Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Plein Air on a Cloudy Day in Ohio

I enjoy painting outside on cloudy days for two reasons. First of all, the light is consistent. Or I should say it's more consistent than it is on sunny days, when shadows move more quickly and it's more difficult to capture them accurately. Secondly, the light is beautiful and pure on an overcast day, and there is little, if any, glare. My eyes have become more sensitive lately and glare makes it impossible for me to paint. Wearing polarized sunglasses is one option but not the best when you're trying to pick up the delicate value changes in a landscape.

This is a scene from Licking County, painted last Saturday. I was drawn to the scene when the sun was shining and I pulled over and set up my easel only to have the sun hide behind clouds just as I was ready to paint, Rather than move, I accepted the scene as it was--it was still very beautiful to me, just in a different way. Soybean fields attract me every year at this time.

12" x 16" oil on linen

Monday, September 28, 2015

OPAS Competition

This is the painting I chose to enter in the competition. I just loved the the composition and the complimentary color scheme. Unfortunately, there were a lot of good paintings and mine didn't win anything. The owner of the gallery did choose it to be left there for the show through November so maybe someone will buy it.

I didn't have a chance to photograph it before I put it in the frame.

I painted it at Pigeon Roost, a pumpkin farm south of Newark, Ohio.

11"x 14"oil on canvas

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Plein Air OPAS

This is the first painting of five I completed over a two day period in a plein air competition in Licking County, Ohio.
12" x 16" oil on panel

Reeves Farm 12" x 16"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another Painting Completed in Licking County

I'm participating in the Ohio Plein Air Society competition. this weekend. The sky looked pretty threatening this morning but it didn't rain, and I was grateful for that. This scene was painted south of Johnstown on State Route 37.

Oil on Linen

Friday, September 25, 2015

Somewhere Near Newark, Ohio

I was pretty happy with this, the third painting I did today. I spent less time on it and it is smaller than the other two, but I really enjoyed painting it. The sun was hiding behind clouds by the time I set up my easel but that didn't bother me at all.

Field on Cotterman Road
9" x 12"
oil on linen

Monday, September 21, 2015

Strange Stuff

I think it's fun to paint things I've never painted before. There's a challenge in matching colors and textures. A friend gave me some homegrown sweet potatoes a few days ago and I ended up boiling most of them but a few ended up in this still life. I'm not sure it was a wonderful idea, because they're not the prettiest things I've ever painted, but they are unusual, very unlike the ones you buy at a supermarket.

I'm sure I learned something from this exercise, even if it was only not to paint ugly vegetables that look like invaders form another planet.

I couldn't stand this painting. The sweet potatoes resembled hungry creatures from another planet and the pear on the side did nothing for the painting. I really learned a lesson about how important it is to set up appealing objects and not just paint something for the sake of painting it. I did have fun painting the textures of the sweet potato, but there is a reason you don't see many paintings of these vegetables, and the reason is that they are ugly.

Last night I pulled out my vase and the copper incense burner and resolved to fix it or pitch it. It was relatively easy to paint the offending pieces out of the picture and just leave the ones I liked. When I was finished I noticed a benefit of the pinkish underpainting under the vase left by the itinerant potatoes: a nice little sparkle appeared where the potatoes had rested, accenting the bright greens and making the piece more lively.

8" x 10" oil on canvas

Green and Copper 8" x 10"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith

Another soldier, gone too soon, this one killed stateside by a home-grown terrorist. This is the final portrait I will do for the American Legion Gold Star program. I think I did the first one in 2007 or 2008. Some years I painted two, other years, like this year, I painted one and another artist painted one. These posthumous paintings are a struggle for multiple reasons. The references are usually poor because even though these men are deployed there is an unvoiced expectation that they will survive and there will be plenty of time for many more pictures, so there is a dearth of good photos.  Secondly, it's just too sad for me to stare into their faces for hours, knowing they'll never hug their kids, or throw a ball for their dog or even wake up and make coffee again. Their life has ended and the reason it ended makes very little sense.

Let another artist step in and continue this mission if it does indeed continue. I'm officially burnt out.

Here's Randall's obituary. He was a brave, handsome dad who will be sorely missed by his family.

April 16, 1989 - July 18, 2015

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith, age 26, of Paulding, Ohio, stationed in Chattanooga, Tenn., selflessly sacrificed his life Saturday, July 18, 2015 in Chattanooga after protecting his fellow servicemen during the tragic events of July 16. Randall will be remembered by the heroic way in which he saved the lives of his fellow servicemen.

Randall was born April 16, 1989 in Paulding, Ohio, where he graduated from Paulding High School in 2007. Randall served with the U.S. Navy as an active duty logistics specialist on the USS Wasp in Norfolk, Va. for three years. Upon his recent re-enlistment, he was stationed at the Naval Operations Support Center in Chattanooga. He was responsible for the training and transportation of active duty Naval personnel. Randall was honored to serve on special details at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. His intentions were to retire from the Navy. He was also enrolled at Ashford University, where he was on the Dean’s List working on a degree in hospital administration.

Randall and his family were residing in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and attended First Baptist Church of Fort Oglethorpe, where they were active Life Group members. He was an avid sports fan cheering on his favorite teams including Duke basketball, the Tennessee Titans, University of Miami Hurricanes and the Houston Astros. He gave back to his community by serving as a volunteer for various charities including Stuff the Truck, the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, cancer awareness and by providing rescue assistance during Hurricane Sandy. He also aided in the coordination of area Christmas events for military families and donated Easter baskets to hospitalized children. He always looked for ways to help others and was never one that wanted any recognition.

Randall was a loving and devoted husband, father, son, brother and friend who will be remembered for his sense of humor, “tell-it-like-it-is” personality and infinite love for his daughters, who were by far his first priority in life.

Randall was preceded in death by his grandparents, Hiram and Catherine Smith; and mother-in-law, Renee Thomas. Hiram Smith was a U.S. Army Korean War veteran. His grandparents were very influential in his life as they were his primary caregivers.

He is survived by his loving wife of five years, Angie Smith; three small daughters, Lyla, Eila and Kyla; father, Tracy Smith; mother, Paula Proxmire; and sister, Shawna Smith.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Still Life with Hot Sauce

9" x 12"
oil on gessoed panel

Less is more. That's a phrase we hear all the time in alla prima painting. How much detail needs to be spelled out and how much needs to be left to the imagination? It's entirely up to the artist and that's why fifty artists can paint the same thing and you'll have fifty versions of a scene, no matter what it is. Have fifty photographers take a picture of the scene and you might get some different results too, depending on the ability of the photographers, but they won't be as drastically different as the painters'.

What compels you to paint something? Obviously, it;s not always beauty, because looking at a bratwurst on a bun makes most folks hungry. For some reason, it inspired me; the burnt sienna tones juxtaposed against the blackened portions of the meat, contrasting with the pristine whiteness of the bun. I never know exactly what draws me to a subject. The pepper mustard was sitting on the counter next to the brat, so it was a natural choice. Would I throw hot sauce on it as well? Not in real life, but the shape and color of the bottle seemed like a nice foil for the other subjects.

My subjects were set up in less than five minutes, and I added a spotlight for drama and listened to an audio book as I spent a couple hours creating a painting.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Angel in Her Wedding Dress

Angel is from Taiwan. She moved to the U.S. recently after marrying her fiancee. She was the model at our portrait group last week and everyone was inspired by her beauty.

I hope to do a larger painting of her. This one is 12" x 16".