While driving south west of Calgary I came across this wonderful little scene and snapped a quick pic before moving on. I looked at the image several times and was a little intimidated by the seeming complexity. Something I recently wrote about and painted during an afternoon of plein air painting (Trembling Aspens) made me realize I just needed to make it my own. So I did…
Well, you not supposed to like every one and this counts as one I don’t like. I got bogged down off the start with the details in the barn and didn’t let the pins flow. It was frustrating because I could feel it right away. I took out the small brush and started in niggling. This is a second run at this particular scene of which I like the first attempt. I will revisit it as I like the subject matter.
One week in! Here is a scene I painted earlier this year and decided to give it another go. It’s along 69th St. West of the city where I have frequented many times in the car and on the motorcycle. Lots to paint out there.
I was just south of the city looking for a location for a commercial project when I came across this little gem. It has sat on the hard drive for awhile now but I decided that it was time to get it up on the laptop and get to work. There have been a few moments when I’ve been told that I get too much in my head when I paint, and I need to just “paint”. Let it out with a wistful freedom and an attitude that it will just happen and I don’t need to force it. Make decisions on the fly as in – the sky is too light or too dark, the road is too hard edged and the centre of interests needs more life. This happened with this painting and I can see the results as the image came into focus without working it to death. I could have gone on but I needed to stop. There could have been some refinement, but hey, done is done.
Not much to say about this one. It started off horribly. I was tight right out of the gate. Clouds tend to do that to me. Especially when you have a very detailed photo to refer to. I have a difficult time on occasion trying to simplify the basic structures. I did learn though, that starting out with more detail than you need can be a pretty good starting point. You can brush back as much as you want. In reality, I prefer to work the other direction. Start loose and stay loose – add detail as you need them.
John Singer Sargent painted very loose to start and said “The details will take care of themselves”.
Over the last couple of days I have been attending a workshop put on by Jerry Markham – An artist from Vernon B.C. Jerry’s been painting professionally for over fourteen years and I discovered today that he is not only a talented painter, but also a very good teacher. Stands to reason as he was introduced to painting by Doug Swinton who is my current full time painting teacher. They have been friends for many years and have been on many Plein Air adventures together. There were a couple of things that he did which made him stand out to me.
The first was the phone call. Yes, a phone call to each workshop participant to find out if there was anything specific they wanted to work on. For one woman it was understanding decisions that had to be made quickly while painting En Plein Air. For me, we decided I would bring in a few of my half finished paintings to analyze and improve. I also brought paintings I believed to be done so he could see where I was when I had the time to complete the work in my studio. So I was a bit stunned when he suggested this painting to work on. First off, I thought it was done and second, I didn’t want to eff it up! But I agreed and taped it back up to the board and we began to dissect it
He thought the mountains didn’t sit back enough. They needed to be lighter and cooler. He liked the barn but thought the roof could use some value adjustments. Some of the colours were muddy and needed to be cleaned up and the trees needed some more highlights. My shadow colours were not right in some areas of the trees (that was the mud he was referring to).
So I got my palette prepped and began working under his careful eye.
This is where it ended up. Cooler lighter background to make it move back. Shadow colors warmed up and cleaned. On the left side behind the barn, I put in a tone to give the impression of the mid ground receding into the background. I also worked the foreground over slightly.
This is where I ended up. The background definitely sits back more. One of the things jerry mentioned was mixing a “new” colour for the highlights on certain objects like the mountains. They shouldn’t be created with the original color and just adding white. In this re-work, I did just that – mixed a slightly warmer colour to place in these lit areas. I like the trees with the adjusted shadow as well as the addition of some defining highlights. The foreground has more definition and punch as well.
Overall, I think it’s a nice improvement. What do you think?
As promised, I am posting any and all paintings even if I don’t think there successful as I learn from every one. This one took far too long and went through many iterations. I even started a time lapse of the process but it would have been a twenty minute movie covering several hours of me reworking the whole thing.
I was going to give up but decided that that was a bad idea and wouldn’t teach me anything so every time there was something wrong, such as the wrong color temperature, I would go in and fix it. I know that paintings sometimes simply are destined not to work out the way you want them too and I knew after awhile that this was going to be one of them. The foreground was giving me problems as well as the feel of the barn which started out way to flat and lifeless. Simply adding layers of texture to each are brought in some needed energy.