Sunday, June 22, 2014

Small farming

Seems like I forgot to post this piece from last week. I had to jump down a small drop to get to the beach to paint. When I was done I couldn't climb back up. Very glad wife was there to pull me up.

Clouds over Burnaby Mountain - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

Good to see some small time farmers near the city. The foreground was invented to add some interest to all the parallel lines..

Small farming - oil on panel - 9" x 12"

Friday, June 20, 2014

Studio paintings

It's been a while since the last update. I spent a week on 2 studio paintings from a couple plein air sketches from the Iona series. Both are 14" x 18" from 6" x 8" sketches.

I used the plein air sketches for colour, value, drawing and brush stroke reference. For design I made thumbnail drawings to improve on the sketches. Lastly I used photos for the details that were not in the sketches.

Afternoon on the sand dune at Iona - oil on panel - 14" x 18"

Morning at Iona beach - oil on panel - 14" x 18"

This is the size difference from the transformation:

After a week sitting at home I welcome the chance to go out and paint with fellow artist James Koll. I guessed I got rusty from staying indoor too long. Both paintings I did that day required some heavy re-work back at home to make them presentable.

Edge of pond - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

Colours of the forest - oil on panel - 9" x 12"

This one was done today. I wanted to paint the clouds as they were just so interesting, so I went to the Penzance beach for a wide view. It was cloudy in the beginning, then started to rain, then sunny day at the end. If you have been reading this blog you would know that this seems to happen every time I paint on this beach. It is cursed.

This one didn't need any retouching at home, maybe I am back on track?

Late spring composite- oil on panel - 9" x 12"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Isaac Levitan - Night for day?

"Day for night" is a common technique where the film makers shoot footage during the day, and process it to make it look like it's night time.
I have wonder how the painters without today's technology painted their nocturne paintings. From what I recall, Whistler would go out at night and made drawings and mental notes of his subject, and finish the final nocturne painting in the studio, likely during the day time hours. But he was a tonalist, who took great liberty in colours, so this approach seems very natural.
For someone like Levitan, I was less sure. He made 2 paintings of what seems to be the same road, and even the same trees, 9 years apart according to wiki art. If the dates are true then that's quite puzzling as he did the night painting FIRST!

Moonlit Night: A Village - 1888 - Isaac Levitan

Big road. Sunny autumn day - 1897 - Isaac Levitan

Did he do the first painting on location, or did he made a drawing first and then completed the painting later like Whistler did? If he did it on location, what did he use to illuminate his canvas in the dark? Fire light/candles/oil lamp is unthinkable to me as that would drastically affect his colour perception because of the colour temperature.

For the second painting, 9 years later, did he revisit the spot? or did he paint it based on the first painting?

It would make a lot of sense to me if he did the sunny painting first, and then later turned it into the nocturne, as the other way around sounds quite unusual.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

mixed plein air/studio painting

I had spent hours at different locations and I did not find anything I wanted to paint. Finally I found this view as the sun was setting behind me. I was standing on a pier and I couldn't find a way to set up my pochade box with clear sight. Determined to paint the view, I did 2 pencil drawings on one 6" x 8" and one 9" x 12" panel, with slightly different compositions. I also wrote down colour notes of what I was seeing, and just spent time standing there and trying to soak it all in, know the photographs can only record so much.

A few days later I painted over the drawings, using the colour notes, photographs as well as memory. I was happy with the results as they felt to me like I had painted them on the pier. If you look closely you can see the pencil drawing underneath the painting.

Timber rafts on the Fraser river #1 - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

Timber rafts on the Fraser river # 2 - oil on panel - 9" x 12"

 The reason I did the drawing then, was because I knew a photo would distort the lines. If I just did the drawing from the photograph, the end result would look more photo-like, and not as life-like.

Maplewood conservation area

I visited Maplewood conservation area for the first time. It is most a mud flat that is revealed during low tide, located in North Vancouver. When the tide is high, there's trails in the deciduous growth for wild life viewing and painting of course. :)

I was there in the morning, tide was nearly at its highest. I saw a deer and then a doe and her fawn by the channel. The joy of being up early (it wasn't that early.)

Mud flats - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

This was my setup. I didn't bring my tripod because I planned on sitting, but the only way for me to capture this way over the rail. I just set the pochade box on the railing with a garbage underneath it for cushioning, worked fine.

It took quite a while to find the second painting that day. I went down to the beach, looking south, there was a beautiful postcard photo view of Vancouver in blue atmosphere and perfect precious blue water, but I could not find a composition that made me excited. I sat there having a mind battle about what to do, and finally I ditched the postcard view. Why paint a pretty painting if it didn't inspire me? Below is what I found after that:

- oil on panel - 6" x 8"

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Iona Beach series

I stayed at my parent's place for 2 nights and used it  as a base to paint at Iona beach for 3 days, since their place is quite close to it.
Last month I did a 6" x 8" sketch of this view at Iona beach. There was a lot I loved about this view.

Water way at Iona Island - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

So I decided to do a bigger one at 9" x 12" at about the same time of day. I widened the composition a little as you can see, to show more the expanse of the land.
I was sitting on a tree stump, that gave me a higher vantage point. It took 2 sessions over 2 days to complete. The first day I painted until about 8:30 pm, the sun was going down and the tide was coming in and the tree stump was about flooded, I had to leave before I would get stranded. I went back the next day and finished it.
I would like to do an even bigger version of this, but it will not be easy. The view faces east, and I like the front lit look. While painting these smaller paintings I could use my own shadow on the surface to judge the colours, and I can't do that for a bigger painting. Maybe a studio painting?

Water way at Iona Island - oil on panel - 9" x 12"

In this series, I was enamored not by the sky, nor the mountains, but by the land. I wanted the land to be the main subject. Normally I wasn't very inspired by flat landscape, but during those 2.5 days they were magical to me.

Morning - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

Sand dune at Iona - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

Rhythm in the morning - oil on panel - 6" x 8"

Technique wise, I am using more medium now as I paint, and skipped out on the burnt umber in this series.