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

The Cardinal
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.