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Friday, May 26, 2017

Statice Quo

The day started as cool and foggy.  The Statice were blooming more than I can remember.  They commanded the stage this morning.
I have painted this scene so many times but I still did a quick sketch to get the composition right.  The size of the board makes it tricky to get all the elements into the painting.

I am continuing to experiment with different colors.  I have added about 10 colors to my pallet.  I am working to create a brighter more vibrant range of colors.
This painting started differently than a lot of my other paintings.  Instead of drawing or covering the board with washes, I ended taking a mosaic approach.  The strength of the colors in the Statice suggested this treatment.  This was an unintended process.  What I mean to say is that it was not a conscious decision.  
As with many of my paintings, being open to suggestion leads to a more unique perspective and handling of the composition.
Covering the surface with this approach is more time consuming.  One of the challenges when painting this way is to not lose the shapes within the mosaic.  
Another challenge is to maintain the integrity of the values as the painting progresses.  Blending the colors within the mosaic too early could result in mud soup.
Bringing the foreground forward through color and value became important to me at this point in the painting.  It was critical to get the relationships between the foreground and the rest of the painting correct before I moved onto anything else.
It had been sunny for a while, but there was still an atmospheric haze  that I wanted to convey within the painting.
Here I am pulling everything together.  All of the hard work has been done and the painting is about staying on track.
There is always that moment when I feel compelled to drive to the finish.  Everything speeds up to get to the finish line.
Here is when I look to tie up all the loose ends.  Clean up the rough spots, complete any unfinished thoughts, and finalize the highlights.
The last thing I do is touch up any spots, step back and evaluate, and to sign it.
What does it look like in direct light?

The day has completely changed during the course of the painting.
The finished painting Statice Quo.  24x30 plein air oil on board
The value shot
The detail shot.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Redefining Beauty

I heard an interview of a musician who was asked if he was trying to redefine beauty.  It made think about the subjective view of beauty.

When I am painting, I am putting my feelings about the subject down.  Every painting is painted because I see beauty in the landscape I am painting.  My feelings and thoughts about the subject and my expression of their beauty are specific to me.  They are a lifetime of experiences distilled into the effort and the immediacy in the moment of my painting.  All of these experiences may push me in a direction but it is the feeling about beauty at the moment of creation that is my biggest influence.

My experience and ability are always moving and changing.  As I continue to grow in my ability to handle my medium,  my ability to express changes.  My ideas of beauty are always on the move and my skill to express them is changing as well.  This moves my evolution of beauty forward. 

Every day I paint seems connected to all the days that have come before.  Every day beauty is defined on my terms.  Inside my mind what I consider beautiful changes slowly.  This is demonstrated by tendencies within subject matter, color, and technique.  My ideas about beauty and my ability to express them are never in sync.  My ability to express them is limited.  That limitation compromises the communication of my ideas to a certain extent.  It is easy to pinpoint the limits of my ability.  I am not sure what my limitation to perceive beauty is.

Beauty is redefined every time I paint.  I am taking something that is beautiful to me and I am trying to express my unique impression of that beauty.  None of my paintings would be considered a literal interpretation.  They are a combination of impression, expression, and personal interpretation.  Everything involved in my creation of art is in a state of flux.  

When I am creating art, I am moving towards the fullest expression of what I think is beautiful.  Redefining beauty is not taking something that I find unattractive and trying to make it beautiful.  Redefining beauty is taking a subject that has enough attractive elements, using my perception of that beauty, and  pushing those elements forward through my medium.

By my definition creation of art is the redefinition of beauty.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Anthony Salvo Paint Out at Big Bend with LPAPA

When I pulled into the parking lot in Laguna, Anthony had already been painting for 45 minutes.  He did a really small sketch to work out some of the composition issues. 
He talked about warming up before the painting.  He talked about how to hold the brush and how he loosens up before the real painting begins.  I do the same thing when I do a quick sketch before I start painting.

He spoke about how he builds the painting.  He uses a viewfinder with a grid on it.  He sketches directly onto the viewfinder.  He then paints a grid on his surface and uses that to keep on track with the design of the painting.
Anthony spoke about using the grid to make sure that the area of interest does not fall into the middle of the painting.
Anthony is an advocate of using a paper towel to wipe down areas to accentuate the composition building.  He will also wipe out an area in the beginning stage if he makes a mistake.  He works to leave some of the under painting visible in the final painting.
The SCPAPA members in attendance.

Anthony then went on to use his paper towel to indicate the light upon the objects in his painting.  From there he continued to develop his painting.  The itch to paint was too strong so I stepped away to start my painting.
Here I am indicating the large shapes and the darker values within those shapes.  I am committing to the shape of the composition.
Here I am working to create the separation of the background from the foreground.  I am trying to get the values right in the hill so that I will be able to convey a true sense of distance in the painting.
As I move through the painting I am working to lighter and lighter values.  In this picture I putting down the middle values.  I am trying to let the dark value shapes stay undeveloped.  The reason for this is that as I add the lighter values there is a tendency to shrink the darker shapes within the painting.
In this shot you can see that I am continuing to work lighter and lighter.  I am also elaborating on the detail of the major shapes within the painting.

SCPAPA members painting.

I removed the dowel at the top of easel to work on the top of my painting.  I forgot to put it back onto my panel and...the wind blew. When that happens you wonder how bad it is going to be.
There was very little dirt or smearing when I picked it up.
At this point in the painting I am working all over the surface.  I am adjusting colors, values, shapes, and edges.
The finished painting plein air oil on board 24"X32".
The value shot shows the range of values within the painting.  Did I get the lights as light as they should be?  This is currently one of my focuses.  The greater the range of values within the painting the more dramatic the color.
The detail shot.  Here you can see the brush strokes within the painting.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I have been pushing through some changes to my pallet and my processes.  I have added about 8 colors to my pallet to get greater variety.  One of the colors was radiant white.  It really goes a long way to create some of the higher keys that I have searching for.
I added walnut oil to my painting routine about a week ago.  I wanted to keep the rich vibrancy of my color choices.  I had been using Gamsol to thin my paint.  I developed some good effects this way but it seemed like my colors were being washed out.  I adopted the practice of using walnut oil to help move the paint around on my board.

This is the full line of colors in my pallet currently.  I am trying to arrive at a pallet that pushes my range of values.  I am trying to find the highest and lowest notes within each painting.  I want to push the limits of the values that I can reach.  
Here I have laid out the tubes of paint in the same order as I put them on my pallet.
One of the other changes I have made is to gesso the boards I am painting on.  By putting gesso on my boards my hope is to have the board suck up less paint.  By painting on a white surface I should be able to create brighter paintings.
In evaluating my recent paintings, I have to say my strategy is working.  My recent efforts are brighter and more colorful.  I am happy I made these changes.