Monday, March 8, 2010

Painting the town

It feels great to be out painting in the sunshine and warm weather. I'm trying to take advantage of these days to get out and paint. Painting the town is a series of paintings I am working on of small towns, the countryside and city scenes from here in central North Carolina. Painting outdoors "on location" is a entirely different animal than painting in the studio.
In the studio you take your time, for time stands still for you. You study the painting, mix a color on the palette. Look at it, try it on the canvas. Maybe its not quite right. Get it right try it again. That's better, but the brush stroke is a bit off. Try it again. Meanwhile, Sunday afternoon, out on the side of the road.....

Bridge over the Neuse River
8 x 10 oil on canvas

This old bridge crosses the Neuse River at a small community called Falls of the Neuse. The falls were replace with a dam and the community is now part of the city of Raleigh. The area has a distinctly NC mountain feel to it with the road winding down hill to the river. I will definitely be painting here again

When you are painting outdoors, time is moving. You take what you learned in the studio and just do it. The time you spent mixing colors from different combinations of paint have made matching the colors almost second nature. But the sun moves, the light changes and the shadows shrink and grow and wander around. No time to let you mind wander, it is a matter of focusing exclusively on the painting and the scene. Not that I am oblivious to what is happening around me. I stop, look around, talk to people who wander over, but when painting I am totally painting.

Farm on Harris Road
8 x 10 Oil on canvas
This farm near in Wake Forest NC has been turned into a park rather than a subdivision.

On of the most obvious differences between painting outdoors vs indoors is the range of value, or the amount of the shades of dark and light that you see. If you are using a photograph to paint from this is easy to see. Take a photo of a scene outdoors. Then look at the shadowed areas in the photo. Just flat dark shapes, yet if you look at that scene you can see what is in the shadows. The shadows just aren't as dark as the camera shows. So I keep this in mind when working from photographs, something to take back into the studio with me.

Five Points
8 x 10 Oil on Canvas
This area is closer to downtown Raleigh. A collection of shops and stores at an interesction of five roads. A really interesting part of town. To the left of the painting is a neighborhood of big old homes. To the right side would be neightborhoods of 1920's bungalows. A very paintable area, I'm just waiting for Spring to get here and give me some green leaves and flowers to paint.

I have touched on a few of the differences between working outside and inside. I always seem learn something to take back to the studio and the studio work helps me improve my work outdoors..

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