Monday, November 26, 2012

Small sketches in watercolor

These are all small watercolor sketches from a bound volume I have used and carry in the car.  The top two were done on the spot:  in Algoma, Wisconsin and the second along the shoreline in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  The others were done in a watercolor class that I've taken in the past.  Sometimes when I just don't have a lot of time a small portrait is good to keep the skills sharp.  Something like this isn't always meant to share with anyone else, although I am putting them up here today.  Otherwise they will never see a frame or the light of day again.  As some of my teachers (Ralph Oberg and Marc Hanson) would say:  "You're gathering information".

Friday, November 23, 2012

On the Darlington Road --- Mineral Point, Wisconsin

Finished just this week, I  had to wait a year to get the information that I needed to complete this painting.  Our anniversary is in November and having gone to Mineral Point last year, I got a look at this scene one sunny morning at the south part of town on the Darlington Road.  Darlington is probably twenty miles south.  What I was lacking is info on the left side of the canvas in the shadows.  I spent time getting that the way I wanted it and spent some time developing the center and the tree on the right and them all of a sudden it was done.  I've experienced that many times, that a painting is finished "all of a sudden" or sooner than anticipated.  My favorite part of doing this painting is the right side where the sunlight and shadows is done in an impressionistic way with broken color. 
   Mineral Point is in the southwest part of Wisconsin where the farms are on hilly ground.  One of my absolutely favorite books is The Land Remembers, by Ben Logan, a writer who grew up near there and now lives in Viroqua, WI.  He's from a Norwegian family and grew up learning all the tasks on the farm when they still used horses for much of the work.  I taught a block (a three weeks period of study on one subject) about farming using The Land Remembers to teach from.  Of course, I added some talk about modern farming methods later.  Anyhow all of this background only makes one a better painter. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Photographing art/ Plein air Devil's Lake

These are two photos I took of a painting I did this fall at Devil's Lake near Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Now, any idiot can point a camera and get a decent image of a painting, however you can see the difference here.  The top image was taken in indirect sunlight.  I took it in my studio with sunlight coming in the window.  The bottom photo was taken with the painting put in the direct rays of the sun.  The one taken in direct sunlight is the more accurate one despite the fact that you might think the sun would wash out the color -- not so.  If you are trying to get a painting into a show, obviously take several photos and take the one with the more accurate representation of your original painting.  It really isn't easy as you can tell if you've read the many times on this blog where I've stated that the picture is far below the quality that the eye sees.  If you are a painter who works from photos, I hope you are working from photos that you've taken yourself.  If nothing else (meaning working from life or a sketch or two) at least you have been to the place you are painting, stood in the sunlight or stood in the rain, felt the air moving by and gotten a sense of the atmosphere and mood created by the scene you are intending to paint.  People always want to show you photos of what they think is a pretty scene, but the only successful ones I've done are the ones I've taken myself where I've had to opportunity to have some kind of emotional reaction to what I'm seeing.  It's always better to have a sketch --- black and white or color -- than to just work off a photo alone.
Now, I'm not bashing photographers here.  We do know that photgraphers use filters and can photoshop things on a photo which alters what is seen and that of course can throw off what a painter is looking for.  And let's not forget models -- they can apply makeup to the face and throw you off.  We used to have a model at the school I went to who always had bright color on her cheek where you would not expect it.  After having painted her for well over two years, one day I saw her applying bright rouge to her cheeks and there was the mystery solved as to why she always gave me trouble.  I adjusted of course, but painted her better once I solved the mystery.
This little sketch was done near the entrance to the learning center of the park at Devil's Lake.  I did this on a 6" X 8" canvas mounted to plywood board (should I mention the maker????  Source-Tek).  I don't like to give plugs on my blog because there's always some ********** who has to come along and post a comment and advertise their product.  Speaking of advertising (I'll plug myself) I've just sent along 3 works to be posted on Xanadu Gallery's website --- look for me in the "Studio" artists section of their site.