Saturday, November 29, 2008

City Glow

Since some of you have commented or contacted me expressing interest in nighttime paintings, I decided to post this one (14" x18"), painted a year ago, and the second of this kind. At the time, I felt challenged by the idea of turning a daytime scene into a night one.

After looking at the reference photos I had, this one offered a lot of possibilities. By the time I was ready to sketch, I knew I wanted this painting to be about city lights behind the hill. I looked at Maxfield Parrish's landscapes for ideas about how to handle the sky, but ended up relying on my memory.
As I was finishing the painting, the large expanse of empty foreground became problematic -- which happens often when I don't plan a painting thoroughly. I thought about all the possible things I could add, but settled for these bales. Now that I look at it, I see so many things that need fixing, but I'm not touching it again. Some paintings are like stepping stones, leading us somewhere. The results aren't always what we expect but in trying we learn something. This piece helped me get rid of the apprehension involved in painting a night scene. Next year, when the weather is nice, I'm hoping to paint at least one entirely outdoors.
Share with me your thoughts on this subject or about something different you've tried, that made a difference to you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who are reading this. I lucked out this time. I was going to invite a couple, friends of ours, to have dinner with us. She said "why don't we have it at our home instead?" I didn't give it a second thought! So, I've been painting instead of cleaning my house and toiling with a turkey. Yea!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From the Porch, 8"x6" (Sold)

Ever since I saw Marc Hanson' nocturnes a year ago, I decided I had to try painting night scenes. This is the third of them so far. The sketching and note taking about colors and highlights was done from my porch, the rest was done in the studio.
I was so tempted to emphasize the catalpa seed pods on the top right but given the size of this painting I decided against it. I'll leave them to your imagination.

While taking notes I was wondering, why is it that night paintings represent a small percentage of what we see in galleries or online, when this time of day seems, at least to me, so full of magic, romance, and mystery? Is it that artists think there is not much color around at night, or is it a matter of not knowing how to go about it?

Go outside tonight and observe. You'll see colors even if there is no moon. They are there, just different. Look at something that is white in daylight and ask yourself what would you call that color now. Certainly painting becomes a challenge because we see larger masses, and composition might require more careful thought, but leaving this aspect aside, I'm inclined to think it's really a matter of not knowing how to proceed. My suggestion is to sketch and observe! Some artist use head lamps to paint outdoors. I haven't tried that yet, but in the mean time, I'll rely on observation.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Island Trees, 12"x14" (Sold)

Two years ago my family and I camped at 7th Lake, in the Adirondacks. I came back with lots of photos that eventually turned into a series of paintings. This scene was in my head for a long time. When I finally decided to paint it, it basically painted itself.

This is one of the ten pieces I currently have on display at Art Mart, City Hall Commons in downtown Syracuse. The place will be open till Dec. 24th from 11:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Mon-Sat.