Saturday, October 25, 2014

Turning a Photo into a Painting: Watercolors

Last week I presented a selection of paintings in oils and pastels that I did from some of my photos.  Here are a few in watercolor.

The West River at Weston

West Dummerston Mail Boxes

The above turned out to be a fussy painting but fun.  The challenge here was to keep the tree limbs and trunks white (with a bit of shadowing added later).  When wanting white when using watercolor, one has three choices.  The first and, for me, the preferable one is to use a technique called "negative space" painting ... which means leaving the paper white by avoiding painting those places.  You can also use an opaque white paint called gouache which, strictly speaking, is not watercolor.  Or you can preserve white areas by painting over those places with a masking fluid which you then rub off afterwards.  In fact, I never use gouache or masking fluid.  So that left me with the solution of using the negative space technique.  At first, I thought of making an extensive drawing in pencil so that I'd know where to leave the unpainted white places and where to paint the leaves.  But, I soon decided that was too much work and I'd just "go for it"--a little here, a little there.  Possibly too casual an approach, but it seemed to work.

Summer Mowings

And the challenge here (above) was to turn what was basically an all-green picture into something interesting.  So I decided to use the design element--the curve of the hedge, grasses, mowing lines, tree limbs.  And then to use the central tree trunks to draw in the eye and carry it back down again to the mowing lines.

Dutton Farm Road in November

Kipling Road Country Walk

Mary's Garden

(Blossoming tree on right seems to have gotten cut off ... sorry about all that reflection)

Red Barn in Shadow

So, there it is.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Turning a Photo into a Painting: Oils and Pastels

Back when I was painting (and I might take it up again, who knows), if I had a preference, I would do all art from life.  But that was not always possible.  So I sometimes took one of my photos and used it to remind myself of the color, texture, composition, etc.  Then, too, it was far simpler to use a photo than to schlep everything outdoors, sit there hoping the light wouldn't shift too badly before I got the basic sun/shadow patterning down ... and the bugs and rain would stay away.  Because of these various complications, one of my main considerations for painting outdoors became less the subject than the location.  (I figured if I was comfortable, something in the scene would lend itself to be painted.)  However, if the subject was really good but the location poor, I'd take a photo and work it up later.   

Here, then, are three oil paintings and three pastels that I did from photos.

The oil paintings (Vermont):


High Wind

Early Morning on Kipling Road

Peach Orchard

The pastels (Santa Fe):

Camino Lilacs

Camino May

Gallery Roses

Next week:  Turning a Photo into a Painting:  Watercolors

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Way of Conversation

(I'll be away next weekend so look for my next posting the week after that.)

I've always enjoyed a good conversation, even as a child--sitting listening to parents or relatives hash things out at the dinner table or in someone's living room.  It's how we children learned about life (that and going to the movies) and heard the old family tales about where we came from and what our elders thought about things.  Then, as an adult, my family and I always sat together at meals and expounded on this or that!

Too, a lot of conversations took place over the phone.  But then, as the years went on and land lines (as they came to be called) gave way to cell phones, those conversations became harder to hear, as if they were originating from the bottom of a well or off in the middle of an ocean.  And phone chat from a car was constantly breaking up.

Then emails came on the scene.  And as tablets and smaller and smaller devices entered the picture, smaller and smaller keyboards made it more and more difficult to write much more than an indecipherable short hand.

Emails are excellent for the easy exchange of info but not much good for dialogue.  "Oh, you say you spoke with her.  Do you mean that you went to see her or that you spoke over the phone?"  So you email your question back.  No answer.  In time, you learn not to even try for a response.  The person is too busy  ... they figure they answered you ... they don't want to be too precise.  Take your pick.  At least on the phone, if you ask a question, more times than not, you'll get an immediate reply.  You don't have to do Follow Up. 

Of course, a good conversation means that one has to be able to talk, to be able to come up with ideas.  I recently saw that movie, Nebraska, where the siblings all got together for the first time in a long time and had nothing to say to each other, other than ball scores or car parts, and so just sat in the front room silently watching a ball game.  Conversation had gone the way.  One no longer had to converse; we'd given that away to media personalities.  And modern day gadgets seemed to help reduce the very communication it had set out to make easier.  A bit like Morse Code.  Dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot.  Which spells SOS.