Monday, February 4, 2008

"Las Sombras del Ranchito"

"Las Sombras del Ranchito", 14' x 18" oil on linen, 2008
Private Collection

I am happy with the way this painting turned out. My method is not always the same with each painting. An artist should be like "Felix The Cat" and have many options in their "Bag of Tricks". That way, the process does not become too much of a formula.
In this painting, I wanted to get a lot of color into the shadows without breaking up the strong pattern of light and shade. I decided to start with one basic value for all of the shadows with lots of color changes not value changes. There is a lot of reflected light bouncing around in this scene. That made this part even more fun. I linked everything in the shadow into an interesting pattern taking care not to vary the values too much just yet. I did not paint any light colors until I was content with this step.
Sombras, by the way is Spanish for shadows.

Step One - Shadow Pattern

Below is the step one photo turned into black and white in Photoshop to show how there is pretty much just one value at this point. The only darker value is in the trees to the left, which I chose as my darkest shadow to judge the rest of my values against.
I checked the values in black and white as I was posting this, but you could take a picture of your painting along the way and try this to check your values. There are a few strays, but most of the values fall into a very limited range.
The next step was to add the color into the light areas. Again, I did not want too much variation in the values. I also did not put as much color variety into the lights. I wanted the shadow color to remain the focus.
Adusting the colors and values of both the light and shadow, I added some highlights and dark accents. This unified the painting a bit and made certain areas "read" better.
When I felt like I was thinking about the details too much I stopped.

Step One - Black and White


Dean H. said...

Great post, Frank! Varied color in close value shadows is something I appreciate being reminded of. Thanks for jogging my memory.
Your reflected light is very good.


Don Gray said...

Lets, donkey, wheelbarrow, sheds, chickens, rocks, trees, old tire...did I leave anything out?

The painting is luminous--great orchestration of a complex subject. I enjoyed reading your approach to the subject, especially your good advice in the last sentence.

Unknown said...

The way you've handled the complexity of this is astounding! It looks fairly simple but it keeps unfolding.

Jason Waskey said...

I agree whole heartedly on the 'bag of tricks' sentiment. It's a dangerous trap to be avoided.

I'd also like to add a hearty 'ditto' to the other posts here-- this is a strong painting, and the peek behind the curtain is illustrative, and much appreciated.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Dean. I'm glad that you found something useful in this one.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Don, Thanks. That stopping is the hardest part.

Frank Gardner said...

Eric, I think that by limiting the values and linking them together that I was able to include lots of things and not have it become spotty and confusing. I hope.
" Looks fairly simple but it keeps unfolding" I like that. Thanks!

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Jason, You seem to have a couple of useful tricks yourself. I appreciate your comments.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful painting - I'm in awe.
Such wonderful interaction of color and design.
I would say you deserve an "EXPERT" sign all of your own.
But it needs to be mysterious and not say an expert in what!

Re the painting:This is the first time I've made the connection.
Sombreros=sunhat Hm.......I think I'm a bit slow.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks so much Elizabeth. You are right, my sign needs to be just like the one in your photo.
(I could not get the direct link to work in my comments section.)
And I can't hang it on my gallery or people will get the wrong idea. I'll just have to randomly place it.
You are not alone with your Spanish skills. That is why I thought it best to explain Sombras. The title sounds much better in Spanish though.

Ambera said...

What a treat to see the step by step. You're really skilled with that greyscale, you make it look easy!

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Ambera. There was another photo to that step by step. All it did was show the ugly awkward step between step one and finish so I left it out.

Barbara Pask said...

Hi Frank, I really like this, thank you for showing the steps in getting there. I see those lovely grays in the shadows, wonderful. Barb

Frank Gardner said...

I am glad that you liked it Barb. Thanks for checking in.

virtual nexus said...

Reminds me of the English artist Trevor Chamberlain, who loved to counter-change his subjects throughout the picture.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Julie, Thanks for the grand compliment. I had to look Chamberlain up. His work is stunning.
Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

great piece. I think it really gives the feeling of a warm climate and has a strong sense of naturalness.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks for your thoughts Simon. I find that adding warm colors to my shadows really conveys the sense of heat and light here in Mexico.