Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day #3 of the Challenge.... One +One = New!

We got buried overnight by another blast of eight fresh inches of the white stuff from ol' Man Winter! For me... it greatly pleased me to have the landscape white and fresh again. I hate dirty snow... or slush! It was to be more hard cold as well... with the temperature here again hovering in the negative double digits. When  I arose this morning for my coffee ritual... it was very grey and overcast when morning broke... and still flurrying a bit. The evening weather forecast predicted more snow activity for the next few days... so out door painting might be out of the question. I was preparing myself to plein air in my van studio once again.

As the light broke... it was obvious that the sky was broken and a beautiful sunrise surprise ensued, I grabbed by coffee and my camera and headed down top our front dock to a location I had been looking at for a number of weeks. The lighting was perfect for the painting idea I had in mind. I snapped a few quick images before the momentary pinkish-red coloured light came above the horizon... with the bright retina burner sunlight rapidly replacing it. It is a very transitory moment... beautifully breath-taking to behold... but too short in duration.

As the morning developed, it was obvious that the sky would be clear to start and the snow had ceased sop I gathered my gear together after breakfast and headed down to the dock to get started, I set up quickly and got underway with no difficulty. It was indeed cold... but there was no wind. I had previously decided that this painting  was going to use a vertical format... to accentuate the main focus in the foreground - that being the curved stern of Eugene Johnston's iced in work tug Ishpeming. That curve against the flat field of shadow on the frozen and snow covered River had drawn my attention weeks before... when the River was still open. Today was the day... when everything I had envisioned was in place.

I laid in the painting on my usual burnt sienna toned 10x8 inch panel establishing the horizon and island areas first and then dropped immediately to place guide lines which established the stern and the dock patterns which were the basic structure in the painting. I began laying horizontally applied stained pigment for the water areas with a tonal value that approximated to the low shadow bluish colour of the river surface. I added darker areas where they occurred... but again only with slight attention to hue or tonal correctness.

 The  sunrise view at 7:25 am.... Beautiful... EH???

 The same scene at 11:00am... hardly has the same visual appeal to inspire.... has it?

Here is Eugene's work tug Ishpeming... the subject for an earlier painting two years ago. It won "best of show" at The 1st Annual Rockport Plein Air Paint Out two years ago.

Comfortably "out there"... for the moment... and hard at it!

 This is the raw sketch from the field. Note the intended complete lack of treatment to the sky area and background. No attempt to arrive at final finish anywhere in the outdoor sketch.

I used the information gathered from reality in this session to be carried inside and be used as the foundation for my "idea"... incorporating that momentary sunrise effect. It would then become a "One" situation (reality)... added to another "One" (digital capture) used in the studio to equal a whole "New" impression... being the sum total of both. This will be worked further... once the new sky area and water has set up a bit more. Not much to add... just glazed in highlights and a few details to add further interest and punch.

I am really enjoying the challenge of coming up with rather impromptu subjects and approaching each painting in a distinctly different vein. Adding the pressure of the time factor... keeps me thinking a step ahead to the next day and subject. I realize that there will likely come a few days when getting out to paint  is impossible because of inclement weather. As well... I'd like to include summer painting themes using other seasons which are more popular than winter to my clients and visitors. Not everyone likes... or wants to hang winter in their living room. In this part of the world... winter is a very long... and trying time for many folks... my Self not included.

I hope that you are enjoying my adventures and I sincerely hope that this challenge might offer others insights and encouragement to stretch their wings... and set their own courses in their work. Working with someone else's challenge can be motivating and yes, rewarding. But being in your own sailing craft... at the tiller is a much more rich experience from my humble perspective.

Stay tuned...

Good Painting to ALL!!!


  1. You always turn a fine word, Bruce, and your paintings are always so beautiful. I love the shape of this tug boat and I love too seeing it blanketed in fresh snow.

  2. Good Morning Sherry!... Thank you for your early morning visit (here at least). I have been up early this morning working on today's focus... since Deb and I have a very busy day planned in Brockville. Life can get in the way... if you choose to let it...or... find another path! HA HA!!! This was... "My Way"... a good song title! HA HA!!!

    The tug has always attracted me because it represents the relationship of the River of men who live by what the River has offered them. Again ... about playing the hand your dealt without complaint... some commitment... and all can be well. Choices!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. I've been quietly following along, and am learning so much about plain air painting! I've learned that the time of day can make all the difference in the "wow factor.". Safety and comfort are very important. With a little thought, your car can become your studio. Paint small if the challenge is to paint many. And...with a challenge like this, I've learned that you have to go easy on yourself. Life does get in the way.

    Thank you for this! I can hardly wait for your next contribution!

  4. Hi Wendy!... Thanks for visiting and commenting so enthusiastically!

    Glad that you are finding the Challenge posts both interesting and useful. That surely was my intention in sharing the process and thinking behind each new approach to the challenge!

    It is quite interesting how these "ideas" simply morph into being and from out of the blue. I find the process and the challenge injects new ways of thinking and working. These changes greatly enhance ones creative spirit I feel! Stay tuned for more "play"! HA HA!!!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,