Thursday, August 21, 2014

Horse Tale


11x14 Oil on Panel

Wouldn’t you know it… Lazy horse now has a little more giddy up. In fact, I think she’s about to rise from the sand.

Lesson learned:  Don’t name your paintings before they match…

I kept the loose and random brush strokes, because I liked the initial direction this one was going. The curved lines in the tail seem to introduce a softer element and add some variety.

A layer of pure white was placed to the bridge of the nose, along with a bold block of turquoise under the chin. I also painted hints of yellow in the mane nearest the ears.  Yellow was applied sparingly, since it can have a strong impact and I did not want to alter the color scheme. These things are intended draw even more attention to the horse’s head.

Monday, August 11, 2014

WIP Lazy Horse

Work in Progress
11x14 Oil on Panel

This is my latest oil painting in progress, still inspired by the southwest. I saw this single horse cooling in the sand, near Kolob Terrace Road, Utah. Although it’s not a landscape, the colors remind me of the region, with the red, orange, and turquoise tones. From this point, I plan to sharpen the details of the horse, by adding even more contrast. 

I have a few lovely artist friends who prefer loose paintings, with bold and random brush strokes. Funny how I can almost hear their voices saying, "Hold your horses and stop while you're ahead!". Who knows, I might agree with them later :) We’ll see where it goes!

I have never owned a horse, but keep going back to them as subjects to paint. I am fascinated by the deep connection that many owners and trainers have with them. They are beautiful and majestic animals. Like the human figure, I enjoy painting them whether they are active or lying still.
 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Desert Beauty

12x16 Oil on Linen

So, we're back in the desert once again and this painting wasn’t really my idea...
People were gathering near a section of Bryce Canyon’s rim. There was not a crowd per se, but a steady stream of folks, lining up in that general area. At a distance, all I could see was a silhouette of a tree trunk, so I walked closer to see what all the fuss was about. Maybe the overlook had an even more spectacular view, or maybe there was a monument, an animal, or other interesting object, blocked by the angle of my current position.

Much to my surprise, the barren tree was the main attraction. Tourists were steadily snapping pictures and taking turns posing in front of it. Hmmm.

Up close, I soon realized the unique qualities of this natural sculpture. The trunk was a shiny and smooth. The bark was almost a charcoal tone, baked by the sun, with knots and gnarly branches. The roots were massive, stretching across the upper and lower borders. They were right. This tree indeed had a personality and character all its own. Snap!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Still Life Painting Workshop

Still life study #1
 8" x 10"
(work in progress)

Still life study #2
12" x 12" (work in progress)
 



I took another desert detour and landed in Jacksonville, FL painting still life with professional oil painter, Qiang Huang and a great group of artists. The workshop came highly recommended by Janet McGrath, a portrait artist and dear friend, living in Central Florida.  Janet attended his class several years ago and it was something I’ve wanted to do ever since.
 
Here are the paintings I started on the first and second days. At this point, I consider them to be studies, because there are still issues relating to lighting, color, and edges. During the revision process, the advice I received will be very helpful in (hopefully) making improvements.
The information provided in these three days was incredible. Not to spoil the show, but Qiang covered many concepts, including still-life set up, design, studio lighting, palette colors, painting tools, oil paint properties, surfaces, and being a professional artist, etc. He explained his personal five-step painting approach, while performing live demonstrations and giving individual instructions. His ideas and methods not only apply to still life painting, but to rendering virtually any subject matter.
I try to attend a workshop every several years. It keeps the creativity flowing and I enjoy being a part of the discovery process, while working alongside other artists. The tips are valuable references for the future, whether it is experimenting with a different color, paint brush, or layering technique.
Watching videos is no comparison to receiving this type of onsite coaching and evaluation.
If you live near Jacksonville, Florida or are able to travel distance, take a look at the workshops offered at the Corse Gallery each year.  Eileen Corse, the gallery owner (and fabulous palette knife painter), hosts amazing artists from all over the U.S.  The lighting and atmosphere is most comfortable. This was the third workshop I have attended there and thoroughly enjoyed each experience!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Does Color Equal Light?

Now that the party is over, it’s time to get back to the desert… or at least for a little while

16x12 Oil on linen
 
While hiking in the base of Bryce Canyon, I spotted this nice sturdy pine tree (again).  I felt like it deserved an array of ornaments, with its nearly perfect shape. Then I began noticing the other triangles surrounding it. There was a similar shape in the large rock framing the tree, and less obvious triangle created by the grassy slope. Still narrower triangles were located in the distance. This may sound a bit odd, but as an observer in a new location, you can’t help what you notice…
 
This painting will match the others of my southwestern series, but honestly, it is not a favorite. That may be because it lacks a morning or evening light source and strong contrasting values. The mid-day sun exposure removed the chance of a more dramatic shadow below the tree, and the rocks depict an almost evenly lit pattern. The image then becomes one about complementary colors … between the red /green, blue/ orange placement.

When the painting is altered to black and white, it is evident that there is little contrast here, as well...

 
On the other hand, let's take a look at an earlier painting (and one that I especially like), in its black and white version. If we’re seeing the same thing… this painting has better lighting effects, with and without color.

black & white version of "The Middle Ground" 
 
What do you think?

Prior to starting the single pine tree painting, I thought color harmony would be enough to satisfy my vision, but in the end, it was a failed attempt. 

So now you might ask… why not just fix it? The answer is simple. I’ve given up trying. It is hard to imagine where shadows would realistically fall or what would happen with the gradation of colors.

This is an example of … Color does not equal light.                                                          

I believe the most critical eye for judging your own artwork should begin with yourself.  It doesn’t matter if the finished piece contains many or none of the elements of so-called “good art”, as long as you are happy with the results.

When your paintings are complete, take a long look at them and determine the things you want to repeat. Is it in the colors, the composition, the infusion of light, or brush strokes? Include those same properties in your future pieces and don’t forget to experiment along the way!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Art Show Update

The response to our portrait show was simply amazing. Friends, family, and members of the community, young and old, arrived in droves. It was evidence that the creation and love of art touches many lives. The paintings will be hanging for another four weeks, so there is still an opportunity to see them in person.
 
Eve, Nika, Troid

(Nika's beautiful paintings behind us)
                        
 
But we knew right off the canvas that it was going to be a fantastic night. Prior to show-time, we received a colorful surprise…

A “secret admirer,” whom we soon discovered was Troid’s husband, scheduled a timely arrival of a beautiful bouquet of flowers, along with three rose corsages. The message read, “To three talented ladies”.  What a way to begin!

Within the 2-hour time frame, questions and conversations about the artwork, our processes, and experiences filled the room. The positive energy was contagious.
 
And of all the special people who attended, one of Nika’s students made a huge impact on me. In his late eighties, Philip decided to learn painting for the first time in his life and had been receiving private lessons from Nika, for several years. He spoke about how much he enjoys creating art and still eagerly awaits her instruction at his home, several times a month. He explained, “Painting has opened my eyes. I observe the world differently now… in the colors around me, and through the light and the shadows. It’s wonderful.”  I could sense the true passion, in his words and expression.

When I asked about his current project, he replied, “It’s a collage. I think it’s a landscape, but I’m not sure.” We both laughed and agreed that his collage was a work in progress…

Philip was one of the last people to leave the show. As he walked slowly and cautiously to the exit door, with a cane to steady him on one side, and friend supporting the other, a thought crossed my mind… You’re never too old to learn something new; you’re never too old to motivate and inspire someone else.