December 20th, 2008
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!
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!
December 11th, 2008
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.
October 25th, 2008
"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.
September 1st, 2008
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 â€śexotic feelâ€ť 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!