Leonardo da Vinci

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

--Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, January 27, 2012

Painting a Sunny Winter Scene

Winter Clearing
My trips to The Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway have harvested some great reference material to use in my studio work; the composition i used for Winter Clearing is one of my favorites. The numerous scraggly bushes, twisted trees, and killer colors are warming to my soul in the cold of winter, and i am hopelessly drawn to their power.
I have been gearing up to paint more in larger format and i feel this view of the fields, through the bushes and trees and on to the background hills, lends itself well to a larger forum to do its speaking.
Something occurred during this painting that i wasn't expecting though..... the scene depicted here was actually a bit overcast. While putting pigment to panel, i found myself using colors that would indicate a brighter day, and strangely enough i found it working for me... so i just went with it. This brings up an interesting thought: At what point does a painter recognize that something is working or not working? And what do you do with that? This leads to the big question....when is a painting finished?
I think it's critical to be self-aware; but that is not enough.... One has to be able to trust their own instincts, and then confidently act upon them. That might include shutting it down before a painting gets overworked. It might also mean that you revisit a painting after a period of time with a fresh set of eyes.
I know i'm not alone, when i say it's a struggle knowing when a painting is finished. It might be the hardest thing about painting, but no one can tell us when a painting is finished. That is part of the struggle and learning and growing process that must take place from within and will ultimately make us better painters for it.
I will never claim to be a great draftsman when it comes to painting. I will never have all my i's dotted and t's crossed. The important things i want to show up in my work are emotion, depth, texture, and passion. And, i think that's why people connect with art. They acquire a connection deep in their soul, with a certain piece of art, and that's when the inferno begins.


  1. WHOA! This is my new favorite of yours, Michael! It's stunningly beauuutiful! The fact that you were able to amp up the colors to be sunnier than it was is nice to know...it reads as if you saw this color and used it "in real time". .....I love everything about this painting!

  2. I agree with what you say. The painting is finished when you 'feel' it, and as you pointed out, you can always go back and change something whenever your eyes 'decide. And paintings should maybe most importantly give some kind of emotion to the viewer... in my opinion.
    Your sunny winter scape is beautiful, love this warm creamy yellow grass in the foreground, and the feeling of distance is awesome.

  3. Lovely painting. Hope you continue to trust your instincts; they seems to be spot on!

  4. holy shit... sorry but those were the exact words that came out of my mouth when i saw this.