Archive for the ‘grass’ Category

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From the Classroom – Farm House and Field

April 9, 2019

Farm House Reference Photo

Working with the advanced watercolor students on atmospheric perspective and being selective / creative with photo references. Rather than be faithful to the actual photograph, I decided that the farm house was my main inspiration and decided to place a barn structure behind the house. I decided to improvise on the fields edge sweeping across the front.

Drawings and Value Sketch

With the value study completed, I had a fair idea of where I was going to go with this design. The students are starting to appreciate these value sketches as a way to anticipate what I am going to do in painting the design.

Farm House and Field Demo – Holbein Watercolor on Canson 140# – 3″ x 5″

The fun thing about doing these very fast (less than five minutes) paintings, is that I often end up with watercolor results for which I had not planned, yet am able to appreciate and utilize. Sometimes we plan for our watercolors to be too tight and we fail to allow our watercolors to be watercolor. That is, allow and even encourage some of the wild mingling’s and results which we can only obtain with watercolor.

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From the Classroom – Boone Farm

March 27, 2019

Often, students mindlessly copy photographs. Too often they end up with drab, busy, boring paintings of uninspired photos. I work with the advanced students to find more opportunities within a reference photo. I implore the students not to just copy the photo. One exercise we do is to take a photo and find at least six good design options within the reference photo. Extra credit given to the student that creates the most good thumbnail sketches of good design options. (I will cover this exercise in another post).

This week, I utilized a photo reference of a local farm. The prior week, one student needed help understanding how to paint the shape of a cylinder. Another had a question concerning shadows and one other student required help understanding metal and rust.

Boone County Farm

I utilized the sketch and value study of a grain bin to demonstrate cylinder, shadow and rust. I opted to set this as a winter scene to stay truer to the reference photo. Side note, they also got interested in the atmospheric perspective I implemented.

Boone Farm Grain Bin Sketch and Value Study

This design highlighting the barn allowed me to demonstrate cylinder (the silo), shadows, and distant trees. Placed this design in a summer setting to help them imagine another option to a reference photo (that is, why does it have to be winter?).

Boone Barn Sketch and Value Study

Discussion then led to these two studies. Each one was created in less than five minutes. They are small but quickly illustrated the points and allowed the students to quickly get to work on their own designs.

Corn Crib Demo – on Canson 140# CP

Boone Barn Demo – Watercolor on Canson 140# CP.

 

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Along Limestone Road

March 25, 2019

Along Limestone Road – Oil on Canvas – 36″ x 36″

I used a plein air sketch and the small painting titled, Clouds Over Limestone, to create this work. The sky proved to be more tricky than I had anticipated. The task of constantly stepping away from the painting to examine the progress and judiciously adjust as necessary, is especially important when working the larger canvases. This work is on its way to a gallery. Wish us luck.

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Between the Fields to Home

March 10, 2019

Between the Fields to Home – Oil on Canvas – 24″ x 36″

Mid-October my wife had a day off of school. We decided to venture to an apple orchard  that was over in the neighboring county. Rather than take the normal, direct route, I opted to get adventurous and take back roads. These type of adventures can uncover opportunities, and this day was no exception. As we approached a main road, I witnessed a good design in the fields across the way. I made note of it and we continued on to the orchard.

The trip to the orchard was a bust. As we neared the orchard, we realized that because of the holiday, there were a lot families at the orchard. Worse yet, because of rains over the weekend, the parking lots were mud swamps.

The next weekend I ventured back to capture a plein air painting of this scene. If not for the discovery a few days earlier, I most certainly would have passed this site. Mid-October morn. Slight clouds and humid, the scene was blurred (see below) I also made a mistake by utilizing a gray primed panel for the painting. Difficult start. As I worked the painting, things went well until thick cloud cover rolled in and completely dulled the colors of the landscape. Unfortunately, the plein air painting accurately captured that dullness.

Reference photo taken at the start of my plein air painting

I was tempted to wipe the painting off of the panel, before I left the site, but decided to wait. Back home, I felt that, while the plein air painting was not good, the design had bones. Rather than tamper with the plein air painting, I used it as a reference to create this larger studio work.

I still have the plein air piece and plan to play with it to see what happens.

 

 

 

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Clouds Over Limestone Road

March 1, 2019

Clouds Over Limestone Road – Oil on Canvas – 12″ x 12″

Fall of 2017, I did a small plein air painting of this scene. The roll of the road along this farm is what caught my attention. The original painting stopped just above the trees. Soon after I completed the plein air work, one of the galleries requested this work for display. Unfortunately, the work sat at the gallery never to find an owner.

Rise on Limestone Road – Plein Air – Oil on Linen Panel – 8″ x 10″

I retrieved the original work late summer. I left the work on display in my studio where I could see it. I thought that the design might be interesting if I played with a more dramatic sky. I am currently working on a larger version of this for the galleries and have already thought up another idea for this design. More to come.

 

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Grange Hall Fence Line

February 25, 2019

Grange Hall Fence Line – Oil on Canvas – 12″ x 36″

I started this work on site in the summer of 2017. The wide layout captures the feeling of the landscape in northern Illinois. I liked the start, but felt that something was amiss. It did not feel right. It sat in my studio until this past autumn.

One afternoon, while working on another painting, an idea came to mind. I had followed the actual landscape closely. The proportions of the farm elements and the road were correct. To aid the design, I moved the road closer to the farmhouse. Moving it to the one third margin made the design work for me. Although the rework lost some of the freshness of the plein air work, I believe that this was the move to make. I doubt that the property owners will make issue of losing some of their property in my painting.

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McNally’s

February 21, 2019

McNally’s – Oil on Canvas – 11″ x 14″

I received a call a couple weeks before Christmas. The children of a former student asked that I create a house portrait of their parents home. They inquired about a watercolor but agreed to have it created in oil. They forwarded about two dozen photos taken of the home. Photos from about every possible angle, which was great. I suggested, and they agreed to let me design from the side of the home as a way to place emphasis at the front door as well as add depth to the composition.

The painting moved smoothly and I was finished several days before needed.