Monday, June 23, 2014

"Timucuan family house"

"Timucuan family house"
12 x 20.5" acrylic on board
The Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine is one of my favorite places to visit and paint. If you're in the area and want to get away from the roller coaster side of Florida attractions, this is a great place. To begin my day I drank a cup of water from the fountain and began this plein air painting.

Note: Here's a webpage of downloadable video demonstrations.

 This is a masonite board primed with Gesso. I used charcoal to establish the composition which was basically the three huts. There was a lot going in the scene in addition to the three buildings (Timucuan Indian family houses) but they would be the center of interest so placing them in the right place was of prime importance. The shelters reminded me of the haystacks that Monet once painted.

Acrylics were used in the paining and the large shapes were blocked in. A very limited palette was used consisting of White, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Indian Yellow, Cad Yellow Light, and Alizarin Crimson. I did add some Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna towards the end of the painting.

Establishing the patterns and values was of prime importance getting my darks, middle tones and lights in the piece. Since acrylics were used, it all dried very quickly allowing me to layer color on top of color in order to build up nice layers of colors and tones.

This is how the scene looked through the lens of a camera. You can see that highlight values in the sunlit sides of the shelters show up with very little color, one of the disadvantages of working from photos. Fortunately, I had plenty of time to work on location and didn't have to rely on any photos. As I look at the photo, I'm personally amazed at how little information is in the photo as compared to what I was actually seeing while on location.

Refinements were made and large areas and shapes began to be refined. Negative areas were carefully placed.

Here in the final painting, I added a few figures and the small wood fire with a hint of white smoke rising up. I also simplified and darkened the foreground so as to bring more attention to the area where the figures are standing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hidden Cove - Step by step

Here's a step by step look at a recent southern landscape painting titled "Hidden Cove".

I began painting by placing in the sky using acrylics. Often I put the sky in after putting in dark areas of trees and such but in this case I placed the sky first. On the occasions where I paint the sky later it's usually because I want to play with the negative areas more but I really didn't have much of an idea as to where this painting was going although I knew this warm sky feeling would be a major part of the piece so that's what I began with.

Here the clouds and grey areas of the sky were placed in the piece. I knew I wanted water in this scene so I extended the grey towards the bottom of the painting which would later become the water.

With a combination of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Indian Yellow, I made a dark color which because the foliage and carefully began to build up the composition.

A few cabbage palms were added using a light touch of the brush and simply dragging the paint from the middle of the palm outward creating the feathery edges to the palm.

A few more palms were added and birds in the foreground. Some distant palms were placed near the horizon in a blue color but the composition just seemed too bottom heavy.

In order to resolve this problem, I took out those small palms (in the previous photo) and brought the horizon up to a higher level in the picture plane. This took care of that area in the painting were nothing of interest was happening. More trees were added on the left to fill up the space more appropriately. Then another layer of foreground was placed in the lower right with the darks. The shape of the trees on the top left and the ones on the bottom right echoed each other and almost gave a framed look to the painting helping to hold it together.

To finish the piece, some dull green was added to give the foliage more form. I also added more variety to the sky as the palm trees and the clouds seemed to follow the same downward sloping line. This change made the sky more natural looking and filled the solid blue area of the sky with more interest.