Monday, October 31, 2016

Nubble Light

Ready to go on a new painting.  This is Nubble Lighthouse off the coast of southern Maine.  Ready to be painting again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lighting for Drama

Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine has some distinctive rock formations.  This group jutted out into the water below a cliff.  However, when considering painting them, I decided that they needed some help in portraying their beauty. 

First, I decided to place them on a beach.  That would give me the opportunity to use a figure to give the scene life.  But most important, I wanted to use some dramatic lighting to highlight the rocks.  Putting the emphasis on the shadows creeping up on the rock formation gave the scene its focus.

I've seen this kind of lighting late in the day when the light changes very quickly.  Setting up and painting such temporary light effects is problematic.  Memorizing the look is the best way of recording the light.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Overcoming Obstacles

I had set up my easel in a parking spot behind my car to paint this scene on Pleasant Street in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  I was in the middle of my first wash when a woman in a very large SUV pulled up and told me that I was taking up a prime parking spot and that I should move.  I asked her if I were a car who had gotten there before she did, would she ask me to move?  Eventually, though, I gave in and moved my easel next to my trunk.  She thanked me for compromising.  I explained that she had now completely blocked my view of the street.  No response.

I was very angry and considered leaving.  But I finally thought that since I was there, I might as well try to continue. 

The silhouettes of the buildings could still be seen.  The problem became the street.  I reminded myself that I would still have had the same problem even without the SUV blocking my view.

I solved it with the figures.  The long morning shadows dramatically depicted the light and gave life to a large area that would have been empty otherwise. 

 It helps to have a long repertoire of objects, figures and architectural features to draw upon when faced with compositional problems.  This can only come from years of experience.  Your sketchbook also comes in handy at these moments.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Newburyport Sketches

Here are two more sketches I drew in Newburyport. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

More Travel Sketches

After visiting Old Orchard Beach on my way home, I travelled to Newburyport, Massachusetts for a couple of days.  The old seaport town is historic and quaint.  The first day was drizzly so out came the sketchbook. 

I find that spending a half an hour sketching creates a more focused memory than a quick photo. 

This first sketch was done from a window seat in a small restaurant where I was having lunch. Pleasant Street is one of the main thoroughfares in the downtown area.  Steeples and streetlamps punctuate the scene. 

 More sketches to follow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Travel Sketches

On the way home from Maine, I stopped at various towns and cities that are historic and scenic.  I always keep my easel and paper on top of my suitcases in case I want to take the time to do a painting.   But sometimes that's not possible.  So I break out my sketchbook to record the scene.

In the case of this sketch of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, it was a rainy day.  The Old Pier has always attracted me because of the variety of shapes in the buildings.  But painting watercolors in the rain is not a viable option.  I thought the solution was to record the shapes and values of the structures in my sketchbook.

My favorite two graphite pencils for sketching on location are #2 H for designing the shapes and describing the lighter areas and a #3 or 4 B for the darks.

One note:  I used the figure placed on the third to break the line created where the pilings met the beach. Behind the figure is also where I placed the darkest value to emphasize the focal point.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Diminishing Repeats

The technique of diminishing repeats is a simple concept:  Introduce a detailed subject in the foreground, and the viewer's eye will fill in the rest of the details where the same subject repeats in the receding background.

The first seagull is detailed enough to give you the subject.  The hints at other gulls is indicated by bits of saved whites that suggest flapping wings.  To have been more specific would have detracted from the "star" gull.

The actual beach was strewn with small rocks and pebbles.  Simplifying and employing a light shape rather than all that texture helps keep the emphasis on the gull and the driftwood.