Monday, December 22, 2014

Late fall with fog

Late morning, the temperature is still cool, not warming up very quickly.  Damp air with some lingering fog. Yet there is a small opening in the clouds and warm light makes its way thru to bathe at least one tree with warm color.
Photo reference.
Small color comps.
The painting in progress.
The final painting 14 x 22.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fall color

I've been working on a series of paintings, attempting to capture the color of fall. Today, December 13th, is gray damp and foggy outside. The trees are leafless, and there are patches of 1/2 melted snow on the ground.  In contrast, this painting has some very intense color. 

This is a series of color studies I created digitally, loosely based on photo reference I had taken this fall. As I worked thru the process, I became more focused on graphic shapes and color, and less on texture.

That direction carried over into the oil paint color study. I'm not thinking about painting trees, grass, and sky as much as I'm painting shapes, values, and color.

Moving on to the final painting, this is the drawing blocked out in acrylic burnt sienna.

Next I refined the shapes with thinned oil paint.

More thin paint in the foreground elements, and thicker paint in the sky.

The final painting 11x14.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rib Mountain State Park

 It's been a while since I've posted a large new painting. Some paintings are more difficult than others to finish. This painting, inspired from a trip to Rib Mountain State Park in Wausau, WI is one of the difficult ones.  After hiking for 2 days, and taking photos I was inspired and eager to get into the studio to paint.  I did numerous sketches, and color comps, but I wasn't happy with the planning or any of the first studies.  Those first results didn't covey how beautiful and unique the woods are, something was missing. I needed to approach it differently.  The beauty isn't just found in the perfectly shaped trees, the unique rock formations, and the intense fall colors.  It is also found in the rugged, organic trails and the diffused light.  The sunlight is softened as it is filtered through the leaves and branches; it is splashed around on the dead leaves, sticks and rocks on the ground.  I've captured that subtle light and the emotion that we experienced those 2 days of hiking.

This painting, like almost all of my landscapes doesn't depict an exact location. I'm not copying photographs, I'm trying to capture some of the beauty that I personally feel, and hopefully that resonates with others.  The real experience is never completely captured by the photos. Here are 2 that I used for inspiration and reference.  There are a few more in my earlier post.

This is the main sketch that I started with.  I compose and sketch at about 8x10, then using a grid redraw on a board prepared with gesso.

Here are 2 of the color studies.  On the left the rocks were much cooler in color, more blue. I was trying to create drama by using complimentary colors, playing the blueish rocks against the warm yellows and oranges of the leaves.  In the end I choose the softer color harmony of the warmer neutral colors in the rocks. That color scheme better captured the peacefulness of the woods.

I created a grid and blocked in the drawing with burn sienna acrylic.

Working from my color studies, I painted a first pass with oils.  After this stage I can see the direction the painting is going and adjust.

At about this point I photographed the progress and played with the black and white values in Photoshop. This helps me visualizing what I am working toward. I don't always do B&W studies as part of the process but it was helpful here.  I was trying to capture the atmosphere of the defused light.

More progress.
The finish.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Guest artist, Ken Schneider

 Ken Schneider and I first met about a 100 years ago, in 7th grade. We were in the same art class. We became best friends, sharing numerous interests including basketball, Rod Serling's "Night Gallery", and art.
 Ken paints magnificent oil and watercolor landscapes. His images are filled with rich, vibrant color and strong value contrasts that jump off the canvas. Ken's work is very original, and personal. He's a accomplished photographer. He shoots reference for his paintings by hiking thru the woods, crossing  the streams and climbing the rock formations of Wisconsin.

 His work shows at the Edgewood Orchard Galley in Door County.
You can see more of his paintings on his Facebook page. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A pair of cloud paintings

A pair of paintings featuring clouds.  The top oil is a view from our back door looking east. The 2nd painting is about a mile from home.
Here's a smaller study of the backyard view.

And a couple of reference photos.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Early Illustration work

When I first started out as a freelance artist, I did illustration work for advertising agencies. I painted food products for Kraft and Oscar Mayer, and transmitters for Harris Transmitters.  Velveeta cheese, salad dressing, even illustrations for a hog procurement brochure. I was very grateful to get those jobs.  I was making my living as a professional artist.  Advertising taught me valuable lessons, like making deadlines, and meeting clients. What I really wanted to paint was sci-fi, and fantasy images for book and game covers.  So I created sample pieces and mailed out poor reproductions of them.  I attended conventions and was able to meet a few individuals who were starting up a small gaming company. Some of the first covers I illustrated were for Pacesetter Ltd. in Delavan, Wisconsin.  They  saw that I could paint cheese and knew instantly I could paint zombies riding a roller coaster.
Of course if I could paint hogs, I could paint a werewolf in a nightgown.  Back then I painted in acrylic, oils were too mysterious.  These were painted in 1984-85. I was 6 years old and just out of college.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

Each September the Leigh Yawkey Woodson art Museum in Wausau Wisconsin, exhibits the international Birds in Art show.  This past week we made the 2 hour drive to Wausau; this being our 5th time to the annual exhibit.  The Museum and show are always inspirational.
The grounds around the Museum display beautiful sculptures and gardens.  This Bronze by Kent Ullberg, titled "Whooping Crane" stands about 10' and greets us as we walk from the parking area.
The show opened September 6th and will be on display until November 16th, 2014.

Their website describes the show as:

"Birds inspire awe in endless ways, through their mesmerizing flight, astounding beauty, and delightful eccentricities. They serve as harbingers of seasonal and environmental changes, dazzle with their colors, and soothe with their songs. When talented artists from throughout the world strive to be among those chosen for the internationally renowned Birds in Art exhibition, the resulting depictions are breathtaking. The 39th annual Birds in Art exhibition celebrates avian marvels through fresh interpretations in original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created within the last three years. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies Birds in Art and will be available in September".
 Debbie Stevens "On the Mark"

 Lynn Wade "The Good Life"

 Michael Dumas "Influx Sparrows in the Louvre"

 Sueellen Ross "Vantage Point"

Wausau is also the home of Rib Mountain state park. We took advantage of the hiking trails for 2 beautiful days and shot a boat load of photos.  It is so peaceful in the woods.

It was an awesome two days for art and nature.