Monday, April 25, 2016

Is Red Rock Red?

One of my first attempt studies in painting red rock. This subject was so new to me being an east coast artist. I'm very familiar with dark, slick moss covered river stone and the jagged rocks of the New England coast.

Sedona red rock offered a few challenges. One being, trying to understand the forms and structure of the rocks themselves. Secondly, what color was I actually seeing? Just because it's called "red rock" doesn't mean I can apply a brush full of red straight from the tube and expect it to look correct in the painting.

In this scene, the "red" was more orange in color. A yellow-orange in the light and a darker more burnt sienna color in shadow. Using tiny amounts of blue, blue-violets and white helped desaturate the yellow-orange rock in light. Similar blue-violet mixes (excluding white) were used to make the rock in shadows the correct value and saturation.

Depending on the ratio, mixing the complements blue and orange can result in Burnt Umber or Burnt Sienna-like colors. For this reason, I don't always bother carrying or laying out burnt sienna on my palette. It's just too easy to mix from scratch.

Title: Sedona Courthouse Butte
Painted on: SourceTek oil primed linen
Medium: Oil
Dimensions: 6x8 inches
Status: Available

Monday, April 18, 2016

Variety = Interest

Variety keeps the viewer's interest. In this 3-hour portrait study, I'm playing with that idea. Careful drawing is important to achieve a likeness regardless of subject. Once correct measurements have been noted it is then the relationships of value, color, edges and texture that can make a static object or pose more interesting and a subject in motion exceptional.

Close-up example of hard and soft edges. Values are organized by light, medium and dark shapes. There are temperature shifts of warms and cools within each value family. Thicker applications of light against thinly applied shadows.

Representational becomes more abstract the closer one gets to the painting.

Utilizing both brush and palette knife to break any monotony in the application of paint.

Challenge yourself to find new ways to create more interest in your paintings.

Title: Turquoise Shirt 
Painted on: Student grade canvas board
Medium: Oil
Dimensions: 9x12 inches
Status: Available

Monday, April 11, 2016

Colorful Life - SOLD

The above image is from another recent plein air event that I participated in. This time in Casa Grande, AZ which is about a half hour south of Phoenix. I sat in the open hatchback of my vehicle to paint. My car provided temporary shade but didn't help much when the day's temperature heated up.

My choice in the subject matter may not always be the most obvious. Something like a note of color, a particular type of light, a pattern of shapes or maybe an object with a touch of humor/personality can catch my eye. Here it was a little mailbox painted magenta that made me say to myself, "Oh, I have to paint that!"   

Because the mailbox was such a unique color within the scene, I had to find ways to sprinkle it about to create a better color harmony overall. I added bits of magenta to areas in the roadway, buildings, and palm tree. If I didn't, the mailbox color would be disconnected from the surrounding color and would attract too much attention.

Color contrast is one of the many ways to create a focal point. However, it's the value contrast of the sun glare reflecting off the back of the stop sign framed by the darker tree shapes that sets up the primary focal point. The stop sign is the tool to get you to discover the colorful mailbox.

This painting now hangs happily inside the house of the magenta mailbox.

Title: Colorful Life
Painted on: RayMar Archival Panel
Medium: Artist Grade Acrylic
Dimensions: 12x12 inches

Monday, April 4, 2016

Composing the Urban Landscape

Occasionally, I like to challenge myself by entering plein air competitions. The painting above titled 'Northview' is a result of a local one-day event that was held in Glendale, AZ. Producing a frame ready painting within a restricted time limit is the actual challenge of these events. In this case a 16x20 inch in about a 3 hour period.

Naturally, the desert has been my main source of inspiration since relocating to the southwest. An urban setting like this was a nice change of pace and reminded me of subject matter that I would frequently paint out on the east coast.

What attracted me to this particular scene is the strong verticals of the lamppost, telephone poles and street sign. Making this an ideal reverse "L" compositional design. Example below:

The elbow of the reverse "L" creates a natural sweet spot to place the focal point. The dark patch of grass to the left of the white structure attracts more attention to the focal area by contrasting values; light against dark. The foreground shadow shapes and property walls create radiating lines pointing directly to the focal point. Example below:

Title: Northview
Painted on: Fredrix Archival Canvas Panel.
Medium: Artist quality oil.
Dimensions: 16x20 inches.
Status: Available.