Saturday, November 3, 2018

Mossy Stump With Spring

My wife and I were walking the Grotto Falls trail in the Smoky Mountains recently and we passed several natural springs where the water flowed over the trail. This was one of those spots. I saw that spot of sunlight hitting the old stump and knew this was something I had to capture. I took a few shots with my camera and later at home I thought this was a good time to experiment with a combination of watercolor and colored pencils. I was pleased with how it turned out.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Shelby Forest Tree

My family did an overnight campout at Shelby Forest a few weeks ago. We had a good time in spite of the mosquitoes and the heat. This tree was situated in an open area near a lake. I was attracted to its interesting root pattern and its lichen encrusted bark.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Bad Painting Partly Resurrected

This is the story of a painting gone bad, and then partially resurrected and gone bad again and then maybe revived to be halfway good, I don't know.

I left a day early to attend a family reunion of sorts. My brother and some aunts and uncles and cousins meet once a year in South Pittsburg, Tennessee to travel around and see the sites where my father's family grew up.

I left a day early so that I would have some time to myself to go and paint. I did just that. Early Friday morning I got up and traveled the 20 minutes from my hotel to Foster Falls. This is a scenic location that requires a trek down a long, steep, wooded trail to the base of the falls. I made my way down the trail carrying my painting box in one hand and my camp chair on my shoulder and only fell once before I made it to the falls.

After dutifully staring at the falls and taking a few photos, I traveled back down the stream to look for  a less stereotyped landscape design. I didn't want to do another waterfall painting. I decided on a mid-stream view looking back in the direction of the falls. I stepped from rock to rock and set my chair up in the middle of the stream on a large flat boulder. Then I began to work, starting with pencil.

And adding pen and color

As time passed, people started showing up on the nearby trail. They waved to me and some of them took pictures of me sitting there painting with my hat on and everything. I felt like a real artist.

I think I had been out there around 4 hours when I got to this stage. I packed it up and headed back up the trail to my hotel room where I worked on it some more.

So, this is how it looked when I got home with it. I kind of liked some parts of it, but I was aware that it was kind of flat looking with no clear center of interest. And I hated those little bunches of leaves in the background. They looked like swarms of bees or something.

Unfortunately I did not photograph each stage of my attempts to improve it, but here is what I did. I covered the whole thing with a dark gray-blue wash and then started wiping out highlights where I wanted the sun to peek through. It looked pretty dramatic for a while and I was hopeful. Then I added some gouache (opaque watercolor) with a sponge for the background leaves. When I finished, it looked pretty bad. The leaves were too much again and they didn't look like leaves. The water didn't look like water.

So, I covered up most of the leaves again and I painted all the water with white acrylic and then added some gray-blue shadows. So – I don't know if it is passable or not. You tell me. I am definitely open to honest criticism. 

Looking at it now, there are some things about my earlier version that I like better. Oh well.

Here is the actual photo of the scene and here is my final painting:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Woodworking Plane

I love rendering the color, textures and shapes of old tools. This is one of my father's old woodworking planes. I could still use it if I could figure out the best way to sharpen the blade.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Live Oak Backyard

I started this one on site in a San Antonio backyard and finished it in my Tennessee studio. I love the writhing extended branches of these trees which are reminiscent of some primeval legendary beast.

I reworked this one to add more darks and contrast

Original version - darks are not dark enough.

Click here to buy this painting.

Mission Concepción

I painted this one on site in San Antonio, Texas at the Mission Concepción.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Spring Branch

My work group took a trip to San Antonio, Texas back in 2005. One of our days there we went on an "outing" to the nearby Knibbe Ranch. I took a number of photos there and recently found them. I used one to compose this scene. Out west, sometimes they refer to a stream as a "branch".

Monday, March 19, 2018

Yorkshire Dales Path

I have been traveling through the English countryside using Google street view. Artists are free to use these images as reference. You can travel down the road with a continual 360 degree view. The images are somewhat distorted due to the camera lens and panoramic stitching, but they are a wonderful tool for artists. I did use quite a bit of artistic license in my design and treatment.
This is the Yorkshire Dales, which I hope to actually visit in person some day. I fell in love with them back when I read the James Herriot series of books in the 1970s. They are characterized by hills and valleys and stone walls, stone barns and stone houses in the numerous little villages.
The painting is 5 x 7 inches on rigid aquabord which has a stiff masonite backing. I will spray varnish it so that it can be framed in a standard 5 x 7 frame without glass.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Fallow Field

This is the edge of a field in late afternoon sun in Greenfield, Tennessee. The deep shadows, orange light and stark value contrasts are always a visual treat for me. I love the afternoon sun.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Above Guntersville Lake

This was painted from reference gathered near Gunterville Lake park in Alabama. There are some hiking trails around the lake. I spent some time on this one including detail and texture. I especially enjoyed painting the large rocks sticking out of the leaves. I did an image sequence video which you can see in the link below.