Sunday, December 30, 2012

Windy Pines

Here is another painting that was completed on location in my final weeks in Croatia. I was fascinated by the form of the pine trees on the edge of the Adriatic Sea. They are hardy and majestic as they stand with and against the sun, wind and salt of the sea. Their form is nothing like the pines we see in the US. I saw them as dominant graphic shapes in the landscape. They all seemed to be leaning dramatically...pushed by the wind since early growth. This gouache was painted in the mid afternoon facing south near a shady path on Lokrum Island

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ancient Olive Grove

This is a small gouache painting that I completed on location in the final weeks of my stay in Dubrovnik. It is from an ancient olive grove on Lokrum Island that has dozens of these sculptural, twisted olive trees. Peacocks and hens were everywhere in the grove and they will make appearances in future paintings that I create in the studio based on this site.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Swirling Sea

I mentioned in my last post that I was moving on from within the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik by mid-April since it was getting so crowded. My last month of painting in Dubrovnik was spent mostly on the island of Lokrum; just a short ferry boat ride from the mainland. The variety of scenery was stunning and one of my favorite things to paint there was the rocky beaches the day after a nighttime rain storm. The color was saturated. The sunshine was bright and clean, and yet the sea was still swirling around wildly from the earlier storm. Here are a few small gouache paintings from those sessions.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Old Town in April

This was the last painting that I completed on location in Old Town, Dubrovnik. I could paint there endlessly but at this point (mid-April), the town was being taken over by cruise ships full of tourists. It became difficult to find an area to paint in peace. I must admit though that even that experience was interesting. People were constantly walking past and taking pictures of me painting or more often, leaning over my shoulder and taking a picture of my painting in progress!
Sometimes they would say something to me, occasionally speaking English...most often not. The thing that I enjoy most about Plein Air painting is how all of your senses come into play as you paint. Sights, smells and sounds are locked into my brain from each session.With this piece, I sat in a cool shadow on a low stone step and heard singing coming from a nearby elementary school. All of the children speak primarily Croatian, but they were singing a popular Adele song in English. It sounded beautiful!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Warm & Cool "Street" Light

Here is a small gouache painting that was completed from a high stepped "street" on the extreme west side of Old Town, Dubrovnik. We would probably call these streets... walkways or alleys, but they were designed centuries ago to create maximum shade to provide cool, relief from the extreme heat of Adriatic summers. This creates interesting lighting situations everywhere you look in Old Town. The cool reflected light of the shadows contrasted dramatically with the warm light or hot spots of intense sunlight.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hilltop Pine

This 5 x 7 gouache painting was done at the top of the hill on Lokrum Island, near Fort Royal. The fort was a gun position left by the Napoleonic French. I sat on a low rock, facing east as I painted this hilltop pine. I started to loosen up a bit here and have some fun with the washes and specks of subtle color. Lokrum is just a short twelve minute boat ride from the Old Town port. It is heavily wooded with rocky beaches and dramatic seas. It became my favorite place to paint while in Dubrovnik and I think that I visited the island about seven or eight times.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Forts and Ports

These are two more small plein air gouache paintings. I lived in Dubrovnik, Croatia for three months while I taught a plein air sketchbook class and I lived right next to the ancient walled city on the Adriatic Sea. There was no shortage of stunning scenery and inspiration. These paintings depict two forts on opposite ends of the city. The top piece is of the Fortress of Lovijenac which is just west of the walls near Pile Gate. The lower piece depicts St. John's Fortress, overlooking the Old Town Harbor near Ploce Gate. Lokrum Island is visible in the background of each painting. Later in this series you will see many pieces from Lokrum Island as it was a major source of inspiration for me in my final months there.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Island Sunset

With this painting, I started to make some changes to my normal working habits. It was still painted on location with gouache, but I started working smaller and also started to use more flat sable brushes. This original is 5" x 7" and I made the decision to work smaller due to the extreme lighting situations that I was encountering. My larger gouache pieces were taking about two hours to complete and within that time frame the light was changing rapidly. I needed to work quicker if I was going to depict the dramatic light that I am drawn to. This is looking west from Lapad just before sunset on the Adriatic Sea.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Old Town Arch

This is a plein air painting of a street scene and arch in Old Town, Dubrovnik. Everything is ancient and built of limestone. The overall "grayness" starts to make your eyes search for color and suddenly I found myself sensitive to the slightest hint of it. A hint of warm light starts to seem almost vibrant and some of the late day shadows were full of great, gray-violets.
This was done in late March before the tourist season really kicked in. One month later and this scene would have been full of people.
Gouache 9 x 12

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mountain Village

This 9x12 gouache painting was completed after a half hour climb to the top of Mount Srd. The scene looks Northeast toward other mountain ranges in Bosnia and Montenegro. It was always windy on the mountain top so I had to find an area to sit that was sheltered from the wind. I carried all of my supplies in a standard backpack and although it is always best to travel light while going out into nature to paint, it was crucial for this terrain.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Orange Tree in Old Town

This is another 9 x 12 gouache painting completed on location. This was a situation where the light changed rapidly as I worked.
Plein air painting requires a certain flexibility and accepting attitude because of lighting or atmospheric changes. The end result is a "greatest hits" of everything that was observed while I worked. It is very rewarding and feels much more creative than working from photos. This was done in mid-March and there was still a bit of a chill in the air. I remember that my fingers were slightly numb upon completion.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Through the Pines

This is another painting completed recently on location using gouache. I've decided to show all of this series chronologically since there has been a subtle evolution of style that has taken place since I began several months ago. I think that this is a fairly natural thing that occurs anytime an artist creates a series using a single medium. We get bored or more proficient, or both, and in my case I also began using different style brushes that changed the way my brush strokes appeared. More on that later, as I plan to post one of these paintings every week for the next few months.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Plein-Air with Gouache

Usually when I paint outdoors, on location, I have used oils with my Jullian easel. Recently I began a series of gouache paintings completed in the Plein-Air tradition. It has been a very different experience...sitting down, working more horizontally on my lap, and trying to find a level space for my palette and water bottle. The wind, sun, and humidity are all factors that affect the painting process and drying times. I have completed about twenty of these paintings so far and this was the first one. 9" x 12"

Friday, March 30, 2012

What's Bruin?

This is a 9x12 acrylic painting demo of an angry Grizzly Bear. The quick drying properties of acrylics allow me to build up many layers of paint in a very short timeframe. The first layers are mostly monochromatic and I concentrate on depicting the form with a full range of values, from white to black. Then I glaze on more color as I try to create variety, interest, and selected highlights. I use multiple references and I really observe the subtleties of color for authenticity and to avoid color cliches. Notice the gray pinks and purples in and around the bear's mouth.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Frankenstein Monster

This is a gouache demo where I am using the medium in a very loose fashion. This seems to be a common goal with most artists/illustrators as they change habits throughout their careers. We spend the early parts of our lives trying to get more proficient with materials and tight or refined with our work...and then suddenly it starts in the other direction. I only want to paint what is necessary for any particular image to work. I want it to look and feel like a painting. Sometimes it takes more, sometimes less.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Muddy Waters in Oil

Here is another recent oil painting completed as an in-class demo. It's a portrait of the legendary Chicago Blues musician, Muddy Waters. I worked with a limited palette of colors and painted this on a 16 x 20 home-made canvas board. I worked from a variety of references, both B&W and color. I completed this in one painting session, working wet into wet with oil paint. It's a very direct process and I don't use any mediums with my oils. If I need to thin the paint at all, I will just use a bit of the odorless solvent that I also use to clean my brushes. Many of the painting mediums (including linseed oil) extend the drying time indefinitely. With tight deadlines as an Illustrator, I guess I just learned to paint without them since I was usually trying to minimize drying time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Old Time Fiddler

This is a recently completed oil painting that was done as an in-class demonstration in my Illustration 1 course at RIT. It depicts an old time fiddle player named Kenny Baker. The references that I worked from were very different from my finished painting. Washed out, flat lighting, confusing backgrounds, and a distracting plaid shirt. My goal was to edit and simplify so that the focus was only on the essentials...a great face and his hand holding the fiddle and bow. I eliminated the plaid and added a classic western shirt style. I also kept things very raw with a limited palette and a painterly approach where some of the under painting remains visible in the finish. I worked with a similar texture on the shirt and the background to create cohesion and to avoid a "cut-out" effect. I also blurred some edges to tie the figure to the background.