Monday, April 21

Keep on Painting

The Summer House
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
8 x 10 in/20.3 x 25.4 cm
Copyright 2014
The simple message in today's blog is to remind yourself to keep on painting no matter what. Paint through the good times and bad, through the successes and failures.

When your head tells you to quit but your heart won't allow it--keep on painting.

When you're ready to throw your painting(s) in the proverbial trash bin, don't do it--keep on painting.

When you've run out of things to paint and your creativity has left the building, just take a walk, and when you get back--keep on painting.

Like getting back up on that horse after you've been thrown, you must get out your paints and keep on painting.

Otherwise, like so many things in life, you will regret it in the morning.

Monday, April 14

Deciding on a Color Palette

A City by the River
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
12 x 12 in/30.5 x 30.5 cm
Copyright 2014
One of the things I have both enjoyed and struggled with in my painting life is finding a color palette that suits me. Evidently this causes angst for others as well from all the blogs and articles you read online. Everyone seems interested to know which painter uses which colors and how that works or not and how many colors should you use, etc.

It's enjoyable, in a way, in that it's a continuous learning process on color theory and you get to try it out with each painting. The struggle is that it can get confusing and, if you're like me, you tend to switch it up too often as you run across painters you admire and want to paint like.

I admit I don't spend too much time worrying about if I have too few or too many colors or if I should use both a warm and cool of each primary, or whether split complementary colors is the way to go or whatever.

Anyway, for the moment--this week!-- here is my palette for both acrylic and oil (water-mixable):

Titanium White

Cad Red Light

Primary Red

Cad Yellow Light

Lemon Yellow

Yellow Ochre

Ultramarine Blue

Pthalo Blue (green shade)

I basically try out a palette and if I like the way it looks on a finished painting, then I'm happy (or pretty happy).

Monday, April 7

To Paint or Not to Paint Photo-Realism?

Southern Coast
Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright 2014
You would never know it by looking at today's image, but I was NOT trying to paint it photo-realistically. No way around it--it looks like a photograph or pretty much like a photograph.

That is not how I wanted to paint it. Yes, I was using a reference photo, but to repeat, that is not how I wanted to paint it.

Many people like (or love) photo-realism. If the painting doesn't look like a photo, then they don't like it.

Many people don't like photo-realism either very much or at all. I am one of those who doesn't like it very much. I think it has its place and is naturally convincing--if done well, how could it not be? Certain motifs lend themselves to photo-realism, such as architecture, in my opinion.

I, however, would much rather be painting more loosely, more openly, more impressionistically. I have been working and working on doing that. And then I painted today's image, and even though I could see it happening (before my very eyes), I just couldn't seem to stop it.

I believe it's because for several years I did nothing but paint almost exactly what was in my reference photos. That's the problem with painting from reference photos--you rely too much on the camera and not enough on your artistic and painting ability.

Others may love it, but I am trying not to paint photo-realistically. However I may just enter it in the annual National Society of Painters in Casein & Acrylic show. 

Monday, March 31

Are You a Happy Painter?

Happy Beach
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright 2014
Maybe it's the current Pharrell Williams hit song, "Happy," that got me thinking (and humming along) about happiness and painting.

When my interest in painting led me to pick up a brush again after years away from the canvas, was I:

a) happy
b) nervous
c) excited
d) worried?

Actually, the answer is: e) all of the above.

Anytime we try something new or re-start something from the distant past, there's always that niggling worry about how things will turn out. And being a painter is certainly no exception.

It was the thrill of the chase--the challenge to stretch my abilities in new directions--that made me happy and excited. It was the fear of failure and rejection--the agony of defeat as ABC sports used to call it--that made me nervous and worried.

Painting can be supremely and singularly satisfying if you are happy with the results, but gut-wrenching if you are not.

Therein lies the key. Over and above your natural ability to draw, paint, see values, and mix and render color, is your state of mind. It's how you feel not only when you are painting but also how you feel about yourself as a painter and ultimately the quality of your work.

Being a happy painter is like the line from the hit song: if you know what happiness is to you.

Monday, March 24

Searching for Your Style

Mid-Morning Walk
Oil on Canvas Panel
9 x 12 in/22.9 x 30.5 cm
Copyright 2014
Today's blog is about discovering or figuring out, or at least understanding, what we do as painters when we're in search of our own painting style.

Over the past several years my search comes and goes as I try new mediums and new methods and discover new (to me) painters that I admire.

When I think I have found how I really want to paint by viewing the work of a painter (or painters) who paints in a similar style, I research their methods and tools and their recent work. I do this by looking online at their websites, blogs, and YouTube videos.

When I am ready, or think I am ready, to paint just  like _______ (whichever painter, fill in the blank) I get my paint and my palette and my canvas (or whatever) and my motif, and away I go.

Often times I am disappointed. I believe the problem has to do with trying to paint like someone else.

Rather I should take my accumulated knowledge and whatever natural talent I have and just paint and paint and keep painting. Only then will I be able to find and see my own style.

Until then, however, the search continues. 

Monday, March 17

Landscapes Have Mood, Too

Morning Tide
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
9 x 12 in/22.9 x 30.5 cm
Copyright 2014
It seems like we only think of certain motifs as having a mood; that is, the ability to make you feel some sort of emotion as you view a painting. I usually think of interiors or figurative or cityscapes as having moods, rather than landscapes.

Think Edward Hopper. There's a painter who could create a mood with his urban cityscapes and thought-provoking interiors. I'm sure you've seen Hopper's famous painting, Night Hawks. Nothing but mood there.

However, landscape paintings can also evoke a mood even if that's not what the painter intended. It happens by the time of day in the painting, the atmospheric conditions, the amount of ambient light or lack thereof, and the motif itself--forest, desert, rocks, rivers, fields of waving grasses, etc.

If you only paint exactly what you see on location while painting en plein air or working from a reference photo, you may be leaving out the most important part of your painting.

Understand what mood your painting will have, either naturally by the conditions already mentioned or added by your own creative artist license and fertile imagination.  Landscapes have mood, too.

Monday, March 3

Paint Atmosphere in Your Landscapes

Oregon Coast
Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 10 in/20.3 25.4 cm
Copyright 2014
I try to remember when painting a landscape to make the atmosphere one of the major elements. Although some may not consider it to be that important, I think it is.

To me, it's the glue, so to speak, that holds the landscape together. It allows the painter to render the light correctly for the conditions he or she is trying to portray.

Most importantly, it adds to the mood and makes the painting believable. You achieve it by giving depth with a foreground, a middle ground, and by showing the distance somewhat bluer and less distinct. You can also show atmosphere by painting lost and found edges, which gives the illusion of moisture in the atmosphere.

Humans can't live without oxygen, and landscapes can't live without atmosphere.

Monday, February 24

Grow as a Painter - Paint Over Your Painting

Who wants to paint over a finished painting? Why would you do it? After all, you've committed precious time, some expense, and perhaps your blood, sweat, and tears as well.

By painting over your painting I mean improving on what you have already painted, not painting a completely new painting.

You should paint over your painting whenever you know you have grown as a painter and you realize how much better your painting can become.

Caveat--this is only recommended with acrylics and not oil, watercolor, or pastel without due consideration since those mediums do not lend themselves to over-painting as easily as acrylics.

Anyway, here's the scenario. You're straightening up (or whatever) your studio and you run across an old painting you did way-back-when. You now see it with a more objective and much better informed eye.

"Why did I paint it like that?"

Good news and redemption. Since then, you have put in more hours painting. Since then you've read and watched more instructive how-to's. Since then you have been to more museums, galleries, art shows and exhibits.

In short, you have grown as a painter, and you can improve upon it, and as painters, we all want to improve.

Today images are my before and after paintings.

Monday, February 17

Today's Image on OrbisPlanis

The Corridor
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright 2014
Today's image is somewhat of a departure from my recent paintings. Instead of a natural landscape or seascape, it's almost an interior shot, although there is a view to the outside at the end of this corridor.

It was painted from a personal reference photo that was so striking that I felt compelled to paint it.

I decided to paint it in acrylic, mainly because of the many layers needed to give the illusion of receding light and shadow. One of the great attributes of acrylic paint--to dry quickly--allowed me to complete the painting, and to repaint as necessary, over a couple of afternoons.

My favorite part was painting the bright, outdoor light outside the arched entryway. The visible structure and the distant mountain provide depth and atmospheric perspective.

I hope you like it.

Monday, February 10

Pintura al Oleo

Marina de Espana - al Oleo
Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 10 in/20.3 x 25.4 cm
Copyright 2014
Well, I'm sure you've been waiting all week.

If you recall, in the last blog I talked about a perceived bias for oil over acrylic painting. I decided that my goal of painting with acrylic so that it looked like an oil painting might better be: to paint with oil so that it looked like an acrylic painting.

So that's what I did, and today's image is the same motif from last week, which was painted in acrylic, only this one was done in oil.

Can you tell the difference? Do you like one better than the other? Does anyone actually care?