Saturday, March 20, 2010

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..

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Fox in Snow Series

I am currently working to complete the 18 x 30 oil painting below of a fox walking throught the snow. This painting began now that I think about it over 4 years ago. I painted this fox three times before, from a 2 1/2 x 3 1/2" oil to a couple of 4 x 6 oils to the 18 x 30.

Here is the first, a ACEO, the size of a baseball card, though this is an original oil on canvas done in 2006.

Then last year came back to it, this time as a 4 x 6 oil. A bit easier to see when painting. I added some snow covered hemlocks to create a background.

Here is another version the same size as above. We have been having a bit more snow than usual this winter, so I simplified the design, just the fox and the snow.

Here is the start of the latest painting. I worked it on a red background. Patiently working on drawing the fox before painting the snow.

A this point, I have decided that I have worked enough on the fox to have some fun, so I got out the 2 inch brush and squeezed a pile of white paint on the palette and went at it. I had planned to paint the row of hemlocks in the background again, but I wanted to show the fox as a survivor, making it through the winter. I decided to paint the blue of the sky instead of trees. At that time I had already painted a line of green where the base of the trees would have been. I decided to keep that as a distant tree line, with our fox crossing an open field or frozen lake.

A this point my wife came into the studio. She is a portrait artist M. Theresa Brown and we often critique each others work. Well maybe we make suggestions to each other. She suggested that I paint him walking across grass next to stone wall. A great idea, so it looks like this painting won't be the last in the series of Fox walking in Snow. Check back the finished painting should be up in a couple of days.

Out and About on a Saturday

Yesterday was another reminder that Spring is almost here. After some work around the house, I loaded the easel and headed out to paint. Now I could have found some secluded spot in the woods or an old farm field, but after mostly working in the studio, I decided that I would go where there are people!

The Café
8 x 10 Oil on Canvas

This building is in a nearby town. I liked the afternoon sun on the brick and the shape of the copper roof. I did misjudge the weather. When you walk out of our house in the winter, the wind is blocked by the house and the trees that form a windbreak behind it. The sun shines on the porch. When I set up my easel it was in the shade and the wind, under-dressed would be the word. Can you get hypothermia at 50 degrees F? Actually you can, not that I did.
So here is the latest plein air (French for Outside) painting. I will be returning to town to paint again, the combined paintings to create a portrait of the area.

's painting will be someplace a bit more rural, maybe the view for the side of a busy highway. I try to capture those little vignettes of landscape that are in our commonplace views.
So I will add a jacket to the supply list this morning, and not set up in the shade...
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