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.


Anonymous said...

How did you do the windows? The bricks came out great. I struggle with this all the time. Judy

Miki Willa said...

Great work with the light and shadow. Your details in the windows, bricks, and other small things really make this painting work. I really feel drawn into this place. I have enjoyed checking in on the process.

http://www.onpainting.wordpress.com said...

It is really looking great.

Mary Bullock said...

Beautiful! And thanks for the detailed description of how you painted the bricks. But what I really love is the reflection of a building in the windows of the large building. So Cool!
The Figurative Realm of Mary Bullock

Robin Weiss said...

Great painting Peter!

Sheila Vaughan said...

A wonderful painting Peter, full of atmosphere and you have detail without a feeling of "fussiness".

Anonymous said...

Great job and persistance. Those bricks look absolutely wonderful.

Anonymous said...

There is a gentleness about this painting despite the fact that it's of buildings..I think it's the lighting and the softened edges. Your skills are excellent. I can relate to your 'dangerous time' and your personal art review board! This looks finished in my opinion, Peter - your work is far from sloppy, but a little sloppiness emanates a sense of reality..

Gabriel Boray said...

Nice Work Peter, great air and space.I'll subscribe and watch for more. I think you would appreciate my work, you can read my blog at SecretsofAModernPainter.blogspot.com.