Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year of Painting, A Year of Patience and Time

During 2009 my time as a painter has offered some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. During the calendar year of 2009 I painted 35 paintings ranging from 5x7” to 36” 72” in size. I was once asked what I think my strongest attributes as an artist are. I think most artists would try to answer this question based on how they see their style of art. One artist I know considers his best attribute to be his bold use of expressive colors. Other artists might describe their strengths based on teachers, mentors or perhaps the attributes of the great artists throughout history. For me there is no doubt that my strongest attributes are based on my firm understanding of the importance of patience and time. Some people think I’m nuts in my “stopwatch” mentality of painting. If I know a 16x20” painting typically takes me 24 hours of painting time and I do a second 16x20” and it takes only 20 hours - Is this second painting inferior to the first? Maybe I’m my own worst critic, but I would answer that question with an affirmative YES! Patience and time do matter.

I sit here pondering how I will spend my New Years Eve. Will I go out to a restaurant? Will I watch movies? Will I watch college football? I enjoy all these things, but I think I will most likely end 2009 the way it began – and spend some time in front of the easel remembering the importance of patience and time in painting and life.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Painting shown is Double Falls 36x72" Acrylic on Canvas (The first completed painting of 2009)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sweetwater Creek

Sweetwater Creek is located in Eastern North Carolina near Williamston. During a recent trip to the region I took some pictures from the highway overpass. Things like sunken trees and dark muddy water with brilliant defined reflections make this a very interesting landscape.

There are several different acrylic painting techniques I used to create this picture. The water was painted in different grays, greens and purples – when complete I applied a thick sap green glaze over the water this allowed for a sharp contrast with the foreground. The grassy area in the foreground is different bands of greens and yellows accented by speckles of contrasting greens and yellows to represent the wet grass. The further background in the top 1/3 of the painting represents the dense forestry I saw in that area.

Certainly the most involved and eye catching elements of this work are the trees. The detail work and heavy impasto allow these trees to jump off the canvas. In some cases (like the red in the upper left) dried paint/glaze is adhered to the canvas using gel medium.

Sweetwater Creek 20x20” Acrylic on Canvas

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Painting on Metal

I’ve done a few paintings where I painted directly on sheets of aluminum. When doing this I like to leave portions of the metal exposed in the final painting as the shimmering surface adds some interesting effect.

To do a painting like the one shown I start by masking out the portions where the metal will be exposed, in this case rocks within a mountain stream. After the masking tape has been applied to the selected areas, I cover the entire surface with a metal primer. The primers will dry in a few hours and I begin painting the surface. I like to use acryl gouache to do paintings on metal – this is a multi-surface paint with good adhesion since it dries matte and is opaque there is little chance for streaking or surface exposure. When the paint is finished I’ll remove the masking tape and add some highlights to the exposed metal.

Shown - Mountain Stream #1 12x18" Acryl Gouache on Aluminum

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grassy Creek Falls

I try to think of my paintings in three sections. Usually those sections are sky, water and land. In most cases each section occupies between 1/4 and 1/3 of the entire painting surface. This painting was a bit unique and more challenging in that land (the rocks making up the waterfall) occupied over 85% of the surface. The reason for the greater challenge comes from the intricacies of all the details. In painting the water or sky I tend to use broader bands of color and therefore these can be done quicker. This also makes the painting process a bit less tedious in that I can think of it in sections.

Despite the challenges of the compositions, I am very pleased with this painting. The patterns of the rock and the glazing elements of the waterfall and sky really make various elements pop off the canvas. This 24x24” work took over 35 hours to complete. It really is a nice complement to Crabtree Falls and Crabtree Creek which are also 24x24” and are also inspired from this same region of western North Carolina.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gustav Klimt?

Recently another artist mentioned my paintings somewhat reminded her of the works of Gustav Klimt. Although several people have made this reference over the years I always dismissed it, thinking only of Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ where he painted The Kiss and other figure works. In looking at the work done during this phase I could see similarities to my style, but perhaps through my own stubbornness I decided not to make a comparison with people and landscapes. I now know Klimt painted somewhere around 50 landscapes in his short life. In these works I can definitely see similarities of our styles. In Klimt’s Pear Tree that is shown I love the multitude of colors used to accentuate the leaves, yet there is still enough contrast to separate the tree trunks, grass and sky.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Crabtree Creek - Near Little Switzerland

This is the second painting I completed that is inspired from a recent trip to Western North Carolina. This painting depicts an area of Crabtree Creek about 1/4 mile up from Crabtree Falls. The picture was taken on a crisp autumn day in early November.

In choosing the color selection I used more vibrant colors than what is shown in the photograph. I started painting the water with a selection of my favorite blues including: Cobalt Blue, Indigo and Midnight Blue. The actual color shown in the picture is more of a brown, black – but I could not resist taking advantage of the vibrancy of these incredible blues. This picture was taken on a clear day early in the morning – my intent with the far background of yellow and bright greens was to give the effect of sunlight popping through the trees. Unfortunately what I found was there was not enough contrast with first tier of foliage vs. the trees that are in more of the foreground area. To gain this contrast I used a technique that I previously reserved for water effects. I mixed some Hookers Green and some glazing medium and poured the mixture into a detail bottle. I applied this dark green mixture on nearly all the leaves in this area. It offset it from the first tier of trees and created a nice composition.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crabtree Falls – Off the Blue Ridge Parkway

On a recent trip to Little Switzerland, North Carolina I saw Crabtree Falls. This magnificent waterfall is highlighted with powerful rushing waters and beautiful moss covered rocks. I visited the area in early November, so I expected to see more autumn colors, but the area was more filled with pine trees and moss making for some spectacular greens.

In choosing how to paint this, I selected a view that showed a tree that was growing in an island near the base of the waterfall. This made for a strong focal point with the waterfall in the back and a brilliant blue and yellow sky in the far background. I began this painting with the sky and basically worked my way from background to foreground, with the tree being the last thing that was painted. To create the waterfall I used two different sized detail bottle applicators filled with Iridescent White and Australian Sky Blue. This type of application provides a subtle impasto effect but is not too overwhelming.

I personally think the rocks in the bottom 1/3 of this painting are quite interesting. The palette used for these rocks consists primarily of Carbon Black, Paynes Grey, Midnight Blue and some purples.

This is the first of two paintings inspired from this trip, I look forward to doing some more in the near future.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Using Mosaic Chips in a Painting

Using mosaic chips in art definitely adds a different element to a painting.  Since my paintings tend to be grids of thousands of colors they appear very “mosaic” like when they are completed, so using real mosaic chips in conjunction with the paint seems to work ok. 

I completed this piece (Creek at Candlehurst Lane #2) in the summer of 2008.  It represents a stream that is just a short walk from my house.  The majority of this is painted with acryl gouache on a 48x60” piece of birch.  I isolated six different areas, where I would integrate mosaic chips.   Once I painted the wood panel, I searched for old plates that might have some colors or patterns that would somewhat correspond with the colors that were painted.  I knew the color matches would not be exact to matching that of the paint, but that was ok since it would ultimately help the mosaics stand out.  I tried to use similar colors when selecting the colors for the tile grout.

After all the mosaics were glued and the grout was polished this work came out really nice.  It has been over a year, since I did anything like this, but I will be starting a new project in the upcoming months.  The mosaic chips I used for this piece were from existing plates that already had patterns on them.  Acryl gouache is versatile enough that it can be used on a variety of surfaces, so I think I will make my own mosaic chips and incorporate them into another painting.  I look forward to getting started on this project soon.  Comments and questions are of course always welcomed. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fluid Acrylics and Glazing Medium for Pouring Painting

A. Create a surface that has defined walls that are at least 1/8” high.  In this example I used paint and impasto medium to create a rock wall.  These walls will confine the liquid mixture when poured onto the canvas.

B. Mix a few colors of fluid acrylic paint and glazing medium.  I mix about 20% paint to 80% glazing medium.  Mix thoroughly – when complete the mixture will be the color of the paint.

C. Pour the first color onto the intended area of the surface

D, E and F. Pour the other colors onto the mixture

 G. Begin to rotate the canvas at slight angles so the liquid mixture will occupy the entire area – the wall will confine the mixture from flowing over into non-intended areas or off the canvas

 H. As with any technique experimentation is the key. Here with the left over mixtures I poured contrasting colors onto one another.  When dry the paint and glazing  medium will have little color shift form wet to dry and will remain shimmering for an interesting effect.