Monday, October 31, 2011

Road Dreams, 10x12

Even sitting abandoned against a fence this old water truck feels powerful, like it's bearing down on us and we want to jump out of the way.   Its weathered red rusted patina both reflects colors from its surroundings and contributes its own local color.  For many years crusty old coots drove this down untold dirt roads to bring water to the fruit trees.

The folks that own Bristol Flats Ranch didn't have it destroyed because they liked having its character hanging around, reminding them that this area has a rich past.  That's what they told me.

This truck is also in the last post but, because of its distance, becomes a stroke of red paint or two.  You can find it HERE.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bristol Flats, 8x10

Ever notice how towns across the U.S. are about 12 to 15 miles apart?  When steam locomotives were the 747's of their time they needed frequent supplies of fuel and water.   As a result they put water tanks that far apart.  Of course, as long as the train was stopped, why not board some folks and ship a few things?  Stations and towns grew up around those tanks.

Bristol Flats was such a place.  Now there is only a lonely sign that says 'Bristol' and two empty tracks.  The station and whatever town is gone....only this ranch sitting in a beautiful valley east of the Cascade mountains remains. 

The next post is from this ranch.  When you get it look at this painting and see if you can find the subject (of course, I'll probably tell you).


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rainy Day Bridge, 10x12

Alone up a dead end road and down into a makeshift parking area I found this scene.  Rain kept interfering with my painting progress but the quiet was worth the annoyance.  For much of the time I had to hold an umbrella over the painting and palette to keep them dry enough to progress.  

I've had some questions so, if a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some answers to the question of  'How do you do this?'  While it has been different every time, this is the general idea:

The Scene:

Initial separation of light and dark with an Isabey badger fitch:

Over the next few steps the image gets created by 'carving' with value and hue:

Finally, after the larger shapes begin to take some generalized form, I can begin to add the details that turn it into a recognizable image:

And that's pretty much it.  Painting is just big shapes and doo-dads... (think I've said that before.....)  Remember when comparing the photo of the scene to the painting that  1) this is a painting, not a reproduction of a photo,  2) cameras lie, and 3) see number one.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Restored Ford, 8x10

My car broke down.  After teaching last Tuesday morning my car wouldn't start until I banged it with a hammer.  So it was off to Mac n'Jacs, the local car repair.  There I was with time to kill and in the parking lot was this 1936 Ford.  How fortunate.  It fit right in with my recent truck paintings.  First it was pumpkins, now trucks.  I can't wait to see what will be next.

Notice how the dark of the truck in front of that white wall brings your sight to that area of the painting.  I insured your attention in that spot by making the red sun glow in the front tire slightly stronger than the rear.  Well, that's what I was trying for....hope it worked.

Only one more truck waiting in the studio for its turn....

By the way, Rob Weiss has been turning out some gems lately.  Go HERE to see them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Briefness of Glory, 6x8

A setting sun, clouds moving in and drops spattering on the ground.  But yet the light seeping under those clouds lit the fields and reflected off the buildings.  With only fifteen minutes to capture this, not drawing was essential.  A quick placement and block-in of the distant mountains and intuition took over.  Had I had longer it wouldn't have come out much better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Old Friends, 10x12

Retired trucks.....but still ready for action if you need them.  I'm never quite sure why old things hold such attraction but would guess it has to do with all the history they contain.  Like the abandoned apple tree from a couple of posts ago, it's easy to imagine the excitement when that green International was first driven down the driveway.  I used to have an International just like this one, except that it was grey.....and rust.  I think I bought it for $90.

See.  History.

This was the most difficult of the 'no-draw' subjects.  Keeping the angles, perspective, relationship to each other and design placement going was a mental gymnastic.  I'm glad it turned out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Country Alley, 6x8

For some reason yesterday's post didn't get sent out so I'm using this little sketch to test the system.

I had a few minutes one evening but it was raining so I stood under the lid of my rear door (this is much easier to do with a Vanagon than a Prius) which kept the painting and myself relatively dry.  Just a sleepy little alley.

Here's hoping you get this one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Orchard Truck, 10x12

Old trucks have character.  Even if you can't see much of this one you know it has at least one flat tire, a bit of rust and a headlight that doesn't work.....but it still starts when needed. 

The zigzag pattern in the grasses  leading back to that spot of red was what attracted me.  This began as thin tonal shapes in the gray grasses, the front shadow,  the shadowed portion in and under the trees and the background area...except where the two poplars are growing.  All else was left white.  That original wash can be seen most easily near the bottom, but there was variation in the color of the tone.  Under the trees it was warmer.

Brace yourself.  More trucks are coming.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Coming to Life, 7x7

Today the pumpkin patch was over-run with kids, imaginations ablaze, ready to carve a scary masterpiece.

In the spirit of the season I did this quick one just for the fun of it.  Having been released from the blank surface of the gourd, the face of the pumpkin seems to be ready for doing devilish no-good.

Basically a red-green color axis with a little purplish visual relief and counter play.  Still life has such inventive freedom...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Forgotten Apples, 10x12

Anchors to a different time, aged fruit trees can be found on so many old farms and I often wonder about what was happening on the day they were planted.  Who did it?  A young family just beginning their lives together?  A grandmother wanting to leave something for her grandchildren?  The act of planting a tree seems like a gift to the future, an act of faith and hope that our world will continue to be well.

I picked one of those apples and ate it as I finished this piece....tart and perfect for a pie.  It will need another week and some cold weather to become sweet.

This piece was quickly blocked in with large shapes that I broke up into 'trees' and 'fence' as I went along.  As in the last posting, no pre-drawing was necessary.  I like the purplish red metal roofing that was cast away as it sparks off the cool green of the tree.

Hmmm.  I'm hungry for another apple....maybe some cobbler......

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Working Stiff, 8x10

Bob handed me a bit of something and said 'Try this' .  It was beef jerky and, while I don't usually eat red meat, after that bite I was off to find the source, Carek's Meat Market, on a very side street of Roslyn.  I made it there but only after I saw and painted this old working truck sitting in the grass.

I was across the mountains as 'general manager' for the Bitterroot Workshops (general managers have a broad job description), but spent most of the time painting.  Deciding before I got over there that I was going to approach landscape the same way I've been painting figure and portrait, none of the eleven paintings I came back with was pre-drawn in any way.

 Most artists do at least a minimal sketch on the canvas before applying paint but I've found that my other work was more accurate and much livelier when I eliminated the drawing stage.  Doesn't seem right but it works.   I'll be posting several of the paintings from the last six days of work and you can be the judge.  I rather like the results.

Oh.  Carek's Meat Market, even if you don't buy anything, is worth the adventure.....and stop by the Brick for a beer while you are there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Waiting for Kids, 9x15

Trouble.  It sneaks up when you least expect it.  There you are, enjoying the day and 'Wham!', trouble knocks you for a loop.

Like this painting.  It seemed like such a good idea for a sunny late afternoon.  All those pumpkins forming a pattern on the hillside and smiling at me......well, it seemed like they were.  Do you have any idea how many pumpkins are in a field like this?  Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions.

OK.  I'm being dramatic.  It was fun, yet challenging, to do this painting.  As you can tell, I didn't really paint all those pumpkins.....just two or three with minimal detail.  It was the illusion of all these pumpkins just sitting there waiting for children to show up that I wanted to create.  Getting the balance between illusion and reality was the trick.

What a great month to be a kid with an imagination.  What a great month to be an adult with a paintbrush in hand...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blakeley 'Rocks', 8x10

One evening nearing dusk I noticed these 'rocks' in Blakeley Harbor and was taken with the glow of sunlight off their surface.  Normally I don't think I'd post this one as it was a good exercise but doesn't go anywhere artistically, in my humble opinion.  So why did I post it?  Read on.

There was a time in the Pacific Northwest when giant trees dominated the land.  Their trunks were large enough that people hollowed them out and made homes in them.  The felled logs needed to be sawed up for shipment and this is where the story gets interesting.

Blakeley Harbor, now a sleepy bay with a few homes around it, was once the home of the largest sawmill in the world.  The harbor was the site of a large community with hotels, stores, ship building, homes and businesses.  That is all gone but the pier posts which you can see in the painting.

OK.  Now the 'rocks'.  Sawmills run on saw blades which often need sharpening.  The business that did all the sharpening was on the boardwalk above the gone.  These 'rocks' are actually piles of the metal that was filed off the blades. 

Now wasn't that an interesting history lesson?  We are all surrounded by ghosts of the past that, most of the time, we are oblivious to.

No wonder those rocks were glinting in the setting sun.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Atumnal Roses, 12x16

Since its nice to paint with company, a group of us get together on Thursdays to work from a model or sometimes a still life.  Walking to the studio on probably one of our last sunny somewhat warm days I spied these flowers hanging over the lawn.....and that was it for me.  I couldn't bring myself to go inside and instead sat in the lawn with a winter coat on.  Remember, I said 'somewhat warm'......but I exagerrated. 

When the roses were finished....(OK, 'when I was finished' as the roses are still going on with their thing)  I moved inside and found a surly crowd grumbling mightily about the still life I had set up......but I'll save that story for a later post.

I'll be back in a couple of days.