oil on canvas panel 12 x 16 inches
Depending on who you talk to, SIZE is an element of design. Size actually means “scale” or “Proportion” or “Measure.” That is to say in order for the eye to assess how large something is, there must be comparative objects or sizes to measure against.
We all ‘know’ how big a human being is (roughly) or the size of most trees. When we see a very tiny pine tree next to a large cliff face, we get a sense of the proportion of the cliff side. It is through clues like this that we artists are somewhat able to communicate that sense of enormity.
In this painting (on site in Yosemite) the scene is in the meadow near the Royal Arches. Those arches appear in the cliff side of the rock which stands straight out of the meadow and snuggles close to the very recognizable Half Dome. One simply cannot imagine the size of that cliff side without comparative objects nearby.
So, here is the attempt. In the early morning, the sun rises behind Half Dome and projects its light onto the face of the arches. It is an amazing . . . .and nearly overwhelming sight! To paint it . . . .that is another story entirely. It sure made me feel like a teensy little ant!!
The blooming vetch full of violet flowers is under painted with yellow mustard flowers and bright yellow orange poppies. Yellow and Violet? How perfect is thaaaaat?!!
oil on canvas panel, 12 x 16 inches
Beginning early in the morning (7 AM) I scramble to capture the light and the shadows. On this day (and every other day, so far) I have made two paintings. These two were completely different. The first, “Near Roaring Camp,” was a speedy study looking directly into the sun as the dew was glistening and the sun was coming over the edge of the trees. The light was changing fast so it was a race to capture the feeling.
By the time the second painting (“Cowell’s Meadow) was ready to start, it had become overcast. The light went from yellow orange to a cool gray with no shadows. Colors intensified and I was in painting heaven. I had moved to another location where there were greens to off set the violets and the slightly orange red grasses (an almost perfect secondary triad of color!). I took my time in the overcast, standing up to my hips in violet flowers with little bright yellow poppies at my feet.
I couldn’t wait to come back to paint. Watch this blog for more paintings from that site.
After coming home and putting the painting in a trial frame for a few days, it gave the paint a chance to dry and me a chance to look it over with new eyes. So, yesterday, I spent a few nice hours making adjustments and revising a few things. I so enjoyed myself that I am going out again today. I think Walnut Avenue will be a good place for the day.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article and submitted it to a magazine . . . .and it was accepted. Nice!! Then they wanted hi res images. No problem (I thought). Boy!! Was I ever wrong!
LSS: (that is Long Story Short) I ended up buying a new camera . . . . .wellllll, it was for the magazine article!!! It WAS! Really!! (Yes I am a gadget nut.)
I have spent the last two weeks at the computer learning Photoshop at a breakneck pace and all sorts of stuff about color spaces, workflows, color gamuts, calibration of monitors, cameras, printers and all sorts of non painting stuff in order to be able to send flawless photos of my work to accompany the article. Okay! I am learning something . . .and not just a little bit. I am learning a ton! And I have hardly had the chance to truly investigate my camera.
The plan today was to get out of the house with a great friend to paint en plein air. Oh! The weather was sweeeet. We had lunch together and talked of our younger, sillier, days of lechery and debauchery. The light was uplifting, the shadows gorgeous and the company was almost splitting my sides from the laughter.
Standing on a sidewalk on busy Walnut Avenue, I painted this little lane of a street. Ho Hum, you say? For me, this was a biiig step. I have a tendency to slam my darks and to overdo them so my paintings become overly moody. So, today, I set out to hold down the darks and work in a higher key and depend upon temperature and intensity of the color more than value. I had an absolute ball while I was doing it, too!! I love plein air oil painting!! Every smudge of paint can be felt. Today was one of THOSE days !!! 🙂
I came home with an oil painting that day, but wasn’t all that happy with it. It has been hanging in the back of my mind for months. Really! The scene has been nagging at me so badly that when I sit down with my sketch book, my hand seems to draw it. With variations, of course, but my subconscious is poking me over and over with that incredible landscape. I came home from the workshop last week and was very tired. For exercise, I decided to use a sharpie pen and a large piece of newsprint to just scribble out any sort of drawing. Guess what showed up !!
So, I tackled the idea in a vertical format, which presented some challenges . . .because the bottom of the page was a long distance from the focal point way up on top. I had to design the entire lower 2/3 of the painting to keep the viewer entertained and the eye moving upward. Also, I had decided to use a similar color scheme to some other pieces I had painted.
I am on a tear to paint this week, since I have to teach another workshop the first week of May. I have much to do to get ready, so I must take advantage of the time I do have.
I sure don’t have the answers to that question . . .or the one before that. I find that the more experienced I become (read as ‘older’) I can see many more ‘needs’ that an unfinished painting has. Perhaps it all has to do with the spirit of what you are trying to communicate. In this piece, it was the ‘jazz’ of the shapes and the location of Park Guell in Barcelona. I painted much of this painting with my great friend Montserrat at my side. . . .both of us talking, visitors coming by and making comments . . .great friendship in a great place busy at work with making art. Mind you, I said making art . . . .not copying what we saw. We were finding ways to make shapes fit together in interesting ways and to subdue and emphasize different things. Add patterns and textures where they weren’t in order to create interesting and compelling relationships among the parts of the painting.
I really did just finish this painting but a few weeks ago. And it really was in my flat file for nearly 8 years. It had been waiting for me to grow enough to see what needed to be done in order to make a successful painting. Because of the time spent with Montserrat (Muntsi) and the location, I could hardly scrap it 8 years ago. This painting says so much more to me than ‘a place I have been.’
Isn’t that really the reason we paint? . . .to capture a spirit? A feeling? A mood? I suppose the painting is finished when we look at the painting and can feel that spirit.
If you are interested, click on this link to see images of Park Guell . . .designed and built by Antonio Gaudi.
oil on canvas panel, 12′ x 16″
Some days are just too good to be true. And today was one of ‘em!
After sorting around in some of my painting haunts, I took a flyer today and knocked on the door of a property owner who had previously denied me access to their private beach and sprawling ranch property on the coast. Today, my buddy and I were welcomed and encouraged to go ahead and paint where ever we liked.
Mind you, in California there are VERY FEW beaches without human footprints on them. This place had N O N E ! What an amazing treat to be standing knee deep in native grass and actually not wanting to go onto the beach because it would disrupt such undisturbed natural perfection.
A small creek comes to a pond there on the beach and reflects the water and wind beaten bluffs. Mind you, the wind blows there all the time. So, it was paint with one hand and hold the umbrella and easel with the other! Save for the wind, my buddy and I decided that it would be a most perfect day if two naked women just happened along for us to gaze at while they sun bathed and we painted.
Like I said, some days are just too good to be true. What are the odds that our wishes came true? Today the lottery would have been in our favor, if you get my drift. We were blown away, but not by the wind, that is for sure!
And the painting came out well, too !!!! (Only in California, right?) HA!!!