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Ah Sunflowers

December 20th, 2008

Ah Sunflowers

“Ah Sunflowers”

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away his desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and apire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

-William Blake


THE METHOD:

The photograph I took was beautiful: two bright sunflowers under the noon sun, standing proudly in front of three slats of a wooden fence. I considered painting the composition exactly as it was in the photograph, but I thought against it. It was good, but perhaps seemed a little.... ordinary. I stared at the photograph for a considerable time, then I decided the direction I wanted to take.

I employ tight, controlled technique to create bright, realistic, sunlit flowers, and then give the paint much more freedom for a bright purple background. I added a bumblebee to the mix to give the painting a little more interest, and to give the flowers a little more purpose.

I intended the painting to contrast several things. Purple, loose background with yellow, tightly controlled flowers. For the flowers themselves, I used yellow, greens, browns, and touches of Thalo Crimson, with green for any shadowing I needed. For the background, I let bold, wet washes of Prussian Blue and Thalo Crimson interact, occasionally applying thick Crimson straight to the paper with a dry brush, and sometimes spritzing the painting with a spray bottle, or adding salt to create a more interesting texture. Finally, I used a wire brush to throw some random, blue flecks on the paper. I didn't mix any colors on the palette, but layered washes of pure color directly on the paper.

I hope that others find this as pleasing to look at as I found it to paint, and I always welcome comments of any kind!

Autumn Rabbit and Digital Modification

December 11th, 2008

Autumn Rabbit and Digital Modification

I always had some disdain for digital art, inherited from my beliefs in school. I see it somehow as cheating. This has been unfair, however. As technology changes and expands, it WOULD be a shame NOT to embrace it and use it as a tool to express a beautiful object or idea.

Fine sites like Fine Art America make it much more practical to sell prints-on-demand as opposed to originals. Digital modifications on a program like Gimp (the free version of Photoshop) are not only a good way to test out art on the marketplace and make small modifications to improve the composition, but it is also a good way to try out different options before committing the actual paint to the paper.

I find digitally modifying work to be increasingly attractive (only the pieces which are not for sale as originals, so as not to misrepresent what a buyer might receive). It is a fantastic way to hone my compositional skills, which I freely admit is my biggest challenge and the separation between good and great works of art. I have featured a digitally modified colored pencil drawing which I hope provides a case in point (original not for sale). The original drawing was done on normal white, 20 lb typing paper. The background was a dull, rough texture rendered with dark colored pencil, the horizon line ran all the way across the page, which made the ground that the rabbit stood on very uninteresting. Although I was pleased with the colors and texture of the rabbit herself, the drawing overall lacked any "visual pop."

So I made a few modifications through Gimp. I applied pitch black background which encircled the entire composition. I removed the horizon line, and left only a small patch of grass to support the rabbit. I don't pretend to compare this piece with some of the fine masterpieces on Fine Art America, but thanks to these technological tools, I am finally... satisfied.

View of a Carousel

October 25th, 2008

View of a Carousel

"View of a Carousel" is a different take on the carousel at Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver, Colorado. I snapped a photo on a warm, summer night in late August, and decided to make a painting from it. Lakeside is a wonderful amusement park which I go to at least once each summer, because of its history and nostalgic feel. When you enter the park, you have a sense that it is 1955. I liked this particular angle, looking up from the entrance of the ride, because the word "Round" was accentuated by the series of curves in the shot. I also appreciate the metaphor of life's ongoing cycles, and I incorporate that theme into more than one of my paintings.

I used Windsor and Newton and Grumbacher watercolors on a Strathmore 140 lb Cold Press paper.

Seeing Deeply

September 1st, 2008

Seeing Deeply

Seeing Deeply was a joy to paint because it focuses on one of my favorite subjects- my fetching wife. My intent was to capture an “exotic feel” and cause you to stop and look into the eyes as they look back into you. By this, you might actually find yourself getting lost in a trance as the eyes gather their information.

To paint this piece, I started out with a light wash of Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue for the background, and for the skin, I used a lot of yellow and Alazarin Crimson, generally keeping the use of brown and blue to a minimum. Unlike the skin tones, which were made of carefully mixed colors, I applied color directly from the tube for the headscarf, using pure colors and a lot of water to allow the paint its independence.

I applied the shadows carefully, lifting most of the harder shadows back off with the brush and following up with another crimson/yellow mix so the face could maintain its warmth. I added a wash of simple green (mixed with a little Raw Sienna and yellow) to the background, and to finish I placed a necklace around her neck.

As always, I welcome and appreciate your questions, comments and feedback!

 

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