade values.  All of this becomes the underpainting that I will lay opaque color onto in the next stage.

In the final stage, I begin to articulate the detail I want and the edge qualities (hard, broken, soft, lost) that allow me to tell the story I want about what prompted me to paint the particular scene.  Hard edges draw the attention of the eye, so use
'em where you need 'em!  I try to stop before I start getting into too much definition of things.  For me, that doesn't add to what I'm after. That's it for today.  Hope you like it.  Keep it simple!

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