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.