Tuesday, February 24

Paint Sunshine to Brighten Your Day

Oh, Happy Day
Oil on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I decided to brighten my day by painting some sunshine in  a sunny landscape. As I mentioned a few blogs ago, the weather does affect what I paint, and I needed some sunshine going into late winter.

I like painting vistas like this one. It's got all the things you need for a summer day: sunshine, green grass, shade, and distant hills to provide respite from the heat.

I used my trusty water-mixable oils for this one, with my palette of ultramarine blue, cad yellow light, cad red light, pthalo green/blue shade (a touch in the sky), burnt sienna (a touch in the clouds), yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, and, of course, titanium white.

You know how to paint sunshine, right? It's an illusion (like smoke and mirrors), and it's all done with shadows. I use the red/green combo for shadows, either burnt sienna and/or alizarin crimson with pthalo green, Remember, the darker the shadows, the brighter the sunshine.

I hope this brightens your day, too, if you're getting a little tired of winter.


Tuesday, February 17

A Study in the Illusion of Distance

Quiet Lakeshore
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015

Fulfilling one of my goals for the new year, that is, to paint more boats, I present today's image
I painted this from a reference photo allowing its use by painters and artists.

I like the calming, cool blue atmosphere and the quiet mood implied by the empty rowboats waiting by the lakeshore.

The painting also turned out to be a study in creating the illusion of distance using the fore-, mid-, and backgrounds.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed painting it.

Monday, February 9

Learn to Paint by Painting Landscapes

Peace in the Valley
Oil on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
I think you can learn more about how to paint if you start out painting landscapes. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take art classes or workshops or use any other method, such as lessons on DVD, to learn to paint. I'm just saying I think it's one of the best ways to get started and learn how to handle paint.

Learning to paint is not necessarily easy, although it does come more naturally for some than others. But if you start with landscapes first, rather than seascapes (the horizon must be perfect) cityscapes (or structures requiring correct perspective), figuratives, or certainly portraits, then I believe you will learn more and learn more quickly with landscapes.

I say this because painting a landscape is rather forgiving for the beginning painter. That's because all the shapes are natural, meaning if they're off a bit, most won't notice. A tree, a treeline, a shrub, a stream,  a lake, a meadow, a mountain, all have natural shapes; that is they don't have to look like anything other than what they are. There is no wrong shape for a tree; however it does need to be believable, of course. The same thing goes for clouds, they can be almost any natural shape.

As for color, painting a landscape will help you learn about value and color by experimenting with what you see naturally before you. We all go outside, at least sometimes. If you paint en plein air, all the better. You will learn to mix earthtones, all kinds of greens, and all the colors of the skies with just the primaries with maybe an ochre, sienna, or umber thrown in.

It's still a learning experience, and you will have to know a few things going in. This includes where to put foregrounds, mid-grounds, and backgrounds and what atmospheric perspective is.

Again, learning to paint isn't necessarily easy, but landscapes are rather forgiving for the beginner. If I can do it, you can do it. It just takes practice.

Monday, February 2

Time Flies When You're Painting

Brand New Day
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
Here we are at the beginning of another month. Time flies.

I find painting makes time (and life) go even faster than it normally does. I say that because I look at the time I spend on a painting, which is usually no more than one or two days, three at most. That means I'm painting a couple of paintings every week, sometimes more, but always at least one, including some down time on the weekends.

When you are in the moment of your work, when your concentration and mind's eye are evaluating and comparing and your arm and hand are working together to create brushstrokes, time truly is flying.

The days seem to surround that painting time and I mark the passage of hours and days by those paintings. That one was the first week in January and that one over there, I did at the end of November.

I want every day of painting to be a new day for exploring, for improving, and for creating.   Some may see today's image of the morning as cliche, but I like the strong contrast of light and shadow with the trees silhouetted against the sky. The painting captures the promise of a brand new day along with the passage of time.

At least that's what I hope it expresses.