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John's Blog

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What's on the easel?

I began two new paintings in the studio this past week. I am asked from time to time what the motivation is behind the paintings I choose to create. The motivation varies from painting to painting, but first and foremost I must be interested and enthused about the subject.
Neither of the paintings shown here have a title at this point. The naming of a painting often evolves for me during the painting process. I don't care for cute titles. I like to choose titles that are real, down to earth, and express experiences from everyday life.
????? - 18"x 24" - Oil on canvas

American Legacy Gallery in Kansas City has represented me for a number of years. This coming June they will be hosting a show with the theme, "Kansas at 150 Years".
I found this neat bridge in, I think, Cottonwood Falls, KS. I am privileged to have had Kansas City Southern Railroad purchase several of my paintings over the years, so this scene lent itself perfectly to incorporate a KCS locomotive as an added dimension to the story.
Since no trains passed by at the time, I had to set up a scale model of a locomotive in the correct lighting and perspective in order to accurately add it to the scene.
The time of day is early afternoon. As I teach my students, value establishes the mood. If the values are correctly set, the mood will be obvious. Raw umber was used for this monochromatic block-in.

????? - 20"x 20" - Oil on canvas

Accurate drawing is just critical in the execution of a quality realistic painting. I spent considerable time in making sure the drawing for each of these paintings was accurate in proportion and perspective. This is no time to be lazy.
I do a lot of square format paintings. I like the shape, they fit well in a number of decorating situations...and I enjoy the compositional challenge. Actually, I find this early stage of creating the most exciting and stimulating. I am not afraid to rub out and move things around if need be.
The initial stage here is very rough in appearance. I have visualized how the scene will be placed on the canvas and have helped this process along by lifting out the lightest areas of the monochromatic block-in with a paper towel.
In this case, once I was assured all the elements were properly placed, I began to carefully draw the scene from the focal point outward.
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries I have visited, that in itself was motivation enough for me. I have done a number of Italian scenes and they always seem to delight the viewer. There's another reason for you.
I have just begun adding color. The lighting for this scene is bright overcast. A large portion of my paintings contain a warm light, that is, warm light/cool shadows. This painting will be the opposite, cool light/warm shadows. Palette selection is: titanium white, raw umber, cobalt blue deep, cadmium red, cadmium yellow medium, lemon yellow and chromium oxide green.
I'll keep you posted on the progress of these paintings.

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