Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Building Of A Painting

 This past week I've been working on a studio piece that was inspired from a field study (plein air Piece) done last summer in, yes, once again, Door County.  In the photo above you can see my set up and how I often times work in the studio.  To the right of my easel I've got my 'study' done in the field with pretty good color reference to work from.  To the left is my Mac set up with a photo image I took the day I was in the field painting.  Although I had good references to work from, it's important to have a strong concept and structural idea for a large painting to work out and become it's own painting, not just a large field study.  The foundation of this painting in my mind was a path to lead you into the painting and carry you through.  I love the idea of walking through a painting and it continues to be a great source of inspiration for me in much of my work, it's so poetic.  So with that said, an idea is one thing and making it happen is another.  
The passion and inspiration of the artist is what makes a piece original and authentic but in order for this passion to be properly supported, the painting must be grounded with the foundation to support of the original and authentic idea.  
 When I start laying in my paint, I start with a fairly thing layer and think of the big 'sweep' I want going through the painting.  In other words, the design of painting.  I lay in the large shapes of darks that connect throughout the piece, leaving the light shapes open with a warm wash underneath.  At this very beginning stage of the painting,  I can already see if I'm going to like the painting and the direction it is going, off to a good start.  If you don't like the painting at this stage, you should WIPE IT OUT and start again!  Very little time has been spent at this point.  From here on out it's simply building paint texture and color until you have what you need to say what you want to say.  
"Into The Color"
24x24 oil on linen
The finished painting.  
There is an interesting juxtaposition of thin and thick paint going on in this painting.  If you click on the image it will enlarge so you can see the texture of the paint.  For me one of the most challenging parts of painting is knowing when to stop.  I could have painted notes of flower colors all day long but needed to decide if it would help or hurt the overall harmony of the piece.  Too much can just be too much!  This is when I decided the piece is finished.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In The Studio Today. . . .

"County Road"
8x10 oil on linen
Hard to believe I was in the studio today when it was 52 degrees and sunny here in MN in January, but I was!  I had this painting in my head and needed to paint it today regardless of the unseasonably warm weather outside.  I DID take advantage after I was finished though and took a good long walk, what a treat!  :) 
Although this small painting resembles most of my 'plein air' work, it's a studio piece done from a photo, and once again, I use the photos as memory triggers, not a literal interpretation.  If I didn't have the experience I have from painting from life, I don't think I would be able to do this.  I can't stress enough the importance of working from life.  When I work like this in the studio on smaller pieces, it's a goal of mine to keep the paint fresh and clean, as if I were painting from life.  In order to do this, I limit my time.  This piece was done in about 2 hours. 
Since I've taken the month of January off of teaching, it's my goal to paint as much as possible on a variety of different subjects.  I'll probably do another small piece tomorrow and then start a larger one towards the end of the week.  I find after doing a piece like my last 20x16 where there was a lot of subtle quiet work and many hours, it's nice to push the paint around on smaller pieces and start and finish in one sitting. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Into The Reflection

"Into The Reflection"
20x16 oil on linen

I hope this post finds everyone well and happily and creatively entering the new year ahead!  "Into The Reflection" is my first painting of 2012, just finished today.  I started the new year off in the studio on Sunday with a solid 8 hours in this painting.  I then took 3 more days with a couple hours each to complete what you see here.  The scene you see is a place I love to escape to in Door County during the Plein Air Festival I've participated in the past 3 years.  (This year I'll be teaching a plein air workshop in July there)  If you know anything about being a featured artist in the plein festivals, you know that they can be intense and somewhat demanding at times with many many events and locations you are to be featured through out the week where lots of people come to see you paint!  It's all good and I'm not complaining but as much as I paint in public for my classes, demos etc, I am a quiet painter.  I need my own space and time to connect with my subject, and to emotionally respond to the time and place, usually being Nature to truly feel in 'the zone'.  This little place is way off the beaten path and it would be rare for someone to find you painting there, it's one of those places that feels like it's there 'just for me'.  :)  I know that's not true, but it feels like a place I connect to on a deeper sensitive level.  I know I did at least 3 plein pieces here over the past few years, maybe more. . . . this year I took a number of photographs and found this angel the other day and knew it was what I wanted to paint! 
Truly, I composed the photo quite well, I didn't have to change much as far as composition.  However, each time I use a photo as a reference, it's usually always a place I feel I know quite well from painting it from life.  I always feel the photos I take are cold and my memory recalls the warmth of the day and warmth of the colors in the water.  All the photo does for me is triggers these memories so I can bring myself there in order to paint it again.  No matter how many times I paint the same place, each painting is it's own painting. 
Looking into the reflection was an after thought once I started the painting. Day one, I truly didn't even consider this element in the painting, and by day two it was in.  I wanted to be able to paint the effect of this incredible little piece of water in all it's richness yet complete clarity as you could see the bottom in the reflection.  The most difficult part was stopping and not putting TOO much in.  I think I painted just enough although it was so tempting to put a little trout twirling and glistening around the bottom, just teasing. . . :)
So, painting number one of the year, done!  Happy Painting and Happy New Year!