Thursday, June 30, 2016

Some Observations About Light in Landscape Painting

As I slowly begin returning to painting landscapes the question of light arises. For most of my artistic career I have not been that interested in light in paintings, though I enjoy it in the works of other artists. However in landscape painting light is very important, so lately I've been examining the use of light by various landscapes painters, all of whom would be called "realists." What I found in closely studying their paintings is that they are not strict and mathematical, if you will, about where the light hits. In fact in many realist paintings – those of Andrew Wyeth come to mind – the light is very natural looking at a glance, but then upon closer examination is highly invented. I find nothing wrong with artists taking this liberty.

The key to light in landscape painting seems to be to make an effort to simply include it in the work, and not obsess over where everything lines up and how it strikes each object in a uniform way... almost like a Bob Ross painting. Each object typically has a light area, a mid value, and a dark area. Get that right and the painting will take care of itself. The key is not worry so much about literally reproducing the exact way light strikes each object in succession. If one can do the and do it well, fine. But it is not necessary. The mathematics of how the light strikes is secondary to the presence of light itself.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Directions

I have really been enjoying getting back into landscape painting. It is a quite a challenge for someone who has for so long painted in a rigid, geometric style. I've been doing a bunch a small studies in oil on canvas board to get back into practice.

I've also been experimenting with landscape in egg tempera and doing some work that I think is good. Once again edge tempera proves itself to be a versatile and beautiful medium... no wonder Wyeth used it so much!

The goal is to do a number of small egg tempera landscapes, and some in watercolor as I did about 12 years ago, and then to do some larger landscape paintings in oil on canvas. For some reason when I paint in oil I need to work larger.

I am still working on my older stuff. Just recently I completed a very small icon commission of the Virgin and Child (picture below - sorry for the glare in the photo), and I am currently working on a largish icon of the Descent of Christ from the Cross. The Sunday school kids are fascinated by it! (I do my iconography at my office.. well, any egg tempera work, for that matter.) I also just completed a large oil painting of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

Yesterday I began working on a graphite portrait of a horse, and soon I'll be taking on a commission to paint a large ship - that one will will probably be executed in watercolor, but I haven't decided yet.

I'm really enjoying breaking out of my artistic habits - always painting one or two things/sticking with on for two subject matters. I am also enjoying getting back into watercolor, pencil and charcoal, and painting subject matter in oil and egg tempera that I have not done before. I am also hoping to do some work in pastel as well - a medium that I have little to no experience with, but yet somehow I have ended up with tons of soft and hard pastels in my studio! Might as well use them!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Recent News

After my summer show at the Liriodendron in Bel Air, MD I found myself incredibly burned out with everything - art, church, family, etc. - so I took a break from painting for a few months. I'm glad I did, because it helped me refocus and begin a much needed change of direction in my work.

While I'm still going to paint the occasional icon I am going to try to do some landscape in egg tempera. I have only done two or three small such paintings in the past, but have always wanted to explore it more deeply. Andrew Wyeth's egg tempera landscapes are so compelling... not that mine will - or ever could - look like his. It is very versatile medium that allows for a lot of subtlety in a variety of ways. It will take a while to get up to speed with this, but I am looking forward to it. I already have one in progress.

As for cityscapes - my former signature work - I am burned out with these, and currently so repulsed by Baltimore and what the idiotic leadership of this once great city have done to it over the past 50 years that I cannot find any wonder or attraction to even being there... much less painting pictures of it.

I'm also getting back into watercolor. It is a fun medium that is very challenging. I used to paint in it a lot, but haven't done much now for 9 years. That means there will be lots of catching up to do. Will probably focus on landscape for now

My sacred art... this is tricky. All I can say is that I will be approaching this from a different technical angle, going back somewhat to earlier forms. Am currently working on a painting of the conversion of Saint Paul. Will keep you posted.