Friday, November 30, 2012

Change is Tough

I'm sorry I've been away for a bit.  I bought a new computer and have had some difficulty connecting to the internet.  Hours and hours of tech support for the past three days may have solved the problem, but even now I'm not totally confident.

Moving forward, in technology or painting, is frustrating, and sometimes you feel like giving up.  I've had a lot of days like this in my painting journey, unsure if all the struggle is worth the possible outcome.  Somehow, however, I couldn't help the jump back in.  Going forward usually involves some painful confronatation with change.  I hope the effort will be worth it!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

This Is Your Hometown

One of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs is "This Is Your Hometown".  By now, you faithful followers know that Kirkwood, Missouri is my hometown.  I paint Florida, I paint Maine, but my friend Larry M. wanted to know if I ever paint scenes here at home.  So here is one of my favorite trees which stands on the lawn of the Kirkwood Library.

But the best news is that yesterday, my alma mater Kirkwood High School won the Class 5 State Championship in football for the very first time!  So proud of the Pioneers!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Editing Your Reference Photo

Ram Lighthouse is located off Ocean Point in East Boothbay, Maine.  I took the reference photo while taking a ride on a party boat.  In the photo, however, there is another building between the keeper's house and the lighthouse.  With three structures for the viewer to look at, I was afraid the focal point would be unclear.  I also wanted the keeper's house to be the main focal point, so by slightly enlarging it, I kept the lighthouse as a subordinate.  The lighthouse conveys location, but the light on the house and island is my real concern.

The right side of the composition was a little bare, so I re-located the other building, showing only the roof.
Adding a small pine tree acted as an eye stopper.

In planning your composition, feel free (and obligated!) to rearrange, edit, and enlarge elements to achieve the maximum impact.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Monochromatic Color

It is easier to concentrate on values when you don't have to worry about color choices at the same time.  In "Race to the Cuckolds", I decided to use a couple of  blues to depict the sky and water, and to carve out the sails of the sloops.  I'm still using the darks to surround the carved out light shapes and force the light shapes.  Adding a few textural strokes helped suggest the action in the scene.

By eliminating the color complications, it was easier to concentrate on the values and textures.  Try a monochromatic palette to simplify your composition.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spare Me the Details

Many times I see students rushing to paint the details in a scene before they have gotten the big shapes
down.  Details will never save a poorly conceived composition.  Get the dress on before you add the jewelry and the perfume.

I am including a photo of this painting at the halfway mark.  You can see that all the really important information is already established.  Adding a few windows and railings spice things up, but the real composition is already there.

A word about windows.  Be judicious about which windows to  emphasize.  Windows facing the light will not register as black holes.  It's also a good idea not to darken windows in places that force the viewer to look at because of value contrasts.  The windows on the porch are necessarily darker because they are in shadow.  But they are also dark because it draws attention to the tower which is the focal point of the painting.

Think big before you think small!