Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Painting Trees - Varied Sameness! Painting Demonstration continued...

The above is where I am at currently on this painting, having worked on the trees behind the lake and at the left side. While this looks reasonably simple to paint, it is actually quite difficult to get it right. What is needed is to paint what initially looks like all the same, but is really what I call "varied sameness". It is quite tricky to get it right and when it goes wrong you end up with just a green mess. To explain, you have to paint the trees in such a way that they have all the variations that occur in nature (obviously you have to simplify somewhat), and without having too much of one shade in any place, and at the same time keeping a consistent tone and pattern across the foliage. That mightn't be a good explaination, so I have a closeup of what I mean below. I have variations in the colour on the tree, but without any of the shades dominating another. I create all the shades in this picture using various mixes of ultramarine blue, viridian green, cadium yellow, paynes grey, lemon yellow and titanium white. You can experiment yourself, to get various shades. Other trees I have used other colours too, so there really is a lot of greens that you can achieve!
Looking at where I have got to above, I still need to do some more on the trees section of the painting as it dries further, to adjust and balance the tones a bit. I want them to appear natural and not standing out too much as they are just background to the main subject. I shall continue this online demonstration over the weekend or so...

Here is an example of "varied sameness" -- that sometimes elusive aspect of painting, and the reason why painting a forest of nothing but green can be so tricky...That's it for today, if you are enjoying the blog be sure to check back or link to it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oil Painting Online Demonstration August 2009

Well here in Ireland the weather has been quite showery over the last few weeks and with no sign of stopping I think that the types of paintings that might appeal to people could be those that show warm weather and places we would really like to experience. That's why I thought this scene would be an appealing candidate. I am working in oils on a 16" x 20" canvas. Here I have posted the progress shots of my undercoating stage, completed more or less in the above shot.
To transfer my drawing onto the canvas, I draw it out on parchment paper and I put a sheet of paper covered in charcoal under this face down onto the canvas. I then go over each line with a pen that no longer works. I put a book under the canvas to prevent damage from leaning too hard on it. The result is an outline drawing on the canvas in charcoal. Charcoal is ideal as pencil on canvas is hard to cover with some colours in oils, as I discovered to my cost. I sometimes draw over the charcoal as can be seen above with a light colour marker. This covers well with the oils. I might dispense with this in the future but for now I think it is a useful method.

As I don't have a lot of difficult drawing in this painting I only outlined part of it in marker. The rest I will draw in paint. To save time, I use a variety of brushes and I am finding that I can work faster if I begin to judge how much paint I need better, as I don't have to keep stopping to put out more! Also as this was the undercoating stage I worked as quickly as I could, not paying too much attention to detail at this stage.

Undercoating Stage
The main thing to establish in the underpainting is the feeling of light that you want to convey in the image. Is it warm or cold, bright or dark? Here, I am trying to have a reasonably warm day, but it is tricky as I don't have a lot of sky in the picture. So I will have to rely on getting the right tones in the rest of the picture.
I fill in all the areas with blocks of colour that I think are as close to the final colours needed. This allows me to see more easily if they will need to be varied at a later stage, but really I want to try to get things right first time. That's a good motto to have when painting -- get it right first time. Mostly a painting is an evolution of tweaking and changing the colours slightly but it pays to underpaint as close as possible as you can to what's needed. I used vermillion green, paynes grey and titanium white here for the background, along with cerulean blue with the white for the water, and ultramarine blue mixed with cadmium yellow for other parts of the background. I have used yellow ochre and naples yellow in the rushes and other places. I have used cadmium red and white and raw umber also.

If I see that the colour is too dark or changing the feeling of the light then I need to stop and wipe it clean and try a variation or alternative. I kind of know what colour mixes I need now even before I use them. This comes from practice and although I often make mistakes, they are not disasters but just slow me up. Fortunately I have learnt to see most of these before I progress too far. If you need help with mixing colours, see my posts on learning to paint on the right of this blog, and also about aerial perspective etc. They should help you.

As I said earlier, there is little sky in this image, so that means the water will be the best in helping to show the bright sunlight. I choose cerulean blue for the water and lightened it with white. Anyway that's it for this online painting demonstration. I will be progressing on to the next painting layer soon, so will post more progress shots of that. Be sure and check back if you are interested in seeing the finished painting, most lightly at the end of this week.

Meanwhile I hope the weather improves here! We have the end of hurricane Bill here tomorrow!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paintings of Ireland -- Pontoon Bridge, Mayo.

This is the final photo of my Irish Landscape -- Pontoon Bridge, Mayo. I have used a lot of different colour mixes in this painting, using the colour theory I have learned over the last few months. I use Artists Grade oil paints so that the pigment levels are high in the paints. I have concentrated on creating the feeling of a warm summer day but with the every present changeability of the Irish weather. I paid special attention to tone as much as possible, so that the three dimensional feeling is as strong as possible. My darkest shadows are at the foreground and the highest contrasts also. I am very pleased with how this painting turned out. Comments and criticisms welcome. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the below progression shots. See the start of this painting by going to Pontoon Bridge - the beginning. Drop back in the next few days for to see further work...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reasons to buy Original Art instead of a Print

It's a topic often discussed on the web and elsewhere. Is it better to buy an original fine art painting even though it costs much more or just settle for a print. What about an expensively framed limited edition print? Is it's value equivalent to that of an original work of art?
First you need to ask why you want to buy -- is it just to redecorate or fill a space, or do you also want an investment? If you are just space filling it seems the cheaper option of a print is what you may buy, unless you have money to splash.
But if budget is not so flash, should you invest in fine art? If I was not an artist I would still say yes to this question. However I would be asking several questions first. Is the artist emerging, established, widely respected, or one of a kind? What is their genre? Are they improving? If it is an emerging artist you are interested in, are they able to produce quality work with a style that will stand the test of time? Are they just a passing fad? Is their work truely based on honed technique or are they just chancing their arm? The price you are prepared to pay should be based on all these considerations.

From my limited experience of the market, I see three categories of buyer of art.

Low price range, below 400 euro or so.
Medium price range, 400-900 euro approx.
Upper price range, 1000 euro upwards.

The first group are looking for a fine art painting but are either unable or unwilling to spend a large amount relatively speaking. They look for emerging artists and hope to pick up a painting which really appeals to them, with the hope it increases in value. They will often buy scenes of local areas and popular views.

The middle group will have some knowledge of what artists are established but will not be able to afford the better names. They will look to buy a lesser work of established names or a work by an artist who is becoming more prominent. They will be unlikely to spend on an emerging artist unless it is an exceptional work whose subject has wide appeal.
The last group will be relying on professional advice most likely or will really know their stuff. They may be patrons of the well established professionals and the most popular artists, even if the technique of some of those artists is questionable. If the artist has a following they will feel safe in investing in their art, regardless of their ability. The quality of work of most artists selling at this level will have been well proven however.

If you are still unsure about fine art or print or what to buy if you do want to buy an original -- consider the following...

Go to a gallery and look at the real thing. Look at the colours, the texture and the feel of the painting. Then look again. There really is no comparison to a print. Prints are at best a poor imitation and in my opinion can never capture all the subtle beauty that the artist conveys in the original work. The brushstrokes are lost and the shades and colour variations will never be as vibrant no matter what the quality of the print. Artist grade pigments far exceed the best of giclee ink in their vibrancy and intensity, when viewed up close. There is an energy in an original work of art that is totally lost in the best of prints. You feel this energy every time you look at the original. Living with an original painting enriches the owners life every single day. Also there is a special feeling knowing you have a unique once off original. So for me there really is no competition. If you can afford it, buy originals first. Save up and buy if you must, but don't settle for second best!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Howth Head from Portmarnock Beach Finished Painting

The final upload of this painting demonstration. I have used the same colours as before and worked as previously on creating realistic ripples, shadows and movement in the water, and reflections on the beach. I also reworked the people although they were quite small as the painting is only 16" x 12". There's not much more to say except enjoy! And let me know your feedback, if this picture appeals to anyone. Thanks for stopping by, and check back again to see my next work very soon. I may start another online painting demonstration this week.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Next Update -- Current Work almost complete

This post shows the almost finished painting, Howth Head from Portmarnock Beach. I have worked on the detail of the ripples and beach and repainted the child in the water. I have some work to do on the other boy and the dog, and on some of the sand. Also to put in some small highlights on the water. I want to keep the image fairly light generally so am reworking the darker areas a bit. I will post the final picture either later today or tomorrow most likely. Failing this it will be Monday....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Further painting progress -- Art Demonstration continued.

The painting is progressing at a slow but steady pace. I have introduced Prussian blue into the palette and worked on increasing the detail in the waves and ripples. The different is slight between shots at first glance, but I have spent around two hours between this and the last photo. I used Prussian blue with Raw umber to create one shade of dark and with ultramarine with the raw umber to create another. I also added white into both these mixes and sometimes combined all four colours. This created a large variety of colours and these I use to create variety in the ripple areas. I used a small round brush as opposed to the filbert I normally use. I also used a wider brush for the large sand area.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Croagh Patrick, Connemara Ireland

Last weekend, it was the last Sunday in July. This is the traditional day to climb Croagh Patrick in Connemara, which is seen as the holy mountain of St. Patrick. I climbed it many years ago. This year 18,000 people made the trek up the 2500 foot mountain, some in bare feet. It is seen as a pilgrimage and for some a penance! At the top of the mountain a small church exists, and there is a flat area around the size of a small football field. Mass is held there on the pilgrimage Sunday. The above photo is taken from an image library,, and looks similar to Croagh Patrick in shape but appears smaller. I don't think it is Croagh Patrick but gives an idea of what the mountain is like. Croagh Patrick is more of an exact triangle shape, and has a steep drop on the front side down to Clew bay, so the route of climbing approaches from the side and then the back. One section of the climb is steep scree and quite difficult in parts, but mostly it's just a slog. Connemara is also one of the wetter parts of Ireland, receiving a lot of rain from the Atlantic -- so that makes even small mountains in Ireland difficult. I have climbed to 14,000 feet in other drier countries but failed to climb some mountains of 2-3000 feet in Ireland, due to the weather! This is what catches a lot of people unawares in hiking in this country. Anyway hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of Ireland, and check back to see more updates of my oil painting.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Further Progress Shot -- Current Work.

Here is the next shot of my current painting, an hour and a half of work later than yesterday. I have completed the next layer of painting of the water, as can be seen on the left. I also started using a small brush to work on the distant waves behind the boy and the dog on the right. I am refining the brush strokes and trying to get the final detail in this layer. I may have to revisit parts as they dry but the stage is all about getting as close to the finished look as possible. I will continue across the painting with the small brush. I have added touches of viridian to the mixes I am using on the water, along with the cerulean blue, french ultramarine, raw umber and white.
That's it for today, until next post...take care.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Art Demonstration continued...Beach Painting

Here is my latest couple of hours work on the Howth Head from Portmarnock beach painting. I am working at a slower pace these days due to other demands on my time, but I am still managing to fit in an hour here or there. The top photo was taken outdoors with a brighter sun than the later one, hence some colour variation. The lower photo is probably more representative of the colours in normal light. I added a new colour to those already in the painting, ultramarine blue. Mixing this with the raw umber helped give the darker beach colour. I use various combinations of the blues with white and umber to acheive the variation in the beach. It's important to have plenty of interest and tonal variations to create interest. I usually rely on an instinctive approach, where I keeping creating this variety until I feel it's enough. Obviously this extent of shading variation and approach will differ from artist to artist. That's what defines our style. From the amount of painting I've done in the past while, I am feeling that I am developing a more consistent style, and one I feel comfortable far. That's not to say I can't work on improving...there's always room for that. So hope to finish this painting this week or soon.