Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Composition, what is it?

This is from last year, April 28, 2013 to exact:

#131, Owlkill Creek

11 x 14


Thus morning I got this question on my blog:

Matthew Can you speak about your process? As a painter, I would be interested in hearing about how you set up and work your composition.

I thought it was a good question, but where to start? 

Composition is essentially the design of the painting, and subject matter speaks to the elements in play, (a reason  I've been liking bridges and silos) and an excuse to use those elements to create an abstract arrangement of forms. 

So where am I going with this? my sub-mission is to find scenes and paint them as they are, light, time and space and all that,  so I need to find a chunk of the world to put in a rectangle. Sometimes I'll find a new place right off,  or go back to a familiar place, but usually it takes a bit longer, and it's kinda the feel of the place, I want something that describes the qualities of this amazing place we call home. 

Now I'm out of the car.  I'm facing the general direction and thinking how much of the scene to include, where it's going to start, end, top, bottom, left and right, the process: I'm  "cropping" the scene.  I want to include only what is absolutely necessary, I want vertical, horizontal and diagonal shapes, I want shapes of various sizes, large and  small,  and I want contrast between dark and light. 

Art and nature what else is there? Nature is everything out there not man-made, art is beauty (just indulge me!).  In a picture, we want pattern and variation, we want focus and we want some breathing room. I want a bit of that nature in the painting.  I don't want a composition that divides the rectangle in 1/2, or thirds perfectly. I do want a picture that leads you in, (this might also be a function of the allegory of the picture).  I don't want a "portrait" of any specific object, be it a farm, a mountain, or river, so I want parts of things, to show the relationship between them, indicating there is something more and larger (not more interesting,) that continues beyond the frame.)

Thanks for reading this, I thought about trying to demonstrate what I wanted to talk about using photo shop, but, I'm not there yet. I also suggest reading Edgar Payne's book on composition, it's worth having in your library. As always I welcome your comments and questions. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

View from patio.

53  F  Sunny some wind.
I did a real quick sketch today, looking at my neighbors house, the light off the slate roof, the grass and the woods behind the road were too interesting not to paint.

This is my scene, we look at this a lot because it's right outside the kitchen door.

I'm excited about the idea of small sketches on paper, real quick, I don't know how this will play out, but will definitely be doing more!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Juniper Swamp Rd, and a sketch @ Turnpike

60  F  Sunny with a few high clouds, a bit of wind.
Today I went up to Juniper Swamp rd. in Shushan, I've painted this exact scene a number of times, I'll try to find them.  There is not that's man-made in the, the road and the clearings, but otherwise very low presence.

#286 Juniper Swamp Rd.

12 x 16


I had the shade on my canvas, and it was bright, like yesterday, so I started with the sky, the brightest thing in the scene.

I've loved these pure pastoral scenes because they lend themselves to abstractions, the elements form horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines and shapes and great potential for compositions.

Finally some green I can dig my teth into!  It's still a light and muted green, keeping it down was a bit tricky!

This painting was very strait forward for me, when does that happen?

I waited to do the foreground bush, because it was on top of everything else.....

Getting close...  It helped knowing the scene I wanted from the start, that doesn't happen very often.

1 1/2 hours of actual paint time. The light changed only when clouds went over so it was easy......

  Sight size view.


I did this oil sketch on paper earlier in the day, I'm excited about doing small quick sketches like this, and offering them for about $100, I can do one and a small painting, and let it be real immediate, we'll see what happens!

$285 turnpike Rd.
5 1/2  x 5 3/4
Oil on paper
$80, unframed

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hoosck River @ Buskirk Bridge, today 2 years since the re- boot and a painting from 1980

 49 F  clouds clearing, some wind
This is where I ended up today.

#284 Hoosick River @ Buskirk's Bridge.

11 x 14


I did this quick sketch too, just before the one above.

#283 Hoosick River  Oil on paper

5 1/2 x 8


I thought it might be fun to get a real quick sketch out on paper, maybe I'll try monotone next time.

The light was on the scene and bright, my panel was in the shade, which I like, but it'll end up hard to get my darks dark enough.

I thought it was a good start....

It would be a handy excuse to say my light changed, which it did, I just didn't get the contrast that I needed.

All too light, or maybe the darks aren't pushed enough.

Getting close.....

 This is also where I ended up.

Here is my scene.


The money shot.

I liked what happened, I just couldn't chase it!

This painting is from 1980 I did it at Bennington college when I was a 2nd term freshman, I was 18 years old. I stopped doing work like this, but I kept this painting kicking around. I did a lot of other stuff, painting, sculpture, building of all kinds. Two years ago today, I "re-booted" this type of painting in my life.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How I make canvas panels!

This is my 2nd post on making panels, I think I've got it down, I'm well over 300 panels made, and that includes a bit of experimentation.

I get 1/8" tempered hardboard, or that's what they call it at the lumber yard, they deliver it's about $14.00 a 4' x 8' sheet, I cut it in 1/2 with a skill saw, then cut it up into my standard sizes, (mostly) on the table saw. I wake them slightly smaller, so when I wrap the canvas around it's not too big.

I lay the board on the cotton denim, I think it's 12 oz's if that's even relevant. I then mark around the edge using my 3/4" stick and cut it with scissors.
My standard sizes are:
12 x 16
11 x 14
9 x 12
8 x 10
And a few :
14 x 16
7 x 10
I cut more panels than I had canvas for.

I stack them all up, 25 in total!

I'm using elmers white glue, I just brush it on, it's the most time consuming part of the job.

I lay the canvas on top, it's a bit tricky to get it right on, but after 300 I should be good at it. I then rub the canvas from the center out, with the heavy cloth air bubbles are not a problem, some wrinkles don't come out immediately, but once the glue soaks in there gone!

I flip'er over.....

 Paint the edge with more glue...

Fold the edges over.

Cut the corners, I do this so they don't get too thick.

All glued up!

I stack them up face to face with Plexiglas (plastic shopping bags work too) between the backs so they don't stick,  let them go over night, they still have some drying to do when I lay them out the next day.

Once the glue has dried, I make some rabbit skin glue, and when it's hot and smells all rabbit skinny, I paint it on, backs first...

Two coats on the top, once the first is dry.

25 more Panels!  I'll tint them just a few at a time....

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wampecack Creek and the rail road.(cty. rt. 74)

63  F  Sun, no wind!
Here is today's Money shot, while I'm itching to get green into these paintings, I'm down to my last small panels and besides I wanted to  paint this creek for a long time

#282 Wampecack Creek @ rt. 74

8 x 10


The first thing that gets green are the fields, but I haven't been painting them. This scene had rushing water, light off of the old dead leaves, shadows of the trees and a few blades of grass and moss, what more could you want?

The first tones, I'm challenged by the light off the leaves, the color had some red in it, but it's really washed out, it's also speckled with bits of shadow, and bits of green, very challenging and hard to reduce to a monotone.

I'm working the light, trying to figure out how to get it to look right. I needed the bright reflected light (off the leaves)  but they would only look right by contrast to the tiny shadows, which contain more color, and they also needed the bits of grass and moss.

Those little areas of shadow really needed to be dark, the large areas, along the creek were easy, relatively, and the water cooperated too, mostly the light stayed the same for the 1 1/4 hours that I painted.

By this time I was able to work back and add the reflections on top of the other stuff. It's feeling so different, even in the brushstrokes!

This is where I ended up.

I usually avoid roads with yellow lines, the traffic goes fast, but I had a nice wide pull off, and there were very few cars.

Tick protection?