Tuesday, March 31, 2009

18" x 24" Landscape Work in Progress

I started this landscape the other day. Jerome and I painted in this spot for about two hours or so before the light shifted. I was looking toward the sun and it moved from my left to right. The fastest changing light was on the large tree. Once the light on the tree changed, I concentrated on adjusting the drawing and color of the background mountains.
Below is a photo of the block in. I did this part as quickly as I could. At this stage I am just trying to get the drawing roughed in and start to adjust the values of the masses in relationship to each other.

Frank Gardner © 2009

Below is a photo of the painting as it was when we wrapped up to move on to another location. Notice how much the light on that large tree has changed from one photo to the next.

Frank Gardner © 2009

Today I had a chance to work on the painting some more while I was at my gallery. I took a lot of photos along the way so I could share some of them here and talk about a few of the adjustments that I made. 

If this blow by blow is going to bore you, feel free to just scroll down to the bottom to see how I left the painting when I closed up shop for lunch. However, I hope there are several of you who will be interested in seeing and reading about how I went about making some changes. 

A priority for me is that I want to maintain the freshness of the on the spot brushwork. So, to try and keep as much of the good stuff as possible, I really take some time and think about what the most important changes should be before starting to make any adjustments. Most of the color is pretty accurate for a start, but there are a lot of subtle colors out there, and in this case, the best way to get them is to layer more color on top of what I started with and let the eye blend them.
Below is a picture of how the painting looked before I did any retouching on it.

(a) Frank Gardner © 2009

One main issue I want to tackle is the width of the large tree, so I put a few spots of color down to mark that adjustment (b). I also want to move the three trees on the right side of the middle ground. I think they will give a better balance to the piece as a whole if I shift them slightly to the right. I thought it might be interesting to show how I used a light touch to do that, so there are before (a), during (b), and after (c) shots where you can see how I mark in the new trunks. Then I lightly paint over the old ones. I am beginning to build up some broken brushwork there, and you wont even be able to notice that they were shifted by the time the painting is done.

(b) Frank Gardner © 2009

(c) Frank Gardner © 2009

(d) Frank Gardner © 2009

Another rather important adjustment I wanted to make was to shrink the size of one of the distant trees. It is right at the base of the mountain just about in the middle of the painting ( to the right of the large tree ). In (c) it is rather large, and you can see in (d) that I reduced it by about half it's size and moved it slightly lower and to the left. I think it gives the illusion of depth better by being a bit smaller than what I had painted at first glance. On the spot you can stare at something so long that it becomes bigger than it really is.
I also started to add some light purple tones into the mountain side, and that begins to even them out a bit.

One element of the scene that I really liked was a patch of light green grass in the middle of the freshly plowed black earth. (There is a guide wire to a electric pole that comes down there and they could not plow through it.) It broke up the large area of dirt nicely.
I had been thinking about introducing a few sheep into that area to give added interest and a foreground element. Some sheep were wandering around while we painted and that is what gave me the idea.
I painted in 5 sheep initially (e). I really liked the way the two on the right came out, so it was kind of hard to wipe them off. I thought it was too much and they were drawing me to the right too much so maybe just three would look better. I wiped them off while they were still wet because I wanted to keep the fresh blocked in look of the field. I can always paint them back in later if I decide that I liked it better with 5. I am starting to add in some darks into the field as well. That black dirt turns up some hard clumps when plowed and I want to get a bit of that in the foreground without going overboard.

(e) Frank Gardner © 2009

(f) Frank Gardner © 2009

This is how I left off for now. I have a few things in mind, but I don't want to overdo it. I'll probably wait a day or two before I do any more painting on this one.
I also took some close up shots of how I went about painting the sheep. Check back in a day or two to see those. Too much loaded into this post already.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Day of Painting Out

Last Saturday I spent the whole day out painting with my friend Jerome. After a morning of landscape painting in the direct sun we decided to paint in town somewhere so we could get some shade. I wanted to take him over to El Chorro because he had enjoyed driving down this steep windy street the other day. There is a lot of history to the area that I wont go into right now. There are also a lot of tall trees for shade.
We settled on a spot and set up our gear. I wanted to paint a statue of The Virgin of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego. Jerome chose to paint the tower part of the building surrounded by trees.

"The Virgin of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego"
10" x 8", oil on linen, Frank Gardner © 2009
$720. Framed. Available at Galeria Gardner

My painting toward the end of the session.
Frank Gardner © 2009

Jerome and his painting.

One thing about Mexico is that no matter where you go it seems there is something going on. We thought that this would be a pretty quiet spot on a Saturday afternoon. Turns out there was a big wedding reception a few doors down below us so we got to listen to music the whole time that we were painting. Then we heard some sirens and a running race came by us heading up the steep hill. Then some mariachis strolled by on their way up to play for another wedding at the church up above us. There was also a folkloric dance class on the balcony one up above us. Plus all of the families and couples out for a walk that passed by to see what we were doing. We also got to watch an old VW Bug slide down the steep cobble stoned street almost bashing into the wall and a few brave kids fly down the hill on their bikes, obviously getting a big thrill by doing so. All of this, plus some lively joking back and forth between Jerome and me, made for some good times.
Oh, and we also had fun painting!

The lead pack of runners.

Mariachis walking up the hill to another wedding at the church.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On the Spot

Lots of new work, but not lots of photos of the finished paintings. Here are a few on the spot photos from the past two weeks.

Untitled, 14" x18", Frank Gardner © 2009

This one is from today. Not quite finished yet. I am going to touch up the tree a bit when it is dry. Maybe a few other spots here and there too. I love this scene and have been wanting to paint it for a while. My friends Holly and Mario from this ranch wondered why I wanted to paint the ugliest spot on their property. I think it has a lot of good color and shapes.

Untitled, 11" x 14", Frank Gardner © 2009

Last night Jerome and I were invited up to a rooftop to paint with two of my students from the workshop last week. This photo is about 5 minutes before I had to stop painting. There were some rain showers drifting around. It made for great light and a dramatic sky, but when the sun sunk behind a big cloud bank my light was gone. I'll finish this one up soon. I worked on it for about 45 minutes I guess. You can see how I approach the block in stage.
Below is the sky looking back the other way.

Frank Gardner © 2009

Untitled, 18" x 24", Frank Gardner © 2009
Private Collection

I set up my Gloucester easel (Take it Easel) on one of the mornings of my workshop to demo a larger painting. The class worked on their own while I painted this landscape. Jerome helped the class with their paintings so I could keep going on this one. I need to adjust a few values, but this is about how I left off. There was a lot of great color in the atmosphere earlier in the morning. It has pretty much flattened out in this photo.

"La Capilla, March '09", 11" x 14", Frank Gardner © 2009
Private Collection

This is the same scene from a demo a few weeks ago. I was asked if I would do a similar demo for the second class. The composition is a little different. Again, you can see how much the light has shifted from the time I started the painting.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A New Painting

I've been absent from the blog for a while so I could concentrate my energy on my landscape workshops. They are finished now, so I will try and catch up on a backlog of things that I want to post.
I'll be posting a bit about how the workshops went soon. Marian Fortunati came down for the class and she posted about the days adventures most evenings on her blog.

My painting buddy Jerome Greene is visiting for a few weeks. This is a street scene that we painted the other afternoon. The light was fading fast, so I had to finish up a few things in the studio.

"Bajada de Garita", 14" x 11" oil on linen, Frank Gardner © 2009
$950. Available at Galeria Gardner

I love how the street drops down so steeply. The purple jacaranda trees are in full bloom right now.