Saturday, March 29, 2014

Secondary Triad/Workshop Opportunity

In this painting I used a palette of violet, green and orange.  The violets and greens were neutralized to give emphasis to the bright orange row of trees. 

The size of the shapes are another key to this painting.  The thin, long strips of bright yellow green and orange at the focal point are surrounded by larger but neutralized shapes of the mountains and the foreground trees.

I'd like to announce, too, that I will be conducting my annual weeklong workshop in Boothbay harbor, Maine September 8 - 12, 2014.  This year's focus will be on all things color.  Sign up soon to insure your participation!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Directional Lines

When I took a painting to my gallery owners here in St. Louis the other day, their framer commented that the painting had a "wonderful verticality."  That got me thinking about the importance of directional lines in paintings.

In this painting, you can surely identify horizontal lines, which are restful, vertical lines, which are formal, and oblique lines which provide movement and energy.  In a painting of a quiet saltwater cove, I didn't need many oblique lines.  The peace and quiet are conveyed primarily through horizontal and vertical lines,  (The energy is provided more from the colors than the lines.) 
When trying to portray a feeling, it is worthwhile to consider line as a major component. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


In an effort to explore my evolving style, I've been choosing an "old" painting and painting it over in a new way.  Here are two such paintings.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Spot of Red

I'm not sure if seeing red makes a bull angry enough to attack the cape in front of him, but it sure gets his attention.  Adding a touch of red in a field of neutrals or other dominant colors will also draw the viewer's eye.

My friend Mark Mellor makes it a point to always put a spot of red in his paintings.  In this painting I've used some neutralized reds but left a carefully placed pure red just off center.  The pure colors are all at the focal point, and really are the subject of this painting.  As your eye goes out from the center the colors begin to tone down to less emphatic shades of gray.

Think pure color/neutrals and which colors will dominate.

Friday, March 14, 2014

More Complementery Colors

This time I decided to use red and green.  The greens and its grayed down relatives would be dominant; the reds would be subordinate.  The warm colors are in the focal area.

Study the foliage area and you'll see that I graduated from red to orange to yellow to green and then a grayed down green.  I painted the trunks by painting the negative space behind them.  The line dominance is curvilinear with the verticals subordinate.  The biggest value contrast is near the trees and on the foreground trees  I kept the waterfall and the surrounding area close in value so your eye would still go to the trees.

And, yes, I really did think about these things before I began to paint!  It really is okay to plan as much as you can before your brush hits the paper.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Re-Thinking an Old Subject

While trying to come up with a subject to paint, I ran across this painting that I did in the Catskill Mountains this past fall.  I decided to take a completely different approach to the subject, minimalizing the shapes, removing details, and concentrating on color as the subject.  I started with complementary colors--blue and orange--and then worked on values.  I saved some areas of the pure colors while neutralizing the complements in others. 

Take an old painting and try a new approach.  Use color differently, or line or texture. Play soft edges against hard edges.  Try a high key or a low key. Switch format or size. And have fun!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Power of Neutrals

I've recently been reading a lot about color, and have been reminded that pure colors can be punched up when they are surrounded by neutral, or grayed-down colors.  Using complementary colors mixed together will gray down and neutralize the color.  If you use equal parts of each complement, you get a perfect neutral.  But you can push that neutral to either the warm or the cool side by adding more of one complement that the other. 

Then, when you add a pure color near the focal point, it's much more likely to stand out. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Try, Try Again


This is the ruin of the Yulee Sugar Mill in Homosassa Springs.  I pass through here every year and spend the night at a small resort on the banks of the Homosassa River where Winslow Homer painted.  And almost every year I paint the ruins.  Until this year, I have never been even close to satisfied with the result. 

I think the difference was in defining the building shape first and then glazing the shadow shapes in one pass.  I also eliminated many of the details that had confounded my previous efforts.  Simplify, simplify, simplify.