Monday, July 24, 2017

Nature's Bounty, Step 1

Preliminary decisions

On my recent trip to Germany, we often drove by this biergarten (beer garden) that had this neat wagon parked outside.  I finally couldn't stand it any more, and requested that we pull over into the parking lot so I could photograph it. I knew it would make a great prop for a painting, but at that point didn't really know how. The more I looked at it I thought it would be great if it were filled with flowers and cascading bouquets. I figured at that point, I'd probably use the original background.

Source photo for wagon painting

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yesterday's Shadows, Final Step

Finishing the Painting

I finished up Oma in the top window, refining the drawing so now her arm is on the windowsill and she's looking down at the cat. I've also added some more cascading flowers, and lightened Oma's house.  I signed my name in the lower left-hand corner. Done!
Yesterday's Shadows, 24 x 16, oil on linen

Monday, July 17, 2017

Yesterday's Shadows, Step 7

Oma in the Window

From the very beginning of this painting, I knew I wanted "Oma" in one of the windows. Since this is an historic German town, an "Oma" (a German grandmother) was appropriate. But where to put her?

First I auditioned her (again on plastic wrap) in the second story window looking out.  It looked a little odd, since it was a skinny window and she looked really cramped.
Oma in second story window

 Then I decided to try her in the top window. She's just roughed in and I will think she needs to look down more at the cat.  I also had to replace the plant in the window where I first put "Oma."
I've also added some pink flowers along the alley. I like the way the eye moves around now, from the pink flowers to the cat, up the dark building, across the angled beam, and on up to "Oma."  Even though she's not the center of interest: the light at the end of the alley is, it's nice to have her there to lend some life to the scene.
Oma in top window looking out.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Yesterday' Shadows, Step 6

More Painting and Refining

Again, working my way down from top to bottom, I developed the buildings on the left, making sure they all made sense.  The windows, shutters and overhangs are all architectural characteristics peculiar to southern Germany, so I want to make them interesting and convincing.  I love the textures, everything from the stucco facades to the timbered sides.

After finishing the left, I then worked on the right side. The street lights are a great addition and help move your eye into the distance. Then I did the cobblestone alley, which was a delight to paint.  What fun!

At this stage, I've roughed in the plants, the planters, figured out what to do at the end of the alley.
I will add more flowers and I want to put in a cat.

I stepped back from the painting, and saw a very bothersome tangent line.  The center vertical line of the middle street lamp lined up exactly with the edge of the building behind it.  So I moved in about 3/16" to the left.  A pain to do, but necessary.

Cat roughly painted on plastic wrap and positioned in front of one of the doorways.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Yesterday's Shadows, Step 5

Refining the Painting

Working back to front, I develop the sky a bit more, altering the shapes of the clouds, and adding a light mixture of phthalo green and white as I near the horizon, where the sky always gets warmer. 

Then I start on the buildings in the idea today is to paint that sliver of buildings in the light, and get the contrast established between them and the darker buildings. I work on the windows and the timbered facades, scumbling some lights over the dark lay-in to give them a weathered look. I'm not too worried about straight lines, as these building are so old, that nothing is straight any more.

On the left hand building, I used a warm orange-gray mixture as there is a lot of reflected light bouncing up off the alley.  The other side of the buildings will be cooler.

Refining the painting, back to front


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Yesterday's Shadows, Step 4

The color lay-in

With my palette laid out with the following colors, titanium white, cad yellow light, yellow ochre, cad orange, cad red light, permanent madder deep (alizarin crimson substitute), ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, phthalo green, and ivory black, I add color to the burnt umber underpainting. I try to get as close as possible to the finished colors, but there's a lot I'm still roughing in. It's better to be darker at this point, so if I need to scumble a lighter color on top, it will be effective.

In my head I hear Daniel Greene's words:  "light against dark, warm against cool."  I want as much contrast as possible of the tall houses against the lit ones at the back of the alley. I mix a lot of grays.  There's not a whole lot of color in this painting. When I was in Germany, I noticed that the red roofs are more like a combo of burnt sienna with a little orange added, as they are the color of red clay.

Color lay-in

Friday, June 30, 2017

Yesterday's Shadows, Step 3

Laying in the burnt umber drawing and shadow pattern

Very carefully, with a rag in my left hand to wipe out the charcoal and my brush in my right hand, I follow the lines a little bit at a time. I am using burnt umber with Liquin, diluted with mineral spirits to follow the fat over lean regime.

I add some darker values on the roofs so I an get an idea where I'm going. This is such an important stage. If I don't like it at this point, I sure won't like it when I get color on it. 

At this point notice that I've moved some windows...the top left one was further to the right,  the second one down was barely noticeable because of some tangent lines, and the one at the lower left didn't even exist.  

The burnt umber under-painting

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Yesterday's Shadows, Step 2

The Drawing

Having cropped the photograph to my liking, I used my proportion wheel to decide what size canvas I would use and settled on a 24 x 16. 

With soft vine charcoal, I gridded the canvas in 2" increments. Sorry, I lost the photo of it.  :)

Then I printed out the jpg, laid a piece of plastic wrap over it, and gridded it to correspond. 

I then enlarged the photo onto the canvas, by drawing square by square.  To me this is the safest way to enlarge a complicated piece, without losing any of the subtleties.  See below:

At this point, I am only concerned with the placement on the canvas.  It is pretty loose, but I can't get too precise with the charcoal.

 I prepared the canvas by stretching Belgium linen on stretcher bars and then primed it with rabbit's skin glue and Gamblin's Alkyd Ground.  Several times a year I will undertake this procedure and do 10 to 12 canvases at a time in various sizes so that I have them available when I need them.  This particular one I prepared about four years ago.  On the back of each one, I attach a label with the preparation procedure and the date of completion.   

Monday, June 26, 2017

Yesterday's Shadows, Step 1

Planning the painting

Recently I returned from a painting trip to southern Germany and photographed many of the charming towns with red tiles roofs that have existed for centuries.  This will be my first painting from a town called Bad Urach at the foot of the Swabish Albs. As we were walking toward the center of town, I came across this scene and knew immediately that I had to paint it. Below is the original photo.
This is the original untouched photo, where you can see at the end of the alley a white paneled truck on the left and a large black opened door on the right.
Of course, I knew I had to do things with it.  With Photoshop and my artistic license in hand, I laid in streaks of sunlight across the cobblestone alley, added a tree coming on the left hanging over the wall, then added other flowering bushes along the way.  The major change was to substitute the ugly white paneled truck and black door with a photo of some houses extending the alley way.  Eventually, that whole area will be lit.  I also plan to put a cat in the shadows.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Featured Artist on National Oil & Acrylic Painter's Society Blog

Exciting news:

For the next two weeks I am honored to be the new featured artist on the NOAPS blog where it showcases outstanding works of art from its members.  To read the blog, click here.

  This painting, "Autumn Symphony" is one of my more recent paintings.