Archive for the ‘landscape’ Category

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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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From the Classroom Advanced Watercolor – New Strategy

February 24, 2019

Basket of Blossoms 2 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP Paper – 12″ x 9″

In the on-going challenge to sate the desire my advanced students have to learn more, I endeavor to move them from their comfort zone.

My advanced students are a varied mixture of experiences. Some are still working, others are retired. Some prefer Still Life, others prefer Landscapes. They each have their own level of understanding and each one has their own unique style. Some allow watercolor to be watercolor awhile others aim to tightly control the medium. The community interaction is enjoyable while their desire to learn more makes it a challenge for me to find new ways to help each one meet their next plateau.

I have attempted to help students understand how to work with reference photos. When your eyes are trained, you should be able to find at least six possible compositions in any photograph. This proves to be a challenge as too often the students will faithfully copy the reference photo which I offer as the idea of the week.

I am using a new approach this semester. The students will receive thumbnail sketches of at least six possible designs. They will not see the reference photo until we meet for class. It is their challenge to utilize their imagination and decide what kind of a scene they will paint. Season, time of day, colors, etc. It is recommended that they gather references to help them paint the scene in class.

At the start of class, I reveal the reference photo, all of the thumbnail sketches in my Strathmore Sketchbook and a four value marker sketch of one of the designs. I will do a quick, loose watercolor demonstration to help the students visualize a bright, lively start to their watercolor paintings. For those students interested, I will answer questions and offer ideas to help them learn how to see more in their reference photos.

 

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Before the Flair

February 23, 2019

Before the Flair – Oil on Canvas – 16″ x 20″

Decided to create a work with some dramatic color as well as a subject which might appeal to Woodwalk Gallery clientele. I utilized a plein air oil sketch of Anderson Dock, the boats and distant peninsula. I used a photo reference for the sunset. The boats at the left margin gave me a challenge. I needed the boats to read but needed to subdue the value of the reflected light.

 

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Birch Trees

February 22, 2019

Birch Trees – Oil on Canvas – 10″ x 8″

Late autumn and I was stuck in my studio. In light of a conversation with Woodwalk Gallery, I decided to create a small work that might have appeal to the Door County crowd. I love finding the birch trees along the less traveled roads. Each tree cluster has its own personality and design opportunities. I created this oil painting using a small watercolor sketch created last summer while we were in Door County. I will probably challenge my advanced watercolor students to paint this design prior to offering it to Woodwalk later this spring.

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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.

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Mill at Midway

February 19, 2019

Mill at Midway – Plein Air finished in Studio – Oil on Canvas – 16″ x 20″

Late August I ventured over to Midway Village. Between the entrance to the museum and a neighboring recreational path, is the pond and mill. Although this location has its share of passers-by, I managed to find a spot which gave me a nice vantage point for the mill and kept me somewhat secluded from viewers.

The mill and foreground were my start. The trough on the right and trees to the left were dependent on artistic license. I ripped through this and within two hours had everything well established. I did some touch ups in the studio.

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Shed at Beaver Creek

February 15, 2019

Shed at Beaver Creek – Plein Air finished in Studio – Oil on Canvas – 16″ x 20″

A few miles to the east is the work space of an artisan. They make a wide range of ceramic items including water-wigglers. The converted barn is surrounded by fields about a half mile off of the main road. A thick stand of trees keep the farm hidden from the main road. The folks have allowed me to come by and paint the scenery. Except for the attacks by mosquitoes this past summer, the farm is a fairly safe location for painting.

I had set a strategy of working larger plein paintings last summer and fall with the idea that any unfinished works could be completed during the cold mid-western winter. This is one of the first pieces completed. I worked for two hours on location. This painting was well underway and should not have needed a lot of work to finish it. The most stressful aspect was to complete this work in the studio while maintaining the freshness of the plain air work.

Side note: the owners wife informed me that the small sunflowers in the pot were planted by one of the pesky squirrels on the property. Nice touch. I like it.

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Field Marker

February 13, 2019

Field Marker – Oil on Canvas – 18″ x 24″

Fall of 2017, I found this spot along Grange Hall Road. Harvested field to my left and grazing cows to my right. From time to time, while I painted, the cows would wander over to see what I was up to. I am sure that they thought I had food or treats for them.

The plein air work was a small 9″ x 12″ work. The plein air piece had issues. The sun was somewhat to my back. Being an early October morn, the sun was a bit lower in the sky. These conditions caused me to see the colors and values as less intense than I would like. Upon completing the plein air work, I contemplated wiping off the days mess. But there was “something” about the work that made me wait.

Over the winter, I looked at that painting numerous times. Then it started to come together for me. In real life, the sun was to my left, what if I altered the design and had the sun coming from the right? That would enable more drama with shadows from the trees and fence-line. The distant tree line was just a flat, stagnant line. What if I “invented” a distant hill side to help give motion to the distance? What if I intensified the colors? What if I simplified the tree-line to my right? A few thumbnail sketches and a small value study gave me the confidence to go for it.

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Awaiting

January 28, 2019

Awaiting – Oil on Canvas – 24″ x 18″

On a bright summers morn, I went for a quick walk along the nearby bay. Fortunately, I brought my small camera. Snapped a quick photo of these boats. Reviewing the mornings photos while eating breakfast, I liked the basic design which I had captured.

I seldom work from photos, but in this case, the design was there. I had to bring the distant shore down into the frame. I opted to eliminate the small outboard motors on a couple of the boats and altered a few of the boats colors. But this design is basically as I found it; or perhaps, it found me.

 

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Along Beaverton Road

January 20, 2019

Along Beaverton Road – Plein Air – Oil on Canvas Panel – 12″ x 24″

This farm is well hidden by bushes and trees along the roadside. Not much of a view from the main entrance either. Thanks to a small gap in the brush, I was able to set up my gear and work on this view. It was a rather quiet road. About an hour into this painting, a young woman stopped her car to see what I was doing. A simple greeting was all that was exchanged. About five minutes later, an older gentleman riding a golf cart rolled up (I suspect that the young woman had alerted this fellow). The gentleman looked at the painting and said nothing. I made an assumption that this might be his farm. He confirmed my suspicion but seemed stoic. Concerned that I my presence and work might not be to his liking, I offered to stop my painting and leave. He replied that I did not need to leave. Said nothing more. A few awkward moments later, he quietly rolled away.