Monday, November 30, 2009

Grass Technique

Grass in snow is not hard if you know how to do it. Familiar isn't it! If you know how to do something you are not pioneering new territory and generaly speaking the only difficulty is remembering exactly how it was done previously. Now I want to focus on this because its about technique. Like just about anything there is a way of doing something efficiently and effectively and a way not to do it. The way that is the latter is generally slow and poorly executed with a result that is less than hoped for.

In grass as with just about any other feature I paint I look for the tool that will best serve the purpose. Now i carry on about my pastry brush for a very good reason-it works! And not just for skies and large areas but for smaller features-like grass. See the trick is to reshape it so it can perform the function I want. Now go and look at the grass in snow and work out the mechanics of it as a subject. It is spiky, long, thin and generally brown to yellow in color. So if i reshape the flat bristle of the pastry brush so they separate and have their own individual space and are still springy they should be able to gather paint then deposit it.

Heres my brush in a refashioned shape.... ready for work!

Now if I skip it through some fresh paint it should pick it up and deposit it just as surgically on the canvas like this....

Now I repeat this whereever I want grass. Then with the little liner brush I go to work defining these individual strokes making them both darker here and there and lighter.

And again....

See how easy this is. While I was doing this painting I was also filming how to paint a similar winter scene and demonstated exactly how I do this and the other elements that go to make up such a scene. In that demonstation I separated each element and dealt with each so that others can see exactly and precisely my technique. And of course it is all in high definition which is the ultimate in true to life imaging. So if you really want an eyeful take a look at this when it eventually surfaces. Its called painting a Winter Landscape and it is the You Can Paint site which will be launched in a month or so and contains all my instructional material.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rocks, Grass, Saplings etc


Ok, now to build up more of the natural elements in the forward landscape section. Its amazing how easy it is to make dull areas interesting.
While I painted this today I did some filming for a TV show called 'Lets Go Painting' which I'm developing and I needed to be on my Vespa riding through some low grassy type terrain as a get away moment from my outdoor easel. As I was doing this I was forced to ride over rocks and boulders and other undulations to make my ride sort of interesting and 'bouncy'! Well, during this process I was reminded of what a foreground can be and brought the experience I encountered back to the easel and this painting.

So often a moment away from a painting doing something not meant to connect to what was occupying my time earlier can feed information related to what's coming up! So the few bruises I had on my rump made me paint better rocks in the painting. And because I had good visuals of the rocks through the need to avoid them I think my painting of them was better. I made the pastry brush get to work with more deftness than I might otherwise have.

Now because I had my light entering from the right as I laid in the sky I need to mark shadows on the leeward side of the rocks. Rocks in snow are often rounded by the process of weathering but because of the change of seasons and the freezing of water in crevasses and cracks and the expansion that goes with that these cracks widen and cause mass wasting ot fragmenting-leaving sharp edges and acute angles. My shadows depict this feature yet they also show a flat and rounded surface. I suppose what I'm saying is that as artists we need to observe and try to understand the processes that cause nature to be as it is and as we see it. That way we are being true to a cause to some extent but its really a personal preference that we can choose to exercise or not. I prefer to.

Tomorrow I'll show you how I paint in that grass you see here and there-a feature that is real but important for the lovely dash of warmth it beings to an otherwise grey landscape.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In with the Trunks and Branches


Now for some more tree elements-trunks and branches. Conifer tree trunks are reddish/brown in color with a broken surface. I want to be honest with what I paint so I always have a good look at the nature of things. In life I will walk up to elements whenever possible examine them for color and texture and run my hand over them to get an indelible read-so the information stays with me forever. When I need to paint that element I have a rich recall to base my actions on. So if my painting look real its because I do my homework and minimize the guessing part. Because I am featuring a tree trunk in the foreground I need to have this information.

I use the pastry brush to drag down a red from light red and a bit of blue then go to work breaking up the surface with a sloppy dark on the liner brush. The darkest side of the trunk will be the shadow side so its important to decide where the light is coming from. I make it enter from the right. I hope that fits with the cowboys I'm going to put in later!

Over the top of that I add broken strokes of light blue-the blue in the sky. This ties this element into the rest of the colors I have used in the landscape and is a color that legitimately occurs on the trunk as its both a surface that itself will have deposits of snow here and there as well as reflect the colors around it.

For the brances I use the liner brush and mix a light grey from the red/ blue and white. I use a blue to break up the foregrond in preparation for other work later. But all in all its starting to develop a nice look with some elements in there that make sense and build a realistic scene.

Tomorrow will build more on this strong start. If there is anything I have skipped that you want to know about ask me!

Friday, November 20, 2009

In with the Trees


Ok, so now the paint is dry lets get on with the trees. These are conifer trees and are adapted to snow conditions so their branches are generally downward sloping to facilitate the snow sliding off them. Some of the branches are pointed upward towards the sun but as they lengethen they droop especially when the snow burdens them. The first trees I'll put in are the distant ones. Because they are further away they are more blue- see as things recede the warm colors -yellow and red-diminish until a faint blue occupies the feature. Here I mix the alizarin red with the ultra blue and a spot of white and use the pastry brush.

The closer trees have more mass and color. I use a yellow ochre with the ultra blue on top of a deeper color from burnt sienna and ultra blue. The scraggly bit of foliage to the right is in preparation for the trunk. Now I ask you ....can you see the distance operating on color, tone and detail! Of course you can. That folks is the simple concept of aerial perspective at work. Easy aint it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Off to a flying start!


So after a fair bit of fooling around with my Vespa's electrical engineering defects I eventually found my way free to paint. Taking one look at my palette I felt maybe I should go back to the impossible Vespa. That palette really does need a clean up but then again its always been like that no matter what!
Anyhow buried in there were my 3
 trusty brushes..the liner, the #4 flat and the mighty pastry brush, just waiting to go! All they needed was me and an idea. So a few days back I said I was going to paint a winter landscape scene step by step. If thats what I said I had better do it. Stay on the reservation.

So with a nostril full of Vespa fumes I laid in a a couple of soft colors that not only just look great together but occur naturally early in the morning during winter as the early sun burns off the mist allowing the soft glow of the yellow sun to bleed through.

Next was the foreground. Snow is white but oddly only when in sun and when it is overhead and you are looking pretty much down on it otherwise it is grey/blue. In fact it behaves a lot like water reflecting a notch darker than the tone of the sky. So with that powerful bit of observation I made during my one and only skiing effort I painted in the foreground.

So far so good. Now for a bit of joining. Bleed these 2 areas together at the skyline and we have a pretty handy atmospheric curtain for a winter landscape

Enough for today. Back to the Vespa and more repairs!

See you tomorrow for some trees.....
Happy painting!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Art of Technology

Due to a failure in my PC, I was unable to post yesterday, but that being the nature of technology, it short circuited my good intentions.

Fortunately things like that don't stop artists from painting as our tools have sophistication, not from gizmos and whizbangs but, from the dexterity we are able to exercise through our own hands-and that folks will never change!

I've seen the amazing effects that computer graphic programs can perform but they all lack one thing-among many-and that is the ability to inject personality and interpretation into a subject.The 'artist' is restricted to the span of effects of the program and so the end result can only ever be as good as the program.

Now I have started the winter landscape I promised while I finished another painting but because I am computer 'orphaned' I cannot show you my effort. I will tomorrow, one way or another, get you up to date with some visuals and running commentary.

Until anon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Painting a Winter Landscape

G'day out there! This is my first blog on my websites and it will be one of many now that I understand the system. To celebrate this momentous leap in technology that brings me in from the cold I am going to do a winter landscape....something that symbolises the condition in which recent advances have left me!

I am going to do it step by step but share with you some of these steps as I advance. It may take 4-5 days but it will at least be entertaining and informative for those who have interest in painting such a scene. As I get to the end of the landscape part I will have a beer and pat my dog and decide what I'm going to put in the scene. Later as this blog gets some momentum I will seek opinions as to what you would like me to include so its not just a self centered exercise.