Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Snow Way?!..."

Tackled the would think that it would be easy for me to paint snow, having lived on the cold Canadian Prairies my whole life. This is not necessarily so with snow. Snow is not really white. It is comprised of many colour, least of all white! The colour of snow is largely dependant on the time of day, and how sunny it is.

Judging by the strong shadows in the reference photo, I can conclude that the photo must have been taken in the late afternoon or early morning. I recall seeing the most incredibly cool shadows and warm highlights on snow during these times. Taking the little old reference photo, a mere 3 X 3" in size and starting to lose its colour because of its age, I took the liberty of drawing from my memory the beautiful colours of snow.

I added tinted oranges and yellows to the highlights in the snow. Transitional areas from light to shadow, have warm to cool pinks. Wet on wet seemed to work best over the underpainting of blue-violet, then softly blending with a sable brush, juxtiposing it with the more obvious brushwork in the pathway. I want this layer to dry before going into the snow once more to build up the highlights, and push back the shadows more with some glazes of cool blue.

Maybe I'll finally be able to put this painting to rest and finish it before the snow actually flies! I better hurry. It's minus 5 outside.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Wolfe Cabin progresses

After the third session of working on the cabin, I was finding it time comsuming and frustrating to get the lines and vanishing points all worked out. The cabin was looking like it was going to blow down in a strong wind storm! Note to self! Never drink copious amounts of coffee and try to freehand straight lines, even with a maul stick! I felt like an alchoholic with a serious case of the DT's!

So out came the straight edge to help my shakiness, and the cabin was starting to become structurally sound again. The windows were wrong in size and shape and they had to corrected, but with oils I had to be patient, let it dry then tackle the corrections. I chose to paint this piece on masonite so I could get the tiny details, and smooth lines of the building. I was soon bored with all these details, so what next? Must push motivation was waning fast.

Trees seemed like a good option to get me interested again with all their randomness, so trees I painted. I had most fun painting the sky and the sky holes in the trees. Yellows, pinks, and blues all made their way into the sky, overlayed onto the underpainting. Res N Gel was the favoured medium of the day, making the colours juicy and semi transparent.

Then back to the details. The railings, motion sensor lights, window trim, stairs, and the metal chimney. Most important, the chimney HAS to be in the painting! This metal tube somehow holds sentiment for the motivation is waning further, daily life distractions keeping me from working on the piece. Now what? I decide to *dangle the carrot* in front of me. I tape the cheque for payment for the painting onto my easel!!

I discover I am not motivated by money.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Wolfe Cabin

The Wolfe Cabin, long gone, mowed down to make way for a new and improved mansion on Lake Windermere, B.C., is being *rebuilt* in a painting. Fond memories were made for the Wolfe family in this little cabin. Memories of swimming, laying in the sand, and campfires long into the night. Winter offered skating and warming by the woodburning stove. Now it is gone. All that remains of the Wolfe Cabin is a small 12 X 14" frame, handmade with the wood from its wooden exterior, embellished with some of the original lichen that grew on it. This little frame is going to house the finished painting.
Commissioned by an investment firm, this is a retirement gift for Kevin, a long time client of mine. I originally painted a portrait of his cat Tabitha more than 25 years ago. I found my original reference photos of Tabitha and my plan is to sit her in one of the the windows of the finished piece, as a little surprise for Kevin.
Working on this piece is a nice change for me, from painting horses, and western scenes. I started this piece in late August. I took my french easel outside onto my deck in the backyard to work, enjoying the fresh air and getting into the *cabin* groove as a refreshing change. The attached image is the end result of this first, semi-plein aire painting.