Monday, July 25, 2011

Morning in Montserrat


Morning in Montserrat, 9" x 12", oils
This piece was painted from photos taken on a visit to some local vineyards while looking for painting inspiration. The most extreme heat wave in over decade has made painting outdoors very difficult. Instead of the studio, I decided to do this piece downstairs (coolest room in the house) with my outdoor painting setup and a large window for natural light. In the past I've had difficulty coming up with strong compositions in vineyards as well as painting those endless rows. This scene solved those problems with it's steep hill and architectural interest.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Third Time's a Charm


Plein Air Study, 6 x 8, oils
This is the first painting I  have ever done three times. Many years ago I worked in North Kansas City and would sometimes take lunch breaks at Water Works Park. It was a cool combination of nature and city. This spring I was thinking about the place and thought it might be a good subject for a painting. I was glad to find the it still there although the trees had grown a bit, making the job of finding an expansive view difficult. Setting up on the edge of a frisbee golf course, I heard guys cry "Fore!" more than once. I told them that I did not mind being hit in the head with a frisbee. The study went well and I knew it  had the makings of a nice piece.
3 Hour Demo, 12 x 12, oils
A few days later I was scheduled to do a live demo at my local gallery, Leawood Fine Arts. Armed with my study and a photo I was ready to go. I decided on a 12 x 12 square format and the demo went well considering the time constraint and having people watch and ask questions. But after staring at it for a few days, I came to the conclusion that I could do better.
City on a Hill, 16 x 16, oils.
For the real deal I went even larger. It was a bit hard to get started but before long it felt like a new painting. This time I changed the composition slightly, emphasizing a path that I had edited from the first two and altering it's course to cut back to the left so that it would not take the viewer out of the picture. I went with even thicker paint and really tried to push the atmospheric distance between the foreground and background. I'm happy with the finished result but feel that I could have pushed it even further.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Revisiting Water Lilies


Water Lilies III, 18 x 24, oil on canvas
For my upcoming show at the french crepery Chez Elle, I had a lot of wall space to cover and thought that a large painting of water lilies would be appropriate. The place is a renovated old theatre from the early nineteen hundreds and being french made me think of the impressionists. A big Monet exhibition was in town so it seemed like a good fit.
Monet is one of my biggest influences and about every five years I find myself painting water lilies. I always go to Powell Gardens which has many types and is not far from where I live. The Monet painting that inspired me the most for this piece was "The Cloud." I loved the idea of using the reflections to show an inverted sky/landscape and was fortunate to have a partly cloudy day for my visit. I was shooting photos for a studio painting and with the sun almost directly overhead I was able to combine almost any photo into my composition since the lighting would be the same. I ended up using five different images. This is one of my larger paintings so I mentally broke it into smaller bites by painting each 'raft' of lily pads separately and then filling in between with the water. Making the pads look like they were going back in perspective was critical.

Water Lilies III, detail.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I finally get around to painting the Lees Summit Train Depot...

"Coming Home" 12 x 24, oil on canvas
Over ten years ago, my wife Gina told me that I ought to do a painting of the local train station. She worked part time for a local gallery and said that people come in regularly asking for paintings of it. Sounded like an easy sale so I went over and checked the place out, came home and said "It's boring." A few years later Gina and my youngest daughter were riding home from St Louis on the Amtrac so I was there to pick them up. It was a hot August evening right about sunset and I was struck by the look and feel of the midwest mugginess. It had a timeless quality that took me back to childhood. There was something unique about the color of the sky and the foliage that I hoped to someday be able to capture in paint. Fast forward to this past June. I was driving through town and looked north up the tracks. There was my composition. I went back a few days later to photograph the place at sunset and was blessed with a bonus train plus a mother and daughter that were walking by at the same time. I decided to add both elements to the painting. I did the piece in the studio from my photos but kept trying to remember the subtle colors that cameras can't capture.