Monthly Archives: June 2013

Improving a Painting

Blessinger Farm revised.  Oil on canvas, 16x20

Blessinger Farm revised. Oil on canvas, 16×20

The first pass at the Blessinger farm painting.

The first pass at the Blessinger farm painting.

Sometimes when I finish a painting it seems OK, but….something is not quite right. That’s when I let it sit on the easel for a while. Such is the case with the one that I posted here a few weeks ago, Blessinger’s Farm. After examining it for several days, I realized that several improvements could be made.

First of all, the tree was right in the middle of the painting. This is very poor composition as it divides the canvas in half. It was also a weird looking tree but that may have more to do with the fact that a tornado blew through the farm a few years ago wiping out 80 year old maples. Nevertheless, I decided to move it closer to the barn (easy to do in paint, right?) and to juice up the colors. I also decided to push the background way back. Too much green. And to clarify some of the focal points. What do you think?

Your life in jelly beans

What are you doing today? What are you doing with your life? Check out this video on You Tube – Your Life in Jelly Beans.

A Little Blue (on a Rainy Day) demo

A Little Blue (on a Rainy Day) Final, oil on canvas, 24 x36

A Little Blue (on a Rainy Day) Final, oil on canvas, 24 x36

This is a very complex still life that I recently completed. Check out the demo on the linked page.

Plein Air Painting Demo

Blessinger Farm, oil on canvas, 16 x 20

Blessinger Farm, oil on canvas, 16 x 20

I went out early yesterday morning with a friend to do some plein air painting. We drove around and found a beautiful old farm. The air was humid and the day grew hot but I found a nice place in the shade. Memo to self: put on more bug spray. The flies were biting. The couple who own the farm were most welcoming and invited us to help ourselves to drinks in the fridge. More often than not, painters are welcomed into most places. Of course, being a good neighbor and picking up after ourselves is important and we never leave any trash or dump chemicals.

To see the demo of this painting, check out the full page.

How to tone a canvas

TonedcanvasIn an earlier how-to post, I told you about the why of using a toned canvas but I thought I’d review that again.

Using a toned canvas takes away the fear and indecision of painting for many artists. You already HAVE something on the canvas. Mostly when you’re painting, you’re using push-pull. That is, pushing the background into the back, and pulling the foreground up front. You see this more often with artists drawing on toned paper, such as, pastel artists. This is a very old technique, maybe centuries old.

I like it because it seems as if the tone color (whatever I may have chosen) fills in the broken spaces of my paintings. A search on the internet will turn up quite a few artists who use this technique.

Most of the time, I will take leftover paint at the end of a session and tone a bunch of canvases just to have them on hand. Although I do not use this technique all the time, it’s great to be able to grab a few canvases as I’m heading out for some plein air painting. I just seem to be able to get a head start on getting the basics down. However, you can do this on location with just rubbing in some local colors with a rag. It’s entirely up to you.

My preference is for warm colors or even some very dark colors but I have used many – burnt sienna, dark brown/grey, blues, greens and even purples (yuck). One artist I know, Caroline Jasper, uses red for her canvases which adds an element of sparkle, and Wyatt LeGrand uses some very dark tones which also works well for him.

If you haven’t tried this technique, just try it for a few times to see how you like it.