Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Beauty ... of Bigger

It was exhilarating to stand before a larger black toned canvas... armed with a single one inch chisel bristled brush. The only goal was to use the roughly placed white chalk lines as guides to lay in the larger color blocks in my chosen composition.

Within the short space of an hour, I stood before the makings for what I knew would be a successful canvas because all of the necessary structure... or foundation was already laid down. The remainder of the painting process merely dealt with refinement... balancing values and creating a color harmony which would unify the whole.  Here's what the initial block in looked like at the end of session one.

Day One

The various "Big" shapes are readily discernible at this early stage. I chose to carve out the center of interest... but its shape is far from stated in a final way. Everything still remains tentative. Each section  of the painting is still open to change and further consideration. The sky is very "stainy" and will be worked up slowly in glazes to attain the morning glow that I wished to be present.

After supper, I returned to the easel and reworked the sky to lessen the left over black toning in the sky area. I decided to let the paint set up overnight. I use Griffin Alkyd white paint on my palette which is a quick dryer. I knew that I could return to the canvas the next day and resume work at the closing stage of the day's work easily. It would offer me time to consider what area to move to next to maintain an "around the full canvas" attack.

                                                                       Day Two

In looking closely at this picture taken at the end of the session in day two... one can see various areas around the central image that now bare the signs of significant change... and yet remain unresolved at this juncture. There is a stronger sense of mood and lighting at this point... which was my goal for the day.

Day Three

Note that in this picture attention has been given to the addition of detail to the light itself... ie the railings... window and weather vane atop the lantern.... as well as the play of light upon the walls of the light.

                                                                        Day Four

                                         "River Guardian, Rotary Light, Prescott ON" 
                                            - oil on gallery wrap canvas - 24 x 30 inches

This is where it sits this evening. Today was a day of push n' pull... a day of balancing values... playing with highlights and adding details for interest. For all intents and purposes... I have achieved what I wanted to in this project. Mostly, my need to use big arm movements to replace "tight-assed' drawing and sitting to paint... both foreign to my preferred plein air approach have been alleviated. I feel refreshed.

Tomorrow... after a time away this evening, I will give it one more look when I am fresher. Looking forward to another "BIG" idea canvas and following my own path.

Stay tuned...

Happy Spring!... and Good Painting... to ALL!!

One Last Thrust...

After an overnight rest and step back from the painting, I decided to "ice the cake" by adding texture... and therefore variety using my palette knife. I carefully restricted its use to the foreground snow area and the river-facing wall of the lighthouse... thus adding interest and relief from the overall quality of total stillness. Signed it...
Done liker dinner!


  1. I love watching the birth of a painting! It's nice for you to have a big stretch again, I can see how much you enjoyed it.

    Happy painting!

  2. Thanks Lisa!... It is interesting even as an artist...(after the fact) to see an idea emerge from its most abstract elements into something finished. Glad that you enjoyed seeing things unfold!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Good Morning Bruce. I can imagine your exhilaration at working on a bigger scale, and the black-toned canvas where those first marks would be so decisive.

    I love seeing these step-by-step pieces, where the image seems to gradually come into focus.

    All the elements are there again in this one, placing it firmly in your Canadian riverside landscape. Good work.

    I hope you won't be seeing too many wintry scenes like that for a while, although we are forecast to have northerly winds and snow showers here. Brrrrr!

    All the best,

  4. Good morning Keith!... Right on all counts! Those broad strokes are exhilarating... liberating really.

    Glad that the "play-by-play" interested you... seeing the works of other artists in process is always a bonus for me as well. Shifts one's own point of view occasionally.... "the third eye". HA HA!!

    Spring has truly sprung here for certain... but the coldness and slippery Winter can still raise his mischievous head in April!

    Gives the 'ol body a wake up call in the frosty morning air!

    Happy Spring Keith!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Good evening Bruce! I have enjoyed looking at the work in progress that you have shared with us here. What a large canvas and I am interested in why you like to paint on a black coloured canvas, do you find it helpful? I especially like the palette knife effects of thick snow and texture on the walls of the lighthouse it really does finish off the work so beautifully. I also love the big pine tree on the right of the painting what a fine tree so nicely painted.

  6. Hi Bruce. Thank you for your visit to my blog, which i have sadly neglected.
    I always enjoy and appreciate your comments.
    You paint in the same fashion as i do! I love, love, love applying black gesso first and then drawing in the composition with white pencil. Blocking it in at the beginning is very exciting and one knows right off if there is going to be an adventure ahead. Your painting is most appealing and i enjoyed seeing the different phases. Makes me want to head to the ocean. But alas i must tend to my taxes first. :)
    Hope all is well there with you and yours.
    By for now, and happy painting!

  7. Good evening Lass!... I have much missed our conversations and am glad to see you back posting!

    You haven't danced (with a paint brush)... until you paint on black toned canvas. Color comes alive almost immediately and is more vibrant than against other grounds that I have used. Give it a try with your technique - you won't be disappointed!

    The palette knife is a tool that can quickly change an "average" and too soft painting into something with increased drama and substance. It can be used to beef up a foreground instantly!

    Glad that you enjoyed the process and the piece itself!

    Good painting!... and Happy Spring!
    Warmest regards,

    1. Thank you Laddie! I will have to give the black background a try and the palette knife again. Looking forward to seeing new work from you soon as you will be busy with your gallery now the season is here!

  8. Hi Ross!... My visits to your lively painting world never fail to uplift and inspire my thoughts. Your work has a lilting quality that combines the honesty of childhood with eye of a master draftsman. Quite a task!

    Get down to those taxes. Look forward to more Lynem gems... and real soon!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  9. Good evening Lass!... I'll look forward to seeing your new incorporation of these two additional strategies to your working process. I guarantee that you'll find new vistas to compliment your already spectacular tonal gems!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,