Wednesday, November 25

Thankful for Painting

Back Bay
Oil on Stretched Canvas
14 x 11 in/35.6 x 27.9 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Just a short blog this week to say how thankful I am for being part of the great tradition of painting that is practiced and celebrated all over the world.

Painting allows me to get away not only from my own problems but also the worldly ones as well, if only for a while each time I pick up a brush.

That, all by itself, is more than enough reason to be thankful for painting.

Wednesday, November 18

How to Stop a Painting Slump

Any Beach
Oil on Canvas Panel
7 x 5 in/17.8 x 12.7 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I've blogged about painting slumps before, and last week  I felt as though I may be in the beginning stages.

Some signs of a painting "slump" are:

- when you don't know what to paint

- when you can't find any subject to paint that interests you

- when you can't settle down in your studio or anywhere and paint; that is, wasting time doing anything else but painting

- when you have more trouble than usual using your chosen medium

- when you become discouraged

I'm sure there are other signs, but those are enough to know something's not right, but what to do?

1. Realize you're about to be in a slump or admit you already are (see all above).

2. Go for a long walk.

3. When you return, go to your studio and choose a different medium to paint with or go online or to an art supply store and buy a starter set of that medium.

4. On canvas, board, or paper, begin a painting of something--anything, it really doesn't matter--with the new medium; this can be anything you see, have a photo of, or imagine.

5. Complete that painting and immediately find the next one to paint.

6. Continue no. 5 until you no longer experience any sign of a painting slump.

Works for me and it should work for others, too.

Wednesday, November 11

Paint a Nocturne

Twilight Time
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Nocturne is not a word you probably use very often, if ever.

It is actually from French and Latin (nocturnal/nocturnis) referring to a piece of music that makes one think of the night--somehow.

Not sure how it made the jump to the art world, but nocturne has also come to be known for a painting in which the motif is shown in the nighttime or evening. It has become its very own category of painting in painting competitions, paint-ins/outs, painting exhibitions, and the like.

All it takes for it to be a Nocturne is that it's at night (or evening). Simple, except that you have to paint everything in "the dark."

It's way different from painting a landscape, or anything, in the daytime. However, there still has to be a light source. The sun has to be setting or have set, or the moon must be full or almost. Any other light will be from a man-made, artificial source, such as a street lamp or sign.

Also, most of the fore-, mid-, and backgrounds are painted dark, the values are darker, and colors have much less chroma. You get to use colors you may not use very often, which can be fun, and probably aren't on your regular color palette--raw umber, Prussian blue, ivory black, dioxizine purple, and maybe an assortment of warm and cool grays.

I like to think of it as sort of like painting while wearing sunglasses. It's somewhat of a brain-teaser in that you have to think differently and outside your comfort zone from your usual methods.

Anyway, that's what makes it a new challenge, which most painters need now and again.

Tuesday, November 3

How to Paint a Good Landscape

View from The Getty
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
The headline of today's blog sounds simple enough, and it is if you can perform a few basics of landscape painting. However, that's the catch--knowing the basics is one thing, but being able to master them with accomplishment is quite another.

I'm no master, and since painting is a life-long pursuit, I have miles to go, but I have learned a few things, though.

I hope you will find some of these suggestions helpful in your landscapes.

- Find the most beautiful and pleasing landscape to paint that you can, and don't settle for anything less. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so only you have to love it to be satisfied.

- Atmosphere is, in my opinion, the most important part of a landscape painting. If you don't know how to paint the different kinds of atmospheres, stop. Go learn how and then continue.

- Use the palette colors that you usually paint with as you are already experienced in how to mix and match them, but don't be afraid to experiment with a new color.

- Beware of green, the painter's horror color. Most landscapes have several greens and they must be believable. Learn to mix a variety of greens; but is OK to use a pre-mixed green if it's the right one. Also, greens are usually, but not always, more neutral or toned down than your eye would have you believe.

- Use the biggest brush you can for as long as you can.

- Objects appear bluer or cooler in color as they recede and warmer as they approach; similarly, objects in the foreground usually have more chroma, depending on the light of course, and less in the distance.

- Objects in the distance, including the horizon if there is one, should be painted less distinct to approximate the illusion of atmosphere,

There you go, that's all there is to it \o/.