Thursday, January 22, 2009

Daily Painting Practice- Beginning painting of Rosenblatt Stadium

With all of the financial gloom and doom going around I needed a project with a subject to pick me up... and one that I think might sell well in a slowing economy.
I did this small 5"x7" painting last spring of the College World Series. The College World Series has been held at Rosenblatt Stadium here in Omaha for the past 40 something years. In a year or two Rosenblatt is scheduled for demolition and a new stadium will be built in downtown Omaha. The old stadium has a loyal following and great memories for a lot of people. I thought a larger version might be fun to try before it is gone.
I took this photo to give you a good scale of the painting. (36"x48") I am working from photos and the color study I did this past fall when the stadium was empty. The Omaha Royals, the farm team of the Kansas City Royals, use the stadium each season and they were kind enough to let me paint from the stands one day.
This detail shows how the charcoal drawing is allowed to show through the under painting. As the painting progresses the painted details will cover over the guidelines from the drawing. This is why I don't spend a lot of time on the drawing. I will correct and change it as I go along. I use the first charcoal drawing as a map to block in the larger painted areas and to guide the placement of details.
Here's the progress shot. I know I will be doing several heads of people in the bottom right but at this point I don't know the details of how that will look. Regardless, I will complete the painting and put them in last. I might even do a Norman Rockwell and put myself in the crowd, looking back at the viewer.... Need to buy a good hat!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Daily Painting Practice - Continued progress on Omaha Street Painting

I left off writing the last post saying how Vermeer inspired me to try painting bricks. I thought I would describe some of the struggles I have had with doing just that.
First, here is a handy tool I use for guiding my hand to make straight edges. I originally came across this gadget when I did electrical design in a previous life. I think I used it once back then.
However, I use it all the time now. Here is my first attempt at painting in the bricks. My thinking was to paint each line of brick then go back and lay in the cement in between each brick....WRONG approach. The brick looks pasted on. I wiped it down, though not completely off and tried another approach.
With just the suggestion of the line of brick showing, this time I tried going at it by painting the mortar lines in between the bricks. I almost felt like I was a miniature mason laying in one tiny row of brick at a time. I made sure not to draw a continuous line, rather I let the brush drag across and dot the background to pick out the texture.
My intent with this photo was to show you that I do not use just one color for the brick or mortar. Rather I let the brush pick up warm and cool grays and oranges and browns each time so that every brush stroke was varied.
I finally settled for not painting every brick. Rather I only did enough to indicate the texture and give the feeling of brick and mortar. I think by not providing every detail this allows the brain of the viewer to do a lot of the creative work to formulate what they see . I Think it also allows the viewer to see the painting differently each time it is looked at.
click on the image to enlarge the detail
The hardest part of any painting is knowing when to quit. I thought I would go over this detail photo to give you an idea of what I look for to finish up.
First review the goals of what you wanted in the painting. (I don't always remember my goals. That's what gets me into trouble.) I remember wanting to show the light and atmosphere, texture of the brick, and have a narrative.
Second, I look for places in the painting that attract the eye in an unintentional negative way...smudges, hard edges, places that need to be cleaned up or brought into focus, color temperature.
A few examples in this detail are the rooftop of the building above the truck. It has a bump that attracts attention, the bottom of the sign post disappears, some building details in the alley are too vague and need to be cleaned up. And of course I haven't started finishing the windows yet.
click on the image to enlarge the painting
Painting in Progress
This is a dangerous time. I get so eager to finish and move on to a new painting I may get sloppy and let some things go, calling them complete when they really need more attention. Thank God I have my own personal art review board/wife.... I can't get away with anything anymore.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Daily painting practice- progress on Omaha street scene

Remember back in November I posted a few plein air photos of me working on color studies, outside in downtown Omaha? Go back a few posts you see it. Well, I thought I should update you on the progress of one of those paintings .
I worked this one from the back forward. I wanted to keep the memory of that morning light so that was the first thing I painted in.
click on the image to enlarge the painting

Needs a name -(Old Omaha?)
Painting in Progress

20"x16" oil on canvas
I forgot to take progress photos so this stage jumped a few painting sessions ahead. Now the fun begins! I will start adding details to the windows and the old brick. Vermeer painted brick like no one else. Here is his painting that inspired me to give it a try.
From the Rijksmuseum in Amersterdam. This is Vermeer's painting "The Little Street" in Delft.
Do you think this was plein air? I don't think so but I wonder how long it took him and how he painted it. If you could take a trip back in time to look over the shoulder of any artist as he or she painted , which painting would you choose? I would have loved to watch Vermeer paint this one.