Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tuscan Hills

Shapes, texture, color, and layer upon layer of mountain vistas ... there's so much to love about the Tuscan countryside!  This is a photo from our visit to Tuscany several years ago.  My painting goal was to capture the zigzag movement from foreground to background using the elements of hills, road, olive trees, and cypress.
Here is my painted sketch on the 20x40in canvas.
And here is my wild color stage -- a thin layer of transparent oil paints.  At this point I was having second thoughts about how I was going to resolve the the foreground fence and hill with the road at the bottom right.  Not sure if they were helpful or hindering.
Ultimately, I decided to remove those elements, opting for the simpler, less cluttered hill to move the eye through the scene.  Enjoy a bit of Italy!
"Tuscan Hills", 20x40 Oil, available

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Charleston Doorway

This week's Sun Day Art is a scene I painted several years ago after a fun family trip to Charleston, SC. Typical of the beautiful and elegant doors in Charleston, this door caught my eye because of the arched shape of the sunlight that encircled the flowering planter.

The painting came together quickly because I chose a very limited palette of almost entirely burnt sienna and ultramarine blue (plus white).  I love the vibrating effect that results when these complementary colors interact.
"Charleston Doorway", 10x8 Oil, Sold

Sunday, August 23, 2015

New Life at the Old Well

This post is in honor of my daughter, Colleen, who just started her third year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill :).

 With my camera in hand and an eye on the light I wandered the UNC campus on a beautiful spring day last year and enjoyed the liveliness of students hurrying to class, studying in the grassy quads, listening to guitar music, participating in a silent protest march, and questioning an itinerant preacher.  I took dozens of photos, but the sunlight on the white columns of The Old Well, combined with the brilliant red azaleas, caught my eye the most.  
Here's the photo I decided to use for my reference:

And here's my artistic rendition:
New Life at the Old Well, 18x24 Oil, Sold

And here are our three UNC Tarheels this summer :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Misty Hay Day

If you haven't been to Damascus (Virginia that is!) and biked the Virginia Creeper Trail, I highly recommend it!  Matthew and I took a van to the top of a mountain and then pretty much applied brakes for 18 miles as beautiful views passed by.  Not exactly aerobic exercise, but if you want that then you can always skip the van and bike up :)

We saw this view on the second day, though, when the terrain was fully pedal-powered.

I was drawn to the way the delicate, misty background gave added weight and substance to the foreground hay bales, as well as the way the gravel path leads from one to the other. 

I started with thin oil paint and sketched the basic placement of the main objects:

Since I knew I wanted to keep the background soft, I began with the sky and subtly worked my way down so that I could better judge how dark the hay bales should be.

After completing the rest of the painting I tweaked the background a bit and am really pleased with the "mood" of this painting, even though it's not my traditional subject of sunlight and shadows.
Misty Hay Day, 8x10 Oil, available

Here's the photo vs. oil painting for easy comparison.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Dappled Welcome

While visiting Rio de Janeiro recently, my husband and I stayed in a cute town called Urca, under the distant but watchful gaze of Christ the Redeemer.  I took dozens of vista photos, but the one that inspired this painting is what I was most excited to capture -- our morning view from the bus stop :)  The early light dappled through the canopy of trees and onto a common South American wall, creating an inviting scene that was anything but common.  Welcome to Rio!

I decided to crop the photo so that the door was off-center, allowing room for the lovely dappled light to lead the viewer's eye to the even more lovely dappled doorway.  Here's my quick sketch, focusing on getting the perspective right.

In this step, I covered the canvas with transparent paints that were a close approximation to the final colors I wanted (or at least in the same family).  The sidewalk and white of the wall have their first coat of opaque paint.

...working on the door, which is the focal point so I gave it the most attention...

...starting on the house in the background and the vines on the wall...

Here I worked on the house to the right, which was tricky because my photo left that area ill-defined and I didn't really like what I saw.  So I pulled out my artistic license and painted what I wanted :)

After adjusting and softening the shadows to make them look more organic, I finished the vines, and tweaked warm/cool colors.  Done!  (Ha!  That almost makes it sound easy.)
"A Dappled Welcome", 18x24 Oil, available

Here's the photo again for comparison.  Thanks for watching!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Corner of Sunshine

Today's Sun Day Art blog post is in honor of my father and mother-in-law who are preparing to sell their beautiful home in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. 

I love finding spots where the sun is slipping around a corner.  It makes me want to soak in the moment because I know I can't hold on to it.  This sunlit corner caught my eye when we were visiting my father and mother-in-law.  The warm tile, clay pots, and stucco walls filled the corner with glowing reflected light, as well as the direct sunlight filtered through the flowers.  Ten minutes later, the allure of this corner had slipped away until another day...

I chose to crop the photo so that the focus was on the fleeting sunlight.

Starting with a little 6x6 study, one of the (very) subtle things that I enjoyed about this composition was the way the white plastic chair serves to soften and add interest to the bottom left corner.
Corner of Sunshine, 6x6 Oil, sold

And here's a larger 20x20 version.  Love that sunlight!
Corner of Sunshine, 20x20 Oil, sold

Me and my dad :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Artistic License

One of the great things about painting, as opposed to photography, is the ability to easily change a subject from "how it is" to "how it should be" (or at least how my mind thinks it should be!)  Here are two paintings -- oldies but goodies -- that show what I mean.

This scene has wonderful shadows, but the strong sun washes out the colors and makes the grey look particularly, well, grey.  My artistic license allowed me to paint the lively colors of reflected light that I wanted to see on the planter.  Much more fun this way!  

Planter in Spring, 12x12 Oil, Sold

I was painting this scene on location during an unusually hot Spring day when all of the flowers that should have graced the terraced stairway were long past their prime.  No matter.  I pulled out my artistic landscaping license and the flowers bloomed anew!

High Noon at Lynda's, 9x12 Oil, Sold

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fruit of the Vine

On an anniversary trip to Italy several years ago, we were driving through Tuscany and came across this lovely vineyard.  The soft, dusty blue skin of these grapes, destined for a fine wine on someone's table, are so unlike the standard red and green grapes that I buy at the grocery store.  What a gift, these fruit of the vine!

On a 16x20 canvas I started by sketching the basic placement of the grape bunches, vines, and leaves.

One of the things that I loved about the photo was the way the dark values all connected in interesting shapes.  So in this step my goal was to paint the dark areas in a way that simplified the busyness and made sure I stayed true to that original inspiration.  Everything that I left unpainted (below) would remain a light value in the final painting.     

Just a few strokes later (ha!  not really) and here you go:
  Fruit of the Vine, 16x20 Oil, available

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Down Under

In 2014, we took a trip to Australia (highly recommend!)  On our drive up the east coast between Cairns (pronounced "Cans") and Port Douglas, we stopped at this beautiful, but desolate beach.  I suspect the crocs and stingers (deadly jellyfish) had something to do with the desolation, but nonetheless it was an incredibly peaceful place to take a break from driving on the wrong, um, I mean the left, side of the road.  The sun was setting, the shadows were long, and this weather-worn branch rose from the sand in a graceful statement of solitude.  Simply lovely.
 By the way, I wasn't joking about the crocs and stingers! :)
I cropped my original photo to focus more on the graceful shape of the driftwood.
Then I covered my drawing with warm colors (okay, it's all orange) to contrast with what I knew was going to be a cool painting.
In this step, I covered the dark areas to make sure I liked the way it makes the eye move around the composition (I do!)
After establishing all of the "under structure", the rest of the process involved trying to make sure I didn't mess it up!  :) 

Down Under, 8x10 oil, available

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Azalea Glow VI

In honor of the white blossoms that are currently covering my azalea bushes (yay, Spring!), here is the process that I used to create one of my azalea paintings.  

I particularly loved this photo because the buds are like wrapped presents pointing to the lovely gift they contain.

I started with a paint sketch of the basic shapes on an 18x24 canvas...

First layer of transparent paint...

Second layer of transparent paint...

Beginning the leaves, painting dark parts first, then light...

Beginning of thicker paint on the blossoms and buds...

Finished the leaves and tweaked a few things.  Happy Spring! :)

Here's the reference photo again for comparison: