Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nocturne...Night Trail

A couple of days ago I had to spend a couple of days at my parents home in Pasadena, California. I took my plein air rig but didn't have time to go out to paint so I decided to just work on a nocturne study and to practice up on a dark scene with highlighted foreground. On the drive down I was thinking of looking for a scene with a large foreground tree up at Eaton Canyon but they lock the gate at night. There is a trail leading down into the canyon but I needed to spend some time with my folks so I just painted in the backyard and will leave the Eaton Canyon idea for another trip....I painted the scene I had in my head so all is good. A night trail in a nocturne is a favorite subject of mine so I added that too next to the tree. I've been looking at trees at night and when there is no moon the edges of the trees are super blurry. I added a moon here so my edges are a bit harder and more defined.

At the recent nocturne show I went to I saw some paintings that were so dark it was almost impossible to make out what the subject was. I might try one of those some day. That's going dark! One big problem with the nocturnes we saw was the glossy varnish had you break dancing to see parts without all of the shine. Add museum lighting and it made the problem worse. I'm not crazy about matte varnish so I'm still trying to figure out what to do about that problem. Here are some details of this one....

Gold To Black - Frames

I received and Honorable Mention for one of my nocturnes down at the Carpinteria show. At the reception I met the judge, Thomas Van Stein, a nocturne painter himself from Santa Barbara. I like airplanes and he restores them so we had a nice chat. He will give a gallery talk in November on the show that I'm going to try and get down for. Van Stein is also going to do a 2 night workshop doing nocturnes in Los Olivos in late November that I'd love to take but I really cannot afford it. This is one of those deals where a year from now I'll be kicking myself in the butt for not being able to do it....don't ya just love life at times!

Before...orangy gold

Stain applied and ready to be wiped down

I bought a bunch of gold plein air frames a while back but was never crazy about the tone of the gold on them...kind of orange/gold. Some of the paintings did not look their best in them so I decided to just get some stain, paint and sealer and redo them in a distressed black leaving a small gold band near the opening. They came out pretty good and make the paintings look 500 % better. Putting the stain on and rubbing it off to give the distressed look gets a little messy but overall it was pretty easy to do this whole operation and saved me a ton of money by having to buy new black frames.

After...all finished up

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Large Tree!

I needed a large painting to go over our fireplace for an upcoming Artist Studio Tour. I decided on an image and then made the frame and stretched the canvas. This is a large 36" X 60" gallery wrapped canvas. To date, this is my largest painting. Large paintings come with a whole other set of problems to deal with. The biggest problem is trying to paint the image in your head to the much larger scale. I used a reference pic to work from but you have to translate all of that to such a large scale...think bigger, paint with much broader brush strokes...use larger brushes...sounds like it is no biggie but when you are used to painting smaller works going larger is way more work!

Here is the beginning of the whole process.
Here is the final painting....
To see how it would look on the wall I went ahead and snapped a pic of our fireplace and then added my ref image to it in Photoshop. Looked pretty cool so I grabbed the brushes and painted away. Below, you can see the photoshop image and final painting on the right. In the finished painting on the right the bottom and very top are washed out due to my excellent photography skills! Those areas are actually darker and resemble the reference photo on the left. Anyway, it was a good project and will work very well for the show in November.