Please click on paintings to view larger.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Daily Painting Phenomenon

"Bottles on Blue"
Original Oil 6x6"
Click here to bid

I did this little guy a while ago, lots of fun working with glass!

Not sure if you've read Robert Genn's recent post about Daily Painting, if not you might find it of interest. Check it out here.  As you might imagine, I had a few things to say about it. You can see my comments, as well as a lot of other interesting ones, over on his site.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Losing Edges

"Red on Red"
Original Oil 6x6"
Click here to bid

This is another workshop demo. Lost edges add a lot of interest to a painting by engaging the viewer's imagination to "fill in the blanks", allowing them to participate actively rather than simply observing.

There are several ways to lose edges but one effective way is by bringing values or colours close together where edges meet. A great way to practice this is by painting objects on a like colored cloth. This is one example, but you could try a multitude of variations, one of my students did a great painting of a glass jar of milk on a white cloth.

Use your creativity and give it a try, it's a lot of fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bold Brush FAV 15% finalist - September 2010

"Peruvian Schoolboy"
Oil on Linen - 20 x 16"

I'm pleased to announce that one of my recent Peruvian portraits was selected as a Fav 15% finalist in September's Bold Brush Painting Competition. This is a terrific monthly online art competition that attracts some of the finest artists painting today.

Entering competitions is a great way to get you looking at your work critically, it keeps you raising your bar, and it helps build that thick skin we artists so benefit from. The more comfortable you get with both acceptance and rejection in juried shows, the clearer it becomes how subjective the process is, and the less knocked for a loop you are when your masterpiece isn't selected.

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to enter an image in the upcoming months, it's a great opportunity for exposure and a chance to win some dough as well!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Advanced Skills workshop (cont')

Workshop demo - oil 6x6"

This was another demo from one of my recent Vancouver workshops. The goal of this was thick paint again, lots and lots of it! On this one it really clicked in why this is way of painting is so fun...when you paint really thickly it forces you to focus on shape, value and color. It's super easy to forget about the object your painting and just get into yummy, luscious oil paint and pushing it around. You really, really, should try it! Smaller the canvas and bigger the brush the better.

"Kitchen Break" - oil on linen 8x6"
Click here to bid

This was another exercise working from a photo reference. The students turned their reference photo upside down and then painted only the large, flat, abstract shapes, trying to match color and value but with no attention given to creating form. The idea is to gain an understanding of how to create a strong foundational pattern of light and dark from your photo before begin to model form and add finishing highlights and accents. I recommend my students do a whole lot of these after the workshop to continue building this skill. It is one of the best things they can do to develop their design skills and their ability to see accurately.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Advanced Skills workshop

"Evening Greens"
Oil on Linen 6x8"
Click here to bid

This is a demo from an Advanced Skills workshop I just taught in Vancouver. This exercise is from the last segment of the workshop, where we focused on different exercises to stretch ourselves when working from photos.

The goal of this one was to put paint on as thickly as possible right from the start, trying to match the color and value fairly accurately, and getting the entire canvas covered quickly. Every time I demo this exercise I have SO much fun, I wonder why I don’t paint with tons of paint all the time. The students were game and really jumped in with the thick paint, doing some beautiful little pieces. If you want to try this one, use stiff brushes so you can really scoop the thick paint off of your palette, and then apply it with a light touch.

On the first day of the workshop we did speed painting from a model (maximum 20 minutes a painting and most getting wiped when the buzzer went). The purpose of this exercise was to learn how to zero in on what is essential quickly, with no time to get caught up in detail.

On day 2 and 3, the students worked on setting up simple still life arrangements and trying to nail the colour and value of their subject as closely as possible, with a lot of focus on the right questions to ask themselves to error correct along the way. At the heart of these questions is the idea that they must be able to be answered in paint. If some part of the painting was off, they asked themselves, “Is it...”:
  • too warm?
  • too cool? 
  • too light?
  • too dark? 
  • too red/blue/yellow?
  • too gray?
  • too pure?
In doing exercises that develop your ability to measure and draw well,  and see and mix color and value accurately, you gain the freedom to paint as expressively as you like, with skill. Because your expression is coming from a foundation of truth, your paintings will breathe with life and authenticity. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Plein Air tips from the trenches

"Silver Basin" study - 8x10" oil on linen

This painting was done on the heli-painting trip Robert Genn and I led in to the Bugaboos this fall. I'll post a better shot of it once I get it photographed properly, but I've had a few questions about my pochade box so I wanted to show it here. It stores two wet panels in the lid, and folds up super compact. Made by Ben Haggett in Montana. Superb quality and design, I ordered mine with a clip on tray instead of the drawer to make it more compact. Mounts on a regular camera tripod.

As promised last post, here is a summary of the key things I learned in my 100 in 100 project:

  • If a scene is particularly complex, have a clear plan about how to simplify it. 
Rule of thumb: Squint to eliminate detail and clarify values. Attempt to reduce the scene to 4 or 5 large abstract shapes and ask if it’s still an interesting design. If not, consider how you can make it stronger.

  • Values must be seen relatively. Getting enough contrast painting outdoors can be difficult. In part this is because when we look in to the shadows our pupils dilate and everything seems at least 2-3 values lighter than if we look at shadow areas RELATIVE to the light. Remember to keep checking everything against each other.
  • Pick something and get painting. Hours can be wasted seeking the perfect design. Our job is to create something interesting from the elements available. More often than not if you just stand still in a place for 5 or 10 minutes, something appears out of what at first seemed uninspiring. See if you can let the painting find you.

  • Choose a star player, and make everything else subordinate no matter how compelling it is. Light on the peaks, sparkling water, backlit forest, sundrenched meadow, gorgeous clouds - sometimes all these things are present and compelling in the same scene, but they can't all be given equal attention or nothing will shine. 
  • When you see something beautiful and you know the light is going to change before you even get it drawn out, try to convince yourself to go for it anyway. The only way to develop visual memory is to practice it. 

If this is the case: Stand quietly in front of the scene for a few moments before painting and burn every vital detail into your brain:
  1. What are the major patterns of light and shadow? 
  2. Is something catching bright light in front of a darker background? Is it cool and blue in the distance / warm and bright in the foreground? Perhaps the opposite of this?
  3. Is the sun lighting up the water and infusing it with colour?
  4. Are clouds or mist moving in front of mountains and catching the light?
 Establish what is essential that is going to change with the light. 
  5. What is captivating you? Once you begin painting, try to get that down first.
  • Choose what you’re going to say and stick with it no matter how many other ideas you are tempted by as the painting unfolds. An exception is if something intriguing happens that will still work within your initial plan - but be wary of changing horses mid-stream.

  • Above all - if you’re getting cranky - try to remember to not take yourself too seriously - ultimately plein air work is about information gathering and exploration of your subject. Know that no matter what winds up on the canvas, every brushstroke you put down with care and attention makes you a better painter. Remember to have fun, and find joy in the very cool act of being outdoors painting life unfolding before you.

I'm currently in Vancouver teaching a couple of Advanced Skills workshops, hope to be able to post while I'm here. Those still in fair weather climes, hope you're getting out there for a blast of late fall plein air, lucky you guys!