Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Oil Paint -- Art Instruction -- Color Theory in Perspective - Aerial Perspective

Todays post is very useful for learning about why we see things as they are... but first I'd like to introduce you to my etsy shop where you can buy beautiful prints of my favourite paintings. Feel free to browse and even buy for a friend or yourself, they make great presents at affordable prices, if you are stuck for what to get someone.

Also see my Art Designs on clothes for sale. Visit to purchase beautiful designs of my art on clothing. Beautiful flower designs and others on scarfs and tops. Enjoy and have a chance to buy a unique item - not available anywhere else or in shops, created by me!!

Aerial Perspective

Creating the illusion of three dimensional distance on a two-dimensional surface is not an easy task. It helps to follow simple rules relating to what is known as aerial perspective. Aerial perspective doesn't mean aerial viewpoint! Here's a little background theory.

At midday we notice the most intense blue sky. White sunlight is travelling through the air and certain wavelengths are being scattered by the atmosphere. Small oxygen and nitrogen molecules scatter the shorter wavelength rays, the violet and blue portions of the sun's light. These bluish light rays bounce around everywhere and create the blue sky we see. But why is the sky not violet then? Actually our eyes are more sensitive to blue and the sun emits more blue light than violet so blue predominates in the light that is scattered. At sunset the rays have to travel through more atmosphere to reach our eye, so all blue is lost (refracted / scattered) and what remains is the red / orange rays. Hence red sunset! Simple enough.

So what does that tell us..
Well during daylight, that there is a lot of blue light particles scattering around in the atmosphere around us. So if we look at something they are in our line of sight. Each contributes a little blue to what we see. The further away an object is from us, the more of these blue light particles are in our way making the object take on a bluer appearance. Hence the faraway mountains appear blue. Yellow is the first naturally occurring colour to disappear due to this blue effect, as yellow and blue make green - so yellows become greener and fade. Red is not commonly found in nature, but it changes to purples or browns, losing intensity with distance.

Now to complicate things a little more. This explains the major effect of aerial perspective. But there are some minor effects. With distance less light of any colour reaches us, so colour becomes less intense, even as it tends to blue. So colour in general fades. The more light an object emits the more this is evident, and the object blends more with the surroundings. White objects emit the most light, all the wavelengths, so the contrast between them and surroundings is reduced the most. Black objects absorb light so are actually absorbing some of the blue and hence a slight increase in contrast is created between them and surroundings! Nevertheless this effect is minimal compared to the first blue haze effect. But it does mean contrast between light and dark is greatest up close, so worth bearing in mind.

What happens at night? Well if the object is black not much! You can't see it. But if an object is luminous or emitting light of any description, most lightly due to reflecting light from a light source, then that light is not passing through an atmosphere full of blue light particles as there is no sun. A full moon might act a little like the sun but generally speaking it has little influence. What does happen is that as before light reaching you from the object is scattering - the atmosphere is still there! So the light with longest wavelengths reaches you most easily. These are reds, browns and yellows. Mostly shades that tend toward dull reds and browns reach you.

Well thats about it for the understanding. Have a look at the photos for the reality of what it means to colour choice in landscapes. Also don't forget, feel free to check out my etsy shop for beautiful prints of my paintings.

Also see my Art Designs on clothes for sale. Visit to purchase beautiful designs of my art on clothing. Beautiful flower designs and others on scarfs and tops. Enjoy and have a chance to buy a unique item - not available anywhere else or in shops, created by me!!

Here are some other articles that might be of interest.
Landscape Oil Painting Demonstration
Landscape Painting showing Aerial Perspective
Seascape showing some Aerial Perspective
Seascape 2 showing Aerial Perspective

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poetry Diversion

It's that time again... so here's a light-hearted take on that great poem "If" with sincere apologies to Rudyard Kipling. Hope it's not too corny - I gave it my best shot.

If you can make your mark when all about you,
Are falling short and blaming it on you.
If you can try to draw when all men doubt you,
A perfect circle or a straight line too.
If you can see and be inspired by seeing,
What others don't and only strive in vain,
Or being copied don't give way to copying,
And yet don't get too proud nor talk Artspeak.

If you can dream, transferring dreams to canvas,
If you can think and then make thoughts your muse,
If you can deal with Art-houses and auctions,
And treat those two imposters just the same,
If you can bear to see what you have painted,
Cliched by critics and misunderstood,
And be rebuked repeatedly by galleries,
Yet walk on to the next with worn out shoes.

If you can make a mess of most your drawings,
And though frustration rises not get cross,
Erase, to start again at your beginnings,
And not regret a moments effort lost.
If you can face up to procrastination,
And sit and paint 'til brain and limb go numb,
And when you stomach says there's nothing in you,
Break briefly for some food but then paint on.

If you can keep your shirt and get an agent,
And sell to kings - being sure to charge enough,
If neither foes nor loving friends can stop you,
From painting frequently but not too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving canvas,
With what looks something more than colours run,
You might become a rich and famous Artist,
Unfortunately - long after you're gone!

Don't take this too seriously. Art is not that intense, it's meant to be fun. It's just a crazy poem!
Check back again when I will progress the blog with more work or information on art technique.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Current work in progress...

The blog has been strange lately. Maybe it's the holiday season but I have gone from a steady double figures back to almost zero everyday for my traffic stats. I don't know why so I will just keeping posting and ignore the stats. Besides I've been busy with this latest work and life in general.

The above is a diversion from landscape painting in the traditional sense and not typical recent work. It's an idea I have had to create a really atmospheric painting of the sea. It is just moving beyond the initial stages and has a long way to go. As I have no photo to work from, I am having to figure out the balance of colour and shapes as I go. So it is taking longer than usual. I might start another painting while keeping this on the go as this is a large enough painting and is taking it's time. Also I want to keep working on more saleable works. So I will look at what else I shall start over the next while. At the moment the people in the background are liable to be changed somewhat as I am not happy with the way I have sketched them so much. When I get this finished to my satisfaction I will post the completed image.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

IrishArt - a website for galleries...

Red Vineyard at Arles

The above is the only painting ever sold by Van Gogh during his life. It sold for 400 francs in Brussels in 1890 a few months before he died. It is now in the Pushkin museum in Moscow.

Some news of interest to my art progress - I have received a promotional email from a site I registered on, . A few months ago while in the process of getting up to speed in the art market, I came across this site. They specialise in displaying new artists to galleries in Ireland. They have connections to all galleries in the country and encourage new artists to register and upload works for galleries to review. They also trawl their own site looking at the art that is uploaded and then contact the galleries to see if they are interested. I have uploaded several works done recently, and maybe it will help. In the email they are inviting artists who registered to display new works. One of the things I have begun to see is a consistent style in my work, which is a somewhat useful development. This is something all galleries seem to want, so it can't be a bad thing. Still, that shouldn't mean I don't gradually refine and improve my style.

And the catch... well none so far, no cost and free advertising for my art, but one unusual thing and actually I like this fact... You can't see the art you upload, only the galleries that are registered to the site can see it. So also can people who register as collectors. But the general public and artists can't see the art they upload or other artists upload. I might register as a collector!

Finally they also are now receiving interest from galleries in the states and elsewhere for art and have started compiling a list of the artists who wish to be considered. I might think about that although shipping to states is costly.

Check back during the week as I may upload a few shots of a new work which is a bit of a diversion from recent work. I am including some people in it - something I don't do enough of I am beginning to think.

Reflecting on this blog process, my brother advised me to pace myself and I have to agree. I posted a lot of stuff in the first two months as I wanted to form a base of articles to get the blog up and running. I can't keep that pace up but will definitely stay posting on a less frequent but still consistent rate, hopefully two or three times a week. And as I improve at painting and mixing colours I am learning and getting slightly faster all the time, so I hope to have more and better quality work being finished to post here as time goes on. So exciting times ahead for this yet to be discovered artist. Who knows whether I will be the next artist to watch. One thing for sure, I'm learning the value of momentum. Does it apply to becoming collectable as an artist in the same way it seems to apply to blogging. Time will tell...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Two Months of Blogging!

Wow- two months of blogging, does that make me a veteran yet? Actually I feel that the blog is beginning to take on a tiny bit of momentum. If it was lying on a slab in the morgue, I'd say that I just saw the big toe twitch. Hope rigor mortis doesn't set in soon,... From looking at the stats I have received hits from 42 of the 50 states in USA!! So thanks America. Visits per day are averaging in low double figures and rising slowly. Europe is a different story. It seems most searchs are not in English. Top countries have been USA, UK, Canada, Ireland and Australia/New Zealand. The fact that more people are seeing my art than the static website I have is encouraging, and I find the blog interaction great. So thanks to all those folks who take the time to comment, much appreciated.

I've been thinking also about the structure of the blog. I want to collect all my paintings together into one spot where they can be viewed quickly. I need to set up a gallery page for that - so that might be next week. All in all, the experience is a great learning curve and I highly recommend it to anyone artist or anyone who has a hobby they want to share. So I will post again in future on progress and hope that progress will keep me motivated. It's a circle of momentum it seems, one leads back to the other. The main purpose of the blog is to raise my profile as an artist and sell paintings. From what I can see I really need to kickstart my presence on Etsy, so that will be my next little project. When I get set up be sure to check for me there... I'll post links on this site. Thanks Jim

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weekend will be busy...

Sunflower Serenade

This weekend the blog will take a backseat somewhat as I have a number of social events to attend. It might be Monday before I get free. So just time to load up this work from last year. This was not a painting I spent a lot of time working on. I tried to complete it as quickly as possible. Despite this I am happy with the outcome for the time involved. It's on a light canvas board and measures 11" x 9" approx. Oils of course. Hope it brings a little sunshine into your days... Until next post. If you like it let me know, I might consider selling it, although I'm kinda fond of this one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My oldest drawing and other things...

My first drawing!
The above is most likely not my first but it is the oldest drawing I possess. I drew it when I was six which is a long time ago now! I may be a bit bious but I am kinda proud of it. I wanted to get an electronic record of it and while doing that I said I might as well put it on the blog. Actually I have now digitally photographed a lot of paintings that otherwise I never bothered to before, since the blog began. And over the weeks and months I shall show them in stages.

Complimentary and Complementary Colours
Probably the biggest mistake in the art world vocabulary, I'm guilty of this myself. In the interests of search engines my article on complementary colours sometimes calls them complimentary colours. What's the difference?

Well complementary colours look good side by side, they complement each other.
Complimentary colours are ones that probably like to say nice things about each other!!!

Now as for color and colour...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Poetry Corner ... Autumn Poem!

With the dismal summer we are having here in Ireland, (we recently had a month's rain in five hours) I think we should just forget it and move on to Autumn. Maybe it will be better. After all we often get an Indian summer here, as in good weather in September. So I thought the poem that follows is appropriate for to herald in the next season. Actually there might still be some hope for a few fine days here, but nobody is holding their breath.

So here is a poem that might be's raining even as I type this!!

Feathers of the willow

The feathers of the willow
are half of them grown yellow,
Above the swelling stream.
And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes
And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalk begins to moulder,
His head is white as snow.
The branches all are barer,
The linnet's song is rarer,
The robin pipeth now.

Richard Watson Dixon (1833-1900)

The above photo is a typical example of a view that could be executed using a minimum of colour - analagous or monochromatic colour scheme. I have to say I really like reference gallery. It has some great photos. I might try using ideas from this photo for a future painting.
That's it for now. Until another rainy day!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fantasy Oil Painting - The Dream by the River

Fantasy Oil Painting - The Dream by the River

The above painting was started a long time ago but only finished last year. It was one of a number of fantasy paintings which I wanted to paint for my own enjoyment. I had the name in mind first before I ever visualised the actual painting. I had to make a number of changes during working on it. I started and finished a lot of other paintings in between but kept going back to it. To see some of the other work in this series see Symphony of Silence and Desert of the Blue Stones. Also Inverted Desert which came about as a result of the colours I chose in Desert of the Blue Stones. I have a number of other ideas I want to paint to add to this series in my own time. I might eventually get around to them but I want to concentrate mainly on more saleable works, so the series is taking a backseat but progressing slowly. If I add to it, I shall post the next work on the blog - probably in a few months time. Patience is important in art when you are working fulltime! Feel free to comment on this work, as I'm interested in feedback.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Impressionist Movement - A Brief Glance

Chasing Butterflies 1874 Berthe Morisot
The Impressionists
The Impressionists were a loosely associated group of painters that worked mainly in France during the later half of the 19th century. The movements main artists were:

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
Mary Cassett (1844-1926)
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

During the course of the 19th century the government of France sponsored an annual exhibition to recognise and identify new artistic talent. This was known as the Salon. The Salon's view of art was that it should follow the classical traditions of the Rennaissance Period - dark browns and black in dark paintings. Anyone who didn't adher to the views of the Salon was left out in the cold. Artists rebelled against this and struggled against the Salon's monopoly. Those that could afford to, had private exhibitions. Eventually in 1874 an exhibition by rebel artists was organised in the centre of Paris and opened the same week as the Salon's exhibition. Over the next 12 years over fifty "rebel" artists exhibited. They had 8 exhibitions in the years 1874-1886. The movement was called the impressionists after a work called " Impression, Sunrise" by Monet in 1874, and also due to the unclear style of their drawing and lack of attention to detail. The name stuck, and was adopted by the artists for their future exhibitions, as they had struggled to define a name for their group previously.

Although he had partaken in the last five exhibitions Paul Gauguin is considered a post-impressionist as is Vincent Van Gogh. The majority of Van Goghs work was created as the movement was past it's peak and although he worked with them during his time in Paris, he sought an individualistic pathway for his art. Gauguin also was to follow such an individual pathway.

On the Grass 1874 Berthe Morisot

Les Parapluies 1883 Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Well I hope you enjoyed this short glimpse into art past. Perhaps I will revisit some of these artists works in the blog again at a later date. In the meantime, check back again for my completion of Clew Bay landscape. It should be finished this week.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Oil Painting Demonstration - Clew Bay Part III

Working on the Detail - Clew Bay Oil Painting
Continuing on from last week Part I and Part II of this online oil painting work in progress, the following pictures show how I have progressed beyond the initial underpainting.

In the above, I have worked on the cloud to try and deepen the layer of paint as it was a little thin, and also to define the cloud shapes. The colour may be a little too intense and I may go over it with a glaze at the final stage, later, but for now I will leave it to dry. I used mostly titanium white with manganese blue, so nothing unusual there.

Next, I moved onto the mountains and using ultramarine blue with the same white, I defined the mountain shadows in a more definite way. I used a mix of raw umber, tiniest amount with ultramarine or cobalt blue and titanium white to create the grey blue of the rest of the mountains. I tried to define the shape of the mountains using the brushstrokes. I also reduced the green of the mountain shoreline by glazing over with the same colour mix very lightly. I might have to go over this whole mountain section with a glaze to add a more bluish tinge to everything and push it into the far distance, but will decide at a later stage.
I also covered the water with a mix of manganese blue and titanium white as the underpainting was very thin. When this is dry I may put some additional shadow on the water, but for now this is it.

On to the middle ground now, and this covers from the front of the mountains to just below the beach on right. In this area there is a need for a lot of colour variation. I wanted to keep colour and colour intensity harmony. I felt the island on the right was too yellow for it's distance, so I toned it down (titanium white mixed with ultramarine blue and cadmium yellow). I used slight variations of this mix on the other island areas, darkening or lightening the mix as necessary using less or more of the white or blue. It's not an exact science. Basically all I did was to cover over this area, all parts in a thicker layer of colour so as not to have any areas of thin paint left. I used cobalt blue or ultramarine blue with cadmium yellow or lemon yellow to create different greens here. I darkened areas using raw umber mixed with either of the blues and I created light greys using white to the darkened mix. That about somes it up.

For the foreground it's a similar story. I covered all the foreground with fresh paint to remove the thin paint look. I tried to create colour variety by mixing various greens as I had done in the underpainting, and the only significant detail to note was I added some manganese blue into the field on the right. You can see it in small streaks standing out. It creates a little link to the same colour in the water and sky.
The picture is almost finished. The next photo I upload will hopefully be the finished painting, all going well. Looking at it, I could leave it but might just try the glaze on sky and mountains, and add slight shadow to water. Both are risky but I'll be careful. Check back during the week to see what happens.
It's been a busy weekend for me so the blog put it's feet up. I didn't as I had a lot of work to do on my home. Having a number of projects to do at home is a sure fire way to stop you doing art. I just completed laying a section of patio, so feel a sense of achievement from that, but I'm also glad I'm getting that job out of the way too.