Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clouds Over Texas, new painting

Clouds Over Texas, 9X12, oil on linen board
Texas Art Gallery, 800.783.4278

Hi Everyone,
I finished this painting recently. When I was in Texas last May, I was struck by the incredible cloud formations. When I moved to Minnesota from Ohio, I thought Minnesota had wonderful skies, and they do. But then I experienced Arizona Skies and thought they were the best. But nowhere have I seen such beautiful skies, day after day, as I did in Texas that weekend. Unfortunately I was in town for only a short time and I wasn't able to do any on location painting. So I took lots of photos. Back in the studio, six months later, and working from several photos, I came up with this scene along one of their many rivers. I decided to make it a late day scene and make the bottom half of the trees in shadow. Setting the painting at this time of the day allows me to play up the saturated colors that make these skies as interesting as they were. In the original photo of the river that I used, there were some uninteresting rock formations on the left hand side, which I replaced with the shrubs on the foreground shore.

Thanks for looking, Steve

Monday, April 28, 2008

New PA's for April 2008

Hi Everyone,
It had been almost six months since I had been out painting on location. I've been painting every day in my studio/dungeon, but I had gallery commitments to fulfill, not to mention making the transition of illustrating full time to painting full time in February. Lord, I can't believe how much time is not spent painting, when you start painting full time, LOL. But the change is behind me and I got out of the studio this past month more than a few times. Needless to say, on location painting in April in Minnesota isn't always the most pleasant experience, but it beats working for a living!! I ain't complainin'

Here are a few of the paintings from the past sessions....

A Change in Direction, 6X8
This is the first painting I did after my self imposed extended break.

A Fresh Blanket of Snow, 8X10
Painted on April Fool's day. It had snowed heavily all night and there were paintings everywhere I looked. Every branch was bent with a thick layer of snow. It warmed up so quickly that there was so much less snow when I finished this study than when I started it.

Outstanding In His Field, 9X12
Painted on what I thought was the Minnesota Arboretum's property. That is, until the farmer that owned the field came out with his very upset dog and asked my why I was out standing in his field. Luckily, he was nice enough to let me stay and finish.

April's Melt, 9X12
This painting was done in the afternoon of the same day as "Fresh Blanket of Snow". This is how quickly the snow had melted off in just a few hours. I was standing in what must have been a direct flight path of Canada Geese, as there seemed to be an unending stream of them flying by all afternoon.

Late Winter Shoreline, 6X8
This was the final painting for the day. I wanted to do a quick study, so I did what I call a guerilla painting. I give myself 40-45 minutes to get down the essence of the scene. Quickly decide on the focal point (which in this case was the oak tree in the upper left third of the painting), winter came so quickly here, that this tree was still holding onto it's yellow leaves. Everything else is simplified and subordinated to it. I love starting the day doing these quick studies to loosen up. I'll also do them at the end of a day, if I feel that I was spending too much time concentrating on details which only hurt the painting in the long run.

Happy Painting, Steve

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Walk Softly, finished version

Update: "Walk Softly"was sold at the Bosque Conservatory Art Classic in Clifton, Tx. The collectors who bought the painting told me that they loved the painting and also loved being able to follow the creative progress, and was part of the reason they decided to purchase it. ---S.

Hi All,
I decided to put my painting, Walk Softly against the wall for a while and come back to it with a fresh eye. When I look at something for too long, my perception becomes stale and the problems with the painting are tough to see. Even if the problem is a glaring one, you can miss it. Taking a break allows me to see things much more clearly.
When I put the painting back on the easel, I knew what I had to address. The painting was too warm all over, even the greens. There was no difference between the temps in the clearing he was standing in, and the trees behind him. Also, the coloring made the painting too ominous. The subject matter of this weapon is adult enough without playing it up in the colors. Here is the version before I made any changes...

Previous Version

New Revised Version

As you can see, when you compare the new version to the old one, the changes are pretty significant. I made the colors more true to life and believable. I also repainted the blades on the warclub. They had grown pretty big as I had painted on them and were out of scale with the weapon. The other thing I was unhappy with was how I had applied the paint. It's now much more painterly and exciting to look at. Now I can say it's finished. It's a perfect example of not rushing a painting out of the studio. If there is ever anything that doesn't please you in your work, give it time to rest and come back to it with a fresh eye. Richard Schmid advises to never leave anything on your canvas that you know is wrong. Sage advice to be sure. I would add to that.... to give yourself a little time to live with a painting to find out what those things may be. Once you let the painting out of the studio, it's kind of like going to the top of a mountain and releasing a handful of feathers. You can't ever get them back again, no matter how hard you try.

Happy Painting, Steve