Archive for the ‘on painting’ Category

What is more boring than c-span, matching socks, tax law or dusting the house?  Perspective! Especially learning about it…And really, who needs perspective? It’s just one of those stupid rules of physics.  Rules, rules, rules… we don’t need no stupid rules. That is unless we are trying to make something look like it is adhering to the laws of nature in a drawing or a painting. Tell anyone out there that the building lined street they are standing on gets smaller as it goes to the horizon and that all parallel lines recede to a single point and they will all say, “Duh, I can see that.” But give them a sheet of paper and ask them to draw it, that’s a different thing. If it gives you fits, don’t feel bad. Drawing perspective wasn’t really figured out until the middle of the 15th century, or is it the 14th. Anyway it was staring them all right in the face and they couldn’t see it.

No worries. I’m surely not going to bore you with my perspective on perspective, but I get asked a lot “How do you draw boats?” and my answer is…. I’m not sure. Boats are really complicated things. Like women. There are rare few straight lines, lots of compound curves and they move around a lot. They seem to defy logic.  So I started thinking about it. Rule number one when you are trying to paint a boat, or anything else  for that matter, don’t think of it as a boat. If you try to paint a boat you will revert to your idea of a boat when your brain can’t figure out what it’s seeing. And you end up with a little smiley thing with a triangle on top. I’ve seen it happen.

First thing with boats is to think of the basic frame of the boat, it helps to draw a line that goes from the center of the front to the center of the back, and that line is going to be the basic perspective line of the boat. In the above example, the boats are all parked in parallel which means that all those center lines are going off to a single point on the horizon, just like the buildings on the street. ( See how I brought that around?) Once you have the basic frame of the boat then the curves part is a little easier. And when in doubt, use the horizon line and a vertical line to compare the angles you are seeing. Mostly that’s all I do. The pic at the bottom is kinda oddly fuzzy and sharp at the same time )iPhone) but I like it. I’ll post the finished painting once I get it shot.


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color and light

A funny thing happened while I was painting this, I relearned an old lesson. Again. I was standing under an overhang with the building to my back, middle of the day, looking down this nettle lined row. Without realizing it the deep shadow of the building influenced the way I saw the colors I painted. When I viewed it in full daylight the colors were bright and airy and a different palette from my usual. I learned this little lesson once before while painting in the studio, but in reverse. There, going after a night scene, I poured on the bright lights so that I could really see into the nuances of the dark colors that I was painting to get the feel of a night scene. The problem was that once I took those intense lights off the work, the color went dark. Weird. Viewing a painting in a light different from the light in which it was painted means that the paint will read differently. This is why we plein air painters generally paint in shadow or under an umbrella, so that when the painting is hung in a house and receiving only 60 watts of light from the ceiling fixture 15 feet away, it won’t turn to mud.

I also got this lesson in the form of big cheese at a Kinkade gallery years back. I walked in, just out of curiosity, to see what they had on the walls and what the prices were. It was sort of like watching  youtube videos of a tsunami hitting a small village, difficult to see but impossible to turn away. The gallery people were selling an older couple on a painting of a cozy little cottage, nestled in the trees against the evening light. The painting was moved to a viewing room where there was a dimmer switch and they could turn the overhead lights down slowly and say, “See how the lights in the cottage seem to come on when it gets dark?” Cool. But just a trick of the eye. The middle stuff all gets darker but the lights are still visible. I think it worked.

Moral of the story; if you want a painting that is light and airy, paint it in the shadows. If you want something darker, try it in full light, just be prepared for the colors to die when you get it home. Another fun thing to experience is to try painting under a yellow light (like a bug light) just to see what it does to your perception of the color. This is why the light you paint under in the studio is so important. Make sure it is daylight balanced or better yet, actual daylight, north light is what the big dogs paint by, always consistent and never direct.

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Diurnal nocturnal

I know I should be more consistent with this blogging thing to keep my tens of readers fascinated but I’ve been in a state of flux moving things around and stuff. I moved my computer to the studio which somehow screwed up my email on my iMac and my iPhone (do I get paid for mentioning Apple products? just curious) I’ve had a heck of a time getting that all fixed. We had our biannual opening at the studio last night and a tree fell on my house squashing my porch, and bending my roof all to hell, with water damage and the works. My homeowners insurance company (Universal of North America) rocks. They were on it like a… um.. like something that moves really fast. Oooops another product endorsement. Two days after a tree falls on my roof, the tree is cut up, lifted off and carted away. But I digress….

So the Wekiva paint out was a few weeks ago and great fun. Didn’t sell much but they treated all the artists well and we had another fun artist reunion. I’ll be posting several of the paintings but wanted to start with this 30×40. Yes it’s a nocturne but no I didn’t paint it on location at night… too big. And there could be bears or skunkapes. So I went out late in the day and did the sketch-in of the actual place in a sepia color, went to the mess hall where there was light and blocked in the base colors that night until about midnight. I used a study I had done previously of that scene as a nocturne to guide me but changed it a bunch. I’ve made many mental notes, all of which I’ve lost, about the color of things at night but remembered the key is to tone down all the variety of greens and browns to a narrow band and just paint the values… because it’s dark at night. I went back the next morning and put in all the detail work. The clouds were from a previous day of shooting clouds with my iPhone (ahem) during the day but somehow had a night sky quality. It was sort of a piecemeal project but I wanted a big painting that if it didn’t sell I could take to my gallery in Vero, Meghan Candler gallery, who has consistently sold larger paintings for me. I’m working on a whole new series for her right now, in fact.

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Catching up

I don’t post a lot, usually only when it’s convenient or if I feel I have something to say. But my usual pace has been off, I’ve been on the road a bunch. Off to Hawaii and last week spent a week in Wekiva Springs for the annual paint out there. Now I have so much crap to write about it’s silly. So get ready for a blog bombing run of biblical proportions. First up is this interior that I did for a gallery I’m in on Park Avenue in my home town. They carry a lot of paintings on the walls and a lot of home stuff on the floors, it’s a cool place and I like busy interiors so I went in and did this 16×20 in two trips. One of the things I like is a challenge, in this case it’s making order out of chaos. Landscapes are fun and now with this great weather a joy to create but these busy little interiors really force me to design. What I look for is a way to create a hierarchy of items, sort of a #1,2, 3, 4 of importance. If everything shares the same level of dominance then it becomes like one of those roadside billboards for attorneys with too many images and too much type and junk and stuff… no flow. So your brain just shuts it right down and you drive on by. The lamp is first, the center of interest, then the book and then the red things and then the background. It’s all about eye flow.

I haven’t been adding new paintings to my website because I’m just about to have it redone… but that’s a blog for another day.

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Demo #4

Can’t seem to load images on my computer to wordpress so I’m trying my iPhone app. Here’s a step by step of a 20×20 I did for my gallery in charleston. The pics are straight from the phone without cropping. Okay, that seemed to work. got a glitch in my links or something. I’ll post better shots once I get this fixed. Anyway I didn’t get a shot of the initial drawing but it was simply the basic keylines that form the angles of the roof, the lines of the dock and curves of the boat, the first pic still shows the framework in a pale brown wash. I’m working on painting these really loose so I’m using a large synthetic sable flat to goosh in the color and as the painting progresses I’ll used different brushes to fudge the edges.

The initial block in always starts with the darkest colors to establish the values and color tones, everything else gets judged by these notes. I may go back in and restate the darks or even lighten or add more color but this is the start.

More color, in the midtones mostly, establishing the larger shapes that I can later rework and subdivide.

Reworking the water a little. Water is tricky, I first establish the color of what is under the surface so that I can later come back in and put the reflected light on top, mimicking the way water works.

Everything has been established in terms of color and value and the rest is tweaking. Deciding which things need to be brighter or warmer or darker and what edges need to be softened or hardened with the goal of leading the eye around the canvas.

The water has been reworked a few times to get closer to the complicated variations of the underwater color, the surface reflections of sky and boats and stuff that sticks up here and there.

This final version shows a brightening of the sky, and final touches to the water. There’s  alot of subtle color stuff that’s lost in these pics but again as soon as I get the media link back I’ll post better shots.

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todays lesson

I learned a big ass lesson today, and this lesson is so true and so simple. Uniform presentation. With all of my experience as a professional artist, you think I would know better, but I’m a slow learner. Over the years I have tried a variety of frame styles: Omegas, Glaser frames, king of frames, framer frames, deep dish contemporary frames, no frames for paintings on deep wooden boxes, black, gold, silver, yada yada. What I found today after a two day gallery run, going to 3 galleries for the drop off and pick up, is that when you have mixed frame styles and presentation styles you lose consistency and consistency=credibility. 12×16’s and 30×30’s and 36×48’s all in the same painting style but in different frame styles is confusion. I’ve always known this but somehow it didn’t apply to me. The trick is finding an affordable frame style and sticking to it. I think I may be on to a source but I’m going to wait to tell you once I’ve ordered a few. Scott Christensen said, in a workshop long ago, to only put your painting in the best of frames. He used a custom frame builder called AU at the time. REALLY nice and REALLY expensive. That makes sense if your paintings are selling for $10,000 to $30,000 each. But I’m not there yet. And I won’t be if I don’t start presenting a unified front. I know this from my days as a graphic designer, consistent presentation makes for good brand awareness. So I’m starting over with my whole presentation (again) and I’m tossing out a bunch of frames that are incompatible with the new look (again).

The frame shown here is a sample… it’s about a third the price of the frame that I had on it. It’s decent looking. I’m going to order one or two and see how they look. I’ll let you know how it goes. Now, I do need to say this one thing and that is, there’s always an exception to every rule. If I’m putting a great painting in for a high-end show, like a museum thing or the Laguna Plein Air event that is held in a museum, then higher quality is the rule. And if I’m going for a high end gallery in New York, then quality is important but the price point for the work should be higher. But for every day regional gallery stuff go with good and consistent. I’m thinking. Which leads to the topic of pricing consistency throughout various markets… and whether or not painting prices can fluctuate, but that is more blog fodder.

Nancy Marshall of Walls Gallery, if you are reading this, I know you and David have an opinion here and I would love to hear it. I’m callin you out sister.

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a couple of new ones

Two new Florida paintings, both 20×20’s.  I’m in a place where I’m not sure what to paint next. Never really been there before. Maybe a transition is coming or maybe I should explore a subject I haven’t really explored. One gallery said I should do more paintings of flowers, which I don’t really do. Dunno.

And here’s an addendum, if that’s the right word, to this post. In a way it relates to the last post. One of the great things about being in a studio with multiple artists is having access to whatever one of the other artists might say about a painting. Matthew Cornell, a truly great painter and the subject of my next painting (more to come on that) came in today and said about the top painting, “That’s a good start.” And I said, “Start? It’s finished.” But I knew there was something bugging me about the sky so I asked if that needed something and he said “Yes”. So, once I figure out what that is, I’ll fix it.

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