Monday, December 30

Far-Away Places in 2014

Far-Away Places
Oil on Canvas Panel
8 x 8 in/20.3 x 20.3 cm
Copyright 2013
Like many painters this time of year, I think about what the new year will bring.

For me, I hope it brings a new and better appreciation for painting. It's not that I have not appreciated it in the past, but I hope I take it more seriously. OK, a little more seriously anyway (fortunately I don't have to paint to make a living).

That takes away a lot of the pressure. But some pressure is good. Without pressure to produce or achieve, I don't take it seriously enough, and my work suffers for it.

During this last year I moved in a new direction, which is difficult to do. I decided to work with oil where previously all my effort had been for watercolor (for several years) and then back to acrylic.

But the way I want to paint currently, contemporary impressionism, seems to lend itself to oil--what with the softness and blending required with this style.

I also began painting smaller paintings. I think this will help me to learn what I need to know about this type of painting. We'll see. I'm hopeful that I will improve, and I tell myself that as long as I am satisfied, that is all that matters.

Today's image represents those far-away vistas we see and the future coming right at us.

Here's to a 2014 filled with wonderful paintings for you and me.

Sunday, December 22

For Painters, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Winter Wonderland
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50 x 40 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015/
Painters aren't known for their shopping skills, even for art and painting supplies. I think I know what I need to purchase; that is, quality paints and supports and supplies. However, I also know that I am frugal--what painter isn't--and I'm always looking for ways to save a buck (or depending on where you live, make that a pound, yen, peso, euro, etc.).

This time of year is the best time to be purchasing supplies, either for yourself or for other painters.

If you haven't noticed, art supplies are on sale everywhere!

Your local art supply store is probably (over)stocked with everything a painter's heart and studio could desire. And if you're an online shopper, as I was last week, the big online stores, such as Blick, Cheap Joe's, Jerry's, and Utrecht all want your business very much. What's more, you can even get free shipping if you buy enough stuff. Can't beat that.

So if anyone is wondering what in the world to get you, tell them exactly what that perfect gift would be and don't forget gift cards.

It is the most wonderful time of year for painters.

Monday, December 16

A Tip on Painting Sunlight

A Sunny Day on the Potomoc
Oil on Canvas Panel
10 x 8 in/25.4 x 20.3 cm
Copyright 2013
I mentioned a few blogs ago how much more energy I have for painting when it's sunny outside. I'm sure each painter is different, and maybe you get energized when it's rainy, foggy, windy, cold, etc., but for me it's the sunshine.

A few years back I read something about how to paint "sunlight" that stays with me when I'm working on landscapes or sea- or cityscapes--actually any outdoor motif. I believe it was in a book about Edward Hopper when he would say, now it's time to paint in the sunlight. What did he mean?

Since a painting is nothing more than a two-dimensional illusion, I think he meant that painting "sunlight" comes from using a rather high-key palette and from the contrast in values you use on objects in sunlight versus objects in shadow. Since sunlight equals brightness, even in hazy sunshine, a brighter palette appears warmer with more intense hues as seen in natural sunlight. Painting sunlight has to do with the contrasting value you choose for the object in sunlight versus the shadow(s) associated with the object.

Here's the tip: the greater the value change from light to dark, the brighter the sun will appear in your painting. So, at high noon on a sunny day, the shadow(s) will be their darkest as compared to either early morning or late afternoon. Note that in today's image, the white, fluffy cumulus clouds also add to the illusion.

Happy painting.

Monday, December 9

A Painting with Aerial Perspective

View from Monument Hill
Oil on Canvas Panel
9 x 12 in/22.9 x 30.5 cm
Copyright 2013
Here is my painting for this edition of the painting blog.

It was painted from my reference photo taken on an early spring day, and today the area is a popular historic state park. Although I did not have my paints and supplies with me that day, perhaps I will return someday to paint the surroundings in pure plein air

For anyone interested, a little history of Monument Hill: On September 18, 1848, the remains of Texans killed in several skirmishes to secure Texas' independence from Mexico were re-interred in a common tomb at the location now known as Monument Hill near La Grange, Texas.

The scene is an elevated bluff with panoramic views looking west toward the legendary Texas Hill Country, and is a great place for any painter to experience and paint aerial perspective, giving depth and atmospheric dimension to your land-, sea-, and cityscapes.

Monday, December 2

Learning with a Limited Palette

A View from The Getty
Oil on Canvas Panel
6 x 8 in/15.2 x 20.3 cm
Copyright 2013
I am currently in the mode of painting relatively small landscapes--8 x 10 in/20.3 x 26 cm--or less on canvas panels using a limited palette.

I am trying to learn how to mix these limited colors so that I am able to make the correct value and hue for any landscape I want to paint.

What are those limited colors? French ultramarine, cad yellow light, permanent alizarin, yellow ochre, and titanium white.

It isn't easy as I'm sure you're well aware if you are a painter, too. For one, there are all those different greens in the landscape that must be made to look natural or you end up with a mess. It's no wonder that green is called the painter's horror color.

The earth-tone colors for the land and roads and hills and rocks and ground aren't much easier, but at least if you make a mistake, it doesn't stand out as much as the wrong green.

Then, of course, there are the skies and clouds. Although not as difficult as green, finding the correct blue for the sky can be daunting: cobalt vs. ultramarine vs. French ultramarine vs. some other blue.

Today's image has all three--the greens, the earth-tones, and the sky (as well as ocean) blues. As I've said before, I live in hope.