Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Landscape

Philosopher's Rock, Tanque Verde, 9X12 oil on linen panel, ©2009

Hi Everyone,
This painting is of an area near Tucson Arizona known as Tanque Verde Falls. I live in Minnesota and though I'm looking to eventually make the move to Arizona, I don't know where the scenic areas are. Luckily, my wife grew up in Tucson and she knows where these areas are. During our last trip home for us to visit family, she wasn't able to take me out sightseeing as we usually do. Ann's dad offered to take me to one of his favorite spots, the Tanque Verde Waterfall. When we got there, and I stood high above the area looking down to a river far below, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. When we climbed down to the river itself, I was surprised at how much water was flowing here in the desert. It was like an oasis in the middle of the desert. There were a number of people splashing in the pools, swimming, playing with their dogs and just having a ball. Obviously, this scene isn't of the waterfall. But I was struck by the fact that this tree had sprung up out of the water in front of this huge boulder. Then I realized that the water was unusually high and this tree was normally along the bank for most of the year, not growing out of the water.

I love to paint backlit scenes. I love to look at other artist's paintings of backlit scenes. The way the branches are lit up and fairly glow is such a fun effect to try to reproduce. Strictly speaking this tree is side lit, but the effect is the same. The way I've found to paint this effect is to make sure that the area behind the subject dark and cool. That way the transparency of the tree and the light hitting it will be highlighted (no pun intended). This pool of water was deep and the rust color was deep and saturated. It was a spot loaded with paintings waiting to happen.

Thanks for checking in, Steve

Friday, April 3, 2009

Native American Dancer's portrait

Native Dancer, 16X20, oil/linen

Eyes Closeup

Feather Closeup

Hi Everyone,
Here is a painting I did of a Native American dancer I came across at a pow wow last year. He was always smiling and seemed to know everyone there. As I was taking photos, I was lucky enough to get some serious expressions. I had a very clear idea in my head of what I wanted this painting to look like. That's not always the case. His face paint and porky roach was an important part of this one, but like so many portraits, the eyes tell the tale. So I made the background simple and neutral. The area around his eyes are the sharpest and most clearly defined. I enjoyed doing this one, getting lost in the painting of the different edges and textures. Feathers, beads, skin. They all have their own unique edges, and therefore their own unique brushwork. I always start with the face and usually can tell if a painting is going to work for me pretty early on. Though, sometimes you can't tell which areas of a painting will give you trouble. I swear, I wish I had a nickle for every time I thought a difficult passage was going to trip me up, only to the tough part paint itself and have the simple parts derail. Well, that keeps me on my toes anyways.


Thanks for looking, Steve