Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cactus Shadows 3

This is the second of  three Cactus Shadow paintings I have completed in the last month. Like it's mates, this is a 12x16 oil on panel.  An early morning trip to the Living Desert in Palm Desert set the wheels in motion and my fingers itching for my paint brushes. 

The foundation - a tone drawing done in Burnt Sienna.

The first several layers of color. 

I continue to build thin layers of color on the big surfaces, and find the light and shadow that define the forms of the blossoms. Then there are the decisions that will give me plenty to do in the sessions between now and the finish - namely correcting the 2 suddenly emerald green leaves in the lower right!

Finding the right color and value for all the background elements, the final glazes of color on the almost translucent broad leaves and all the small finishing details on the blossoms and spines took days of concentrated looking.
The finished painting is at the top of the post.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cactus Shadows 2

This 16x20 oil on panel is one of a trio of paintings that I have just completed, all titled Cactus Shadows.

My last visit to the extensive gardens at the Living Desert was in the cool of the morning. The low morning sun  accentuated all I love about cactus - the sculptural quality of its varied forms, and the unexpected color combinations.  Several varieties were in bloom, and I loved the design the shadows made.  

My first step is to do a tonal drawing on the panel in Burnt Sienna

Here I have completed the first layer of color. I seek to find the median colors of all areas while staying true to the values  I made note of in the monochromatic underpainting

When I come back to the painting, after allowing the last layer to dry, I double check placement and proportions and the relative values. I make note of how the colors are working, what areas need to be greyed and pushed back, and where I want to boost the light and color to draw the eye. I spend as long as it takes to get these fundamentals working with my vision for the piece. Then I start in on the smaller details, the rounding of all the individual cylindrical shapes and then all those pesky spines and their shadows.

The completed painting is at the top of the post.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Want a Ride?

Want a Ride?
16x20 oil on panel

If you were lucky, you had a red wagon of your own. If you didn't, neighborhoods seemed to have some free floating wagons that you could spot in the driveway of your friend from girl scouts one day and then by the back steps of your brother's friend's house later in the week. When you were eating dinner the rattle of a wagon going by drew you to the window like a giant magnet. Wagons were what made the neighborhood interesting. They  hauled kickballs, last Halloween's candy, the little brother that could never keep up, and all the stuff you needed  for building the fort in the bushes on the other side of the schoolyard. There was always the temptation to ride one down the big hill by your house, but a couple of attempts were all it took to realize that the steering mechanism left a lot to be desired, and that your mom was going to kill you for losing the bottom of your sneakers trying to keep from rocketing out into traffic (such as it was) at the bottom of the hill. The 18 wheeler of childhood, the red wagon rocked.

The Burnt Sienna value study 

The first layer of color

Now I  really slow down. First I double check proportions and relative values and make any adjustments necessary. In this case the lower wheel gave me quite a run for the money. I spent the better part of a day trying to make the changes it needed.  Once I felt that was resolved I began focusing on details.  I try to bring depth and character to the subject at the end by attempting to capture some of the surface texture and adding the nuts, bolts, rust spots and mood that will bring back what it felt like to pull one of these workhorses through the neighborhood.

The finished piece is at the top of the page.