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.

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.

Monday, March 19

Pretty In Peach

Pretty in Peach
Oil on Canvas Panel
5 x 7 in/ 12.7 x 17.8cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
As I mentioned in a couple of recent posts, one where I painted a sunflower and the other a small vase of flowers, I haven't painted many flowers as still life, although occasionally I have painted them en masse in a garden or in broad meadows.

I said I didn't have much of a relationship with florals. However, since the beginning of the year I have spent time looking more closely at the work of excellent floral painters, such as Richard Schmid, Neil Carroll, and many, many others.

As somewhat of a learning experience, I have tried my painting hand at several works with a flower (or flowers) as the subject. I tend to agree that one of the great things about being a painter is that there is always the opportunity to learn and experience more.

Much to my surprise, today's image turned out to be completely different than either what I had envisioned or how I had begun the painting--the surprises and joys of the painting life!

Monday, March 5

You Can Improve Your Paintings

The View
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
Whether you refer to it as a re-work, a re-new, a do-over, an update, or simply a fix, it's never too late (or too soon) to go back and look at your paintings with a fresh eye. You may be surprised at what you see, or can now see, after the passage of time.

You may be surprised at how your artistic eye now perceives your work after your eye, your brain, and your hand have continued to gain experience since you first completed it.

I'm sure some painters can't bear the thought of going back and making even the slightest change to any of "their work." Really? The work is not trapped in amber in whatever year it was done.

In a recent post I mentioned how I had gone through my old paintings that were taking up too much space. I said it was entirely permissible to throw some of them away, which I did. But I also saw several I thought could be worked on with my more experienced eye, brain, and hand.

Today's image was painted in 2015. I added chroma in the upper sky and the foreground to add more contrast to the composition. I added some elements, such as the blue flowers in the foreground, and improved some lost-and-found edges in others. I re-titled it, too.

Consider carefully how to go about making changes and remember rules, such as not painting acrylic over oil, still apply.

 If it can be improved, do it!

Friday, February 23

More Than a Landscape

Summer Clouds
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
If you had to classify the type of painting posted as today's image, I suppose most painters or anyone really, would call this a "landscape." But actually the "land" in this painting is only about 20 percent of the image. The remainder is all sky (and clouds).

All kinds of skies (and clouds) are the subject of lots of paintings, many with a little land and/or water. If there's more water than sky or land, they're called "seascapes."

Skies are beautiful. Maybe we should be calling these mostly-sky paintings "skyscapes."

Not all that important in the scheme of the painting world, I suppose, but what else are Friday afternoons for?


Friday, February 16

Paint What Makes You Happy

Green Valley
Acrylic on Arches Watercolor Paper
16 x 6 in/40.6 x 15.2 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
Life is too short to spend time procrastinating or to waste time on things that don't bring you joy, according to Marie Kondo, author of The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

I agree.

That's why I spent time the last few weeks going through my old paintings and throwing some of them away Yes, you can do that! I was able to re-evaluate them more objectively as time has passed since I completed them. If I don't want them, no one else will either.

I also spent some of my painting time painting a motif that brings me joy--panoramic landscapes in acrylic on watercolor paper. I haven't done one since last summer.

It was past time to get happy.


Wednesday, February 7

Time to Paint Something Different

Small Vase with Flowers
5 x 7 in/12.7 x 17.8 cm
Oil on Canvas Panel
Copyright Byrne Smith 2018
I rarely, as in hardly ever, paint flowers, although I did paint a sunflower just last month. Before that, I couldn't tell you when I last painted a flower. It's not that I dislike florals, I just don't have a relationship with them.

However, the other day as I was looking through some pins that Pinterest thinks "you may like," I saw several boards that contained nothing but floral paintings--all kinds of flowers. I discovered I was drawn to many of the small still life-like paintings.

They were mostly smaller than 8 x 10 in/20.3 x 25.4 cm and mostly oil, acrylic, or pastel. Many were rendered in a rather impressionistic way, which I like. I got interested in the ways these painters, who seem to paint only flowers, portrayed the lighting and backgrounds, and the brushwork on the petals, leaves, and containers, if any.

One of the few flower paintings I have done is today's image. However, I now have an interest in further studying the methods of these painters and will see where it takes me.