Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Sunflower" - about editing my reference info

This painting is in the Creative Convergence show at the Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, MA. Jan 15 through Feb 28, 2011.
It is a group show of paintings by 18 artists that painted in Provincetown, MA for two weeks in October.
All but two of my pieces in this years show were painted entirely on location or at least a good part done on the spot and then later finished in the studio. I'd like to talk about one of my studio pieces in this post.

I'd like to share a little about how I took an OK reference photo and turned it into a painting that I could be really excited about.

One day while looking for a painting spot in Wellfleet, I came across a scene of a bike parked under a large sunflower. I didn't set up to paint it, but I felt like there was something very interesting about it, so I snapped a picture for later reference.

Once in a while I'll get a photo reference that has everything I need for a complete painting. Usually I don't and need to edit or combine images. This is a good example of the latter.

The first picture shows the scene as it was. Taken from across a parking lot.

"Sunflower" reference photo. Frank Gardner © 2010

I still thought it had great subject potential for a painting. So I opened it in photoshop and played around with cropping it into a better design, featuring the sunflower and bike. (below)

"Sunflower" reference photo cropped. Frank Gardner © 2010

I came up with a basic design that I thought looked pretty good. However, after zooming in, I realized that it was just a boring looking bike and it was facing left. I wanted it to face right, leading into the painting more. I decided to swap it out for a much cooler looking bike. The one I chose was a women's bike by Nirve called "Sunflower" of all things. The colors were just right for the painting and I really like the style of these "cruiser" bikes. There is a shop in PTown that sells them and it's where I first saw these awesome bikes.
It was all starting to fall into place for me. Provincetown is a great town for getting around on bikes and I think that was a big part of the inspiration for me with this painting. I wanted to capture that getting around by bike spirit that I was feeling during our stay. Maybe that is why this scene was calling to me.

Now it was just a matter of getting the painting to come together. I edited out a bunch of clutter to make the focus be on the large sunflower and bike. Everything else took on a supporting role or was eliminated. I also added some red into all the colors in this piece to warm it up a bit and neutralize all the green just a little. "smuggling red" as Stapleton Kearns, one of the painters on this trip, was fond of saying.

I really like how this one came out. I hope that you do too.

"Sunflower" 11x14" oil on linen. Frank Gardner © 2010
$1,050. Framed. Available at Addison Art Gallery. Orleans, MA