Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Mumbles and Squeaks"

"Mumbles and Squeaks" (11x16)
After a nearly 6-year ferment, I've finally finished this painting. Yeah!

I took the reference photo back in 2005 or 2006. It's a building in downtown Oakland, Md., that may or may not still be there. I've not been in the downtown area there since the day I took this photograph. Something about the long cast shadow caught my eye, and I quickly snapped a photo.

That quick shot helped contribute to my long journey. It included all kinds of visual distortions that distracted from the essence of the scene. I loved the basic idea -- but I did not feel comfortable in my drafting skills to render the scene correctly. I had to make a transition from copying to drawing -- and I didn't think I had the wherewithal to do it.

Finally this spring, I made the effort at translating the photograph into a detailed line drawing, and I think I eliminated and/or minimized most of the problems from the shoddy reference image. I'm still aware of one problem -- but, as usual, I didn't see it until it was far too late to correct it.

After making the drawing, I took my first shot at the painting. You may remember an in-process image of that painting from the spring. Well -- let's say that didn't go anywhere. And everything went back into the drawer again.

I'll explain what happened between the first and second painting attempts in my next post. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Red Shed"

"Red Shed"
Well, the first one is finished...I don't know that it turned out quite the way I had originally imagined it, but it will have to do. Somehow, my sketch has more balance and energy...too much concern with painting clean, straight lines has diminished those positive attributes.

Once I had finished the painting, I went back and looked at my sketch and realized that one possible problem was the background foliage. In my sketch, I had broken the mass of trees into two parts, with the corner of the background structure jutting out against the flat sky.

In the little study, and in the final painting, the foliage area had grown and now rounded that corner behind the building.

Thinking that perhaps this chance was affecting the balance of the elements, I scanned the painting and then Photoshopped the sky back into the scan. Somehow that change made me feel better, so I decided to take the risk and do the same in the painting.

I carefully masked the shape of the building with masking tape, then scrubbed out the foliage in area that concerned me. I tried to go light on the pressure, to lessen the damage to the surface of the paper.

Once that was done, I removed the masking tape, and carefully flushed more Cobalt Blue into the area to match up with the rest of the sky. The top painting is the result. The bottom is what it looked like before I made that last change.

I'm not sure that it really helped matters. I think the geometric arrangement of the overlapping structures is more dominant in the final version, but you could also argue that the foliage shape helped to soften those hard edges and balanced the two corners (lower left and upper right). I'm not sure. Based on the pencil sketch, I had really liked the arrangement, and I wanted to stay as close to that model as I could.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

First study in the series

Well, this is the first little study I've done in the series. I really liked the original pencil sketch, so when I moved to this stage, I decided to keep things very simple. I just wanted to know if the idea would work with a limited palette and simple masses of value and hue.

The color palette is Quin Gold, Cobalt Blue and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. I also made a point of mixing the colors on the paper, rather than on my watercolor palette.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wardensville series

I've decided to try a series that examines some of the often overlooked scenes in Wardensville. It's really an exercise in composition -- i.e. looking closely at a scene and exploring the relationships between shape, masses of value and hue.

I regularly follow a number of artists who share "daily paintings" through their blogs. For some reason, square compositions are prevalent on many of these sites, so I feel that influence as I work through this series and develop paintings that are composed within squares. But, I've also completed several other square compositions prior to this, and I find the challenge of the square very appealing.