Monday, January 26

Painting Cars

Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
After a Cobra Rallye
Oil on Canvas Panel
11 x 14 in/27.9 x 35.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015

Last week I painted a subject I almost never paint--cars, and they're today's images.

"Why?", you ask.

Well, the annual Auto Show was in town, and although I didn't attend (I think $10 to park--at an auto show, no less--in addition to the cost of admission is just not worth it), it did inspire me to paint a classic car.

I also like looking at how other painters paint cars. For the most part, cars are usually portrayed as just a nondescript dimensional shape with a light spot for the windshield. They are almost never detailed enough to tell the make or year, although you can usually tell if it's a sedan, SUV, or truck by the general shape. That's OK in most paintings where the car is not the focal point, only a prop, because you don't want it to distract the viewer.

However, if the car is the reason for the painting, then the car should look like what it's supposed to be. My paintings are of a 1957 Alfa Romeo Guiletta Spider and 1965 Ford Shelby Cobras (I think).

I do admire Colin Page's car paintings. They are painted in his painterly style, but are almost instantly recognizable as to brand and year. In one recent painting, he painted a 1955 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, which is a classic to car aficionados. Also, check out his classic VW bugs and vans.

Anyway, if you don't usually paint cars, give it a try, it's a lot of fun.

Monday, January 19

How Weather Affects My Paintings

A Winter Scene
Oil on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
I don't know about other painters, but the weather certainly affects my paintings. I'm talking about the actual weather, you know, what's happening outside your studio.

When it's either too hot, which it is a lot here, or too cold, which only happens this time of year, it affects how I paint. Not only that, I find I paint sun and partly cloudy landscapes when the weather is "good" and rain and fog when the weather is "bad."

I will say I am much happier painting when the sun is shining both outside and in the painting on my canvas.

Although I rarely paint snow because it rarely snows here, as in almost never, I did paint today's image to include both sun and snow. I like the bright red colors of the cardinal and the berries along with the out-of-focus background and the blue sky.

It's a cheerful day and a cheerful painting, and that's how the weather affects me and my paintings.

Monday, January 12

If You Really Want a Challenge, Try Painting a Portrait

My, oh my. Only 12 days into the new year. I really was motivated, too. I suppose that's why it's called a "wild hare" (or is it "wild hair?"). Whatever.

I wanted to paint something special: a portrait. I was recently looking at the work of a couple of really great portrait painters, online, of course. They are and were the contemporary Casey Baugh and the great master, John Singer Sargent.

I should give myself somewhat of a break and chalk it up to wanting to paint something that I really wanted to paint. I had looked at the work of the painters just mentioned, as well as several others, and it seemed so do-able. Note, I didn't say easy and certainly not simple.

But, a challenge it was. So much so that I finally called it quits, for now anyway.

If you haven't tried painting a portrait--in whatever medium--you should try it, if for no other reason than to make yourself recall there is always something new to learn and/or strive for in painting.

You'll notice there's no image this week. I was going to post my portrait painting, but no way. Maybe at some future time, I'll forget about this and get totally motivated again.

Monday, January 5

Set New Year's Painting Goals to Stay Motivated

Oil on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
After last week's blog, which was the last one for the old year, I suggested that painters take stock of their year's work with an annual painting review. Doing this helps us painters see where we've made progress (or not) and where we need to improve.

Well, that was last week, and now it's a new year and I'll make another suggestion: set your new year's painting goals now. This will help you both manage your time and progress better, but most importantly, it will keep you motivated. Do not procrastinate; do it now while you're fresh in the new year.

Painters malaise, as I like to call it, is that time when you are in a painting slump or you think you are in a slump. Either way, it's not good. It wastes time and energy and saps your creative skills.

Your goals don't have to be elaborate, They can be a simple list in order of priority of the things you want to accomplish, Or they can be calendar-based, for example, "by April 1, I will have learned how to (fill in the blank)."

I have set a few simple goals for myself that may give you some ideas.

- Become adept at painting with water-mixable oil paint; understand which brand(s) I like best and how to use them to achieve better painting results.

- Decide on not more than three sizes of supports to use and paint on those exclusively; I think this will help my composition and brushwork skills.

- And an old goal left over from last year--paint more boats, and to show I'm serious, it's the subject of today's image.


Monday, December 29

Painting: A Time for Reflection

A Time for Reflection
Oil on Hardboard
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
It's that time of year. The calendar is about change to the new year. It happens every year, of course, but I think it's an excellent time for painters to take stock, so to speak, and give themselves an annual review.

By that I mean it's time to look back over the last 12 months and see what direction--forward, backward, or even sideways--you can see in your paintings and your abilities.

Hopefully, you will find improvement, even if it's only in one thing, such as learning how to soften lines in acrylic, for example. I suppose sideways is better than backward. However, even if you look back at work completed last January and see little or no improvement or worse, you find you're regressing, don't worry.

Painters, as we all know, are their own worst critics.

And even if you're not satisfied with your progress, you have all of next year, starting this Thursday, to work on improving your painting skills.

Happy New Year to all the painters and collectors!

Monday, December 22

Season's Greetings!

Acrylic on Paper
18 x 23 in/45.7 x 58.4 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
Last week I posted a test blog to see if I had fixed the problem I was having on Blogger. I'm happy to report that I believe the issues of my being a No Reply@Blogger and my thumbnails not appearing on the Reading List have been solved. I'm not completely sure what the fix was as I made several changes. First,  I ensured my settings on Blogger were correct, specifically that "show my email address" was selected and "allow blog feed" was set to "full." Second, I ensured my "post feed redirect URL" was current by burning a new feed on Feedburner. And finally, I added a line of HTML code to my post(s) that tagged my images as images with post.thumbnail. Many thanks to the site Blogger-Hints-and-tips where I got the line of code to use. If anyone else is having the same problem, I hope you find this helpful.

Other than that, this will be a slow week for painting due to all the upcoming holiday activities. I wanted to share today's image, which I completed a couple of weeks ago, and to wish all the painters and collectors Season's Greetings!

Tuesday, December 16

A Quick Test Blog

Test Image
Today's blog is just a quick test to find out if I have been able to fix a problem I've had (forever) with Blogger. Blogger thinks I am a No Reply Blogger rather than who I am. It's not a big problem, other than when I make replies on Blogger I'm seen as No Reply Blogger. Also, in the Reading List of those who follow my blog, I also show up as No Reply Blogger and a thumbnail image from my blog never shows up. As I said, not a big deal, but annoying all the same.

I recently tried a solution I found online and want to see if it actually fixed the problem. I'll let you know whether or not it did in next week's post.


Monday, December 15

Tales from the Palette: Mixing the Color Blue-Violet

Old Man River
Acrylic on Paper
9 x 12 in/22.9 x 30.5 cm
It's been a while since I've done a Tales from the Palette blog. The other two were: mixing the color turquoise and mixing the color beige/tan. I like to pass along what I've learned about mixing paint colors that are, for me anyway, somewhat troublesome, which is why I refer to it as Tales from the Palette.

It sounds ridiculously simple. If you ask any painter, they'll tell you, just mix blue and red; it's right there on the color wheel at about 10:00 o'clock.

OK, I'm not talking about plain-old violet (which Wikipedia says is halfway between blue and magenta on the color wheel). As with many things in life, there are a lot of different shades of this color, just look at what else Wikipedia has to say about it.

No, the color of violet I'm talking about is the blue-violet I strive for when I'm painting landscapes or seascapes or cityscapes or actually any painting in which I want to show the illusion of distance. Most painters know to use more blue when you want things to appear in the distance to simulate the atmosphere.

To help you imagine the color, it's in today's image above. It's that color in the distant ridge where it meets the river between the trees.

Many manufacturers have tried to help by offering colors with names such as light ultramarine blue, light blue violet, violet grey, and several others.

However, I like to call my mixture Vanishing Violet. I mix it with ultramarine blue, a very little alizarin crimson, and titanium white. The trick is to mix those colors in just the right proportions to get the distance that best suits your painting.

I hope you find this helpful as you discover your very own personal "tale from the palette."  

Monday, December 8

When Painting Is Fun

A Fun Day
Watercolor on Paper
9 x 12 in / 22.9 x 30.5 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
Painting should be fun; otherwise, you're not doing it right. There, I said it.

That may seem like a bold statement to some painters and artistes who take themselves and what they do seriously and probably way too seriously.

Of course, there is a type of artwork whose goal is to agitate or to bring some viewpoint or injustice into focus. There is a time and place for this type of work, too, but painting the work should still be fun for the painter rather than a burden.

Painting does not (have to) equal angst. Why should it?

When painting is fun, most painters are at their best. Spirits are high and creativity is soaring. Their work sings.

When painting is fun, the viewer both sees and feels the joy with which the work was conceived.

When painting is fun, the world is a brighter place.


Monday, December 1

How to Paint Rain (in Acrylic)

Would You Play Misty for Me
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
A slow-moving cool front, bringing with it gray, leaden skies and showers, made me want to blog about painting rain today.

I completed today's image several weeks ago and thought it very appropriate for the subject, how to paint rain. Or, perhaps, I should be more humble and say, how I paint rain (in acrylic).

Here are a few of my unwritten rules for painting rain because as all painters should know, you don't paint by rules:

- Put down an overall wash on the support in a cool neutral tone leaning toward blue.

- Depending on the type of precipitation, thunderstorms or just mist, you have to paint accompanying clouds believably; you can mix ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, and raw sienna in whatever proportion you think is correct for your dark clouds, or you can use your own concoction; add white to that to lighten the skies as needed.

- Since it's overcast when it rains, there are no sharply-defined, contrasting shadows of anything.

- Paint distant or background horizons or objects with no sharp edges; not only are the objects in the distance, they are also obscured by the rain, and the heavier the rain the less distinct the object.

- If you're painting natural ground, as in a landscape, add a few puddles of standing water and paint them lighter than the ground and approximately the same color as the sky so that it looks like the surface of the water reflecting light.

- If you're painting includes man-made objects, such as a road or sidewalk or just about any horizontal surface, you have to show the surface reflecting light; paint broad horizontal strokes, alternating with slight changes in light and dark values (in whatever color).

- Paint the darker reflection or shadow of objects vertically on man-made surfaces, but also add short, broken horizontal strokes the same color as the surrounding surface.

- Paint the lighter reflection of the sky or of any man-made lighting of any color vertically, but add short, broken horizontal strokes the same color as the surrounding surface.

-Depending on how much rain you want to show, it's OK to add various random strokes to the painting of what some painters call "noise," but remember you're painting an illusion of rain not actually painting raindrops.

I'm sure I've left something out, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Also, practice, practice practice....