Sunday, June 30, 2013

Date Night

Our nest has been empty this year, but in just one week one of our chicks will be home (after being gone for nearly a year!)  Then our other two chicks will fly home for an all-too-brief but very happy family reunion.  Date nights have been fun and easy to coordinate, but a full nest will be so lovely!

As I admired the peacefulness of these two Canada Geese on a lake near my house, it wasn't hard for me to imagine that they had left the kids at home and were having a night to themselves. You can never have too many date nights, even if you're a goose :)

I chose to use a long narrow canvas to "zoom" up on my subject, the geese, while still taking advantage of the beautiful water ripples that lead your eye around the scene. 

The ripples lead in to the painting at an angle, helping to give the impression of movement ("Hurry before the babysitter catches us!")   It was autumn at Lake Lynn, so the changing leaf colors gave me a wonderful golden glow to play with.  I emphasized the differences between the foreground/background colors to add the illusion of depth.
Date Night

Date Night, Available
18x36 oil

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Little Bear

Today I am sharing some of the fun action that went on behind the scenes in order to create one of my newest paintings, "Little Bear".   I hope you enjoy this sneak peek!

"Bear" is a precious bundle of energy, fur, and love who won the hearts of his family enough that they requested I paint his portrait.  While it was a challenge to get Bear to sit still long enough for me to take his picture (proven by the outtakes below), he did finally pose for about 15 seconds.  Thank you, Bear! 

And what a sweet pose it was!  I was particularly happy that the sunlight cooperated and gave me some great shadows to work with:

My first step in creating the 36x24 painting was to design a road map of my light, medium, and dark values with a 3x2 "thumbnail" sketch.  If you squint at the photo, you can see that the only place I chose to diverge from the photo was to darken the patio so that it wasn't as light as Bear's fur.

After toning the canvas to soften the harsh white and laying in a simple grid to get the basic placement and proportions correct, I used a warm mix of red and yellow oil paint to sketch the outlines of important shapes.  

With my thumbnail sketch taped to my easel for reference, I began laying in general colors or colors that I wanted to shine through future layers of paint (like the warm orange on Bear's muzzle).  In the image on the right I added a second layer of transparent paint to make the values match my thumbnail road map.  The painting looks sort of wild at this point!

In the next layer I began painting more thickly and using opaque paints.  The image on the left shows my first pass at covering Bear and the one on the right shows my first pass with the chair and background
In the final pass I focused on bringing Bear's soft fur to life with a delicate play of warm and cool colors.  I also added interest to the shapes of the background trees.  At this point, Bear seemed to look back at me in approval.   
Painting his sunlit likeness was a joy :)

Little Bear, SOLD
36x24 Oil 
A big thank you to Bear's people for inviting me in to your home and your lives!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Curb Appeal

In honor of the last few days of Spring, today I am featuring one of the many Spring-inspired scenes that have found their way to my easel.  

"Curb Appeal" celebrates my favorite time of year.  The hope of new life is everywhere, the colors are vibrant, the shadows seem to dance with newly emerged leaves, the thick yellow-green pine pollen coats our patio furniture (oh wait, that's the part I try to forget!)

I love walking through my neighborhood, camera in hand, eyes seeing as if for the first time.  This particular scene caught my eye because of the way the foreground shadow spilled across the street and then the gentle curve of the street drew my eye to the distant sunlit azaleas.
The photo doesn't capture the intensity of the purple-red azaleas in the shadow of the foreground trees.  In fact, the color was so intense that it seemed to reflect right in to the shadowed street!  The fun I had as an artist was remembering those colors and bringing them to life.  I also had fun with the composition, making sure that the dark and light values worked to lead the viewers eye around the scene and back again.

Here's my 8x10 version of "Curb Appeal":
8x10 oil

And here's a larger, 16x20 version:
16x20 oil

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Role Model

Today I'm featuring a painting that I highlighted in my newsletter last year.  I got so many positive responses on how fun it was to see my "step by step process" that I decided to feature it in my blog too.  Enjoy!
 A couple of years ago I came across this scene at a garden center that cried out, "Paint me!"  It had all of my favorite components:  strong light and show contrasts, stonework, flowers, and great reflected light.  Here's the photo I took:
I chose a square canvas and cropped the scene to emphasize the story I wanted to tell -- the little pot standing in the proverbial shadow of the big one, his "role model".
My Studio Set up
Here's what my studio set up looked like.  I put my ipad (a great tool!) on the right to view the photo and prepared my palette with opaque and transparent primary colors.
Step 1  I toned my Ampersand panel with Transparent Oxide Orange and then sketched basic outlines with that color mixed with a little Cadmium Red Light. Then I wiped out the light areas with a paper towel and a paint brush.  This is the most important step because it tells me if my composition is going to work!
Step 2  I laid in some background greens with transparent pigment.  I've found that transparent paints are great for giving a sense of depth.
Step 3  Then I painted the reflected sky color that I saw, knowing that I would tone this down later on.
Step 4  Worked a little on the mid-ground greenery, keeping it soft so that it didn't draw attention away from my center of interest.
Step 5  Finished covering the background and began with the warmer colors of the stonework...
Step 6  Finally got to paint the flowers!  I wasn't happy with the greenery in the small planter though.
Step 7  In this step I decided to replace the big leaf that was in the smaller planter with a more colorful spray of flowers. I also decided to soften the background so that it would look more distant. 
Here's my completed painting, before framing...
and after framing...
Role Model, Available
6x6 oil
Ready for a good home!  Click here to learn more.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Spring at Homewood Nursery

This small painting is one of my personal favorites (though I have many!)  Begun on location at Homewood Nursery in Raleigh, I loved painting the glow of the reflected light and colors in the shadows on the planter and the many layers of blossoms and greenery along the pathway.
Since my center of interest was the reflected light on the planter, I chose to contrast the warm orange-y glow by making the foreground flower a blue iris rather than yellow and then repeated this color in the background irises.  I also darkened the value of that flower so that it would blend in with the shadow and not draw attention to itself.  Another change I made was to continue the pink flowers all the way to the planter in order to lead your eye there and not have the pink flowers be so isolated.  One final change was to give more depth to the scene by using a blue haze to make the background recede behind the planter.  Happy Spring!
Spring at Homewood Nursery
6x8 oil, SOLD