Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to promote an awareness and understanding of painting and the artist's spirit. It simply reflects the artist's personal experience and is not affiliated nor does it represent any individual organization or entity. All work and text within is owned by the artist and is protected by copyright. Please ask permission to use images and text.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quick Tips to Push Depth in a Painting

Some quick tips that I offer to my students in regard to creating further distance in their landscape paintings are as follows:


*Look for the ellipses in the landscape and translate them upon the canvas. The ellipses help to create movement and draws the viewers' eye through the picture.

*Be aware of scale and perspective. Contrast and compare the shape and scale of the objects. Things get smaller as they recede into the distance. Think about how much of the sky will appear in the picture. By merely raising or lowering the horizon line, one can shift the perspective creating more or less depth within the painting.

*Be cognizant of any kind of repetition that maybe occurring within the painting. We may sometimes be unaware of the consistent repetitive shapes or equally spaced out items we are creating. Shapes and spacing are quite varied in nature and are not as systematic as we sometimes unconsciously portray them. Constantly observe, compare your work to the landscape and be honest about what you see in your work by comparison to the landscape.

*Determine where the point of focus will be. Consider positioning the highest light a third in and a third up on the canvas.


*Reserve the foreground for the darkest accent. By having a dark in the immediate foreground it will help to push the distance in the picture. A dark accent in the middle or far picture plane will instantly collapse the illusion of depth.

*Sunlight values remain consistent through out the picture however as sunlight objects recede into the distance they lose their local color.

*Shadow values vary. Shadows in the immediate foreground are darker and generally have more local color. As shadows recede into the distance they get lighter and bluer (blue-gray or blue violet.)

*Be mindful of the illuminating source, the sky. The sky may exhibit variations in color and is not always one solid color of blue. Skies are prone to having atmosphere therefore should be examined for subtle differences of the spectrum. The sky nearest to the sun will be brightest and perhaps lightest. The atmospheric sky furthest away in the distance may have subtle variations and may appear less blue. Look to see if you can see the spectrum and indicate as such. Always examine that sky!

*Pushing the distance in the sky is also about the clouds. Sunlight clouds in the furthest picture plane may appear to have a touch of red in their "white tops" and their shadow bottoms may appear at times to blend into the background sky.

*Emphasis of texture generally is placed upon the objects in the foreground while texture generally becomes more subtle and less noticeable in objects in the distance.

*Treatment of edges and line. The more solid the edges and lines appear, the more the objects appear closer. The softer edges and lines appear, the more the objects appear to recede.

*Lastly, never give up. Be indefatigable. Landscape painting is humbling and unquestionably it presents its challenges. It is not always easy to paint and perhaps it is not meant to be easy. It is the struggle that makes us better painters. In time with much practice and direct observation from nature, one shall improve and ultimately triumph.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Sunrise Painting Tale

Above are pictures depicting mixing colors. These colors were pre-mixed with the intent to paint a sunrise. The palette was prepared the night before and a dark toned panel was selected. My gear was readied and awaited the morning. The start to my day went a little differently than planned. At 4:30 AM the house woke to two cats hissing and growling outside in the yard below. Being up earlier than planned afforded time to watch the very early dawn of the day. The sky was still dark but there were tell tale signs that the sun was soon to rise. Quick preparations and a short walk down the road, my gear was set up and I stood waiting for the magical moment for when the sun would break over the horizon. Knowing speed is critical for painting a sunrise, the land masses were massed in and I anticipated the sky to burst into color. I glanced over my shoulder to track the progress of the sun in the sky when I noticed a cloud bank moving up towards the sun. In the distance a large bank of fog was visible. The first light of the day started to illuminate the sky overhead and a very very faint glow of rosy pink touched upon the wispy clouds in the distance. Then it happened. The fog moved inland and shrouded the sun. The plan to paint a sunrise was disappearing in the fog! I frantically painted in the water and the sky before everything was lost behind a veil of moisture. In a matter of minutes the fog enveloped the bay and obscured everything from view. The painting session was probably about 20 minutes or so and I was thankful that I had taken the time to prepare my palette etc. The preparation helped me to paint quickly. To be candid I was a bit disappointed to not have painted a glowing sunrise but on the other hand I was happy to have experienced such a unique moment something that I may have not seen otherwise. It is moments like these that stay with you and make for an interesting tale. An image of the painting from that morning is below.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recent Landscape en plein aire

Getting outside to paint en plein aire this summer has really been a challenge since the majority of this summer has been subject to much heavy rainfall. This piece was actually started on a misty rainy day and was worked on over a period of a few days. In the past my plein aire work was completed in one session however lately I have taken a different approach and have started to work on the same piece over a span of a few days. That means I start a picture and then return to the same site at the same time of day under the same lighting conditions until I consider the painting finished. This new approach has been beneficial for me because I have learned considerably more through intensive direct observation. I have also taken a new approach in modifying my palette in hopes to create more saturated naturalistic vibrant colors.

Recent Work in Progress

This still life is currently in progress and it is my first endeavor to truly break away and do something quite different from my past work. Instead of pounding away at a piece and trying to finish it alla prima, I have slowed down considerably on this one and have taken much more time to analyze the subject and painting. The finished painting turned out pretty well if I may say so myself. :)