Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Daily Painting Practice- Beginning Northwoods No.3 and more progress on Summer Still Life

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Summer Still Life - Work in Progress
oil on canvas

Still working on the Summer Still Life though I think I am almost there. Good thing since  summer is gone and Fall is here. I am currently in a state of confusion about whether I should put the designs on the table cloth or leave them off. I also think the background needs to be more blue and less purple.

Here's a sneak peak of my next Northwoods painting, Northwoods No.3. I am painting this with a much more impressionistic style.    The scene reminded me of something John Singer Sargent or William Merritt Chase would paint.

Mrs Chase In Prospect Park by William Merritt Chase. This is at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, Manhattan, New York. Of course they always put women in their boats for some reason. Mrs. Chase looks a little bored with the idea of sitting there. I wonder what she was thinking?

Northwoods series No. 3 - Work in Progress
oil on masonite
 I'm not sure how finished a painting this will be but it is starting out  with that American Impressionistic style which is fun. I may have to put a woman with a long white dress in the boat to make it official though.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Daily Painting Practice - Beginning the underpainting Northwoods No.2

Beginning the underpainting of Northwoods Painting No.2.

I thought it might be fun to share some of what goes on in my head as I begin a painting.
From the first idea and sketch I liked the composition, and never having done a waterfall before, I liked the challenge.
First, I am going larger on this one right from the start (24"x30") to avoid any  comments from the gang of four.  My progress at this point is merely transfering my drawing and washing in some Burnt Sienna for a nice warm undertone.  As I begin, I am thinking more about the future of the painting  than about anything being right or wrong. In other words, how well can I pull out the patterns of lights and darks? How dark should the darks be? How bright will the water be?... And how on earth do I make water look sparkly without looking  frozen?... What have I gotten myself into???? ( Sorry, this last thought is what can happen when you think too much and forget about enjoying the process)

Next, I sit back and try to remember what it looked like standing there in the deep woods. What did it look like in the shadows? What did the sun light look like bounce off the water? This is where color studies come in handy, to trigger those memories.
I have stuck with only the Burt Sienna at this point. Going darker and searching for those interesting patterns. I also remind myself, when I begin,  to start  in the back and work forward. Then a very important  point...
Step back from the painting and give it some thought. 

The center of interest is the waterfall. This is the star of the show, so I need to make sure she gets all the attention. All the other elements should play a supportive role....Plus, being a little lazy and unsure of myself, I don't want to do a lot of work in the background if I can't be sure how effectively I can paint the water...( honestly, these thoughts pop in my head!)

So, here I have started using some Burnt Umber and some White to see if I can capture enough of the spirit of the water. This is one of the  steps in the painting process I enjoy most, because this is where I engage that creative part of myself, the little boy part. I start using more imagination with the choices of brush strokes and tone. I pretend a lot  about walking in the woods and seeing and hearing this waterfall.  It really is just play!  ...

Of course,  I have to be careful to only allow myself to imagine the scene I am painting. Other wise I may drift off and start picturing myself  in another scene.

Being an artist is all about focus!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Daily Painting Practice - Lake Superior Painting - But what size?

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Lake Superior Shore Line
Northwoods Series No.1
oil on masonite

I finished the first painting of my new Northwoods Series.... or have I? Two of the Gang of Four have made the observation and comment that this painting would do better on a larger canvas.... Heavy sigh! While I like the intimate nature of smaller paintings I think I agree that this would also work well on a larger canvas, say 24" x30". I don't mind the idea of doing it again, it will give me a chance to play with the waves a little more and maybe add some clouds low on the horizon.... Of course next time I will follow procedure and get their input before I start. In the mean time I am still counting this as Northwoods Series Number 1.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Daily painting Practice - Lake Superior Plein Air Study

I have a good reason for not posting the last few weeks. My plein air photographer/wife and I were invited by our good friends up North to enjoy a long week at their cabin in the North woods of Wisconsin. Not only did we have the best time hiking, boating, eating , talking, eating, fishing and eating, but I also had a great time gathering reference paintings and photos for a new series of work from the Northwoods.
Here I am painting on the shore Lake Superior. We traveled to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park which is located in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula. The park has 60,000 acres and the largest tract of old-growth timber in the Midwest.

This is what I was looking at.
I had to paint fast because the tide was coming in and my feet were about to get wet. As the waves got closer, the left leg of the easel kept sinking into the soft wet sand. It made for some interesting body positions as I tried to paint the horizon
I find the best part about painting plein air is when I have to work very fast. I don't have time to think or worry what the painting will look like. I do seem to enjoy the process more under that pressure. If I had a few hours to paint in this spot I would begin to think too much instead of just responding to the color and light.
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Lake Superior Shore Line- Plein Air Study
oil on canvas

I will use this study to begin the first of the new series.I have about 50 ideas for paintings lined up from the trip. I'll post more about the sites and the studies over the next few weeks.