Saturday, June 21, 2008
It took some marathon painting sessions over the past few days, but I was able to finish the painting today and even signed it, the very last thing I do when I finish a painting.
To the strains of Mozart and then some Gershwin (An American In Paris), I repainted the bay horse and the gray, put manes and tails on the horses, finished the galleon and painted two wee horse heads out in the waves swimming for their lives to shore. I even painted water draining off the horses' bellies, and that may be the coolest part of the whole painting.
I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out after some grave misgivings earlier. In the end it came together and serves the purpose for which it was created; to be a part of the Mural Mosaic project.
This painting is probably the biggest challenge I've given myself to date. It required a lot of research to pull it off, required that I paint something I've never painted before; the ocean and waves on a beach; and required working from less than optimum reference photos. The composition is entirely my own creation. I had no photo to copy to tell me where to put the elements and how big to make them.
There were many times when I thought that I'd bitten off more than I could chew and wished that I'd chosen a simpler subject that wouldn't have taken so much time and effort. But now that it's done, I'm glad I had the courage to go so far out of my comfort zone and do something that would help me to grow as an artist. It isn't perfect, but it's the best I can do at this time in my development as an artist.
And that's all I need ask of myself; to do the best that I can do today.
Click on the thumbnail to see a larger view and a detail view of some of the horses.
Friday, June 20, 2008
It took me two days just to paint the waves and the ocean. There were many false starts as I laid on paint, wasn't happy with the results and wiped it off again to try something different. Working without a good, solid reference of large waves coming onshore proved to be challenging, but I did the best I could and can only hope that these waves are a reasonable facsimile of moving water and the power that they represent.
You'll notice that the bay horse no longer has ears. He will get new ones today when I repaint him. With luck, I should be able to finish the panel today and then do some touchups if needed tomorrow.
Click on the thumbnail above to see the larger image. I just couldn't get a sharp image of the panel, but when it's finished, I'll use the tripod and that should yield better results.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I haven't painted the ocean in over thirty years, so approaching those waves breaking on the beach has been intimidating to say the least. After searching on the internet for more wave photos and studying all the photos and gaining a better understanding of how waves break on the beach and how they relate to one another, I finally started painting the water. Oh, yes, and I redesigned the waves again.
The photos I gathered and studied and the book I read on painting the sea were invaluable. But when it came down to it, I had to figure out on my own how the light would hit the waves based on my light source and how the wave would integrate into the composition. In every painting there comes a time when you have to put aside your source material and just go with what you know or on instinct.
Last night I finished the first wave breaking and the foreground and was pretty pleased with the way they turned out. If I were doing this painting for myself, I'd do it a lot differently, so the wave patterns have been somewhat dictated by the shape of the panel (square) and the diagonal pattern that is supposed to be retained. The background waves look like a jumble right now, but they'll look better once I paint in the new ones.
Those purple clouds have been glazed over with light blue to tame them down, and I also glazed blue over the headlands to push them back in space. The clouds look overly red in this photo but are actually more of a bluish purple.
The most difficult part of the painting is now done; that first wave; so I hope to finish the water today, let it dry and then go on to put the finishing touches on the horses and galleon.
At last the end is in sight! As before, click on the thumbnail above to see the larger image and read the story of the mural.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Here are the results of another two days of painting, and this thing is finally coming together. Click on the image above to see a larger view.
Why purple clouds? Well, one of the challenges of creating these panels is that we have to follow the patterns and colors that are on them while adding our own artistic interpretations of the horse to them. We are only allowed to deviate by 20% in colors and lights and darks. So, purple clouds were a better idea than northern lights in a tropical setting in the daylight.
They ARE rather purple, though, aren't they? When all is dry, I will glaze some blue over them to bring them into a more realistic realm.
Tomorrow I start to paint the ocean and am really looking forward to that!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I spent much of yesterday revising and correcting the bay stallion but did manage to get some of the galleon painted before we lost power last night.
A huge limb the size of a medium tree broke off in our neighbor's yard, fell into the road and pulled the power lines down with it. The odd thing was that we lost only half of our power. The studio lights went out, but my easel light stayed on, so I quickly finished up, rinsed the brushes well and packed away the palette for the night.
Today I finished the galleon and painted the middle horse, a nice rose gray. After beginning the third horse, I decided that his head is too big so wiped off what I'd painted and will begin again.
Nothing is set in stone at this point. There are still corrections and enhancements to be made to all, but they will wait for the next layers to be added. So, pay no attention to that odd left foreleg on the bay. It will be fixed in due time.
I'm getting very anxious to paint the sky and sea. The more I get done of the horses the more I realize that the contrast of the horses to the blue-green sea is going to make for a stunning painting.
In fact, yesterday I was studying cloud formations while leaving the grocery store parking lot and almost ran into someone! Oh, Dear!
Clouds are infinitely fascinating and infinitely variable. Just like the sea.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Yesterday was frustrating because I wasn't able to paint until late afternoon, but I kept at it until this horse was finished about 11:00pm. It was a challenge to paint a whole horse at such a small size, and I tried to keep my brush strokes more loose than usual and not fuss too much over every little bit.
This Andalusian horse is the main focus of the painting. I chose to make him a rich red bay because his warmth would be a good contrast to all the greens and blues of the ocean waves and therefore attract the eye. As usual, there are lots of corrections to make on him if the paint is dry enough. But, my goal for today is to finish the other two horses and the ship. Then I can go on to the sky and ocean.
I found the last time I painted that some of my alkyds had begun to dry in the tubes and become stiff, so I replaced those colors on my palette yesterday with oils of the same hue. That worked much better.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
During the past week, I came to the conclusion that the original pattern on the panel as provided by Mural Mosaic was intimidating me and holding me back. So, I decided the best way to proceed was to cover it over with a thin layer of paint using the local colors for my design.
After designing the waves and combining them with the horses, I traced all onto the panel and began laying on paint. Since time is getting short, I used my alkyds but found that they had become thickened over time and were difficult to work with. They were drying fast on the panel but also drying fast on the palette! I did manage to get a layer of paint over the whole surface and didn't worry too much about staying within the lines or putting in details at this early stage. So, the panel is very much in the Ugly phase right now.
After some advice from my artist friends who are also doing panels for this project, I've decided to switch to oils from now on since they seem to be drying faster than normal on these panels. I'm getting very worried about the time factor because the deadline is fast approaching, so I'll be painting many hours per day from now on and hoping for the best.
I'm not very happy with the waves so they will need to be revised, but first I'll work on the horses and get them to a more finished state before doing the background again.
Click on the somewhat neon colored thumbnail above to see a larger version and how I arrived at the design. At this point you don't see much of the diagonal lines that are an important element to incorporate in my design. Those will come later as I put in the clouds and details in the waves.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I spent last Friday afternoon at the barn because it was Spring Checkup day for the horses. It's always quite a social time, too, because usually we three boarders are there along with the barn owner, Shelley. As usual, Scottie was a gentleman for his shots and teeth floating, and I also had the vet do a chiropractic adjustment on him. This time there were no major issues found although his left hip was locked up and his ankles were stiff from a winter of bracing on the icy hillside which leads up to the barn in the winter turnout.
Afterward I rode for half an hour, and Scottie definitely had more spring in his step and was very responsive to my aids, clumsy as they are. I told the vet that my ride had been "cushy" compared to before. But now I'm the one who needs working on because I'm so out of shape for riding that I'll never be able to manage trail rides this summer if I don't do something about it. It's back to the exercise program that will also include more regular riding again. This past winter I basically hibernated and didn't go anywhere unless absolutely necessary. I guess I needed that time to regroup and recuperate after last year's unpleasant events.
And then there was the Happy Accident I discovered when going through the photos I took last week at the beach. We artists talk about Happy Accidents in our work which usually involves messing up what we intended to do but having it come out better but in an unexpected way. This time the accident was in my photos. I'd been aware of one lonely gull hanging around hoping for a handout, and in one photo (see above) he flew by leaving a lovely shadow of himself in the sand. You can't see him against the foam of the surf, but there's that shadow to betray his presence.
I probably won't use this in my Horse Gift painting, but it will have to go in some future painting for sure. Speaking of the Horse Gift painting, I'm coming along on that and have been designing my waves. With luck, by the end of the day I should have it all traced onto the panel and can at long last begin painting! With all this preliminary work done, I'm hoping it will practically paint itself.