Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Hooded Overture" 20x10 acrylic

There were a few minor issues with this painting as I photographed it a few days ago. I knew they would need to be resolved before it went into a frame, so I set it aside to work on another piece and think about it for a while. I’ve included the image without the corrections below for comparison.

Most of the problem areas involved the placement and posture of the female warbler. The multiflora rose branch behind her was distracting and appeared to be very much on the same visual plain. The branch needed to be pushed back into the shadows and I extended it just a few leaves downward so it ended just below her tail. I also eliminated some leaves above her head. The edges of her yellow breast needed to be softened a touch to get rid of the “pasted on” look and help her fit into her surroundings. Lastly, I moved her leg and foot back making her appear ready to dart from her perch.

With these changes in place, “Hooded Overture” is ready for a frame J

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Indian Summer" 9x12 acrylic

I played around with the composition on this piece for quite a while. Originally, there were 3 bucks working their way through the goldenrod. I never really got comfortable with the spacing between them, so I simplified. The clump of trees on the left were added as an afterthought to balance the composition and help direct the viewer back into the painting.

I purposely made the buck about a foot taller than he would be in reality. Quite often, even very large bucks walking in tall goldenrod may only show the top of their antlers. Of course this would have made for a silly looking painting, so I used my "artistic license" to make him larger than life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Tattered Perch" 12x18 acrylic on board

This painting is a little different for me. Of course, the first thing most will notice are the warm colors and the strong use of cadmium orange. Also, that striking background was applied in a somewhat loose and abstract manner. After doing my preliminary drawings and working out composition details, this piece took on a life of its own. Originally, it was supposed to be a 12x24 composition (see image below), but the closer it got to completion, the more I began to feel like there was a lot of unnecessary space. After much deliberation, I elected to get out the circular saw and make some corrections. I removed a strip of the board from each end of the painting and I'm much happier.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Rhythms of Reflection" 8x8 acrylic on board

My first painting of 2012 is a study of a handsome mallard pair. I wanted the reflections on the water to be accurate without painting too much detail. My goal was to give the impression of the ducks pushing water in front of them as they paddled forward. I like the negative space at the bottom of this painting, broken only by the reflection of the hen's head. I knew it would be a challenge to depict the birds in bright midday sun. Subjects painted in this type of light typically end up looking flat, but the iridescence of the drake's head and the wonderful pose of the hen helped to mitigate this concern.

Something Better or More of the Same?

A new year is upon us ripe with possibilities. I’ve never been one to make silly resolutions during the holiday season, but I do make a list of goals for the upcoming year (okay… maybe I make a lot of resolutions and just call them “goals”). I refer to The List often throughout the year to make sure I’m on track and nothing “important” is slipping through the cracks. The List also helps push me forward when I feel like I’m doing nothing but spinning my wheels. Picking an achievable goal and making it happen always gets my motor running again.

Here are a few highlights from The List for 2012:

  • 30 finished paintings – In 2011 I managed 26 and it seemed like a lot. Still, with an expanding list of shows and a new gallery, my production level needs to stay high.

  • 20 plein air attempts – Painting outdoors is an absolute treat. Of course, not all plein air paintings are successful and the bulk of my work is done in the studio. So I will push myself to just get out there and paint! No pressure… just time in the field.

  • Fill a sketch book – If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you know how important drawing is to me. It keeps me fresh and motivated. Sometimes I need to set aside time to just fill a few pages. It’s fun and helps fine tune my eye… making me really look at my subjects and understand more about them.

  • Birds In Art – I’ve been a lucky man. Being part of this prestigious event for the past several years has produced many friendships and motivated me to become a better, more well-rounded artist. The weeks leading up to the April 15th deadline are always focused on completing paintings to be submitted for this exhibit.

  • Alaska! – I’ve always wanted to explore a small piece of Alaska. Each year I try to spend a couple of weeks somewhere interesting shooting reference photos and developing ideas for new paintings. If the Alaska thing doesn’t work out, the Rocky Mountain West is always doable J

Those are just a few of the more than 30 goals to make The List for 2012. It’s going to be a busy year!