Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day's End (Flintstone Barns, step 14)

The final painting

As planned, I took this painting to the Washington Society of Landscape Painters Annual Award Banquet last Sunday. Several members offered some comments which I have implemented. First, I moved the hedge row that lined up with the front sidewalk...moved it back, and then, of course I had to move the fence.

Another comment was that there was someone home...the lights were on, but there was no truck or car! So now there's a driveway with a truck just peeking out from the far side of the house.

Another comment was the cows need warmer and lighter highlights on their backs.

And lastly, smoke coming out of the chimney would be another indication that someone was home on this slightly chilly day.

So at last, the painting is done and hanging at the Mansion at Strathmore, Bethesda, Maryland. I am pleased with it and learned a lot, since so much of it was imagined. You saw the original photos...this painting represents what I wanted to see and mood that I wanted to express. This was definitely not an easy painting. It is so much easier when you are painting what is in front of you.

I'm not sure what I will be my next painting. I have lots of ideas but nothing firm at this point.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 13

The Painted Version

In this step, you can see where I have changed the foreground hill to approximately what I had designed in Photoshop. I added boulders and darkened the grasses. I also made them a bit greener so that the hill would blend in better as it sloped into the middle ground meadow.

Afterward, standing back from the painting, I noticed that I had two quite parallel lines...the line of the foreground hill was essentially parallel to the back hill, which was quite bothersome. I couldn't really change either one of those, so I added a hedge row behind the house and right-hand shed as a counter point. It works pretty's the best I can do.

Some other things that I did: I darkened the right shed and its roof. I darkened the little back porch. I added the fence posts and removed the stupid little tree behind the left-hand shed. From a distance, it really looked dumb.

As of now, I don't like the shape of the boulders...the one silhouetted against the green meadow should be steeper and craggier. It's also quite symmetrical.

About all that's left to do is to change the boulders, add some fences, add some utility poles and the animals. I think I'll change the cows to sheep, I haven't done any for a while. I will also change the lights in the windows to make them different. Right now they are too much the same.

I keep remembering I am taking this painting to the Washington Society of Landscape Painters' banquet on Sunday!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 12

Back to Painting in Photoshop

I took another photo of the painting and went to work on it on the computer. The painting needed more drama and interest in that foreground hill. You can see I darkened it and added boulders in shadow with just the tips of them highlighted by the setting sun. I am really liking this approach...I can paint with all sorts of different colors and have NO brushes or hands to wash!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 11

Using the Photoshop sketch

Here I have followed the photoshop sketch in the previous step and painted out the pond, which gives me some breathing room. I have also developed the foreground hill and added grasses and leaves, as per the original photograph. I'm not sure I like this part...I'll have to see. If I get away from it for a day or two, perhaps I will figure out what to do with it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 10

Fiddling with Photoshop

After my diversions, I have played around with the painting aspect of Adobe Photoshop. It's not really as hard as I thought it would be. I would much rather do this at my computer than on the painting itself. If I put something in that I don't like, it's easy to take it out.

The top version shows where I "painted" out the pond. No great loss. I am much happier now. The shape and the color of it were so distracting! Without it, the viewer can now concentrate on the buildings.

The second version shows where I have included a fence and some cows. This gives me a better idea of where I want to go. I am not sure of their exact positions...doing those skinny little legs with a very narrow "paintbrush" was tricky. The "paintbrush" followed the pixels and didn't always go where I wanted it to go.

The next thing I want to learn how to do is to "select" a certain portion of the painting and adjust the color to it. In this case, I want to "select" the sky and make it a bit redder.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Recent Diversion

Painting at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge

The plein air sketch:

The actual scene:

This past Sunday the Washington Society of Landscape Painters painted at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge in Laurel, MD. The fall colors were at their peak surrounding these enormous ponds where the wildlife find sanctuary. Canadian Geese honked as they flew into the water to land. Lily pads graced the ponds as well.

I was particularly taken with the scene above. This is about two-hour plein air piece, but it can use some tweaking. Fortunately the composition works well. But it needs refining...this is quite rough. The hard edge of the back trees on the left is distracting and the leafless trees need more branches. Some lively darks and lights will help as well.

I need to return to my other painting, which I now have entitled Day's End. It is due at the Mansion at Strathmore on November 16!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recent Diversion

A Trip to Gallery of CNY

Last week my husband and I drove through the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania and New York to Cazenovia, the town where the Gallery of CNY is located. It's about 20 miles southeast of Syracuse. While I was there, I painted on location with one of the gallery principles on a country road about 5 minutes outside of town. I finished the above painting today and the plan is that it will appear in Gallery of CNY's ad in the December issue of American Art Collector. Below are pictures of the actual scene.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 9

Turning on the Lights

After looking at this painting for a while, I felt that it needed more contrast in some areas. There is a lot of light on the landscape even thought the sun is not shining brightly. Twilight is an interesting time of day, evoking mysterious thoughts at this transitional time.

The lights on in the house are more pronounced, even thought I think I will pull the shades on one of them...probably the one in the upstairs window. It looks too even, and I want it to appear random.

I have eliminated the foreground grasses in order to paint the entire hill first, and then I will go back and add the weeds. I like the way they break up the foreground area, so they are just temporarily gone. The reddish color helps bring the hill closer to the viewer. I added a bush in front of the little shed and a small tree behind it to soften the edges.

The pond bothers me, a lot. The three-spot composition looks more like a four-spot from a distance, and I don't like it, and I'm not sure what to do about it. I can make the pond more like a creek so that it is less important. Right now it is about the same size as the house.

I am trying to learn the intricacies of advanced editing in Photoshop. If I knew how, I could fiddle with the image and see what it looks like with a creek without actually painting on a piece of Saran wrap taped to the painting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 8

Big Changes

After looking at the color of the buildings, I decided I would prefer them if they were white. So I redrew and repainted them. I added light in two of the windows, but they are not bright enough yet.

I also lightened up the flat planes in the valley.

I have been photographing sunsets since mid-August to get a sense of the colors and values so I can remember them and make notes about them. My photographs are a constant reminder that photographs lie! It's pretty tricky to get it right. Mainly the scenes are lighter than I think they are and the skies are lighter too. When I photograph the sky, all of the land comes out black.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 7

More development

In this step, I made a number of development changes. I filled in the little isthmus on the pond, roughed in the tree behind it, and straightened out the country lane. There was no reason for it to be so wiggly.

I darkened values on the shadow side of the farmhouse and barns so now they stand out more. I redrew the farmhouse porch and defined the chimneys a bit more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 6

Making some changes

Where I had sketched with charcoal the tree and new hill line, I painted those changes in. I also warmed up the mountains. This is very difficult because I am finding my way with colors and values, just trying to see what looks good and right. So far I like the direction, but I am a long way from being finished.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 5

Developing the painting

I reworked the underpainting, changed the cloud formation, defined and darkened the back mountains. I decided the farmhouse looked lonely, so with charcoal, I sketched in a large tree behind it. This helps break up the mountain and add a vertical counterpoint to all the horizontals.

Also with charcoal, I redrew the angle of the right-hand mountain and the shape of the pond. I added a curved area to break up the straight line. I am still not happy with it's shape so I'm not sure what the final configuration will be. We'll see.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 4

Laying in a color underpainting

Using my memory, photographic reference, and some earlier color sketches, I roughed in an underpainting to try to understand where I am going. This is a painting about what I want to see, not what I think I see or what I saw.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 3

Changing the main building

After looking at the previous drawing for a while, I decided that I would prefer a farmhouse rather than the large barn. I think it's a more classical setting and would have more public appeal. A light on in the barn wouldn't make much sense, but it would in a farmhouse to suggest human activity.

The first thing was to find in my photo archives a picture of a farmhouse. After googling images of old farmhouses I remembered that in my book (14 Formulas for Painting Fabulous Landscapes), I had painted an old farmhouse. See photo above.

I redrew it with the perspective so I am looking down on it. See above drawing.

The perspective isn't correct, so I drew with a black marker some perspective lines on Saran Wrap, using the canvas drawing as a guide. Then I redrew the farmhouse so the the lines were correct. See above.

I transferred the correct drawing onto the canvas. I can make a more detailed drawing as I get into the painting. See above.

I painted over some of the original lines so I could see where I was. I stood back from the canvas, and decided that I needed to move the farmhouse about 1/2 inch to the left. See above.

I repeated the entire process, and I like it SO much better. It feels more balanced. This is the 3-spot composition and the largest element needs to be fairly close to the center...not centered, but close!
While I was at it, I painted the roof tops to convey the reflection from the sky. No doubt I will adjust this later. See above.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 2

The preliminary drawing

After I enlarged the drawing onto the canvas, I realized that I no longer had the compositional format of a steelyard, with the large mass of barns slightly off center balanced by the little shed at the far right. When I added space between the larger barns, I no longer had that format. I had barns in decreasing sizes from right to left. Not very interesting and a poor composition.

So I wiped them out, reversed the two front barns. What you see now is a 3-spot composition with the larger one near the center, receding on the right to the mid-size barn, and then back to the little shed on the far left.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flintstone Barns, Step 1

The Color Sketch

First I printed out one of the photos and adhered it to a piece of board. Then I moved some mountains around and added the sunset. I deleted several barns, as there were way too many. (I painted with oil directly onto the bond paper from the printer.) This is a good start without the blue sky.

I was now ready to transfer this to a canvas...I chose a 16 x 20.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Adding the sky

I am sick of blue skies!

I have decided to try merging disparate elements into one painting. I have been photographing sunsets for the last month in order to get a few that I really like.
This is one of them that I will incorporate into my painting, temporarily called Flintstone Barns.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Painting

The last time I blogged, I fully intended to demonstrate a plein air painting and its evolution in the studio.

However, I got extremely involved in this Potomac River School Exhibition at the Sandy Spring Museum and a number of plein air competition events in Maryland.

I am ready to move on to demonstrate a new painting.

While I was in Cumberland, MD in May, I took many pictures of the wonderful scenery with the mountains. One of the towns was Flintstone. Here are two pictures of interesting farm buildings, which I will be using to compose a painting.

By the way, the reception at Sandy Spring Museum is this Sunday, September 27, from 2-4 p.m.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Back to Plein Air Painting

The landscape show is over and I am ready to get back outside to paint. I just finished several spring-time paintings from sketches that I began outside last year. My favorite is Spring at Lock 16 shown above. I especially liked the way the figure fits into the scene. I found her in a sketch book from several years ago. It's a great pose from a 15-second sketch.

I have been accepted into Plein Air Easton, the premier plein air painting event in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The event is in July, so I have to get ready. I get a bit rusty during the winter cooped up in my studio. I like the idea, as Asher B. Durand did, of returning to the same spot for several days to finish a plein air painting.

Tomorrow morning I will begin painting outdoors at a Washington Society of Landscape Painters paintout at one of our favorite spots: The Old Anglers' Inn area of the C & O Canal and the Potomac River. I have already done two scenes there but tomorrow (if it doesn't rain) I plan to paint some large boulders and rocks looking south down the Potomac.

In future blogs, I plan to show sequences of my plein air paintings.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 12

Finally, the finish

To finish the painting, I added the little parallel gold bars on the inside of the frame, adding a few highlights and shadows to give them depth. To fill the empty space in the lower right, I added two flowers which now help bring your eye into the painting. The leaves are strategically placed to give direction to the viewer.

As I see it, the eye travels along the lower edge of the painting until it reaches the green leaf, when it travels up to the flowers and back to the left following the direction of the pointy green leaf. The eye then travels along the side edge of the cheese board, checks out the grapes on the table, follows the corkscrew up to the silver dish of grapes, meanders through the wine glasses, up the wine bottle to check out Andrei’s painting on the wall. The lower right hand corner of the frame points downward to the vase of flowers, where the eye can finally exit the painting! Whew!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 11

Coming down the finish line:

The frame around Andrei's painting had really been bothering me. The inner area of it has these little parallel bars of gold wood on top of a gray background, and I had sketched them in hoping that would work. The more I looked at it, the more I knew it wasn’t working. There were so many of them...they weren't parallel, they weren't the same size, they were wonky. In other words: SLOPPY.

So I sanded the surface lightly, and painted the background area gray. After it dries, I will add the gold parallel bars VERY CAREFULLY.

I eliminated a lot of the fussy areas of the cloth and just went with suggesting some gold sparkles in a random pattern.

While I was working in that area, I refined the cheese tray and added the wire cutter on the side. I like the way it breaks up that side area. A little wood grain also helps break up that side.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 10

Filling in some blanks

As I said in the last step, I was going to have to let the painting tell me what it needed. It cried out for me to fill the large empty space on the table between the silver dish of grapes and the cheese board. I made the dish overflowing with many that they spilled onto the table. These additional grapes make a nice transition and fill an unsightly area.

The background looks cooler, but I haven't touched it. It's a variable in the photography.

I then did the writing and illustration on the wine glass...they are only suggested. It looks like writing, but it is unreadable. I did the same with the label next to Andrei's painting.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 9

Some more decisions

I redid the background in a warmer tone, adding glow to the painting. Then I darken the water in the vase to correspond with the warmer and darker area.

I refined the drawing of the wine glasses, added some highlights and cast shadows. For the record, when I am not painting, the wine glasses and wine bottle are covered with saran wrap to keep the wine from evaporating.

I painted in the tag next to the painting, which I had auditioned in the previous step.

I still have two particular areas to resolve: on either side of the cheese board and in front of the vase. At some point I'll figure these out. The painting will eventually speak to me and let me know what I have to do.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 8

Making more decisions

You can see I have put the corkscrew back in, but I have turned it differently so that it doesn't look as heavy. In fact, it is rather interesting, being able to look inside of it. I was having a great problem drawing it until I arranged a sight-size set-up that I wrote of earlier.

Also I had the brilliant idea to put in a glass vase...I had scoured my shelves looking for the perfect vase, and of course, I don't own such a thing. I remembered this glass vase that works just fine. Seeing the flower stems gives interest to the vase, plus the fact that it is dark. Not that white staring me in the face! Once I got the vase problem solved, I developed the flowers further.

Since this painting is about an artist reception and I have painted Andrei Kushnir's painting on the wall, I thought I'd take it one step further and consider putting a tag on the wall next to it. To audition the tag, I cut a piece of paper and stuck it on the painting with a piece of tape. Right now there is a yellow post-it note stuck on the canvas.

I have suggested a small stack of napkins on the far left to break up the straight line of the table.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 7

Some words on drawing

If you compare this step to the one before, you'll note that the wine glasses and wine bottle are considerably shorter. I had been struggling with the drawing and the relative sizes of the items.

If you'll remember, I was struggling in the earlier steps too. I always use the sight-size method...placing the still life set-up next to my easel and comparing the two from eight feet away. I started to do this, but soon realized that I wanted to be closer to the set-up so that I could see more of the food. After all, this painting is about the wine and cheese on the table at a reception.

In retrospect, I should have lowered my set-up an inch or two so that from the eight foot distance, I could see more of the top of the table. However, that is easier said than done. So I didn't. I moved in closer, but I no longer could use the sight-size method. And this is where I ran into trouble. I got the wine glasses and wine bottle too large, but couldn't figure out why. The more I looked at the painting and at the set-up, I knew they were too large. The glasses were the size of water goblets!

I finally figured out a way to do a sight-size from this closer in viewpoint, which solved my drawing problem. It would be too involved to explain exactly what I did.

As I said above, I usually do the drawing sight-size, which is absolutely foolproof! I usually check my drawing like this, but then I will move the easel and sit down and paint. When I need to recheck the drawing, I move the easel back into position next to the set-up.

Once I got the glasses and bottle the correct size, I could deal with the flowers. Since it is so cold here in Maryland, I am keeping the flowers in the garage where it is about 40 degrees. I think they could last for weeks down there.

You'll notice that I have roughed in a different vase. The earlier one was too much the same size as the cheese, and that's boring. So this new one is taller, but I'm not convinced that this is the right one. I find the white is too much "in your face!" I'll try other vases.

Also notice that I have removed the thinking is that it is ugly clutter. I can always put it back in, if I can't figure out what to do with the empty space.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 6

Painting the cheese and crackers

When I bought the cheese, I selected both Jarlsberg and Brie, since they were quite different. I chose the Jarlsberg because I really liked the large holes and the neat texture, which would be more interesting in the painting. Putting pepperoni between the cheese and crackers added some color to the cheese tray.

I had never painted these things before, so painting them was fun! After painting that day, we ate the Brie with some delicious crackers...not the ones in the painting. I had to save the Jarlsberg and the crackers in case I needed them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 5

Painting the grapes and wine glasses

Even though I said I'd save the grapes to last, when I bought them they didn't look like they'd last very long. Using a combination of red and green grapes helps to move the colors around the painting. The red grapes were most interesting, because they were a variety of shades, from deep reds to near oranges.

Then I went on to paint the silver bowl...painting reflections is a lot of fun and gives a lot of interest and elegance to a painting.

I then refined the wine glasses, painting in the wine color first. Then I added the reflections and highlights, thinking of course that I was nearly done with them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 4

Painting the painting and more revisions

I finished painting Andrei's painting on the wall, except for a few highlights, which I will do later.

I refined the wine glasses, checking the ellipses to make sure the stems were centered under the glass. I own a nifty clear gridded ruler 7" wide by 24" long that I use when cutting quilt fabrics. I laid this ruler over the wine bottle and wine glasses, lining up the grid lines so I could easily see what need to be corrected.

Those gremlins I mentioned earlier also messed up the corkscrew handle, so I had to redraw it. When the cloth is finished, I'll do the actual corkscrew with its interesting cast shadow.

I can't wait to get the absolutes painted so I can choose the grapes, flowers, cheese and crackers. I have never painted cheese and crackers, so I'll save them for last. For the flowers, I am thinking of alstromeria, which I've painted many times. It's a small flower and would work well in this situation, and all the florists this time of year carry it. If I find carnations, I might consider them instead. I've never painted carnations, so that would make my painting experience more fun.

Lastly, I substituted a silver dish to hold the grapes...reflective surfaces are more interesting and the silver elevates the level of elegance to this painting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 3

Working back to front

I did decide to use Andrei's painting on the wall, so I enlarged it from the original which I own. This is in no way a copyright issue, since I am incorporating the image of his painting into my painting, not copying his painting to make another painting, which I would sign as my own.

After I roughed in his painting, I refined the frame with a multitude of parallel lines which define the moulding. But I still have more to go. Then I redrew the bottle again and developed the bottle top and the reflections in the glass. I love doing reflections...but I can't do the reflections of the flowers in the wine bottle, since I don't have the flowers yet.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wine and Cheese, step 2

Establishing some color

When I started this step and compared my drawing with the set-up, I swear some gremlins did a number on my drawing. I had to redraw a number of areas, in particular the wine bottle, which looked tipsy. I also redrew the cheese tray a number of times. The fact of the matter is that I must be in the exact same spot every time I compare my drawing to the set-up. Duh!

I wanted to establish some of the darker values...the wine in the glasses and in the bottle, plus the dark cloth. At one point, I wasn't sure I would put wine in all the glasses, but decided that I needed to move the color and the value around the painting for visual interest. Adding background color and cast shadows helps me visualize the overall values for the painting.

I like the way this is developing and am considering putting a painting of Andrei Kushnir's on the wall. I own a small one of his but I will have to enlarge it.