Thursday, January 31, 2013

Knowing what you like to paint is important.  I often look for two things in a scene:  interesting shapes and lacy things against the sky.  This scene has both.

When rendering lacy things, be sure to vary the value of the objects.  Overlapping also helps.  If the lacy stuff is all dark, it  will read not as lace but as pasted on things. It will also place all the lacy things on the same plane. 

Go easy on the paint when painting lines and lace against the sky.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Foreground Shadows

Here's another painting which uses the technique of throwing a cast shadow across the foreground to create a frame.  The trees on the right lean into the painting and the trees on the left are lighter, being in the sunlight.  The cast shadow creates a middle dark that moves the viewer's eyes over it to the focal point of the oysterman tonging for his oysters.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Framing the Subject

Framing the focal point is a tried and true compositional technique.  In this view of a church in Apalachicola, the viewer looks past the large tree on the right and the two palm trees on the left.  The third framing element is the cast shadow across the road.  These combine to form a kind of tunnel on the way to the church.

I often use a cast shadow in the foreground to create another element to look over on the way to the subject.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


One of the elements of composition is line. In this painting of "Docked", the dominant lines are the verticals: mast, dock, pilings. The secondary lines are horizontal: dock, far shore. The tension lines are oblique and found in the distant sailboat and the foreground dock. They provide pointers, leading to the focal point.

Consciously design your composition with the use of line.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Breaking the Line

When composing a scene which has a lot of rectangles and straight unbroken lines, I always look for ways to break the lines. In this scene of a warehouse in Eastpoint, I "borrowed" an old rusty barrel in which trash was being burned and put it in my painting. The barrel and the smoke serve the dual purpose of breaking the line of the bottom of the building as well as the cast shadow of the building. The roofline actually had the electrical post in the middle of the roof where the cast shadow is. I moved that to break the line of the roof, and stop the roofline from pointing off the page. Its cast shadow points back into the painting, too.

Happy Martin Luther King Day and Happy Inauguration Day!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rainy Days

Not all beautiful days are sunny. I like rainy day paintings, although it is nearly a requirement to paint them in studio. The "Three-Steps-Forward approach applies on days like this. Also, the use of an atomizer will keep the page wet in places where you want the paint to run or an edge to be soft.

These cannons are resting at a little historic intersection in Apalachicola.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Focal Point and Values

In this scene of Scipio Creek, the darkest values surround the focal point in order to accentuate the boats. The viewer's eye seeks out the highest degree of contrast. In this case, the dark area behind the boats forces the eye to land in that area.

Use darks to emphasize areas that you want the viewer to focus on.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Plein Air and Secondary Colors

Since I've been here on the panhandle of Florida, it's either been too windy, too chilly or too rainy to paint outside.  I painted some real "dogs" in my room.  I think it was primarily because I was painting with the board flat.  I'm used to the action created when the board is vertical and gravity does its wonderful mixing on the page. 

I also decided on a secondary triad--green orange and purple--for the color scheme.  It may not be an accurate reproduction of some of the neutrals I got, or the warmth of the greens, but I enjoyed limiting my palette.  And yes, artists do make conscious decisions about color choices. 

This effort also made use of painting the negative space to pop out the foreground trees.  The distant trees were painted with more neutralized light and positive shapes of the trees. 

Happy New Year!