Wednesday, December 30

End of Year Painting

San Antonio River at S. Alamo
Oil on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/ 50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
With so much going on this time of year, my painting usually stops on or about December 21. That was the case this year.

I last painted on December 23. Due to the location of my studio, I had to pack up my paints and supplies and put them away for another day.

It's not that I haven't been thinking about painting, I have. I thought about painting as I thumbed through several great art books I received as gifts. I'll tell you about them in a future blog.

I completed the painting of today's image on the 23rd. I actually worked on it at two separate times. It's from a reference photo I took on a recent visit to the location. I first painted it in October, but wasn't satisfied, and so, put it away.

The original photo was taken during the "golden hour" around 5:00 p.m. in September. Because the sun was beginning to set, there was strong horizontal light from the right. That made the trees on the left appear too bright (in the photo)--as in the color of Cad Yellow Light--so that's the way I originally painted it.

As I said, however, I wasn't satisfied, and it took me a couple of months to figure out what the problem was. The trees in the photo had too much chroma. I toned them down to more natural-looking greens, even though that's not the way they actually looked.

Anyway, I finally finished it and gave it away as a gift, but only after I was happy with the results.

A painting isn't finished until the painter says it is.

Tuesday, December 22

Season's Greetings 2015

Foothill Snowfall
Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
30 in x 24/76.2 x 61 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Last blog I mentioned that a painting is a painter's gift to the world. In the spirit of the season, here is mine.

Painting landscapes is my favorite motif, and so, I wanted to share. This one was a lot of fun because I used my acrylics and felt free to use all the paint I wanted on this rather large (for me) painting--30 x 24 in/76.2 x 61cm.

Just so you know, I reworked this several times, adding a foreground as well as a background that are not in the original photo reference. That is, I added the hillock with Russian thistle in the foreground and a  snow-covered mountain range in the distance. Otherwise, the composition was (and still is) not the best, but I feel the changes added some much-needed depth.

I hope this comes as a reminder for all painters to use their artistic licenses, for which they worked very hard, whenever necessary.

No matter in what part of the world or in whatever climate you reside, greet the season painterly!

Thursday, December 17

Painting Is Personal

Acrylic on Canvas Panel
 7 x 5 in/17.8 x 12.7 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Few activities in life are as personal to an individual as painting. Artists and painters allow their inner-most creativity to be outwardly viewable.

If that's not personal, I don't know what is.

Painting is usually a singular and solitary event accomplished by one's own self. Of course, there have been painters who paint alongside one another (you may have seen Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, and Herman Pekel--the Three Amigos--painting together in Paris on YouTube), but usually not.

Not only do painters allow viewers inside their creative thinking to see their skills in composition, color, and value, they also invite them into their personal world, if only for a few moments when they look at a painting. What a privilege.

A personal painting is a gift from the artist to the world and should be treated as such.  

Wednesday, December 9

Homage to Monet

Homage to Monet
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.6 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Claude Oscar Monet was born November 14, 1840. This year is the 175th anniversary of his birth. I was going to honor the occasion with a blog post last month, but there was so much happening in the world on that day that I decided to postpone it until now.

Monet being the heart and soul of the Impressionists era, his place in art history is secure. I wonder if all, or any, of the subsequent painting eras would have taken place as they did without that historic movement. Doubtful.

I am a big fan and so wanted to pay homage to him with a painting of one of his favorite subjects to paint, water lilies.

I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed painting it, and that it inspires you to paint at least one painting to remember Monet.

Wednesday, December 2

Time for a December Painting

Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/ 50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Yes, I know it's almost summer in Sydney and Buenos Aires. But that means in Honolulu and Houston it's almost winter. And that means it's time for a December painting.

I don't think it's ever snowed in Honolulu, and Houston doesn't get snow very often, once a decade, maybe. That doesn't mean I shouldn't be painting a wintry scene though. We do have pine trees as well as palm trees, and I like to paint snow every once in a while just to keep in practice.

Painting snow is similar to painting rain; that is, you're painting the illusion of the precipitation, not every raindrop or snowflake. The precipitation reduces the visibility so chroma is also reduced, and edges of objects are not sharp. The way the snow looks in your painting depends, of course, on the amount of snow you are depicting; obviously a blizzard will have to be painted with more "snow" than just a few flurries. If you're painting snow the day after a blizzard in bright sunlight, you will have brighter colors and very distinct shadows.

In today's image, I painted the illusion of snowflakes by flicking the white paint from the end of a bristle brush with my thumb. Make the drops different sizes with larger ones appearing to be closer to the viewer and to the ground. The randomness of where the "flakes" land adds to the illusion. Just don't over-do it with too many of them.  

If you haven't painted snow in a while, try it. 'Tis the season.