Retreat Farm

Day 1 The Sky

The days I took photos, the sky was blue. However, my photography skills were not what they could be and 99% of the references had skies that were bleached out for the most part.  I improvised and found one photo in the 500 that had some shapes. I added 100% color in a photoshop program, and went from there.

Another big change from the references is the height of the hills.  Cameras shorten that height considerably. So when I drew the composition onto the canvas, I expanded the height of the hills.

Day 2 The furthest back hills – first session

Day 1 and 2

Day 1 and 2

This was the start of the 52 shades of green that I mixed for this painting.  The hills at the horizon will have the most blue mixed into the green to make them recede. Cool colors recede while warm colors come forward.  As we move forward in the painting, there will be less and less of the cool blues so the warmer green will move forward.

Day 2 with 3 Sessions

The First Fence

The first fence

I now have at least 3 dozen greens to keep track of on my palette. I grouped greens on the palette by the amount of blue that was added. The fences are blocked in and let sit over night. To make different textures of the green areas, I used the side of the brushes and dragged the paint up and in different directions.

Day 3 with 3 Sessions

More greens and more fences

More greens and more fences

As I moved forward with the grasses, I used less and less blue. The unpainted section and the sections in foreground in front of all the fences with have the least amount of blue.  I also determined the ground color here and blocked in the path that wraps around one of the many horse paddocks.  The path goes around the whole farm.  Every morning the owner and tractor traverse the whole farm on this path.  The Irish Wolfhounds go with their human and get to practice their hunting skills.

Day 4 with 3 Sessions

More path work and fences

More path work and fences

I finished a lot of details on the fences such as highlights and shadows. As I’m looking at the path, I can see things that need to be changed a bit here and there.

Day 5

52 shades of green

52 shades of green

I decided to emphasize the brown brush and darker wild flowers on the right side in front to create a darkened threshold that you have to walk over to get into the painting. That darkened area also forces the eye to the lighter path.  Similarly the grasses on the left also accenuate the darkened area causing the eye to move onto the path and into the painting.

The palette with a few missing greens

The palette with about 40 shades of green

Retreat Farm 24"x18"

Retreat Farm 24″x18″

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Irish Mist

Day 1

Day 1 Irish Mist

Day 1 Irish Mist

The first attempt at the mountains. I decided to enhance the colors of the rich minerals in the hills that were obvious to the eye but not the camera.

Day 2 – 3 sessions

Day 2 Irish Mist

Day 2 Irish Mist

Very happy with the addition of mineral color to the hills that will tie into the foam on the breaking waves. Hills are blocked in with a block in of the water running over the rocky landscape.

I am very grateful to the wonderful photographer, Barbara Walsh, who was gracious enough to allow me use of her references in the beautiful land that she lives in.

Day 3 – 3 Sessions

Day 3 The Rough

Day 3 The Rough

Now that the paint on the hillside has set enough, I took a stiff brush with very little paint, and brushed it over the hillside to make the mist. I used a color that was a few values lighter than the area I was painting. The effect of the mist looks white and translucent. Then I direct painted the rough with shadows on the vertical sides of each section of wave.  I was challenged with color choices for the shadow section of the water. There were many choices of minerals in the colorful rocks that would have effected the water color. I decided on combination of alizarin crimson and payne’s gray for most areas and raw sienna. The colorful golden minerals which are prominent in a lot of the rocks will also effect the color of the water which you can see the beginning of the next section and the leading edge of the rough.

Day 4 and 5 Finishing the rough – 6 Sessions

Day 5 Wave block in

Day 5 Wave block in

I reluctantly admit I spent Day 4 & 5 choosing and changing colors of the water in the rough and then blocking in the breaking waves.

Day 6 – 3 Sessions

Day 6 the waves blocked in

Day 6 the waves blocked in

The details of the froth on the first wave that crested are finished. However you can see in the block in, I am still changing the color of the water. Varying between viridian and green umber. I eventually did not choose the viridian which is more blue. I chose not to go with viridian due to the amount of golden minerals in the water from the surrounding rocks. That golden mineral would make the water green instead of the viridian that has more blue.

Day 7 & 8- 4 Sessions

Day 7 & 8 Irish Mist

Day 7 & 8 Irish Mist

The water has it’s final coloring. Most of the froth is painted on the water with the side of the brush. I’ve added a lot of mist and sprinkles from where the water splashes with a small amount of paint on a dry brush.

Day 8 was also spent putting highlights in brightest white areas and darkening some shadowed areas. And trying to decide on a name.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey of Irish Mist, a 24″x36″ oil painting as much as I did.

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Scituate Harbor

Scituate Harbor Sunset MA

Scituate Harbor Sunset MA

The beginning block in of colors. Deciding on the corals (Alizarin Crimson, cadmium yellow orange and payne’s gray mixed with white) and blues (Cerulean blue, cobalt blue and payne’s gray mixed with white). I later added yellows (grumbacher hansa yellow & naples yellow) into the mix.

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Day 2 & 3

Developing color choices for the houses and boats. I want it colorful like the New England coastlines generally are, but still subdued enough to show the sunlight is fading. I also changed the sky cloud composition from the original reference. I have the water colors blocked in with a turpentine paint wash for checking the shape and composition of the reflections.

End of week 1

End of week 1

Overall not too different when standing back, but I approved of where I laid out the boats. And started to put in more shadows and details. Also worked on the shadows and colors of the buildings.  I am coming to the part where the reds need to be put in for a little skin over night. Red loves to bleed – and it’s always in places you don’t want it to be.

Water details

Water details

The boat and water details are getting more distinct. Standing back today after the boats were starting to take shape, I am reconsidering the colors in the houses in the distance. I will wait until all the canvas is covered with paint to make sure what changes I will make. Next time I will deal with the part of the water that is very low and just reflective. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Scituate Harbor

Scituate Harbor

Worked on the boats, colors and reflection. Now for the challenge of the low water and reflections.

Water blocked in

Water blocked in

The water is blocked in. Now for the challenge of reflection of a low tide.

Scituate Harbor 2-20-17

Scituate Harbor 2-20-17

A few days of tweeking and I will check with my Client for final approval.

Scituate Harbor RI

Scituate Harbor RI

Finished 🙂

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Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake Original refernce

Maligne Lake Original refernce

The Client’s original reference photo.  Maligne Lake on a Cloudy Day.  Maligne Lake is located in Alberta, Canada.  It is fed by the glaciers and has the most beautiful turquoise water that I could imagine. Unfortunately you couldn’t see that on this cloudy day.

Composition Changes

Composition Changes

I brought the mountains forward.  Cameras tend to make huge mountains that seem so close, recede into the background.  I also used a few other references to expand the mountain range and break up the clouds.

Composition I can work with

Composition I can work with

I have put a turpentine/oil paint wash on the painting to evaluate whether there should be any changes to my composition. I’ve made some and I think I can work with this composition and coloring.  I tried 5 different skies before deciding on this one in it’s beginning stages.

Mountain Work

Mountain Work

I’m beginning the mountain details from left to right.

Maligne Lake Halfway

Maligne Lake Halfway

Starting the tree lines and some shadows. I’ve made estimates on where the sun might shine through. I’m thinking about adding a water fall off one of the mountains, but still have not decided completely that’s the right thing to do.

Maligne Lake - Almost there

Maligne Lake – Almost there

I’m putting details in the shadows and rocks, and another tree.  Then highlights, maybe some more colors in the skies, and making sure it’s all cohesive with the sun overhead in the back, with patches of shade from the clouds.

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake, Alberta, Canada.  Original Oil Painting finished !

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The Cummings Clan – Multiple photos

I’d like to share this next post just to show what can be done with multiple photo references.  It’s a painting of 3 hounds and it’s loving modern day owner, staged in front of a Scottish historical cottage called the Leanach Cottage from the 18th century.  The references were not complete, so I put together a combination of 14 in total to make the references for the painting.  The first step was to put the group in front of the cottage.

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The Leanach Cottage background

Since the group photo wasn’t complete enough to fill the foreground, Sean, the first Irish Wolfhound on the left had to use multiple photos to have his full body included in the painting.  I should also mention that the owner’s hand in the original reference had the fingers curled under and looked like the fingers were cut off.  So I searched the references she sent me, and substituted a different photo of Sean which I liked better in the eyes, than the original reference anyway.  It was a win win substitution.

The original reference

The original reference

Sean's new pose with a good hand reference

Sean’s new pose with a good hand reference

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sean’s new pose

Sean's block in and face details

Sean’s block in and face details

I paint left to right and started with Sean. The eyes on the Irish Wolfhound are so magical. This is usually the part that takes me the longest.  Checking shapes continually on the eyes and nose, stepping back over and over and squinting to make sure those shapes are accurate.  You can see how I put two photos together on my monitor to paint Sean.  The second photo was from the same scene.

Sean's body photo reference

Sean’s body photo reference

Jennifer although lovely in the original photo, had a beautiful smile on her face in yet another photo.  So I opted to change her head in photoshop.  I was able to do that since the second reference had a similar pose.

Jennifer's Smile

Jennifer’s Smile

The original reference

The original reference with help from photoshop

Jennifer being the patient person she is, waited over a year for her painting.  In that time she lost a lot of weight (congrats!) so I had to determine what she would look like many lbs thinner.  I asked for current references.  I thinned her face and made a few other changes to represent the thinner Jennifer.

Jennifer current day

Jennifer current day

She also wanted her tartan included in the painting.

The Cummings Tartan

The Cummings Tartan

Jennifer - the beginning

Jennifer – the beginning

Jennifer's smile

Jennifer’s smile

Jennifer come to life

Jennifer come to life

I had to make sure the head, neck and hand were all consistent.  They will go through multiple changes as will the tartan, but for now, I was moving on to Farley.

Farley had his own challenges. Where were his legs?  Ah hiding under the other boys!

Farley Blocked in

Farley Blocked in

I was able to use the original photo reference for Farley!! Checking shapes and color consistency with Jen’s hand.  Ah let me mention those Cumming’s tartan collars and colors. Anyone who paints knows how red likes to bleed all over your other colors.  So I put the collars in on all the boys, so they could get a skin over night (actually over a few days), so they wouldn’t interfere with the wheaten and light gray hairs.

Farley's details

Farley’s details

Seamus was also used from the original reference along with a few extra hairs from my imagination in order to make it to the end of the canvas!

Seamus blocked in

Seamus blocked in

Seamus details

Seamus details

And the 98% final painting from many photos.

The Cummings Clan at the Leanach 98%

The Cummings Clan at the Leanach 98%

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Pelican Sunrise

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The Sky

Pelican Sunrise is a new version of an old friend.  It’s an interesting piece because of the limited color pallete of burnt sienna, cadmium orange, payne’s gray and naples yellow.  Almost exclusively those colors. Starting with the basic layer of sky colors.

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The clouds

The clouds are a complicated section.  They will take 4-6 layers of paint to create the depth and sunlight with rays.

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More Clouds

The darks will go in first.

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Water color

I added a horizon line with the water color to show the balance of colors while I’m filling in.  I’m noticing that the clouds don’t have enough burnt sienna to my liking.

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Water

Definitely not the right color for highlights in the water.  More burnt sienna, less yellow and white.  I’ll add those as highlights later.  For now the colored sections need more burnt sienna :-).

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Water 1st layer

Colors and composition are coming together with a nice balance.  First few layers of the sky are good.  Tomorrow I’ll finish the water’s first layer.  Wish my camera would show the depth in the shadows …

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Overall color relationship

I’m happy with the color relationship between the sky and base layer of water. Now to look at the painting a few more times, let it get a light skin (dry over night) then tomorrow I’ll add the final layers of highlights to make the sunshine.  See you soon.

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Sun Rays

A few more tweeks, now that I’m looking at the photo and we will call it finished.  Highlights on the birds, even out the horizon and sign it!

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Pelican Sunrise

I would love to spend a month or two just painting and taking photos down in The Keys.

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Market Day

Joists Fixed

Joists Fixed

Joist Area

Joist Area

LESSONS FOR PAINTING FROM A PHOTO.

Used a few valuable lessons that I learned previously to deal with the challenge of painting from photographic references. The area of concern are the front two buildings on the right.

Lessons: 1. Photos leave black holes and 2. If you have to explain what’s in your painting, you blew it. 3. Photo lenses distort 4. Paint what you know. and 5. Not everything in the photo needs to be put in the painting.

The second building back from the right in the photo had joists out of line (area 1 & No. 3) most likely due to age, a fascia on one side of the building yet not the other (No. 4), missing joist that you couldn’t see (No. 2&4), Thus I resized the joist and added 4 where they should have been if the construction was built today. I also removed the fascia on one side to be consistent with the composition of the rest of the area.

Area 5 was an alley or set back and made no sense. You can see the vine going up the wall and the drain coming from above. The two buildings looked like they touched yet there was a large space between them. So I made them touch. It was easier to eliminate the alley and just build a wall for the beautiful stone archway (that was partially seen there) and make it a door.

Lastly, there were a few buildings that were no longer straight up and down. They were leaning. I straightened them.

I have yet to decide where I will put my plants. I’ll decide that last when I examine the balance of all I have chosen to leave in.

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The Christmas Room

Basic Drawing

Basic Drawing

My Client wants details.  The rug, the chair print, the couch print, the woodwork, the Christmas tree decorations.  Yet my concern will be the atmosphere of lit candles and fire in the fireplace.  I’m excited about the challenge.

Detailed Drawing

Detailed Drawing

Details in, floor boards, brickwork, etc.  It’s time to wet the paint brushes!

First layers of multiples

First layers of multiples

I blocked in the first layers of areas that will have multiple layers.  The windows will have darkness, then the Christmas lights shining through the lace and finally the lace curtains. I wait for each layer to get a skin on it (usually over night) before I put the next layer on.  I want to keep the distance in both those layers of outside showing through the lace curtain, so I don’t want a lot of paint to mess with the texture of the curtains.  I also played with some paint colors for the walls and shadows – the atmosphere.  For the candlelight, I used Naples Yellow and for the room darkening – Payne’s Gray. The original wall is peach – Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium yellow orange with white.  The original ceiling color is white – So I used Naples Yellow and Payne’s Gray. I am happy with the first layers.

Direct Painting the Fireplace

When subjects are very detailed, I like to use direct painting wherever I can.  I drew them accurately in the beginning, so I like to use those guides.  It saves me time in the end when things are put in correctly the first time (old Marine Corps habit).  So I will spend the next few days painting the fireplace correctly while I place my layers in as I can.

Fireplace Mantel

Fireplace Mantel

I was hoping to get the entire fireplace painted today.  Might not happen since my eyes are tired. Maybe tomorrow. Then off to the challenge of the lace curtains after I put my Christmas lights in the darkness of the night.

Curtain & floor processes

Curtain & floor processes

Worked all day to mix the right colors for the curtains and then layering in the folds & lace. Feeling okay about it for now. So I started mixing colors for the floor before I started the next window challenge. I hope to finish the windows tonight but sometimes I dream big :-)!

Fireplace & Chair

Fireplace & Chair

A few days away from the studio – I’m attacking the tree next, then the table and my another nemesis the rug! Never thought I’d say it but, … “there might be too much detail in this painting!” Just kidding, my friends, just kidding!

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Spent the morning working on the candlelight/fireplace atmosphere.  I’ve darkened the value of the walls multiple times with the initial peach (alizarin crimson & cadmium orange with white) color with payne’s gray and burnt umber.  The curtains white in daylight, now have a thin glaze (medium & paint) on them of the new wall color.  Unfortunately the photograph isn’t helping me describe what I’m attempting to show because it defined the shadowed areas much more than is in the painting, changed the colors of the wall and curtains to lighter than they are and the colors aren’t true.  I guess I’ll have to wait until Osio Brown does their magic and professionally scans the painting for me to show the true effect.  However, these values of the colors fit the atmosphere much more accurately.

I’ve laid a base of paint down for the rug and let it sit over night.

The rug

The rug, couch, bell jar & pillows

I have to finish the highlights on the Christmas tree lights and make the glow effect on them and the floor. A couple of days of making sure it’s what I want and I’ve reached the finish line!

The Christmas Room

The Christmas Room

Come sit in the beautiful living room and enjoy the festive beauty!

The Christmas Room

The Christmas Room

A few revisions to the chair and a pair of glasses next to the couch and the room is complete!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

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Chicago at Dusk from the Adler

Ah my nemesis, finally started.  It took me 3 days to sketch/draw the buildings onto the canvas.  Then 5 attempts at colors in the sky since the references I had didn’t meet my vision.  So after one week this is what the sky looked like.  It will change again in the end but it’s easy to change what you don’t like once you have paint on the canvas.  It’s impossible to change something if you don’t put the paint down first.  July 11-17th, 2014.

The Sketch & The Sky

The Sketch & The Sky

Week 2:  The buildings – I developed a system that would allow me the most efficient use of my time and eyes.  The two challenges were: 1) Straight and parallel lines in the buildings and floors and windows across the entire skyline and 2) I could not paint for more than 2 hours at a time before I would start seeing double and needed a half to full hour to relax the muscles in my eyes (which led to 12-14 hour days).  The details were small and the size of the brush used for the entire skyline of buildings was a 0.  That’s about 15 bristles incase the number doesn’t mean anything to you.

July 18th, day one of week 2:  I corrected the sketch/drawing of the first 3 inches of buildings (from the left) and drew them to scale regarding size, shape, and outline.  I used a scale to draw the lines straight this first time.  I then blocked in the colors of the basic shapes of the buildings.  To the left of the canvas was a 32 inch monitor with multiple jpgs of the actual buildings (I usually had 4 windows open at once showing me all the details of the buildings). That was day one – I let the paint form a skin over night of those basic shapes of the first 5 buildings.

The first buildings

The first buildings

July 19th: The details are added on the first block of buildings.  2 hours on; 1/2 hour off. Grab the calculator, measure the width and length of the left side of the first building.  Pull up the close up jpgs of the building and count the number of windows and floors.  Do the math and determine how wide and tall the windows will be and how tall the floors will be.  The other challenge is making all the floors parallel and consistent with the perspective and same with the windows.  It takes all day to finish the details of the first block of buildings.  Then prepare for the 2nd block for the next day.  Block in the shapes!

The skyline beginning

July 20th:  Getting in the rhythm now.  Details in the morning while the eyes are fresh.  Next block of shapes after dinner when the eyes and mind are growing tired.  The Sears/Willis Tower was the 3rd most challenging building to complete.  Many boxes and shapes in the architecture.

Skyline has a rhythm now

Week 3 July 18th-25th:

 

Week 4

Week 4 Getting tired

Week 4 July 26th-31st:  I’m getting tired and impatient.  I can only paint for an hour and a half at a time before I see double and have to rest my eyes for 30 minutes.

Two Prudential 8-2-14 E 25

Two Prudential

Patience at it’s limit, so calling on old Marine training of do what you have to do.  I’m still painting everyday as much as I can from morning til sleep.  It’s August now.

AON Building

AON Building

The AON Building details.  9 inches tall; 16 parallel lines; all drawn free hand.  It took 3 days to get the one building right and multiple erasers! Really excited about doing the water now!

 

 

10 Week 6 8-8-14 Treeline 25

Treeline

Treeline was fun after all those weeks of details! Hooray for impressionism! Playing with the water and it’s colors now.

Playing with Water colors

Playing with Water colors

Basic water colors added in.  Foreground next.

Foreground added in

Foreground added in

Added trees, added sculpture, unlit the lamp post, added more trees and lamposts … nothing seemed correct!  Days later … week later … many different trials … Finally figured it out!

Chicago at Dusk from the Adler

Chicago at Dusk from the Adler

I painted over the foreground that did nothing to add to the skyline.  The grass and things just distracted one’s eye from the beautiful architecture of what is one of the most beautiful shores.  All toll, almost 3 months of work.  It took all of me, my engineering, my artistry and my Marine Corps patience and determination to get the painting finished.  Thanks for joining me!

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