February 17, 2017

Gallatin River Sketch

I'm headed back to Montana in a couple of weeks and to get ready, I've decided to work on smallish sketches from some reference photos I took in December.   This is a 14 x 18" oil on a burnt umber toned ground.

The Gallatin River is beautiful all year!  In the winter there's snow and ice along the cliffs and on rocks in the water, and red berried shrubs on the banks.  I stopped to take a photo at many of the pull outs on the road between Bozeman and Big Sky and I think they'll be a fine place to paint plein air (if it's not too cold!) next month and maybe do some larger paintings on site and in my Montana studio.

January 25, 2017

Still Life with Rubik's Cube and Collie - updated and finished!

This is the finished painting!

I started working on a new still life in my studio, mixing it up just a bit by changing the teapot from the last one and adding a Rubik's cube that we had on our shelves.  As I put this together, though, I decided that I needed to add something on the floor.  Shoes didn't seem right.  A tote bag didn't add much.  So I put in my dog, Ollie, a tri-color smooth collie who is almost 10 years old.  I also ended up making the my round table a rectangle.

Still life symbolism is much studied, what with skulls and such in old paintings by masters.   The symbolism here, well, hmmmm.

January 13, 2017

Still Life in the Studio

During the 2nd Friday Art Walk, I  set up a little still life to paint.  I had about an hour to work on it, and got this far.

Next week I'll have a chance to work on the rug in the background that I'd just left untouched and get back into the colors and patterns in the foreground.

January 6, 2017

Livingston Montana Streetscape

Livingston, Montana looks like a movie set -- and it has been used as one for at least one recent movie ("Certain Women") and probably a lot more in the past.  I couldn't paint when I was there this past summer, so I took a bunch of reference photos and brought them into the studio to play with.

I've been trying to vary my palette, using colors that are brighter and more vibrant than the standard palette I'd been working from (I added prussian blue, phtalo green and cadmium lemon, took away alizarin, among other changes).  The image of the painting here is a bit darker than the end result in real life, but I made the choice to make the shadows on the brick buildings in cadmium red medium and keep other shadows in purples, blues and greens rather than going darker and duller.  I think the result works -- I've been playing with this for a while and I'll get a fresh look at it next week to see if other changes are needed.

November 15, 2016

Maine Still Life

After spending the recent workshop in Montana talking about value and painting preliminary value sketches I was thinking that some still life paintings I'd done over the summer lacked the range of values needed to make the paintings work.

I took another look at this one, and repainted it with a dark blue under painting to get the values right.  After I added color, I went back into all the "white" highlights and evaluated them for color.

All of which inspired me to make my Maine plans for next summer!

November 1, 2016

Painting in Montana

 I spent the past weekend at a painting workshop in Montana.  The still lifes were painted from a set up in the studio; the landscapes are based on reference photos taken this week along the Gallatin River and a couple of months ago in Yellowstone and Paradise Valley.

All these paintings were started with a value sketch and then quickly painted with color after that.   After an accidental splash of turpenoid over the paintings, they got a bit of repainting on top of that.

I'd had a bit of "painter's block" for a while now, and it was nice to just push through it and paint!

The painting of the still life with the "wallpaper" pattern behind it was done first with a burnt umber band at the top of the painting.  It was too big, too dull and made a lousy composition.  After thinking about ways to solve the problem, I considered what a painter like Eduard Vuillard would do -- and added the pattern (based on a scarf) to bring the painting together.

September 28, 2016

Montana meadow and mountains

I've been working, slowly, on a new painting of a summer scene in Montana.  It's not done yet, but here's the latest.

July 14, 2016

Montana painting update

The Montana painting is coming along.  I share my studio space with other artists who are very precise in their painting -- one uses a projector to project a photo onto canvas and trace its lines to ensure accurate drawing; the other uses some straight edges and spends hours working to make sure that straight lines are perfect and such.

I just paint.  I know the result can have "drawing problems" but I can't give up the spontaneity of painting without drawing first.  I just put the colors and shapes where they seem to go and make adjustments as I go along.  So ... here's the drawing problem that resulted from doing that with this painting.  The porch railing exists in three different spaces that don't really connect to one another visually.

That's what I'll be working on fixing tomorrow.  Not by using a ruler, just working it out in paint.

July 8, 2016

Montana Painting In Progress

I'm just back from Montana -- an amazing landscape that I was desperate to paint.  No time to paint, but also, Montana's Paradise Valley is a very windy place.  A large canvas wouldn't stand a chance, so I took a lot of photos so I could return to the studio and work on what I'd seen.

The canvas for this painting in progress is hanging on the wall, so I'm painting standing up. I used to paint all the time standing up (like the Sundance Kid, I'm better when I move), but my long agonizing knee troubles forced me to paint sitting down for the past couple of years.  But now!  New knees, and I am very happy that standing up feels great.  I'm enjoying painting standing up again, and especially, the ease of painting, standing back from the work, and then painting again.

This is a sunset view from the log cabin where I stayed, looking toward the Gallatin mountains that make up the West side of Paradise Valley.  I have a lot of work to do on this, but this is how it's starting out.