Friday, July 22, 2011

Hard as rock.

Rocks Along the Creek, 10 x 8

Sunlit Rocks, 8 x 10
 In my classes this week, we discovered that rocks can be a tricky subject matter to paint. When painting rocks as the primary subject matter, without including much else in the landscape, the painting becomes like an abstract painting.  Our goal with this exercise was to use the reference photo only as a starting point, and reshape the overall composition and individual rocks to create a dominant rock shape and strong compositional movement throughout the painting. Simplifiying and combining shapes in the early stages are important steps.  I hope my students who attended this week persisted in completing this painting, since the later stages, when you can play with adding touches of color throughout, are a lot of fun!

The top painting, Rocks Along the Creek, was done as a paint-a-long for a private class.  For Sunlit Rocks, a demo for my group class, I decided to crop in even closer to really focus on just the rocks.  I also noticed that my first painting would've worked better cropping into just the bottom half.

Rock on!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Same scene, different medium

Meandering Stream, oil, 11 x 14
This is a another exercise of painting in oil from an existing pastel painting.  I used only the pastel painting (Quiet Stream at Sunrise, 12 x 14, scroll a few posts down to see) as my reference.  With a few adjustments to my composition, since the 11 x 14 proportions of my canvas didn't match my 12 x 14 reference painting, I was ready to go with my oil version of this same scene. I'm finding that my next challenge is to learn to photograph the shiny surface of oil paintings without the reflective glare.  As a pastel artist for many years, this is a new problem for me!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

And then the fog rolled in...

Foggy Morning, 11 x 14
In my weekly classes at my home studio, we just finished up a series of "atmospheric" paintings.  We began with atmospheric perspective in general, and studied this topic pertaining to scenes on a clear day.  Then we moved on to studying the effects of morning mist, and finally how to work with fog. This painting was from this past week's demo.  We discovered that, without a strong, direct light source, contrast is kept low on the ground plain and in the distance, and is only apparent on upright objects, such as the trees in this scene (and somewhat on the upright edge of the land mass that meets the water).  To differentiate various areas of the ground plain and the distant trees, we used a combination of low contrast, muted warms and cools up against each other.  It's hard to believe that a painting as subdued as this would be a real workout on the eyes, but seeing the small nuances of low contrast values was indeed a challenge.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Paint-along Demonstration

Cows at the Barn, 11 x 14
For the past couple of months I've been working with a student by doing paint-along demonstrations, which I've really enjoyed.  With these private classes I've left the subject matter to her and, working side by side, explained each step of how I'd approach the painting.  For this painting, we were working from a photo taken during an overcast day, giving us little to go on regarding color and contrast, so we had to make up some of these artistic decisions.  By carefully considering color temperature and extending the fence into the foreground, we were able to create depth in the painting. We also used a more saturated splash of color and more detailed contrast to create our focal point in the lower left area of the painting.

I felt a bit intimidated when it came time to place in the cows...something I don't think I've ever painted before. My student, however, has painted many and does quite well at it. We decided our goal would be to loosely place in just enough information to have the two areas read as groups of black & white cows.

For our finishing touches, we looked for opportunites to harmonize the color throughout, and even working into the cows some of the same dark and light colors used in other areas of the painting.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Making "Haze" a Little Clearer

Quiet Stream at Sunrise, 12 x 14
This week I finished this painting in one of my classes, demonstrating how to depict hazy atmospheric conditions.  This particular scene captures early mornng haze.  I normally start my demos during the first hour of class, and often finish the painting later in the week to show to students at the next week's class.  For this painting, though, I thought it was important to do a two-part demonstration and show the completion as well.  Capturing hazy conditions in a painting relies heavily on getting those very subtle value differences dead-on accurate, and I find it important to make small adjustments all the way up until the end, comparing value to value in all areas of the painting.  Starting the painting with a monochromatic Turpenoid underpainting also helped to establish accurate values early on in the process.

I was very fortunate to have seen Elizabeth Mowry demonstrate recently one of her classic hazy atmospheric landscapes at the IAPS convention.  Quite a helpful demonstration to watch just prior to painting mine!