Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Imagineering"...Creating beyond photo reference





Be creative!... Do one thing each day that scares you!


I customarily create my larger paintings either from oil "sketches" done completely on location in the field... or from pencil and ink renderings that I make in my sketchbooks from field experiences. I find that these sources help me to simplify and work out compositional, colour and value structure that inspire me to take the preliminary experience to a higher level.This is my usual approach to working on larger paintings in the studio... and usually after much time has passed since the first record.

I refer to a different process which I refer to as creating using "imagineering"... or forming an altogether new interpretation... allowing the imagination to override simply copying, or scaling up the original "sketch". The change can take the form of a seasonal change... a compositional shift in focus... or a more dramatic lighting effect to create another mood.

On odd occasions... if I'm bored or stymied... I visit my extensive digital photo reference files in my computer to find something to stir the embers... and light the creative fire within. I use the photo simply as a springboard to get off the ground initially... and I usually create a couple of loose ink thumbnails to get the feel for the composition. I will stress... that at this point I toss the photo aside and direct my process totally based upon intuition... and the vast experience I have gained and stored in my plein air work over many years.

As I work my way along... ideas or directions regarding format,lighting, colour and composition never fail to emerge. When one "idea" strikes me strongly enough... I quickly move to a toned canvas and lay in the idea lightly with vine charcoal... or with a burnt sienna or umber linear drawing.

I might go forward with a monochromatic tonal study in the colours mentioned... creating patterns and masses of form or lights and darks. This accomplished, I then proceed to a lay in of colour... working up more solid tonal relationships. The final stage is to tie together these other steps by adding detail and balancing lights and darks... working towards finish.

Today's subject "Morning Has Broken" (24x30 inch oil on canvas) derives from a photo taken many years ago at Stonehurst South, Nova Scotia... a favourite haunt of mine during my years living in that area. It is one example where this "imagineering" process focussed upon creating a glorious early morning light which I believe totally transcends the original digital image. You will readily note that I have added and subtracted... stretched and pulled at will to create a "new take"... on a rather ordinary initial digital image.

One area of the painting required considerable care and thought. The addition of the cape boat could have well produced a disastrous result for the otherwise successful painting... if its scale and placement had been incorrect in relationship to the rest of the subject matter. One jpeg illustrates how I avoided this pitfall using a grid as a device to compare scale.

I hope that my readers find this painting attractive... and that my post might encourage others to "imagineer"... and to use photo reference as yet another useful tool in their creative tool boxes.Remember! The camera is NOT a substitute for outdoor sketching and painting. A camera has a finite realm for creating based upon its limited optics... whereas your eyes... palette and brain form a Universe of "possibility" for Creation!

Good Painting to All!
Regards,
Bruce

15 comments:

  1. Hi Bruce,

    Thank you so much for sharing your process in achieving such amazing paintings. I love the atmospheric quality, the lighting and colors are so superior than the photo's.
    Painting outdoors is like heaven, but now you have given me a way to be creative when using my boring photos. Have a wonderful day.

    Joan

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  2. Hi Bruce,

    It's me again. Your photos are far from boring, in fact their wonderful. I was referring to my photo's. Happy painting.

    Joan

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  3. Hi again Joan!.... "I" am so happy to hear that my posts are encouraging to "You"... and they might in some small way contribute to your own creative process.

    It is so very important to share one's discoveries.... and nothing is lost to the person sharing that isn't offset by the great joy created in seeing success come to others .

    Thank "You" for visiting... and for leaving your own enciouraging thoughts and words! They are VERY much appreciated!

    Good Painting!... and "Imagineeering"!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  4. Found your blog through Carol Lambert Artworks. I spent much of my youth in the Georgian Bay area - grandparents had a cottage (now owned by my aunt & uncle) at Lion's Head. You have a nice way of encouraging other artists who may lack some confidence to keep practicing. Your landscapes definitely have the feel and appeal of the Georgian Bay area.

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  5. Bruce-
    Found your blog through Joan!
    Amazing talent you have! Your sense of color is great. Love "imagineering"!
    I can't wait to see what you post next!

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  6. Hi Karen!... Welcome back to the Georgian Bay area! Lion's Head and Tobermory are such jewels in the Georgian Bay crown of beauty... "You" will understand fully what "I" mean by that!

    Never give up the ship!

    Practise!...Practise!... and Practise some more! There is no better path to self-improvement... no better teacher than Nature... no workshop to replace the "free" one one gets ... each and every time one gets..."out there"... and paints outdoors!

    Thank "You" for your visit... and your kind and encouraging comments!

    Good Painting!
    Warm regards,
    Bruce

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  7. I like that warm glow in your painting!

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  8. Thank you for sharing. I currently am working on a fog shrouded Lake Huron scene and have been attempting to "imagineer" a light filled sunrise within the fog.
    Not as adept as you at this "imangineering" but will keep at it.
    Many, many pointer in your blog; I need them all. Thanks again.

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  9. Thanks Celeste!... That was the main thrust in what "I" hoped to achieve with the painting! Looks like I succeeded from your encouraging comment! Thanks again for your visit!

    Good Painting!
    Regards,
    Bruce

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  10. Hi again Ruby!... Good to hear from "You.. and to hear that the posts are of interest and of help to "You" in your own searching and painting process!

    Good luck with your fog "imagineering"!Try something scary... might just turn the tide for you!

    These naturally occurring phenomena are always a bit challenging... even luck-based experiments... for all of us! HAHA!! Nothing ventured... nothing learned! I'll look forward to seeing the result!

    Good Pianting!... and "Imagineering"!
    Warm regards,
    Bruce

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  11. '......this "imagineering" process focussed upon creating a glorious early morning light which I believe totally transcends the original digital image.'

    It certainly does, and yet the subject is still very recognisable.

    I think it's all too easy, when we are painting a specific subject, to forget that we are making a work of art rather than trying to imitate a photograph.

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  12. Hi Keith!... Thanks for checking in... and for your thoughful comment and very adding your beautifully creative and important tenet:

    That we are making art
    Rather than trying to imitate a photograph.

    Nothing else need be said in this matter... "You" have said it wonderfully!Thank "You"!

    Good Painting... and "Imagineering" my Friend!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  13. Wonderful, Bruce! Great reflections and I like the spontaneous look to your buildings.

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  14. Thanks Linny!... That's a "high" compliment coming from "You"... given that... this is the exact quality that "I" enjoy so much in all of your own wonderful work... spontoneity... a "joie-de- vivre".

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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