Friday, December 16, 2005

Happy Holidays! I'm taking a brief hiatus to be with family over Christmas. Will continue blogging when I return. Here is the painting I did for my collectors Christmas card this year. It's a little 5x7 acrylic on canvas called "Memory of a Winter Evening".

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I've created an RSS feed for my blog! This is for people who may want to subscribe to a feed and view it in a newsreader without having to visit the individual blog site. With a feed, new posts will pop up automatically in the newsreader. It is a great way to be notified of your favorite blogs without having to visit each one individually. Of course, you will need a newsreader to do this, but you can download many for free. If you are unfamiliar with how it all works, you can read more about it here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Painting Demo Part III:
***Click here to view the demo from the beginning

Things are really starting to take shape now. I've started to add more of the "local" color greens to the highlight side of my distant trees, allowing the deep blues and blue grays to act as the shadowed underside. I also begin to indicate the lines of the vineyards and the silvery olive trees that dot the distant countryside.

The painting is looking close to being finished (at least in my mind). Just a few details to address now. I've given more dimension to the olive trees in front and have begun to restate the trunks, adding some of the bluish highlights just in places where the sun hits the gnarled forms. I keep my distant buildings soft and sketchy because they are farther away. Highlights on the distant trees are duller than the richer green colors that I put on the highlights in the foreground. I also add detail strokes to my cypresses. Now I take a nice long look at the painting to see what adjustments need to be made before I start finishing. Placing a mirror on the wall just opposite of your painting is an excellent tool for this purpose. It reflects the painting back in reverse, giving you a fresh viewpoint from which to see the painting anew. Sometimes when you've been staring at a painting for hours it's hard to see what needs to be changed.

Viola! Here is the painting in its finished (or nearly so) form. I've touched in the slight suggestion of windows on some of the buildings, taking care not to do too much of that in the distant ones. I've also developed my vineyards a little more and restated my tree branches. One adjustment I made with my reverse viewing/mirror technique was in the foreground trees. I didn't like how the tree line stopped just short of the edge of the picture plane. It made the composition feel too boxed in. So I extended the tree line out to the edge, which I think gives it a nicer sense of fluidity.

"Gli Olivi della Crete," Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40"

As you may have surmised that "Gli Olivi" means olive trees, and La Crete is the region in Tuscany that is depicted. Over the next week as I work on other paintings, I will prop this painting up in a visible spot in my studio and just keep looking at it. I may make minor adjustments to it if something really jumps out at me after a while, or I may deem it "finished" and put a coat of retouch varnish on it when it dries to the touch for protection.

Thanks for tuning in! If you'd like to see the entire demo again, please view the following links:

Part I
Part II

Also be sure to visit my website to see a lot more of my work!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Painting Demo, Part Deux (or Due in Italiano!):
**Missed part I? Start at the beginning here.

I begin to block in some of the color here, laying in the foreground so that I can gauge the values and temperature of the rest of the color. I want to emphasize these wonderful olive trees and the sloping hill. The olive trees are so distinctive in the Tuscan countryside. At different distances and in different light they take on shades of green, silver, and even blue/violet. But back to the painting; the ground is too dark. The light from the sky is shining directly on the places that are not in shadow from the trees, so I will try to bring out some more highlights as I progress with the painting.

Here I am giving a little more form to the foreground trees, and I lay down the color for where I will show some of the bare land. All of the ground is still too dark in my opinion, but I begin to lighten it up a little.

Blocking in more of the painting, the distance is starting to take shape. I lay in very cool colors in the far distance, using blues and cool greens. In general warm colors come forward and cool colors recede, so I will start with relatively cooler, lighter colors in the distance and stronger, warmer colors as the eye moves forward in the painting. I still use slightly darker blues, (ultramarine, plus a dab of cad red light and white/ or ultramarine plus a dab each of cad. orange and alizarin crimson and white) even in the middle ground, as I can always add more local color later. I've also lightened up the ochre ground colors throughout the painting, which I think looks better and more convincing.

I start to feel more comfortable once the canvas is covered with paint and there aren't any unaddressed areas. Even if the value or color isn't quite right, it helps me to "see" the painting better if I can have everything more or less laid out. I have now indicated the buildings, more of the distant trees, and have added detail to the olive trees in the foreground, including giving them some more shadow areas. As I have worked in more color, you can see I've painted out some of the tree trunks and branches that were indicated before, so I will have to restate them again at some point.

As you can see, this is very much a push and pull exercise for me. Some artists start with the distance and work forward, and I used to try and do that too, but I always tend to want to lay in some of the foreground so that I can better determine what the distance will need.

Advance to Part III.

Have been completely knocked out with a sinus/migrane situation ('tis the season, right?) but I'm working on the next installment of the demo now....stay tuned!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Painting demonstration; Part 1:

I thought I'd share some information here about my painting process in the studio. It has been raining and snowing for what has seemed like weeks here, so the photography may not be the best. The colors may not appear exact but hopefully these pictures will be sufficient to give you some idea of how the image looks.

Here is my inspiration photo. This is a picture I took with my digital camera when I was in Tuscany in the springtime. We stayed in Montalcino, in the southern part of Tuscany, and we drove all over this and neighboring areas. I think I must have taken about 1000 photos in all. I like using digital pictures because you can delete on site and don't need to worry about film. Plus, back home I can zoom in on details and see them directly in my computer monitor without having to go through the expense of printing the images unless I really want to. My photos are pretty amateurish, but I use them more as digital records to jog my memory of what I saw and sketched while I was there. The actual digital file for this photo is much larger, allowing me much more detail in the studio:

What I like about this scene: I love the lines and the layers of textures. What I want to emphasize. The buildings on the right and the olive trees in the foreground. What I will want to change: I'll reverse the direction of the lines in the front vineyard so that they don't lead your eye straight out of the painting. I will also simplify the buildings, both in the foreground and in the distance; leaving in what I feel to be important and taking out what I feel is distracting.

Here is a quick sketch of the scene that I will use to work out what I'm thinking about:

Okay, before you say anything, I can draw better than this! This is just a quickie sketch - a throw away drawing to cement in my mind what I want to focus on in the painting. It would be better if I had drawn a more rectangular shape, as this is the format I will use for my painting, but I just grabbed what was on hand at the moment of inspiration. As you can see from this drawing, I am still working out the composition. That grouping of cypress trees is right in the middle of the photo, but I will experiment with some other placements. My objective is to make an interesting painting that expresses my impressions and feelings about this beautiful land that I visited, not to make an exact copy of a photograph. While I want to be true to the subject, my first commitment is to paint a dynamic and harmonious landscape.

Starting: Nowadays I mostly paint on white canvases, though some times I still tone them with a quick wash of raw sienna or alizarin crimson. I mix alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue, and with this I draw with a round bristle brush just a quick layout of my composition.

I'll lay in the sky because this is usually the lightest/brightest part of the picture. I don't get into a lot of detail here because I want to keep it loose and things are still subject to change. However, I do want to have a road map in place, so to speak. My next step will be to start blocking in the painting and laying out my color. In the coming days I will post my progress on this painting...stay tuned!

Advance to Part II.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Scenes from the open studio:

I'm Christmas shopping today, so I thought I'd share some scenes of my recent holiday events. My holiday events came early this year. I held my 2nd annual open studio in mid- October. This may have been a tad too early in the fall, but it was still very successful. Normally I am not able to keep a huge inventory of artwork on hand at the studio, but for one brief weekend I hang my studio work space like a small gallery and open it to visitors. I may eventually hold this event more often- perhaps bi-annually, but we'll see.

This year's event was held on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. By far the evening events seem to have the heaviest attendance, but the daytime can often bring in people who want to look at the art without distractions. For this reason I feel it's important to do both days. Here are a couple of shots of the studio before this year's event:

This is a wall shot of the front room as you enter the studio. This wall would be to your right as you walk in the door. I use the front room as a display area for visitors:

Here is the large second room, which is normally my work area.

Here is a shot as visitors are starting to arrive. We didn't get many of these pictures this year as things got a little bit busy.

The work doesn't tend to stay in the studio long after the show. I will normally ship unsold works off to other shows or consignments. These shows are a lot of work and don't last long, but they offer a nice opportunity to display a larger body of my work in a cohesive way.

Here is a view of my studio work area as it looks today. My easel stands just opposite of the walls that have the large boxes on them. Looks like I had better get to work!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Even during this time of commission work, I am getting some studio painting done. I have a larger work on the easel right now, and I will be putting together a painting demo on that to post here soon. Meanwhile, here is a 20x24" painting I just finished of the Tuscan countryside. It is an area called "La Crete". I'm very happy with the way this turned out. I like the softness and the composition. The title is "Beckoning Pathway".