Monday, January 19, 2009

Class Demo - Sand Crane Part 2

The next stage in creating the painting of the Sand Crane is to plan it out. The background is dry, so I transferred the outline of the crane and placed it where I wanted it in the landscape. I feel where I placed it, it echos the trees. I also placed it facing to the right. That way it is looking out of the canvas, rather than sticking its nose into the tree.
I used some titanium white and 'whited' it out. This way I have a clean slate to paint on and the colors I use for the bird will remain true and have less of a chance of appearing muddy.
I used white chalk to sketch out the branches, the Spanish moss and the shore line of the pond. Planning is just as important as putting paint on the canvas. It is easier to erase chalk than repaint an area.
Don't remember who said it first but "Failing to plan is planning to fail.' and that holds true when creating a painting as well as most other areas of life.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Class Demo - Sand Crane

Class got off to a great start. As part of the class, about half way through the 3 hour session, I do a 10-20 minute demo. This session I began a painting of a sand crane based on a photo I took while visiting down in Florida this past June. I like the position and image of the bird in my photo, but the background is just OK. So I found another photo that has a background that I like much better. I decided to combine the two, use the background from one and the focal image from the other.

This is not an unusual practice. In fact, it a great way to develop a better painting. Most times a photo will not be the perfect image for a painting. But by combining features from two or more photos, one can create a composition that is more than the sum of all of these parts.

My approach to creating almost every painting that I do is to build up the composition. Think of setting a table, you need to put down the table cloth first, then the dishes then the food. Do it out of order and you get a mess. Same thing with a painting - I build the background first, then add the featured items, then add the finishing touches.

For this painting, I first blocked in the distant trees in the upper right quarter of the canvas. I used Dioxazine purple for my darks. This adds color to my shadows and a richness and depth to the distant trees. You can also use a mix of ultramarine blue and alizarin to get a similiar color.

I also mixed in chromium oxide green, some raw sienna, burnt sienna and ultramarine blue as well as some titanium white. The photo I was working from did not show any sky color. However, I personally think that by adding some blue into the distant tree colors, it adds some atmospheric depth to the image. I softly blended the area, then did a few upward strokes from the darker bottom area up to the lighter area giving the form of trees.

The grassy area is large strokes of the same green, browns and golds, but finished with a horizontal stroke. The watery, swampy area has more blue, but also the ground colors in it. I used some raw umber to block in the tree trunks and add some shadows on the ground. I kept everything soft. This will help create the illussion of depth to the finished painting. Items up close are in sharper focus than items in the distance.

I will let this stage dry. With the background filled in, once I start adding the rest of the images, I will not have to worry about painting around things or filling in small spaces. The stage is set it will soon be time for the actors to enter.

Class is held on Thursdays from 9 am til noon at the Base Rec Center. For more info