Leonardo da Vinci

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.

--Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, October 28, 2011

Study in Light

Dining Room Treasures
All summer i have seen the afternoon fleeting light come and go on this one teapot of my wife's on our dining room table and have wanted so much to paint it. Now that our bright sunny days are coming to a not so consistent time of year, i knew it was time to put up or shut up. So, recently i took a couple afternoons that were nice back to back and once again invaded our dining room with the vengeance of a Linebacker stuffed in a Ford Pinto.
One thing i strive to put in my work is atmosphere. To do that, i let the composition and subjects tell me how they want to be portrayed in that moment as i problem solve through the painting. Now, it goes without saying that color notes/values are critical to a painting, but just as important is the application of that paint. This piece i found myself dipping my brush in a mound of paint and creating long stringies that were strategically placed for a certain effect. Long skinny lines were the result that added a shimmering effect.
So, much of the time i don't have a detailed master plan of how i am going to paint something, and i think it really helps create that spontaneous, atmospheric feel that i am looking for.
I have lately found myself entering a strange phase of my painting process; I have been using intense natural light to paint my indoor still life's, while venturing out into the not-so-pleasant weather to do my plein air work. Just the opposite of what the normal person would do. Maybe its time for a cat scan......
In any case, i am thoroughly enjoying my contemplative journey in search of creating deep soulful and inspiring art.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Tune-up

Fall Morning at LaCamas
Last Saturday morning, Vicki and i decided to get an early start and spend the first half of the day at LaCamas Lake. She would read Kevin's (my middle step-son) newly revised manuscript and i would paint.
Quickly i found this subject near the boat launch and since the water was quite low, i was able to get onto the lake bed a bit and start in. The morning was socked in with fog and made for some lovely grays. And i tried to work quick before the area lightened up, which it did.
I was amazed at how tame the ducks were, there was a group of them just in front of me eating all of what the swampy area had to offer. I don't think i've ever experienced hearing a group of ducks eat, it sounded like they were all smacking their gums (bills) sifting through the mucky water. It was really funny and is probably the most memorable thing of the day for me. Other than getting cold, and enjoying it.
I have been to LaCamas Lake a number of times, but usually for not much longer than a pit stop on a bike ride. This time was different, i gave myself the chance to slow down and take in surrounding beauty which happened to be amazing. For the 4-5 hours we were there, i completed two paintings and visualized other compositions i would like to paint.
So if you are looking for inspiration or just a great place to enjoy nature that's not far out, visit LaCamas Lake. I promise you won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughtful Experience

Sun Harvest
Right after work tonight i bolted for Jonsrud Viewpoint in Sandy,OR to paint the evening light on Mt. Hood. Shortly after i started, two curious ladies came over to see what i was doing and we had a nice chat. They were genuinly interested to see what i was going to come up with when done. So the pressure was on to come up with a painting that i was happy with enough to blog about.
Much to my frustration, not even half way into the piece, i lost my light. The sun retired and i was left with two options, scrape it down and turn it into a nocturnal or keep working and put my memory to the test. I hope you can tell that i chose to continue with my initial plan and paint the warm sunlight.
After some thought about this evenings events, i really wanted to blog about it. Not because this is my best work, but for the truth and the experience. There are some issues with this painting; first is the mountain, which happens to be the main subject, but it's the wrong value, it needs to be cooler. And some of the shapes are not quite what i wanted. But, what i really like is the overall feeling of the piece, it is pleasantly warm with colors for the harvest season. And the emotion of a painting is still more important to me than having all the i's dotted and t's crossed.
The truth is that this was a challenge to paint. If you ever painted in the dark, and from memory, you know it's bizarre... I didn't even get a good look at it until i arrived home. But, i loved the challenge and learned and grew as an artist from this experience.
I also wanted to thank all the people that have ever come up to an artist with inquisitive eyes. Its inspiring to me that people would take an interest in what a painter does and in doing so, they become part of the moment. A little bit of them become part of the work, part of the experience, part of the truth.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Progression of a Painting

I have been wanting to show the progression of a painting from start to finish and i recently slowed down enough and remembered to take photos at different stages of the piece.
This painting was done in an afternoon in my basement, uh... i mean studio..... The photo that i used was taken at Steigerwald Refuge, during one of my treks down the path in search of a plein air subject to paint. I will often stop and take a pic when i see something that strikes my eye in hopes of using it in just this manner. So here we go......

I like to use a highly textured panel for my support. This panel is a former painting that i sanded down and gessoed over and reveals some wonderful texture.

The first thing i do is to tan my panel using a varied mixture of Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine and then loosely sketch my composition. Next, blocking in some shapes trying to lay in some darks, but sometimes i get a little antsy and my passion for color gets the better of me.

Introducing the background trees and sky

Here i have lightened up the hillside grass, established the foreground tree and layed in my highlights for the path which really allow the painting to take shape.

Path of Light 14x11

At last i add some touches of lights and darks in an effort to make things pop a bit, soften some background edges and add some foodle to the tree and i think were done. I really liked the way the foreground shadows act as stair steps into the painting, maybe a bit of a struggle to get past them (much like hiking), but the draw of the path leading you into the painting, i think, outweighs the initial struggles. Also, the big bushy tree in the foreground was an absolute joy to paint and keeps you from going off the panel. Oh, i should explain the foodle reference; its actually two words i enjoy saying that help me refrain from too much detail work...... Fiddle and Noodle - Foodle. Oops, i guess the Fox Terrier/Poodle mix beat me to it, darn poodles anyway.....

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is my style?

Dining Room Light
My previous posting was of a painting that took many days and many hours to complete. This one only took 2-3 hours, a speed painting in comparison. I did not think too much, a smash and grab type mentality. I did not worry about getting all the colors perfect, much less all the shapes, but i wanted to give the feeling of the light streaming in through our dining room windows, highlighting the focal point, blurring the lines in the background and sharpening the edges in the foreground; but not too sharp. All the while striving for a sense of atmosphere.
So when i completed this painting i thought a lot about my style of painting. What is my style? How can i labor over a painting for days and turn around a week later and crank out this speed demon? And i think i came up with an answer that in the back of my mind i have known all along.
Art, whether that be poetry, sculpting, painting, or whatever the medium, is all about passion and inspiration. Its about connecting with a subject and feeling a strong need to portray it, however the artist is experiencing it. That connection, that bonding is so critical and is the only way to get true unmanufactured emotion and feeling into a piece; and that's when it becomes art.
I am never going to pidgeon hole myself into doing the same thing over and over, the same way everytime. I would be bored to tears. But exploring, trying new techniques, and pushing my own boundaries is clearly where it's at for me. And when it's all said and done, i will have that body of work, that cohesive style that will be unique to me.
So, thank you for taking an interest in my journey. My hope is to inspire you. Inspire you to pick up a pen, or a brush and create art yourself. Inspire you to appreciate art or that you become an inspiration for someone else in this wonderful world of ART.