Wednesday, October 17

Seascapes and Beach/Water Scenes

Acrylic on Canvas Panel
 6 x 6 in/15.2 x 15.2 cm
Byrne Copyright 2018
One thing I like about seascapes and beach/water scenes is that there is an unlimited number of combinations between the color of the sky and the color of the water. There are a myriad of reasons, such as the time of day, the weather, the season, the geographic location, and the surrounding landscape, if any.

What attracted me to today's image was the contrast between the predominantly ultramarine blue of the sky and the cerulean/pthalo green of the water near the coast. Beautiful, and it also helps set the mood, bright and sunny, a winning combination.

Beach scenes also keep the painter on his toes by having to create the correct color of the sand at the location of the painting. Similar to the reasons mentioned above, the types and colors of sand around the world are almost limitless.

The sand in today's painting was mixed with primarily titanium white, but you have to add very small amounts of cad yellow light and and cad red light, along with a dab of ultramarine blue to help gray down the other three colors slightly. I always forget that until I notice that something with the sand is not quite right.

I hope you like it and that you will paint your share of beach/water scenes.

Monday, October 1

A Time to Reflect with an Autumn Landscape

Central Coast
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
14 x 11in/35.6 x 27.9 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018

As summer turns into autumn, I wanted to paint a landscape that celebrates the changing seasons. This after not posting in September while I was figuring out what to paint next and where to take my painting.

This time for reflection has happened before, and I'm sure it will happen again. I feel sure it happens to most painters at some time. Neither a slump nor a retreat, it feels more like reaching a plateau, and now it's time to take stock and move on.

I now feel clear-headed about continuing on my path of painting acrylic landscapes and seascapes. although I may try painting on larger supports soon.

I hope you take some time to reflect on your work now and then.

Wednesday, August 22

Paint With a New Perspective

Beach Walk
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
18 x 24 in/46 x 61 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
I spent the week painting this rather non-traditional landscape (or maybe it's really a seascape). I say non-traditional because of the perspective and viewpoint, almost overhead the beach below. 

Most landscapes are typically a straight-on view with the horizon line positioned somewhere with the sky above and the usual fore-, middle, and background view of the land.

In my painting there is no visible horizon line, and the viewer is looking down at waves, shallow lapping water, the beach, and vegetation at a steep angle. That's probably what drew me to paint this scene. Even though it's highly realistic, it's also somewhat abstract when you step back a bit.

Also, don't miss the five figures and a dog walking along the shore. They don't jump out at you because of their small size, but do provide scale, which is very important for this motif.

I understand it's good for viewers and collectors to be able to look at a painting and almost immediately recognize who the artist is by his or her style and subject matter. But it's also good  to try new things and new ways now and then.

It will certainly give you a new perspective and may just get you out of a painting rut.

Wednesday, August 1

A Calming August Acrylic Landscape

Summer Dusk
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
Well, it's August 1st.

If any month deserves a calming landscape, it's August (and possibly December also). The heat, the glaring sun, the heat, the dash from car to building, the heat, the sunscreen, the glowing perspiration, the heat, the must-go-now holiday/vacation. Did I mention the heat?

Today's image is the one I mentioned in the previous blog--the one I let rest for a while. As I suspected, I did make a couple of changes that I thought would help. The main thing I did was to tone down the setting sun so that it was less intense to match the time of day, which was dusk. I also lowered the intensity, slightly, of the orange glow around it for the same reason. I added a few darks to the immediate foreground for depth and, of course, signed it.

In paintings like this, I find acrylic to be most beautiful with the ability to blend and blur just the right places.

I hope the painting ushers in a calming August for you, too.

Friday, July 20

Luminosity In a Floral Acrylic

Yellow Flowers in an Asian Vase
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
 5 x 7 in/12.7 x 17.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018

Last week I worked several days on a landscape. I decided to let it rest for several days before I view it so that I will see it with fresh eyes and hopefully make a few changes, if necessary, to improve it. I recommend this approach for all paintings. Step away.

But while I was waiting I still had to paint. You know how that is.  I decided to paint a small floral. I started painting small florals, which was a new motif for me, earlier this year.

The florals I paint all seem to have decidedly dark backgrounds. The ones I admire from other painters also seem to have dramatic lighting, which I'm still working on.

Today I want to talk about luminosity. I thought I knew what luminosity in painting was, light surrounded by dark, but I wanted a better artistic definition. This one came up first when I Googled luminosity defined: the glow or brightness in a piece of artwork; refers to the created light which can vary in gradation, and other ways (i.e. reflection and/or amount of diffraction or intensity). Yikes. I like my definition better.

Be that as it may, I tried to create luminosity in my floral with the lightness of the vase against the very dark background. My intent was to make the vase appear to glow in the ambient light, which I think I did.

Also, another fun fact I discovered while painting this--another way to make green. The background color I used was Payne's Gray, a bluish black. When I painted a very thinned down Cad Yellow Medium for the stems, I got a subtle translucent green, not to detract from the bold yellow flowers.

I hope you like it.

Tuesday, July 10

An Acrylic Panorama

Summer Panorama
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
10 x 4 in (image)/25.4 x 10.2 cm (image)
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
With summer now in full swing, I thought I would celebrate the season with a painting.

If you are a regular reader of The Painting Life blog, then you know I have recently been painting panoramic landscapes, that is, landscapes with an aspect ratio of at least 2:1, sometimes more.

I usually paint in relatively fluid acrylic on Arches watercolor paper trimmed to fit the horizontal layout of the panorama. This time I decided to paint acrylic on a canvas panel instead, painting with the acrylic in the more conventional way.

I really liked this landscape with the road on the left leading toward the distant mountains. I hope you like it, too, and that you're having a great summer.

Thursday, June 28

Painting a Floral Summer Still Life

Daffodils in a Vase
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
6 x 6 in/15.2
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
Well, the daffodils quit blooming a few months ago.

The summer heat is about to cause a lot of other plants and shrubs in the backyard--roses, coreopsis, African daisies, day lilies, and some varieties of lantana--to stop blooming and go into survival mode as July and August approach. For now, the firecrackers, roses of Sharon, and hibiscus seem to be taking it in stride.

This not being a gardening blog, I'll explain.

When the daffodils were blooming, they were quite striking, and so I wanted to paint them. I also firmly believe summer is the time to do different things, and that goes for painters, too. It's a time to unwind and re-charge.

If you follow The Painting Life, then you know I rarely paint flowers or still lifes for that matter. Summer should relax and re-charge you.

That's what painting daffodils did for me. I hope you like it, and I hope you're doing some relaxing and re-charging yourself.

Friday, June 22

Mixing Acrylic on a Canvas Panel

Cooling Off
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
 8 x 6 in (image area)/20.3 x 15.2 (image area)
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted. I was busy working on a few paintings and also cleaning out my collection of old art magazines, columns, articles, reference photos, etc., etc. They had stacked up and become almost useless as I didn't know what was in any of those stacks.

But I digress. I also decided to tweak my acrylic palette slightly. It was based loosely on one Colley Whisson used--not sure whether it's his current one or not. (If you don't know his work, he is a well-known and respected contemporary Australian impressionist oil painter.)

Anyway, the palette was basically warm and cool primaries with a couple of earth tones plus cad orange, pthalo green and white, of course. Previously, I didn't include cad orange as I felt it superfluous since I could mix cad red light and cad yellow light. I had sparingly used pthalo green, as we all should; however, more recently, every time I used even the slightest amount, it overpowered whatever color(s) I mixed with it. So, I decided to banish pthalo green and just go with the cerulean blue, which was the warm blue already on the palette (it has a green tint anyway). And I added cad orange.

Also, I am attempting to mix more of the colors on the canvas itself rather than the palette. This, as you know, was the method used by the Impressionists, but it's not as easy as their paintings make it look. Daubs of color next to each other sounds easy, but it's not-- just one more thing to master in the painting life.

The result is today's image--an attempt to paint a cool motif to make me think I'm cooler on a hot summer's day. Hope you like it.

Monday, June 4

Another Fixer-Upper

West of Roswell
Acrylic on Board
24 x 24 in/61 x 61 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2017
West of Alamogordo
Acrylic on Board
24 x 24 in/61 x 61 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
If you recall, I posted several blogs recently about how it's never too late to re-work one of your "completed" paintings.

I want to tell you about my latest fixer-upper. I also wanted for you to be able to view my "before" and "after" efforts and judge for yourself--and hopefully encourage you to consider doing the same.

I finished the original painting almost a year ago, in July, 2017. I felt fairly pleased about it, enough so that I varnished it and hung it in my home. Every day I would see this painting multiple times just passing by.

As time passed, I began to notice minor things that I thought, gee, I could do better than that. What began as a few minor issues became, overtime, glaring errors that bothered me every day and every time I passed by (at least in my mind).

So finally, last week, I took the painting down, and it became my latest fixer-upper. It was acrylic on board, and I checked if it were OK to paint acrylic over acrylic varnish. It is.

The main thing I did was to remove the figure and the pathway. For some reason, neither seemed to fit into the New Mexican motif. Monet could paint fantastic figures in fields, me, not so much.

With the figure gone, I felt I needed to re-paint the foreground to look more naturally arid, which it is. I brightened the earth tone and color with broad, horizontal strokes. I also darkened the foliage of the lone tree and randomly added darker, horizontal strokes to make the scene appear to be in bright sunlight, which it was.

To add interest I decided to change the locale so that there is now a view of the White Sands National Monument. I used zinc white for the distant white sands and re-titled the painting. Lastly, I beefed up the cumulus clouds by adding more white to the puffy tops.

I hope you like my "after."

Tuesday, May 15

Another Panoramic View

Highland View
Acrylic on Arches 140lb/300gsm Watercolor Paper
22 x 7 in/55.9 x 17.8 cm (image area)
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
It's been several months since I last painted a panorama. However, I still had a sheet of Arches watercolor paper left over that was already trimmed perfectly so that my motif--a very wide panorama--would exactly fit.

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, if you haven't tried painting with acrylics as if they were watercolor and painted on watercolor paper, you should try it. I predict you'll be surprised at how much using the medium this way enhances the creative aspects of painting, at least it does for me.

Even though it's only mid-May, summer has arrived on time in our area and will stay around for the next five months. With daytime temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (that's mid-30s Celsius), I will be painting in the air-conditioning, and will only venture out occasionally for a reference photo or two.

I'm also feeling the need to bring out my water-soluble oil paints very soon, maybe this afternoon. It's been several months since I put them away, and I want to feel their buttery texture on my canvas again.

If you paint, I'm sure you understand.