Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stepping up... Phase Two...Palette time....

Yesterday's post dealt entirely with getting the preliminary commission details dealt with... and off the radar screen. Sometimes we let the "outside" parts of life override the "inner" Creative Spirit to make us unhappy...unmotivated... even paralyzed and afraid to begin. This happens with seasoned artists as well... simply because exhibiting or displaying our art is an act of personal expression. That makes the task risky to the ego... and often we please others to "blend in" and find acceptance. Acceptance is certainly necessary in the artistic process... BUT... NOT at the cost of self determination of our ideals,personal judgement and artistic goals. Finding a good balance for both is absolutely necessary... and a life time pursuit!

I used my usual "split" palette consisting to a warm and red of each of the three primaries and titanium alkyd white( a fast drier). This was augmented with burnt umber, sap green and jaune brillant... a Winsor&Newton flesh tone pigment for "punch" in my brighter colours .I as well use Winsor& Newton Gel medium to hasten drying times as well. So far, I have used three flat bristle brushes... one inch,half and one quarter.

I began with the sky area, working down into the tree line and then added the barn forms... all broadly treated. Hence... the darkest dark and the lightest light. The rest will be mostly in mid values and tones. The central image is in place... the design has been struck. Even at this early stage without the support of all of the detail that will be added... one can see that the piece is working. From here... I try to work "evenly" about the whole surface... intentionally not spending a lot of time and effort in a single place. This helps to maintain tonal control and colour harmony throughout the process.

I decided from the beginning to push the barns forward... making them most prominent. I did so after evaluating the effect in the sketch where they were more distant. It worked fine there... but the final piece was to be located in the upper reaches of a wall with a 24 foot wall-to-ceiling reach. Imagine how puny those barns would appear from that height above you!

I also dropped the treeline down so that it cut into the barn roof for compositional effect. I reduced the overall height of the background trees... thereby adding more weight and volume to the central barn image. The pasture in the sketch stretched flatly across the picture plane. By adding the swooping plowed furrows radiating into the foreground... and plunging them down below the stone wall, I think adds real drama and stronger viewer interest. It now has an organic quality... no longer lying statically in the middle ground. This area is now a powerful and active agent in the overall composition.

The last jpej today will allow you to have some idea of the overall scale that I am working with!Daunting?....For sure!...But, ohhhh... so pleasurable to make those broad and unbridled strokes! Tune in tomorrow for the next session!

Good painting to all!


  1. Bruce, thanks for putting it into words, and so eloquently too, the struggles we artists find ourselves in with the the "outside" world and the challenge of finding the balance. Oh and great decisions on the compositional will definitely make it a stronger piece. Happy Painting today! looking forward to seeing more.

  2. Wow Bruce! I'm watchin' & Listenin'
    Thanks for posting this.

  3. Hi Julie!... Thanks for stopping by and adding your suggestions and personal thoughts! Life and joy are all about struggle. Think about it. Birth is but the beginning for the struggles EACH of us must endure in our lifetimes... as are the joys we make out of each new struggle. Artists struggle even more I think... because they choose to learn continuously.

    As Robert Genn so succinctly quoted from Eric Hoffer in his most recent bi-weekly newsletter:

    "In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists".

    That sure says something about the worth of struggle to "Me"... and "You" as well!!!

    Good Painting Julie!
    Warm regards,

  4. Hi again Bill!... Thank "You" for tuning in... Glad too that you are enjoying the contents of my blog!

    Good painting my Friend!