Thursday, December 29, 2011

46. Orange and Blue

Orange and Blue 6x8 oil/linen

I have a couple of very important deadlines looming, and not much time to work on them, so I might default on a few dailies till I can get these done.  As it is, I am working early till late. But I did think it a good idea to 
warm up today with something simple, and I determined to work only about 45 min..  I found this blue goblet at a thrift store recently and wanted to paint it... and I love the combination of orange and blue - opposites or "complements" on the color wheel.
I've never painted cobalt blue glass before... very interesting.
Anyway, it's a simple set up and nothing fancy but to try to be purposeful with the brushstorkes and let them be.  And, for you painters out there, it's really important to keep your shadows thin and transparent... and remember the old adage, "cool light, warm shadows" - all the shadows here are warm in color, except where the blue of the glass really colored the white c loth as the light went through it...

Monday, December 26, 2011

45. Trail Crew, Pecos Wilderness

12x16 oil/linen

Actually started this one before Christmas, but had to put it aside until today.  The image was inspired by an old (1950's?) photo of Santa Fe National Forest rangers building cairns.  I think they were up in the Pecos Wilderness from the looks of the photo, but not totally sure.  This crew is wrapping up for the day and heading down off the ridge.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

43. Star of Wonder

Star of Wonder 9x12 oil/panel

I just thought today about those Shepherds out watching their flocks of sheep the night that Jesus was born.
They saw the star, the angels and heard the message of the baby's birth, mostly because they were out there, outside, watching the night sky.
So, what if the Savior had been born in a different place and time?  Maybe it would have been somebody like this to see that Star.  Some ol' cowpoke, just watching the herd. 
Well, if was fun thinking about.
On a "painting" note, I found that painting moonlight meant two t hings.
1. all colors are practically gone.  They all fade to a greenish gray.
2. It's not as easy as that.
There should be no warm colors under moonlight, and though my photo seems to show a bit more warn tones than is actually there, just remember that in  painting moonlight scenes, use colors from the cool side of the spectrum.. For example, instead of cadmium yellow, use yellow ochre. Instead of cad read, use alizarin... But almost everything is mixed with ultramarine to cool it even further and lower the value as well...

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, full of joy and peace and hope!

Friday, December 16, 2011

42. Connie's Cabin, plein air

Connie's Cabin, 8x10

Real quick, because Steve is waiting on me to go out for our run this morning. This was done very quickly (again, because he was waiting) maybe 30-40 min. looking out our window at my neighbor's cabin. It's a great view both morning and evening. 
There was so much glare coming in our big south facing windows that I absolutely could not see, sometimes wasn't even sure what color I was putting down, so I just trowled on the paint with th e palette knife to get the feel of it, and left it as is, pretty rough, but it was fun trowling on paint for a change! :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

41. Team Ropers

Team Ropers 8x13 oil/panel

I started this one several weeks ago... put it aside till I could figure out where I wanted to take it, and then finished it a few days ago.   I wanted to try a little more palette knife, especially in the background with the spectators... So I left that whole area really sketchy and yet, hopefully, still communicating "spectators and bleachers"...  Thanks to artist friend Max Nelson from for the photo reference.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

40. Jenna and Thomas

Jenna and Thomas 12x16 oil/paper

This was actually from a few days ago, but I didn't post it till I made sure it was okay with the subject!  Jenna is an artist friend, and she absolutely loves cats. I think they had about seven kittens recently, and this little guy, Thomas, was one of them. Though the photo was low resolution, and there wasn't really any dramatic light to work with, I still thought this one was just so perfect of Jenna and her little furry friend.   
I do learn something every time I work on a portrait... sometimes its just small things about values, or maybe about mixing skin tones or shadow tones... there's always something to glean. That's what's been valuable about this 120 painting project... you always learn something every time you pick up a brush!  (sometimes you learn that it's just time to stop and go get a cookie)

Friday, December 9, 2011

39, The Parting

The Parting 8x10 oil/panel

This is based on another old historic photo. I'm going to guess that these friends are either Navajo or possible Apache, based on the dress and where the photo was taken.  There was something about the way that
these two old friends reached out to shake hands in parting that touched me.

That nice feeling was quickly forgotten in trying to paint them from an old, grainy, black and white photo!
I finally kept saying to myself "simplify, simplify"... the entire background was done with a palette knife and I tried to keep the figures themselves very painterly.  Those poor old Indian ponies look pretty forlorn, don't they?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

38. Chickadee

 Chickadee 5x7 oil/panel

Today I wanted to explore using the palette knife for a simple, unconstructed background.
Palette knife work will lay on pure color without picking up what's underneath. It can create some beautiful effects.  I know of some artists who paint completely with a palette knife.  I consider it just one more tool in the painter's toolbox, one that I'd like to use more often.

I have a friend , Jim Connelly, a fabulous painter, who uses the knife to great advantage in his work, and that's really what inspired me to try it on this little daily today. Jim's work has graced the cover of Southwest Art magazine, and been in numerous national shows. He does wonderful things with backgrounds!  Here's an example:
Isn't this great? It's one of my favorites of his.With his perfect use of color and value Jim has created a sense of a sunny, dusty arena without one shred of detail.  It's like magic.... More beautiful work can be seen on his website here.  Jim also does illustration and digital work - there's some really cool stuff - check it out!

So, I enjoyed using the knife.. I might even go a bit darker with the background.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

38. A Copy of One of My Favorite Artists

After Frederick Remington's 
"The Cowboy"
11x14 oil/panel

Today's project involved making a "copy" - more like a close approximation, of a painting by one of my all time favorite painters, Frederick Remington.   A trip to the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art when I was about 7 did quite a bit to motivate me to become a painter.  Even at that young age, I was enthralled by the work of Remington and Russell - they painted horses! And cowboys!!! I was amazed!  I think at that time I knew I wanted to draw and paint and become an "artist".  I'm still on that journey, and now, 50  years later (yikes) I am just now painting the things I love (horses! and cowboys!)
 For those of you who might not know, it is acceptable to make a copy of a painting, as long as you label it as such.   This painting is a secret Christmas gift for someone who does not really care much about art, per say, but seems to relate to Remington's work and likes it.  I think he'll be pleased.

Even making a "close approximation" is a learning experience.  I was not trying to go brushstroke for brushstroke, but just get close enough that someone would see the painting across the room and recognize it.
But the kind of close studying one must do to even 'approximate" gives real insight into how this master worked.  I am still in awe.

I had a small printed postcard and a page in a book to work from, and they were very, very different as far as color goes. So I picked the card to use for color, and the book page was slightly larger for some of the detail.

Here is a short video of this painting in progression.  I may still touch up a few places, but I need a smaller brush!  That cowboy's face is only about 3/4 inch, and it was tough to even approximate the detail that Remington achieved.  First I show the set up, with the little postcard as reference, and then a series of progress shots.  After the first bit of covering the canvas with an average color for each shape, the changes m;ight be quite small, but they're there!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

37. Iconic Cowboy

Iconic Cowboy 11x14 oil/panel

Today's is a little larger;, 11x14, because I wanted more room to "move" with the brush.  And okay, because I have a couple of 11x14 frames that'll work.
The aim was to get a sense of brilliant sun.  One of my favorite artists is  Winslow Homer, and he had a way of creating this sense of really bright sun by actually darkening the sky and landscape - which seems rather counter intuitive, but he sure made it work.   So I thought I'd go for rich color everywhere, a slightly darker sky, and anything in the sunlight is infused with a cad yellow to create a sense of  warm sunlight.
This was an old historic black and white photo of a real cowboy - he seems to me to epitomize what that was.   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

36. Calf Roper

Calf Roper 8x10 oil/panel

I put together a little video of this one in progress.. just still shots in progression. Sorry, there's some glare  from my easel light;  You'll notice that in the last final frame, the guy's shirt suddenly changed color. The whole painting, I had fought the value of that white shirt, so, heck, why battle it? I just changed the color.  That's the nice thing about painting - it's your own little world and you are the king of it - so change what you want!  It's good to be king.....
Here's the little video...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

35. Drought Conditions

This Drought is Tough 8x10 oil/panel

This drought IS tough.... ranchers around here have it better than some, since we're in the mountains and tend to get a little more rainfall than those at lower elevations, but  every one of them will tell you it's been a hard year. And of course the Las Conchas fire damaged huge, huge tracts of grazing land and forest.   With hay going as high as $15 a square bale, they have a hard row to hoe.

My job isn't so tough.. I just have to paint.  That's hard enough some days, though.  I am really working on being more "painterly".  I ask the question, "how can I put down a brushstroke that represents this piece of light and color?"  rather than "how can I make this look like a stirrup?... or whatever...".  That's the hard part, because what we are doing is painting how light affects things - we're not painting "things". You've all heard me harp on this before.  Sometimes I feel like I am pulled in two directions, though.  These type of scenes just scream for  DETAIL!!!   Part of me would just love to get out the tiny brushes and draw in all the details of the saddle, or whatever.  But growing as an artist, for me at least right now, means learning to put down purposeful brushstrokes that represent a chunk of value and color, so I squint even though I'm using a photo reference here, and I use the largest brush I can. I also did a fair amount of negative painting - I do not start these  paintings with any drawing, just some rough thin brushstrokes to place the objects. so for the horse and rider in particular, I sort of carved them out of the background.
And, can I just add one random thought:  cows ARE fun to paint.  Especially Herefords.

postscript.I reworked the background on this one because after looking at it, I decided it was too chalky and too busy.   I think this version is much better now....what do you think?