Friday, June 12, 2009

It's been a while

Have not finished any new paintings since my last post. I am doing a little renovation at Galeria Gardner, so I have been down there most mornings plus some afternoons. My painting space at the gallery is occupied by a big pile of sand and gravel and some bags of cement.
Here is a painting I did in March during one of the workshops. Some of the painters were having trouble with their paintings and asked about how to tackle such a complex scene in a short period of time.
My feeling is that you need to remain focused on what attracted you to paint the scene. Simplify, and avoid trying to paint every single detail that is not important to your reason for painting that particular piece. In a different painting of the same scene you may find that a different set of details are needed.

"The Corral", 11 x 14" oil, Frank Gardner © 2009
$950. Framed. Available at Galeria Gardner

I was drawn to the groupings of tall straight cactus and their relationship to the more organic shapes of the tree, the yellow bundle of rope hanging from the tree, and the hose. The upper branches of the tree and the stable were not my focus of this piece, so I painted those with a looser approach.
You can really get into trouble if you lose track of what your focal point is when painting a scene where there is so much going on and so many little pieces of light and shadow. I worked the whole painting at once, but I kept coming back to the area roughly between the hose and the yellow rope. I wanted to make sure I got those relationships accurate. Little details here and there in other areas of the painting keep the eye moving around and add secondary interest.
There were too many cactus for me to try and paint each one exactly as it was on a painting this size, so I tried to simplify the design into a pleasing pattern of light and shadow. I moved things around slightly to get the design to work on my canvas.
This painting required a session of about 2 hours on location and then I cleaned it up a bit later in the studio.


Paula Villanova said...

I don't think I would know where to start if I were painting this first thought is that I would crop the entire image including only the vertical cactus for a kind of close-up but abstract effect. Then I would probably have to throw it away I guess...I like your painting though...

Frank Gardner said...

Where to start is the problem Paula. You just need to decide what the particular painting should be about and go for it. It does not always work.
There was a lot more going on in the area that I decided to leave out for the sake of this painting.

The part about probably throwing it out made me laugh.

Unknown said...

Simplification is a tough discipline in attempting to render a scene. As yet I don't seem able to reduce what I see to the sort of level that gives a truthful rendering whilst eradicating extraneous matter. I really appreciate the comment you make about deciding what it is about and that it doesn't aways work. I'm not sure that I could have made the decisoin you made to concentrate on those two things and the area in between. The tree, the stable and the cacti would probably have drawn my attention. Another valuable lesson. Thanks.

Dean H. said...

Thank you for the insight presented here. Motivation-observation-simplification. Think I need a vacation..Lol.

Marian Fortunati said...

I remember seeing this painting when I was down there and was amazed at how you managed it.
It is so good to hear you talk about your focus and how you worked it out. I keep hoping that if I hear it often enough it will begin to sink in.
As always, thanks, Frank!
Whatcha doing with the gallery?? Making it bigger???

Art with Liz said...

Incredible painting and I'm amazed it only took 2 hours!!!

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

This looks like a very intimidating painting for me to undertake. I really like it--it would be interesting to see your reference and see what decisions you made on simplifying to make it read the way you wanted.

Pam Holnback said...

You always show a great painting along w/ a great lesson. Thanks for the reminder of 2 of the most important parts of a painting; light and simplification. said...

The part I find most interesting is the hose. I looked at the painting before reading and thought that looks like a coiled hose. It seems like it could be very difficult to get it to read but you did.

Yuri Wolkovich said...

I love fresh colors. Thanks for sharing.

Daniel Corey said...

Great piece and color harmony on this Frank!

Mike said...

Y'know, Frank, there is always a certain "flavor" to your paintings. This is no different . . .there is a feeling of Mexico in every single one. And that is no simple task!

I think I'd side with Rhonda on this one and be intimidated by the complexity. Nice job on simplifying. You set the example!

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

This looked like MORE than a 2 hour painting!!! Tough subject, particularly all those cacti! But you did a great job, I like the decisive strokes at the focal point. And the color is so rich :)

Frank Gardner said...

I try and remember to look mostly at one area Mick. It is really tempting for my focus to roam all over the place while I am painting.

You deserve a break Dean. Take your paints with you. LOL.

Well, you remember the scene too Marian. Tons of stuff going on out there that it is hard to focus.
Repairs at the gallery and maybe fix up that upstairs room for show space.

Thanks Liz, it was 2 hrs or so on location and then some more touch ups in the studio. maybe another hour.

I am not sure I have a reference from that day Rhonda, but I may have a similar pic of that area. I'll look.

Thanks Pam, and your welcome.

I realy worked hard on getting that hose to read without overworking it Bill. Glad you think it works. Came out better than the rope.

Hi t_rAt. your welcome. I enjoyed a quick look at your blog the other day.

Thanks Dan!

I guess it comes from painting what I know Mike.

It was 2 on locatio Kelley and then some more time working things out in the studio. When I got it home the sky and upper branches of that tree were
not resolved. I also simplified that focal area that I had talked about a bit more to get rid of the distracting parts.

Solvay said...

Funny - I was going to write and then I thought it wasn't fair that I'd only looked at the painting, not read what you wrote, so I went back to read, and your first sentence was exactly what I was going to write here: "Wow - I'm really pulled in by those straight, strong cacti with that curvy tree in their midst."
: )
I like it!

Solvay said...

...oh - I see you wrote ABOVE the painting, too....that wasn't really your FIRST sentence.
silly me.
: )

changes nothing: I still like it.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Solveg, always pays to read before you write.

Anonymous said...

You've been doing a lot of great work, Frank. I really like this one. I see why you were attracted to the scene and you're really masterful at doing just enough to be really effective. I admire your restraint and discerning eye.

Solvay said...

I like to see your paintings and comment and then read afterwards. I almost always follow that sequence.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Bill. Restraint is the tough one because I often want to put it all in.