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


Before
West of Roswell
Acrylic on Board
24 x 24 in/61 x 61 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2017
After
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.

Friday, May 4

It's Never Too Late to Re-Work a Painting

Paradise Awaits
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
A couple of months ago I posted a blog on how to improve a painting after you have completed and hung it in your studio or, more likely, filed it away wherever it is that you keep your finished work.

I mentioned I was cleaning out my painting area, and that included going through all my completed paintings and looking at them with a more critical eye. That's because you become more experienced over time. I had culled all the ones I didn't like anymore, if I ever did, and threw them away. Imagine that.

There were several, however, that I thought could be rehabilitated somewhat if I re-worked them with my hopefully greater painting experience.

Today's image is another one I "saved," originally from 2015 (I think). I thought I had posted it in one of my blog posts around that time. I wanted to be able to show you the "before" and "after," but I searched through my archives and could not find it. I must not have used it in a blog. Sorry. Maybe even then it wasn't one of my favorites.

But I'll explain a little about what I did to the painting. First, I did not re-work any of the sky and clouds--I decided I could not improve upon them at all. However, the water, the waves, the land mass, and the foliage were all completely re-painted. In my original work, the color of the water and blue sky were not at all harmonious, and it was the first thing anyone would notice. So I gave the water more cerulean and added more waves, and that helped.

I also changed the tone of the land, which had a rosy hue--I must have used alizarin crimson. I changed that to more of a natural reddish earth tone. That made it appear as if the scene is now in bright sunlight, and it also acted as a complementary color to the water and sky.

Lastly, the foliage, which had been a dark, dark green, probably a Jenkins green, was lightened up a lot, and I painted greens that lean toward yellow on the color wheel.

Believe me, it looks much better now. I hope you like it.




Monday, April 23

A Gift of Paint


Lemons On a Plate
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
7 x 5 in/17.8 12.7 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
I've been offline for a couple of weeks as one of life's aggravating tasks took precedence, but now back to painting.

Recently I was trying to decide what birthday gift to give a relative. After shopping around for several items I thought would be appropriate, I decided what could be more thoughtful or personal than an original painting?

People in the family know I like to paint, so it wouldn't be as if this came out of nowhere. To be honest, I hesitate to give relatives and friends my paintings because you never can be sure if they really like it, or they're just saying that. I certainly don't want them to feel obligated to like (or hang) any of my work. So I gift paintings very sparingly.

I convinced myself this was still a good idea. But just in case, I decided to make this a small painting that could be displayed (or not) on a small stand.

My gift is today's image, and the relative said they liked it. Here's hoping.

Thursday, March 29

Painting With a Limited Palette

Southwest Sunset
Acrylic on Arches Watercolor Paper
16 x 6 in/40.6 x 15.2 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
I think most painters already know this, but in case you didn't: your work will be more successful with the fewer colors you have on your palette.

I'm not talking about just one color (plus white), although there is a school of thought that says that's a good way to start because it makes you concentrate more on values than color. I am talking about using the absolute minimum number of colors to achieve your painting goals. That usually, but not always, means a variation of each primary plus white (maybe). With just these limited colors, you can mix all the rest. It's an exercise in learning about color.

You've probably heard of Anders Zorn and his famous "Zorn" palette. He was a famous Swedish painter who used only three colors plus white. He used mars black (the blue), yellow ochre (the yellow) and vermilion (the red). His somewhat muted paintings are beautiful and it's surprising the number of values and colors he achieved with just these three plus white. If you're not familiar with Zorn, you should read up on him and his palette; it's fascinating if you paint.

Another thing about a limited palette is that it makes your paintings more harmonious. That's because every value and color variation in the painting was produced from just the few colors. All the colors in the painting go together, and you get instant harmony.

Today's image was not painted using Zorn's palette. I did use a limited palette, however, consisting of cad red light, cad yellow light, raw umber plus titanium white. I was pleased.

Just think how much you'll save on paint.