Friday, April 26, 2013

Sapareva Banya

8" x 10"
oil on hardboard
You can view and purchase this painting here.

April's Virtual Paintout location is the country of Bulgaria. I spent several hours cruising around in Google streetview in lots of different cities and small towns, and started to feel like I was in some sort of Cold War time warp, maybe whatever place Boris and Natasha are from. The camera car visited in March, and apparently it was not the beginning of spring, but the tail-end of a cold, grey winter. The sky was usually leaden; the buildings graceless concrete blocks. There was an occasional gem of a church or temple, but even those looked grim in the overcast. Also, on most residential streets, the houses were fronted with metal fences and gates, and had some sort of nasty barbed-wire looking bramble above the windows and doors (like this here).

It turns out those are trellises for vines (I assume grapes). I came across ONE little segment of a town that had been photographed in June, and it was such a transformation! Every house and most commercial buildings were cloaked in gorgeous greenery, which extends over the sidewalks and makes a shady pergola for the pedestrian. Unbelievable difference.

Before I found that, I settled on this scene, because I liked the silverly wet street, and the guy with the horse cart. It was an almost monotone scene: beige, tan, brown, with bits of greenish-blue. That's a real challenge for me, because you know I love color.

Here's some progress shots:

What I'm doing here is laying down a thin layer of Fleisch Ochre* (a weirdo tube of paint I need to use up) and then wiping off the light parts, instead of painting in the dark parts. Very different approach for me, I kind of like it. Makes the brain do some acrobatics. However, I found the paint dried very quickly, and it was hard to wipe it off.
*I know that sounds like "flesh-colored ochre," but apparently it's named after some guy who discovered a deposit of ochre. Go figure.

Here I dipped a cotton swab in mineral spirits and wiped off the more prominent highlights. You can also see where I scratched in an X-shaped grid line for placement.

Here I added perspective lines and the more technical details, such as the man and horse, with a red pencil. I love the looseness of the underpainting, but needed some architectural guides to firm it up.

Putting in the darkest shadows.

Starting the sun-lit areas.
Most of the way done. I decide that house on the right is too bright, especially the side facing us. Also I don't like the blankness of the street-facing side, so I put in trees. You can see those revisions in the final. This image is a little bright compared to the real life version.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Heliconia and Ginger

7" x 5"
Oil on canvas panel

You can view and purchase this painting here.

I painted this for DPW's Farmers' Market challenge. The photo provided is awfully nice, and maybe I'll have time to do that too. The scene I chose is from our vacation to French Polynesia several years ago. The city market in Papeete has gorgeous piles of vegetables and fruits, pareus hanging from above, and outside are flower sellers. The flowers in Tahiti are fabulous—the colors almost hurt your eyes.

The market has metal gates around the perimeter when it's closed (a lot of public buildings there don't have sides!). They're painted this fabulous shade of green.

Florals are not my specialty, so I tried hard to not paint each and every blossom as its own entity. They were really just masses of color.

Blocking in average color


starting the background

Monday, April 8, 2013

Arboretum Paintings

Two of my paintings will be auctioned at the JC Raulston Arboretum Gala in the Garden. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Arboretum, a working research and teaching garden, open free to the public, and part of NC State University's Department of Horticultural Science.

Purchase is via the auction, but you can still see larger versions of the paintings here and here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Down the Garden Path

oil on hardboard

You can view and purchase this painting here. Update: I decided I hate this painting, so I scraped it off and re-gessoed the board. Hopefully it will have a happier incarnation!

It's finally starting to feel like Spring! This year's warm weather has been so delayed I'm starting to wonder if it will ever come. The painting is based on photo reference I snapped April 6 last year—what a difference! This year there are barely even buds on the trees.
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