17 December 2007

M. Katherine Hurley and computers

Last night, I was reading the Artist's Magazine article about M. Katherine Hurley's art. In the step-by-step demo that accompanied the article, she mentioned using a digital image of the unfinished art to experiment with color, on her computer. This helped her make color adjustments that dramatically enhanced an already beautiful painting.

I was stunned. Why didn't I think of trying this, myself? It's absolutely brilliant, and I intend to experiment with this in my future work. (I use Adobe PhotoShop, but almost any digital graphics program will work.)

Hurley's work is beautiful. (See her online demo with a b&w value study at http://www.artistsmagazine.com/hurleyvideo ) In her oil paintings, she's capturing the same kinds of colors that inspire me, and her subjects remind me of New England's unique and magnificent landscapes.

I'm working on several last-minute canvases as Christmas gifts. Hurley's soft edges and almost abstract compositions remind me to avoid being neurotic about details in my own work.

Since my current work is very small (4" x 6"), this is tremendously helpful. Otherwise, I have a tendency to try to include every single detail--what I call the "two-hair brush technique"--that is far from aesthetic.

Labels:

28 May 2007

Glastonbury Tor, completed?


I think that the Glastonbury Tor painting is completed now. I'll look at it for a few more days before deciding.

This photos is small and a little blurry because I painted while the light was perfect this morning, and then took photos when the sky was dark and overcast. Since I don't use a flash when I take photos of my work, the picture is slightly out-of-focus. Earlier pictures capture the color better, too. But, this photo conveys the mood of it well.

Like almost all of my paintings, this one looks best from about 20 feet away. And, I've already sold it. I absolutely love this painting. It really captures that fresh, slightly wild feeling at the Tor.

Labels: , , ,

23 May 2007

Avebury painting, completed


I've completed the Avebury painting. It shows some of the standing stones in the circle. The sky looks magical, with a variety of colors (pale blue, yellow and pink) peeking out through the clouds.

Like all of my oil paintings, this painting looks its best (to me, anyway) from 15 - 20 feet away. It's clearly a neo-Impressionist work.

From 30 feet away, it looks like a photograph.

Up close, it looks like a slightly modern illustration. There's a lot of texture in this work, especially in the clouds.

This unframed painting SOLD for $40. It's on 8" x 16" canvas board. The medium is oil paint.

I will ship it when it's dry, which could be two or three weeks, probably when I return from England around June 15th.

Labels: , , ,

Glastonbury Tor, day 4

Glastonbury Tor painting
After being away from my easel for several days, I took a fresh look at the Glastonbury Tor painting (already sold) and increased the details and contrast in the flowers in the foreground. That didn't work. It made the whole painting "too busy" and detracted from the mid-ground's lovely contrasts plus the focal point of the top of the Tor.

So, I scrubbed off the new layers of paint, but I wasn't happy with the earlier version either. It looked pretty in photos, but in real life... it looked sloppy, sort of.

Now, I've painted over much of the earlier foreground. It looks like long grass in the breeze.

I'm letting that dry, because the painting may be finished. I'd like to try restoring some of the flower suggestions. If the current version is dry when I next work on it, I can scrub down to it if the new flower detailing gets the painting back to a "too busy" impression.

Labels: , , ,

11 May 2007

Glastonbury Tor, day 2

I was most nervous about this painting, after the underpainting looked so... well, choppy. And, this is a more complex painting that the Avebury scene that I'm working on at the same time.

When I stopped and looked at this from across the room, my fears vanished. Well, mostly. It's a good painting. (My original photo is immediately to the left of my painting.)

I'd guess that there are still a few days' work in this painting before I decide that it's finished. In addition, I may let this sit--over the weekend--so the paint will start to set.

That serves two purposes:

First, it makes it easier for me to work fresh colors into the painting without disturbing the existing paint too much. In some cases, I'll want to lay the paint over the existing colors. But, with a little elbow grease, I can work paint into the still-tacky layers.

Also, I'm really happy with how this looks. So, if additions to it don't work on the first try, I can carefully wipe them off without disturbing existing work very much.

If you compare my work today with yesterday's underpaintings, you'll see what I'm doing with color. I won't keep posting my work, step-by-step, for every painting; I'm mostly doing this to share the process. This underpainting technique generally works best with oils. Acrylics dry too quickly to get the exact same effects. (That said, there are merits to underpainting acrylics. They're simply different merits since the painting techniques are also different.)

I think that this has been a very good day for art. Even better, I accomplished this during the brief time that we had full sun. I need sun to get the colors right, and I thought that today might be a no-painting day when I saw the sky.

Labels: , , , ,

Avebury, day 2

I'm quickly becoming a believer in the value of underpainting, at least for my neo-Impressionist style. I'm also beginning to wonder why I stopped painting for so long.

After yesterday's successful painting, I started to wonder, "Was that a fluke? One of those weird times when the 'first try' is wonderful, and successive efforts don't measure up? Was that painting successful primarily because I've painted that particular scene so many times?"

Well, today's first layer of oil paint on the Avebury standing stones painting... it speaks for itself. It's also nearly completed. It's not a photographic-type painting; it looks best from about a dozen feet away. That said, it looks tremendous a dozen feet away.

I'm especially pleased with the magical effect of the colors in the sky, showing through from the underpainting. I wanted to convey the beauty, simplicity and sense of enchantment at Avebury. I think that I'm succeeding.

Labels: , , , ,

10 May 2007

Two sketches and a painting

First, I finished the Kennebunkport (Maine) painting. It's lovely. I'm inspired to work on more landscape paintings from my photos. For me, underpainting appears to be key, but I'll have to see if additional paintings come out as well as this one did.

This oil painting is 8" x 16" on canvasboard. It sold immediately. (Click on the image to see the painting a little larger.)

After that, I sketched two more canvasboards. Both are 8" x 16" as well. I really like this size!

The first one is based on one of my photos of Avebury (England). The standing stones there are among my favorites, and it's one of Europe's largest stone circles.

I think that I'm going to have fun with color in this painting. The light and shadow lend themselves nicely to an oil painting. Standing stones are about as much man-made stuff as I like in my paintings right now.

The other painting will be from my favorite photo of Glastonbury Tor (also in England). I've worked with this photo so much, I need to get a new print made from my negative. There's a small yellow splotch of paint near the top of the Tor photo, and HT thought it was a miniature golf flag or something. *LOL* (He's never been to England.)

I'll probably do a couple of paintings from this photo. I'm not sure whether to emphasize the sky or the glorious landscape leading up to the top of the Tor. In this one, it'll be the landscape.

I wish that I could get to Glastonbury on my upcoming trip to England. I'd love to take more photos of the Tor, for a triptych-style series of paintings. Ah well, my next trip will include time in Glastonbury.

Labels: , , , , ,