Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Little Celebration of Color

16x20 oil/linen

Here's the latest off the easel... 
For a change, I wanted to do a very light background (in this case, all white) and have lots of vibrant color.
Usually, I go for dark backgrounds, and rather muted tones.. this one looks like Carmen Miranda exploded - but it was really a treat to just enjoy all the rich colors of the fruit and flowers. I love the color orange -just love it!!  One of these days, I will do a painting all about orange. It was also fun to get the different textures of the fruit, from the smooth s hiny apples, to the pebbly orange and lemons, and the fuzzy peaches.
I have to admit, the peaches were not quite so pretty in real life.. it is not peach season, and our local grocer only had a few, and they were rather "sad".   I had to use artistic license -and made them a bit more presentable....
Did not want to get into painting folds and creases  of the white cloth, so I settled for some very subtle
indications of wrinkles..  
Doing a very light background requires a different approach.. you can't throw things into shadow as you can with a dark background. There is none of the mystery, and edges become super important as they are presented against the high key backdrop.... A learning experience for sure, and hopefully a successful one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Edit Your Painting Without Picking Up a Brush....

I started working on a piece last night - got a few hours into it, and then this afternoon, set it out to stare at it awhile. Ya'll do that too, right? Sometimes I think I spend as much time staring as painting. That's not always a bad thing.
I'll also photograph it and put it in black and white to check values, and reverse the image too.. that helps to sort out any errors as well.

Anyway, after all this staring (accompanied by a cup of tea and a cracker - valuable aids) I knew that I needed to make some changes, and had a good idea what I thought should happen, so I popped it into photoshop to do a "test drive" of my idea. This is a real handy tool.. I just used the drawing tool in a big brush size (it's sort of like painting with gummy worms) and blobbed in some color where I thought the changes needed to be. 
If you ever think you need to make some changes to a painting, this is a great way to test it without having to actually paint anything. I've heard of people taking clear mylar or plastic, and painting on THAT on top of the painting - maybe for small changes that might work.. This is easier.

Okay, enough said... here's the painting. It's still very priliminary,so I'm not worried about anything but the big shapes at this point, and the values. So, don't get your britches in a bunch because the chickens don't look like chickens yet!

And now the changes I felt needed to happen:
I knew I needed to focus the light more in the one area around the children. I also needed to balance the strong diagonal line from the shadow on the barn.
Additionally, the light just needs to go up in value for the feeling of morning sunlight. There are alot of strong architectural lines here, and I felt the need to balance that with some softer shapes.... 

I lightened the value of the ground.
I lightened the shadow value also - more light bouncing around, more of it will refract back into the shadows, so they need to be warmer and lighter.
I threw almost all the foreground into tree shadows - this focuses the light just around the center of interest - those little kiddos and the chickens- and also balances both the strong lines and the diagonals of the barn shadow. 
Plus threw a little tree shadow on the barn to break up that line a bit.

Anyway, thought ya'll might be entertained at how you can use photoshop, or gimp (and I'm no expert - this was only using the drawing tool - no layers, nothing fancy) just to do a test drive on your painting without having to risk anything!

Now I know what I gotta do, and it's very easy for me to visualize it and - hey - that's half the battle right?

PS. that's a water pump there in the foreground... don't worry, it'll eventually look like one......