Wednesday, October 28

"Little Gems" - Small-Scale Paintings Inspire

Small Pumpkin and Squash
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
7 x 5 in/17.8 x 12.7 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I blogged about painting "little gems" a couple of times last summer. If you remember, "little gems" are what I call those small paintings that are 7 x 5 in/17.8 x 12.7 cm or smaller. I think I heard a well-known painter describe them as such, but since I can't recall his or her name, maybe not so well-known after all.

I like to paint "little gems" when I am in between working on larger paintings or paintings that take several passes or days to complete. To me it's like cleansing your palette between tastings except in this case I'm referring to a paint palette.

Painting small paintings gives me a new perspective, and since they can be completed in hours or even minutes, you can use them to try out new subjects or techniques or practice value studies or whatever. I get inspired.

Today's "little gem" is an extremely simple still life of seasonal fare with an autumn/all-hallow's- eve motif.

I hope you'll be inspired to paint your own "little gem."

Wednesday, October 21

Painting Atmosphere and Light

Central Coast
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Time marches on, and I hope I continue to learn more about painting as it does. In that context, I want to blog about the importance of painting the atmosphere in landscape or en plein air motifs. I last blogged about this subject about a year ago, (Paint Atmosphere in Your Landscapes).

We may not usually think of the  atmosphere as part of a painting, but it is. Atmosphere in my paintings isn't the makeup of physical elements that meteorologists would tell you it is. I hope not; I'm a painter, not a meteorologist. In my landscapes atmosphere is often a central character. 

Many artists and painters speak about painting the light or being a painter of light. They understand painting light as it relates to painting shadows, cast shadows, reflected light, highlights, and to its presence in their paintings.

However, in painting landscapes, especially outdoors, you are not actually seeing (or painting) "the light" unless you're looking at the sun, which you shouldn't do, ever. You are seeing the effect of the light on and around all objects.  

Similarly, you are not really seeing (or painting) "the atmosphere" either; it's invisible. Rather you are painting the effect of the atmosphere. In addition, any natural (or man-made) by-products, such as water vapor or dust, will also have an effect on the atmosphere surrounding all objects.. 

It would be a lot easier if painters just painted what they see, but I also think it helps to delve a little deeper and understand why we are seeing what we're seeing, at least to some extent.

Happy painting.

Wednesday, October 14

Put Feelings in Your Painting!

After the Storm
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
 16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2008
I have blogged about feelings (Put Feelings Into Your Artwork and Let the Emotion Flow!) before.

But I thought it was time to revisit this important, but often missing, ingredient of many paintings.

Feelings, as the old standard song goes, nothing more than feelings. It sounds so simple. Just go to your art supplies and pull out that bottle of feelings, right?

Not that simple. First of all, what am I talking about--feelings? When I say feelings, I mean that hard-to-capture and define "thing" that draws your viewer in.

But it's more than just grabbing the viewer.

It's the subject matter and the way it's positioned on the canvas. It's the way the values and colors capture the mood. It's what you, the artist, are trying to express.

When I paint a picture, I want it to have feelings that overtake the viewer and compel him or her to not just look, but see, what I'm trying to show with paintstrokes. I want the impression and feeling to be worming its way into the heart or brain or both.

Finally, I want the viewers to be moved or changed in some way so they will remember my painting and who painted it.

Wednesday, October 7

The Unusual Painting

Costa Del Mar 
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
10 x 8 in/25.4 x 20.3 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Today's image is from a reference photo (with permission) that got my attention because of the somewhat unusual colors. However, it took me three tries at painting it before I got a result that I thought was passable.

Like the box of chocolates in the movie Forrest Gump, sometimes you never know what you're going to get, even if you do have knowledge and experience with color theory.

What I like about the colors used in the painting is that not only are they complementary, with the soft blue ocean behind the terra cotta stucco building with a lavender spire in front of it, there is also contrasting value in the bright lemon- yellow foliage against the dark burnt umber landscape.

The viewpoint is also somewhat unusual in that the viewer is looking down from above and out at the ocean simultaneously. In addition, it's also somewhat unusual in that there is no visible horizon line.

As I said, it is unusual, but I hope you like it anyway.