Saturday, February 24, 2007

February 24 - Plein Air Artists Visit, and the Lesson Continues (Horses in Snow)

It was a very busy day, with the Plein Air Artists of Riverside coming over to paint for a full day, including a pot luck at the end of it. I did manage to get a good start on the two horses painting though, and share it with you tonight (or tomorrow morning, if that's when you get these!)
Although the voting was almost equal for the sketches, I chose the upper right one because of the possibility of making large areas of textural interest in the dormant trees and shrubs. Toning the canvas first to "get rid of the high value white", I sketched in the location of the shrubs, the two horses and that all-important counter balance in the gate on the right.
I changed the location of the darker horse, moving him away from the red one because the negative shape formed by the area between them was odd looking and very distracting. Sometimes designing paintings is more about those negative space areas than the actual subject! Note that the negative space areas (where most of the snow will be going) are all different shapes and sizes. That's good design--making related areas without repetition by an infusion of variety.
Note, too, that I painted some of the three dimensional form of the horses...just can't leave 'em flat. Now that I have the initial lay in with the values established for my dark areas, tomorrow I cover the canvas with lots of paint, getting those big shapes in place.

Friday, February 23, 2007

February 23 - A New Idea for an Equine Painting (LESSON TIME!)

Yippee! We're off and running again, this time with a wonderful image (above) from a nice lady who bought one of my saddles off ebay. Her horses are knee deep in snow in Colorado and she took this picture as they wait for her to come feed in the evening light. Oh boy! This is great source material, however it does have some design issues. Like any regular person with a camera, Pam put ther horse right in the middle of the composition, creating a static equality around all three sides that the viewer (that's you!) might not have noticed. Heck, we all take pictures and we all put whatever we like smack-dab in the middle, right? Problem with that is it effectively cancels out any possibility for dynamic movement or tension--what I call the "Made ya Look" syndrome.
So me the artist takes this great photograph and has to rearrange it a bit for interest. This will be a 16 x 20 acrylic, and hopefully good enough for a show or two. We'll see as the painting progresses. Here is the source image, and here are my sketches (called thumbnails, although they are about 4 x 6 inches) showing some rather more interesting design possibilities. Note I am not "drawing the horses", but am positioning the SHAPES of the horses, fences and bushes to create a better composition.

Hurray! We're off on a new painting adventure!
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

February 22 - Foo Dog Color Study

I'm trying something a bit different for all the folks signed up on the Daily Paintings email list--I'm posting my painting to my blog with instructions for it also to be sent to the group. I hope it works, as it saves me a whole boatload of time.
Today's painting is a small color/value study of a Foo dog that is one of a set of bookends that has been in the family for at least two generations. It is a study for a larger painting that is fomenting around in the channels of my mind--a work for the Artist's Floral Fantasy show at the Riverside Art Museum. I was in it a few years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. I'm plotting a still life that features many of the things that my mother had--her love for the oriental and Japanese style was part of my growing up experience!
Foo dogs are fearful looking beasts, so please focus on the color and brushwork for your pleasure today. This is an original acrylic, 7 x 5 inches.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 21 - Plein Air Artists come to My Studio

Today's opening of our home and studio was a wonderful experience, as the creative energies around the gardens and animal area was palpable, and how fun to see paintings of Vincent van Goat come off the easels of the Plein Air Artists of Riverside! There were seven artists around the property today, and every one saw things in new
and different ways. I so enjoyed the experience of having these artists come, that I can hardly wait until Saturday, when they will be coming to visit and paint again!

As for me, I spent some part of today putting together the pochade boxes that were delivered yesterday. I'll be using them in Arizona, and I also took the car in for service in anticipation of the trip. I was so busy hosting and chatting, that I didn't get my gear outside until later in the afternoon--my favorite time to slap paint on canvas! But what to paint? Loving backlit subjects, my pots of geraniums on the end of the patio caught my eye, and resulted in this 7 x 5 oil.

On another note, we have had company of another sort--this fellow is still in one of our pine trees. All the artists had a chance to see his backside from about 40 feet away, however I thought this close up as he came down the tree this evening would be a nice treat. I'll be really happy when he takes off for other neighborhoods, as he is a
huge male weighing in at about 50 pounds, and could really give a headache to our Tibetan Mastiff.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

February 20 - Another Sky Evening

Tomorrow there may be a few artists wandering around the Two Trees
Studio, on location painters from the Plein Air Artists of Riverside
(PAAR). I'm looking forward to what the painters will be interested
in capturing in their time here. And so pleased that I can open my
home/studio for my peers.
I did this quick study of a sunrise on an 14 x 11 canvas to
experiment with the phenomenon again that hit me yesterday. And what
was that? Well, I noticed that below the clouds, the sky (made up of
cools) is the same value as the sunlit cloud underbottoms (made up of
warms). And that the value of the horizon is lower than those
clouds! That's why the sun looks so spectacular in the evening light!
I really like the colors and value changes in the sky on this
painting, but it doesn't have the color of yesterday's. Still...I
like it. Looks like the country I'll be traveling through on my way
to Pearce in a couple weeks.

Monday, February 19, 2007

February 19 - Finding Solutions to Problems--Sunset Painting

I was out among 'em today, about sunset, and saw a wonderfully colorful sunset unfold as I headed up the hill to the UPS store to drop off a painting going to a new collector. The sunset presented the solution to a problem I'd been trying to solve for quite a while, and I had one of those "AHA!" moments as I was driving (fortunately traffic wasn't heavy!). I made a discovery about lighting in such wonderful skies, and had to come back and duplicate the solution so I would have it in my repertoire of skills whenever I wanted it. Doing it, after mentally solving the problem, was just as exciting as the "AHA!" moment back there on the road! So now I have this little 6 x 8 oil to remind me of the obvious knowledge that had been obscure before. This view is from the hillsides above Riverside. $200 from the web site.

The question for you is, Do you know what the "Aha" moment was all about? Hint: you ought to have been in a workshop or have a copy of the Colorful Oil Painting DVDs to get it right. And think values, too! Artists usually love to solve puzzles, so now you have one! Another hint: it is definitely in the sky.

And in other news, I have a three-day workshop featuring color, acrylics and plein air in Shakertown Kentucky, June 3-6. I made my flight reservations today, and will hope to meet some of you there! Here is more information:
Fantastic opportunity to work with acrylics and do on-location painting, too!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

February 18 - My Horse as a Muse

Backlighting is such fun, especially when I can quickly lay in a painting and know what values to use, and how to energize that flat surface to create something that engages the viewer. Here is a quick study of my mare Raindance, lit form the right side as the sun heads toward the horizon. The light on her tail and mane captivated my senses, and the blue of the sky reflected from her back was the icing on the cake, so to speak. Out came the brushes, and this 12 x 16 oil came together. She's a good mare, and a complete tax deduction because of her selfless service as a model for my paintings! She has other duties, however, including taking me to places where I can gather more material for future paintings, good mare that she is.
This one is called "Evening in the Dry Lot". It will be in the digital online show of the Equine Art Guild as part of the "Artist's Muse" exhibit opening soon. I'll post a link when that show is up.