Tag Archives: oil

Junipers at Grand Canyon – Demonstration

Junipers at Grand Canyon, final, oil on canvas, 24 x 30

Junipers at Grand Canyon, final, oil on canvas, 24 x 30

I just completed this 24 x 30 oil painting of Junipers at the Grand Canyon.  I love their gnarly trunks and timeless quality.  Check out my demonstration at https://my90acres.com/artwork/junipers-at-grand-canyon-demonstration/

 

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How do you know when your painting is finished?

How do I know when my painting is finished?

That is a question I often ask myself.  For me, the answer is when I can’t think of one more thing to add.  Then STOP!

I’ve noticed that when I’ve taught a class, particularly a watercolor class, that sometimes the participants keep messing with their paintings until …well, they’re a mess.  Stop!  In the case of watercolors, leave some white space.  Leave some space, period.  When I’m working in oils, that is a little more difficult but I always try to avoid the overworked look.  With oils, I stand back and just LOOK.  It seems the closer I get to the final product, the more time I spend looking.  Sometimes it is even best to put it away for a while.  That advice is often offered to young artists but it’s true.  Sometimes after you’ve come back to your work with a few weeks off, the errors will jump out at you.  Other times, you’ll realize that you’ve nailed it.

I ask myself, what am I aiming for?  What is my message?  Despite painting in a realistic style most of the time, I am not aiming for anything approaching photo realism.  If you want it to look like a photo, then take a damn picture!  I’m looking for the message.  What struck me most about this subject?  What am I really trying to convey?  When is enough enough?

Wolf Eyes, detail, oil on canvas

This is a close-up view of a painting that I’m working on right now entitled Wolf Eyes.  I’m just about at the point where…there’s nothing left to add.  Time to set it aside for a while.  I’ll put it on my website when do finish it.  The message that I’m shooting for is the young man in his prime, he is oozing with virility and he knows it.  Wolf Eyes.

Frequency of plein air painting

I’m often asked how I can find the time to paint, especially with a full-time job.  My answer is that if it’s really important to you, you’ll make the time.  In my case, summers are my less busy time but in the performing arts season, my weekends are usually busy.

Plein air oil painting of apples, 8 x 10

One of the good things about living on my 90 acres is that I can just walk out the door of my studio and find something paintable, nearly every season, any time of day.  Sometimes I don’t have a great deal of time to pack up and drive to some scenic location so I start scouting around the farm for something interesting.

This past weekend I just walked behind my studio into my apple orchard to do a quick plein air sketch.  The wind was blowing, the bugs were biting, but this little 8 x 10 oil painting only took about an hour.  It’s not so much the finished product as the practice.  Sargent used to paint daily, even when he was visiting friends, and then wipe off his canvases at the end of the day to start anew the next day.  I won’t tell you how many layers of painting some of my canvases have.  😉