Monday, March 31, 2014

Docks in Rain - oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches

Click here to purchase. Here's another painted from the car with the paintbox in my lap. It was pouring rain the whole time and I kept the windshield wipers going so I could see what I was doing.

I set out my palette with the 11-12 paints I normally use but only ended up painting with a couple, since things were so gray. Nearly the whole thing was painted with mixes of burnt sienna (brown) and viridian (green), swinging the color mixtures toward one or the other of those, and of course mixing with a lot of white in places. The narrow range of colors and values gives a kind of tonalist look.
I really loaded the paint on thick in places.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Rain - oil on panel, 16 x 20 inches

Click here to purchase. This is another spring painting, but this time worked up in the studio from a 5x7 inch color study I did on location.

Lately I've been restricting myself to use large brushes, so I don't fiddle with my work as much. The study was painted with a single 1/2" bristle brush (that's pretty big and clumsy for a 5x7" painting!), and the studio painting was done with a 1" wide bristle brush. I did cheat at the end and use a small synthetic brush to scumble more color into the field and paint the branches -- just because I didn't want all the brushstrokes to be exactly the same.
I've also been playing around with a different way of applying paint. Here is a detail of the sky, showing how it flickers in places with pure color. There are bits of red, black, and yellow mixed with loads of white in there. In any little square inch passage of the painting there are 3-4 different colors that read as a vibrating field of color. In this case, the red, black, yellow, and white read as varied and interesting grays. (Non-painting readers, this is called broken color or optical mixing, and was developed by Monet & co.)
And here is part of the middle ground. I mixed up a bunch of greens and browns, then superimposed those all together to give the illusion of detail.

Anyway, it's always fun to push beyond your abilities and comfort zone, especially if it turns out OK. P.S.: here is the original little study:

Monday, March 24, 2014

First Signs of Spring - oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches


(Alternate title: "Making Mountains out of Molehills.") Click here to purchase. It's that time of year again... the time where I have to load up on allergy medicine for a few months to function. But the new growth is coming out of the foliage, and before you know it there will be bright, spring greens and blossoms everywhere. Spring greens seem almost unnatural and can easily overpower a landscape painting if you're not careful. It can be fun to do a few of them though, when the trees are still barren and gray from winter, and that juxtaposes nicely with the new growth.

Incidentally one of my favorite Pissarro paintings is on view at the Kimbell museum in Fort Worth, and shows him handling the exact same time of year. It is a really nice one, that I'm guessing he painted en plein air because of its size (It's about 17x21 inches. That's large for plein air, but small for the studio.), and he probably took it out to the location a few sessions to finish it.
Near Sydenham Hill (1871)
Camille Pissarro
Oil on canvas, 17.1 x 21.1 inches

Love those gnarly, reaching branches.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Winding Creek - oil on panel, 14 x 11 inches

Click here to purchase. It was 83F the day I painted this, and the next day an ice storm blew in and dropped the temperature to 20F with a windchill of 4F. 

I usually don't go too far to find subjects for my paintings. There is ample subject matter everywhere, provided you're feeling poetic and open enough to respond to it. Some days, forget it. I'll spend countless hours driving to find something inspiring, only to realize it's my own mood inhibiting me. Other times I have to just make myself start working on something, and the inspiration follows. Most of my paintings are done in the city--parks make for a nice place to set up, since they're public land. This creek is in a park and I liked the vantage point, looking down over the water.
In action.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bring the Art with You

I really love painting on location and not painting directly from photos. That said, I will usually snap a few reference photos during the painting session in case I need to rework details once I bring the painting home. I ran across my hoard of reference photos a few days ago and thought it would make a fun blog post to show some alongside the finished paintings.

These are all in my near surroundings--none is more than 5-10 miles away from my home. There are subjects for paintings everywhere. You can spend hours looking for the perfect subject, but you're better off just finding something with potential and adapting it. Like Stapleton Kearns says, "You bring the art with you into the landscape."

Note that some of the photos were taken at different times of day, cloud cover, etc., than the paintings were painted.






Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Church on Green Oaks - oil on panel, 11 x 14 inches.

Click here to purchase. I had a lot of fun modulating the grays in this painting. Lately I'm learning to mix my grays chromatically from very bright colors--that is, I add a modicum of red, yellow, and blue to a pile of white paint. By slightly varying the amount of each color, I can swing the grays in different directions with a lot more control than I would have if I mixed them from, say, only earth colors. I still have a lot to learn of course. I love seeing how painters like T. Allen Lawson are able to use their grays so well and with such subtlety to make other colors sing.