Friday, November 15, 2013

Foothills Above Santa Barbara

"Foothills Above Santa Barbara...1999"
16"x20" Oil on Canvas

"Foothills Above Santa Barbara...2013"
16"x20" Oil on canvas

I painted the first version of this painting in 1999. I thought I was done at that point. I never varnished it after it had dried because the more I looked at it the more I felt it just didn't feel finished. Late last year I put it back on the easel and made lots of changes. I added the larger trees in the mid ground and totally revamped the foreground. I also added more rocks in the mountains. It sat drying once again but still I felt it was missing something. I decided to go at it once more and make more subtle changes to the foreground  especially the flowers. I touched up the trees with branches and added twigs and smaller branches to areas of the bushes. At this point I'm calling it finished for good because it now feels finished.
The upper photo is very much like the scene actually looked. I wanted those dark shaodws of the mountains and probably overlooked the rather mundane mid and foregrounds of the original scene. What I added and changed was out of my head but I think adds more interest. Switching the point of interest from the mountain shadows to the trees was better for the painting regardless of the accuracy of the scene. I still see what I liked in those dark shadows along the mountains, they now add to the total painting. I think that had I not added the tall trees and just revamped mid and foreground colors, flowers and grasses it might have worked that way too forcusing on the mountains again....hmmm, idea for another painting.   

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Surf At Morning

"Surf At Morning"
12" x 16" Oil on Canvas covered MDF Panel

I am again painting coastal rocks in the surf with this painting. I like the flattend foam patterns in the water as well as trying to improve my work on rocks. These rocks had those striated pattenrs in them which gave them that yellow/orange line of color adding interest to the normally dark rocks. I also liked the shadows across the foam on the rocks too. In the actual painting it is easy to see that the color of those shadows is a light violet and against the stark white of the foam in the sunlight it makes for a great contrast.
The brown sandy bottom and churned up sand in the shallow foreground area gave tge water that murky look...almost resembles muddy's a big contrast from the silvery sheen on the top of the water right below the incoming wave. 
One thing I love about painting water, any water, is that at first you are only laying in base colors and it looks horrible. Then you begin to add reflected colors and shadow on top of that and it really is amazing to see it turn into water. The answer to painting good water is reflected color....but it is only going to work well when you paint a good base color. What is the base color? It is usually the color of what is under the water....the bottom, since water is clear, colorless. The deeper the water gets then you begin to lose the light which makes your base color become dark blue, light blue, green etc. You can learn a lot on how to paint water just by looking at a photograph of it. When it's moving it is harder to read but a still photograph makes it easy to dissasemble the parts of the water in your artistic mind. You'll see the base color and then the reflected colors on top of that. Sky, clouds, the far shoreline, docks, boats, rocks, these are your reflected colors. The less the water is disturbed by wave action the more reflected color you will have. 
....a detail of the foreground rocks and water

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Resurgence & Ecologist

    I've received my copy of the November/December 2013 issue #281 of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine. This magazine is an English publication that covers ecology, social justice, activism, arts and ethical living. I was approached by the magazine to use an image of one of my paintings to go along with a story written titled "Urban Zoology" by freelance writer Mary Ann Lieser. Mrs. Lieser's story of wildlife seen on her pre-dawn 5 mile walks had won a 2013 Nature Writing contest by the magazine. In the story Lieser describes encounters with grazing deer along her urban Ohio environment so my painting seemed appropriate.
    I stopped my truck to take the reference photo of that deer crossing the road. He froze and just watched me take the photo. Around that turn behind him is Hwy 154 heading into Santa Barbara. We have deer everywhere where I live. They walk into our yard and eat the leaves off of our apple trees, roses, asian pear tree and apricot trees. One time when putting the trash out after dinner I heard this clacking sound and one was hopping (prancing) up our street in front of our driveway. Another time I walked out of the door to the studio and 2 deer stood 6 feet away from me in the driveway. They darted away and I almost fell backward into the door not realising they were deer and not Big Foot...hey, it was almost dark. If you ever get a good look at a deers legs you wouldn't believe how something so thin can lift that animal over a 6 foot fence in a single hop. They really are amazing animals.
Thank you Emma Cocker and the rest at Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine...and nice story Mary Ann Lieser.