Land-escapes. The discovery of light. Or You're never too old...

I have never been a big landscape guy. I love landscapes. They've just always seemed so complicated. All those damn trees. How do you paint those damn trees. Recently a friend of mine convinced me to join her in a workshop with landscape artist Peter Fiore. It was an renewing experience. There was a lot of information passed around. Much extremely useful. But non more than the statement 'You are painting the light.' I have heard this many times since art school. Many of the my photographers friends talked about it. Painters  told me that they owned their success to the moment that they discovered light. I accepted all of this as gospel and continued with my humorous illustration. Line and wash drawings where tone and value were at play but not necessarily light.

For years my painting were representations of accidental light. Random. Good luck. Bad luck. My encounters with light were totally accidental without the understanding that I was in control of my light. Not in the sense that I could move the sun about in the sky. But I could be in the right place at the right time by design.  

At the same time I was preparing for Peters workshop there were a couple of news bits floating around about apps to help photographers 'chase the light'. One is an add on to an APP called The Photographers Ephemeris  or TPE. Which offers as an optional 'add in' called Skyfire. These tools are supposed to help with finding light events related to sunrise, sunset, weather conditions and track the path of the sun. After the workshop I bought the TPE app and SkyFire add in. Heres some resulting work based of chase light based on information vs luck.

Completed study

Work in progress    Locust Lawns 22 x 8 oil on Raphael Linen 

This was in the morning, not dawn but early light. I was bight enough to casta shadow but defuse. A very hilly river valley.

My Font Yard  14 x 7 oil on canvas

This is the first successful attempt at achieving light. When I say successful I mean that I understand the value structure. I may not have expressed it right but now I'm understanding it.

Study oil on paper

Needless to say that this 'new' awareness is helping with other challenging lighting situations.

Looking to the Catskill  Photograph 

Another result of chasing light with previous warning

Out of My Gourd

I can't seem to stop this kitchen art thing. This little squash came out of our garden this year. All lumpy and bumpy. This is still officially a work in progress. I'll wait a few days before I call it finished. The old box it's sitting on has become my favorite platform. This single overhead light set up is really revealing in it's simplicity. 

Out of My Gourd  8 x 6 oil on panel

I've never painted flowers. Part 1

I have never painted flowers. At least that I can remember. As the Peones were fading we cut the last of the batch and slammed them in a vase with some water. Not much thought. I brought them to my studio and set them up in front of the camera. Over 3 days I shot the set up sometimes with side light sometimes with top light. This photo is a combination of 2 shots 3 days apart. One top lite on side lite. In photoshop I masked and merge the images.
I built a relative proportion grid over the photo. Transferred the grid 1 to 1 onto a piece of Arches oil paper stained with DMP stain.
My intention here is to first see if I like painting flowers... they're pretty fussy thing. How I feel about the result will determine if I do a larger version more complete on line. 
The real intriguing challenge here is the color matching. The subtle gray pinks cast with hints of green contorting with the purples and magentas. Oh boy.
I'm also doing this to show how important it is to sometimes spend the time and effort to solve problems before you commit to doing an expensive effort on linen. What I'll learn here will make doing a finished painting easier and quicker.

Today I start finding the formulas for all those delicious grays. Yummy.

Wish me luck.

Painting with plastics...

I've mentioned how my studio is too airtight to paint with oils in the winter. Especially when the temps outside are hovering around zero most of the time. This winter I've been playing with watercolor, gouache and acrylic. Here is a work in progress using acrylic on a panel. 

Dead low tide

Dead low tide

I haven't done an acrylic this big in years. Todays acrylics seem different. More like gouache in its flatness. My studio is so dry that I've had to spray the palette with water every 10 or 15 minutes. I'm happy-ish with it. About 70% done. It's a study in grays.

A real departure in composition style. More lyrical than boxy. Now I have to loose some edges. I only have 3 or 4 days that I can get at it before I trade in my knee.


Here is the finish as it is. I took a real different approach to the composition on this. The curves and arcs are the structure of the image. The arcs of the land and water mimic the arcs of the gunnels of the front boat. This was all carefully constructed as a photo comp over the past year. Though it's a  representational or impressionistic reality it's certainly more of an illusion creating the real look. The colors are all grays created by mixing complimentary colors.

Overall as an project I think it's successful. I like it. Is it beautiful art. I don't know. Style wise it's similar to the acrylics that I did early in my career because of the medium. I do prefer Oil or watercolor.

The painting itself took about 10 to 12 hours. That on top of panel preparation, and building the image which actually stared several years ago. I do like that when you look at this from a distance it looks realistic. Up close its a mess.


Finish 3.9.2014

A little explanation of the composition

Arcs an diagonals

Arcs an diagonals

I mentioned that this composition is different for me. Usually my compositions are based on rectangular relationships within the defined rectangle. This painting is based on arcs and diagonals. The picture rectangle was defined by the interlocking of the arced shapes.

26.5 x 22

26.5 x 22

This happened unintentionally during the process of cutting and pasting for the photo comp in photoshop. I used a couple of versions of the same shot. Moved boats around. Left out outboard motors. Forced some tonalities. Ending up with an image in the 26.5 by 22 scale.

The arc shapes are all base on arc A defined by the foreground boat's shape. It's an abstract where nature and objects blend. Add the strength of the diagonals and the fact that the objects are boats... how can I go wrong. Most of the time in the process I looked only at the subject matter. The lyrical base composition  was difficult for me. I let it sit for a long time. I had distractions. I made a panel for it and let it sit some more. More distractions. frustrated by distractions I started painting. I used Acrylic for several reasons. Because I was unsure of how to handle the surface. Real or more representational? Acrylics can easily go either way. As I painted i realized the abstract nature of the painting. 

It turned out to be a good painting. Not because of realistic detail but the inference of detail. Not real strong colors all grays. A lot of motion based on the above abstract but not so much that the eye escapes the frame. The main arc shapes support the natural arcs of the objects and nature. 

Okay. This is the result of an unconscious process. Not an unknowing process. Because of many years of being a visual wrist in a lot of disciplines I have internalized many mechanisms. Developed an eye. I finally becoming happy with my eye. 

In a later discussion I muse on the visual eye. How some people have to nurture it and others gifted with it.