Saturday, May 19, 2007

May 19 - Beginning a Draft Horse Painting--the Artist's Mind

I'm beginning a new painting, a 12 x 16 oil, and thought you might enjoy the thinking process that goes into creating the art I do. In this image, you can see the source material--a photograph I took many years ago in Temecula, of the Percherons that were destined for the Rose Parade that year. I always liked the position of the man, and that the morning light was coming over my shoulder--those interesting linear shadows intrigued me. Now it is time to do the painting.

This email might be a bit long, but the thought process in the development might be helpful, so here goes: The first thing I do when planning a painting is to figure out the proportions of the focal point to the size of canvas. I have a 12 x 16 canvas underneath the photo, and the proportions of the horses in the photo are too large to the dimentions of the edges of the photo to please me. So I am making the horses and men smaller in proportion to the edges of the canvas--the sketchbook drawing shows that more clearly. There is a LOT more area above and to the left of the animals than what is in the photo. I find that my reference photos are taken closer in for detail capture, to the detriment of the environment of the piece. That environment is an important part of the sense of place in a painting, and ought not be overlooked. Many paintings done while we learn are planned without regard for this aspect of the creating process. I wanted to be sure you see it here.

In a nutshell, don't copy the outer dimensions of the photograph exactly! I'd suggest expanding the backgrounds to a good balance between the focal point and the environment in which the action takes place.

And finally, at the request of several folks, I've put up a special page for my workshops on my web sites. The September workshop is full, but the fantastic Acadia National Park Color Boot Camp still has a few spaces. Imagine staying on the ocean for five nights and painting all day! And getting a week's worth of the Color System! I can hardly wait! There's a link on the page I've put up for registration and information.
Here's the page:

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