Thursday, February 25, 2010

"The Old Mesquite" Step by Step pictures

Yesterday I went out to Sol Dorado to paint an old mesquite tree that my friend Mario had pointed out to me. He thinks it is about 300 years old and it looks every bit of that with all the twists, turns, burls, cracks and stubs where branches have broken or been cut off. Every inch of this old tree has a story to tell about its life.
This painting is 18x24" done mostly on the spot. I stopped after about 2 hrs because the light had changed so much on the branches. Then, back in the studio I worked on it for another couple of hours making a few adjustments and giving it a bit more "finish".
I took some step by step shots along the way. Here I will show them without commentary so you can just scroll down and see the process with one image next to the other for comparison. I'll work up some ideas on my thoughts as I was painting this and then re post the whole thing separately later on.
My apologies for the few sun spots that are in the first couple of pictures. I just snapped away quickly as I painted. My mind was on the painting aspect, not making professional looking photos.
There are 8 painting steps shown. The sixth is how it looked when I packed up. The eighth is how it looks now. I still may go back into it and make a few adjustments. For now I am just letting it sit while I think about it.
Below is the scene, and then then the step by step for "The Old Mesquite" 18x24 oil, Frank Gardner © 2010

















28 comments:

Kyle Vincent Thomas said...

Frank,
Thanks for posting this. I love watching how different artists approach and process their work. I love those gnarly mesquite trees. They have really cool shapes.
Are you going to work more on this, or are you happy with it as is?

Frank Gardner said...

Hey Kyle, I could go either way right now. I have some things in mind, but am holding off for now until I just look at if framed for a while. There is a looseness that I want to be careful not to kill.
Do you see something that's lacking or like it the way it is?

Barbara said...

WOW, you have made that tree come alive! Truly awesome!

Pam Holnback said...

I love these step-by-steps. Thanks so much for posting it this way. It's great to see how you start and work on a piece. What an incredible tree!

Christine Mercer-Vernon said...

seriously amazing tree! wish we had trees like that around here. beautiful painting, wonderful brushstorkes.. as usual.. ;]

Judy P. said...

I'm glad I recently discovered your blog- wonderful looseness to your brushstrokes, which I will study closely.

Marian Fortunati said...

WOW...

Amazing tree, amazing artist....

It is so interesting and inspiring to see how you bring a painting to life. Thanks, Frank!

See you soon.

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

This is fantastic, Frank. Love to watch your process. I have to admit I saw the sun spots before I read the post and was wondering if it would be a 'moon' or a 'sun', and was intrigued to see that develop,too! It's a masterful painting, even without the celestial addition, and the time you put in the studio for the 'finishing touches' really put it over the edge!

Kyle Vincent Thomas said...

Hi Frank,

I absolutely agree, do not kill the looseness. The last thing this painting needs is to look contrived.
I'd hate to make suggestions based on photographs of the piece. I will say that I do like the painting. I'm wondering if the tree needs a little more attention given to it. My intial thoughts were either a wee bit more warmth in the colors, or bringing some more of that yellow into it to better harmonize.
I suppose that I should really be asking you what you envisioned for the piece? I think looking at it framed is a good idea. Spend time with it. If something's off, or missing, you'll see it.
all the best, dude.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Barbara.

Hi Pam, Glad you enjoy the step by step posts. I especially wanted to show how I start a piece like this one.

I know Christine, thought of your tree paintings as I stood in awe of this one.

Thanks Judy.

Hi Marian, see you next week. Can't wait, be ready for lots of painting.

Kelley, it does look so much like a moon in those first few.

Frank Gardner said...

Kyle, putting them in a frame for a while is a good way for me to see if it really needs anything more or not.
My plan is to probably work some more on the tree and some of the immediate area around it. There is a lot of reflected warmth on the underside of the twisted trunk and branches that may not show in these photos. Some of the branches hanging down on the right will probably get some attention and a few more sky holes between the branches.
What I try to do at this point is slowly and deliberately add important details in a way that makes the strokes seem as quick and spontaneous as the block in, while strengthening the painting. Does not always work out as planned though right?

Jack Riddle said...

Frank--Once again you have a painting here that is free and loose and endlessly fascination, all the while showing what discipline it takes to reach these qualities. And I still think your colors are becoming more intense--not a bad thing because you make them really work.
When we get to Mexico in October, I'd like to visit this spot, since your "tutorial" has prepared us all so well.
BTW--we learned today that the house we had hoped to rent there in Oct. is no longer available so we are back to square one. If you hear of anything, let us know.
Good luck with your workshop.

Bruce Sherman said...

Hi Frank.......Good to see you back! Missed your regular posting! I really enjoyed the latest article in the Collector Magazine..... Convergence... some great work by all involved... but your Mario and "friend" stole the show for my $$$.

Love the cycle of insights in this one... very revealing and instructional to a lot of your readers.

You capture the very ancient and gnarly essence of this old thumper. What more is there for "Me" to say... except....

Good Painting!
Bruce

Allen said...

I think these are one of my favorites of yours paintings. Really delightful!

Melinda Matyas said...

I like the air around the tree...:)...great work...

Kelley Sanford said...

Enjoyed the progression of this piece. Think you stopped just in time. If only we all had that "internal" button that poked us to put that brush down.

Dean H. said...

Beautiful painting of a great subject, Frank! Love the progression shots.
Question: Did you pre mix paints for this one???

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Jack, Loose and discipline might not seem to go together, but you are right. My looseness is usually pretty well thought out and planned. I worked on this piece for another hour or two last night. Think it's looking good and still just as loose.
I'll keep my eyes open for an Oct. rental and will email you.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Bruce, thanks. I don't know about regular posting. I have a workshop all next week, so it may be a while before I throw another piece up here.
You must mean "Rosario", my painting that was featured in that article. Mario is my friend who showed me this tree.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Allen.
Thank you Melinda, I worked a little more on that "air" around the tree and like it even more. Might be a while before I put up the more recent stage on this painting though.
Hi Kelley, I didnt stop just yet, but it still looks fresh.
Hi Dean,Thanks! I only pre mixed about 3 or 4 colors before I started just painting away at this one. Mostly just trying to get value relationships correct with the pre mix on this one.

Heaven said...

Wow! The process of creating this painting looks so interesting. I think the piece looks complete as you posted it. The looseness is definitely there but the shapes are pleasing and still communicate well. Nice job!

jeff said...

This is great Frank. I like the way you use forms and shapes to put it all together.

Don Gray said...

Great to watch how you "pull" this painting out of that brown matrix, Frank. Beautiful.

Andy said...

Wow! That's what I call a plein air challenge!

I love the way you work the whole scene up in stages. Must give that a try.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Great demo of your working method.
Do you use an umbrella?
I'm impressed by the range of values that you achieved in such dazzling sunlight. I find that my plein air work looks dimmer than I expected when I get it home.

wetoilpaint said...

I love this tree in your painting. It a dancer!

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Heaven, that is almost how I left it. Did a little bit more, but don't have another photo yet.

Hi Jeff, thanks, yeah, it's all just form and shapes. Works if the value relationships are right.

Thanks Don, that's how I like to think of it, "pulling" it out of a chaos of shapes and strokes.

I like a good challenge Andy.

Ingrid, I DO use an umbrella sometimes, but not for this one. The panel was in the shade and I had the extra panel blocking the sun on my palette. Nice wide brimmed hat helps keep the sun out of my eyes too.

Thanks wet oil paint.

Caroline Bray Art said...

This is fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing your progress. I particularly love the vibrancy of the blue in this piece and I'm very much looking forward to following your blog.