Monday, April 27, 2015

Indian Wells Seedpods

Indian Wells Seedpods
8x10 oil on panel

This elegant bunch of seedpods hung just to my right as I sat cooling off after a long hike in the desert. As I reviewed the magnificent canyon we had spent the day exploring while shaking the sand out my shoes these bright pods danced against a deep brown wall in the late afternoon breeze. Discovering them reminded me that inspiring sights come in all sizes and are literally all around us. All we have to do is notice!

The tonal drawing, done in Burnt Sienna,
which helps me place things and establish
the pattern of light and dark

The first day, blocking in the basic colors

After allowing the paint to dry for several days
I returned to the panel to lay in the bright
aqua and green needle like leaves.

After letting this layer of paint dry I
spent another session on further detail and
 the shadows the leaves cast on one another
and the pods below - seen at the top of this post.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In The Barn II

In The Barn II
12x16 oil on panel

I completed this some time ago, but have been hesitant to photograph it. When painting this image I experimented with a painting different medium that I had read was more healthy to use. Painting mediums are used to thin paint and make it more supple, and since I'm spending so many hours a week now inhaling fumes I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately I found I didn't like the way it performed. It made my paints tacky to the point of being gluey and then dried with a very high shine. I was not sure how to photograph such a reflective surface, but when I finally tried it I found it did not present a problem. I don't care how many brain cells I'm damaging, I decided to return to mixing my own medium, the traditional mix of Turpentine, Varnish and Linseed oil for all future work. So… if you ever witness me struggling to find the word I'm looking for, it's the fault of my painting medium! 

The panel has been covered with a thin coat of
Burnt Sienna and wiped smooth. Then I do a quick line
drawing to place the objects.
Next, I wipe away areas of light and brush in more paint
where I want areas of shadow.
This phase allows me to really think out the composition
and gives me the skeleton on which I will
build the painting.
This is several sessions into adding color. At this point
I tend to become so involved that I rarely remember to
stop and take photos. I begin with bright colors and
moderate them as I work toward the finished piece,
seen here at the top of the page.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Saturday Morning, 1964

Saturday Morning, 1964
12x16 oil on panel

At our house Saturday mornings were spent gardening and doing any needed repairs on the property. The sound of the mower and the smell of cut grass meant that it was the weekend, everyone was home and that order was being established. It was the only time that my very formal father would remove his shirt and be seen in public in his "undershirt". Khaki pants and a pair of wing tips that were too old to wear to the office completed his working uniform. My brother or father pushed the mower and pruned the shrubs, and my mother always picked up and bagged the clippings. I was thrilled when at an early age I was allowed to cross the gender line and make the mower sing and spray my Vans with bright green confetti.
Value study, burnt sienna on panel
I painted over the value study, establishing the colors I planned to work with. Trying to stay true to the values I had established, I worked to capture the vivid quality of my memories. In following sessions I refined the details of the machinery and the colors of my memory. The final piece, at the top of the page, has the feel of the super saturated Kodacolor photos of the time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Agave Americana

Agave Americana
20x24 oil on panel

I painted this large because this variety of Agave is massive. I was dwarfed by an enormous stand of its tangled arms in the Huntington Garden in Pasadena California. Focusing on the base of a single plant gave structure to the web of leaves, reaching and bending around and through one another. I read a description of this variety of Agave as looking like a plant that is growing underwater, flowing with the currents. I certainly felt a bit drifty while painting this.
                                         The tonal drawing, in Burnt Sienna

                                             I decided to start by laying in the darkest areas
Sticking to the median color and value of each shape,
I developed the underpainting

Then I spent days finding the variations within each shape,
and the rhythms of the whole