This is a new take on a scene I painted a couple of years ago (low-quality photo below). This is a shop called A New Leaf on Wells Street in Chicago. The earlier version was accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts National Exhibition in 2009 and sold there. I'm partial to the new version, and I think it shows some growth as an artist since the first version, although this new one is not as loose as I had envisioned. I'm still attracted to this image as a Christmas-time painting, so maybe I'll revisit it again next year.
I don't think I've ever composed a painting where the road leaves the scene completely off to one side of the canvas. Possibly a design faux pas, but it doesn't bother me. After finishing this one and thinking about the composition, I decided to do a small piece (below) that is basically a crop of the larger one above.
My tendency is to avoid difficult subjects for fear that several hours of work will just turn into a frustrating exercise in failure. But of course it is important to challenge yourself and work outside your comfort zone, and I'm glad I did so with this scene. I feel the result is one of my best cityscapes. Even when a challenge doesn't go well, it's still a good learning experience, so I hope to take on difficult scenes more often.
I decided to try taking occasional snapshots of my progress through this painting, which took me about two hours. These were taken without a tripod or flash, so the quality is not great, but you get the idea. I start with a quick sketch on a toned canvas, then adding the darkest areas, then blocking in the rest of the areas and refining the color and edges.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by my space at the Lynchburg Art Festival last month. There has been little time to paint in the past few weeks, and we just welcomed home our new addition to the family via adoption: baby Erik, born on Sept. 30. We shall see if I can still paint a few small pieces between diaper changes and feedings.
In the meantime, here's one I never got around to posting last month. The first one was done on location in a nearby park:
Quiet Summer Spot Study, Oil on Panel, 8x10
Looking at it the next day, I wished I had achieved a looser brushstroke and decided to paint another version, this time on a slightly smaller panel and working as quickly as possible. With the simpler shapes and the addition of a bluer haze in the distance, I'm liking this quick exercise much better than the first version. Perhaps I should try this more often.
This composition places the lighthouse very near the center, but I felt the shape of the peninsula felt good to me there. So a question for fellow artists - Does this composition work, or is the lighthouse a distraction in the center?
It's been ten years since we spent a rainy week in Stockholm. We came home with a bunch of gray photos, but as I we walked down this street in Gamla Stan I told my wife that the rain on these narrow streets could make for a good painting. I finally got around to it.
I got a little thicker with the paint than usual on this one - something I've been trying to work on lately. I don't know why it's so hard to get used to.
(Note: some camera distortion makes the yellow building lean more than it does in the actual painting.)
The James River, near the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'm afraid the grain of the canvas is a little distracting on these scans. I suppose I should just photograph these small sizes. It's a bit less convenient, but at least we're not dealing with film development anymore.
I really enjoyed painting this quick small one, a view of the farm next to the ranch (see previous post). I only had about an hour of good light left in the day. Enjoyed seeing the horses come and go in the near distance, and the bright yellow buttercups made for a striking scene. I should have taken a photo of my setup - the easel was on one side of a fence, while I painted from the other side with a small incline sloping back behind me.
We stayed for two nights at a summer camp and horse ranch outside Binghamton, NY. This was the setting for my niece's wonderfully casual wedding reception. I enjoyed our stay here very much, and did three plein air paintings on the grounds last Sunday.
After spending nearly 3 hours on the bell tower painting (previous post), I moved a hundred yards to capture the sunlit rhododendron at the lovely Arcade building. I worked as fast as possible on this painting, resulting in a looser brushstroke than usual.
Took a trip last week to upstate New York, where I managed to do five plein airs. This is one of two at Chautauqua Institution on Lake Chautauqua. In a few weeks there will be lots of people and boats there, but not in late May. I found this spot looking at the Miller Bell Tower a short distance from the many bare boating docks.