Saturday, July 23, 2011
The problem with having a little dog with new health issues (and the resulting vet visits), and a delightful social life, is that painting time takes a backseat. But, I truly thought that I could bang out another winner of a painting even if I only had short sessions in which to paint it every day. The error in my thinking there was that I wasn't thinking! I had an idea for a painting but hadn't thought it through, so I spent 2 out of 3 days of painting wandering all over the canvas and getting increasingly frustrated that my very first thoughts on this painting were 1)not solid enough to have a good start and 2)weren't working for this subject. I was trying to emulate the vibrant color style of the previous painting, "South Texas Beach", which had worked so well for that subject. But, I couldn't see where to go with it in this painting. In the end, it's possible that the underpainting peeking through will add some vibrance but I'm not sure that it was worth the time wasted getting to this place (and still not done!). It will get finished this weekend and I will have to promise myself to spend at least 2 hours a session and have a solid idea beforehand of where I want to go with the painting. Like writers who meander all over the page before they finally learn to stick to their outline and edit their work, I need to have a good statement going in.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
My artwork will be in a group show this August which amazing artist Robbin Robertson Polter arranged for 5 artists at Russ and Co., in Central Austin. It's a three story building, but I will still have to enter paintings with size restrictions, so am in the process of creating much smaller work than I'm used to. To that end, I purchased smaller palette knives and ordered 9x12, 11x14 and 18x24" oil primed linen canvases to work on these next 2 weeks. My first attempt at painting from our week at the beach is a very bright "South Texas Beach", which is 18x24". I wanted to work "large" first, much like the Irises that I did in June. I tend to work out the design and information much better in a larger format and then can condense it into the smaller painting easier. I doubt that many painters work that way, but it works for me, since I primarily work with a palette knife (some day I'll write about that). I do love, love, love the oil primed linen substrate! The colors don't sink into the canvas and are so vibrant! I may have to restrain myself a bit more, now that they show in all their glory. Nothing subtle about this painting!
June and July are traditionally busy months for me, because it's the time to celebrate birthdays and Father's Day and Beach Week at S. Padre, then catching up from all the fun! So, while I did get some painting done during that time, I couldn't find the additional momentum to write about it. Instead, I will do a photo essay...bottom to top order.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
"Shenandoah Mountains" 24x36 oil on gallery wrapped canvas (in progress) I worked on mainly the sky for my session yesterday. The sky is a deep clear blue with wispy clouds, yet there's an area of moisture right in the center that needed just the right hue to represent what was going on with the clouds, moisture and sunlight. And Naples Yellow is just the color to bring in there. It has a bit of a peachy tint that works well with your blues for creating atmosphere. I mixed it with ultramarine blue at first, but got it too gray. Mixing with Schveningen Blue (Thalo), which is an Old Holland oil color, brought in more of the turquoise excitement I was looking for. It was a dance of mixes across the canvas as the light changed across the big blue bowl of a sky. It looks really intense against the blocking in of the foreground, but never fear. It'll all come together (she says confidently) in the next few days. I can't wait to get into the purples and russets and golds of the trees, but know that I have to go slowly and with a light hand or I'll end up with a rougher painting than I'd like. That is an issue that plagues me since my primary paint spreading tool is a palette knife, not a paintbrush.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Shenandoah Mountains 24x36 oil on gallery wrapped canvas (in progress) Started a new painting yesterday, on the suggestion of my daughter, Sami. She's living in Virginia for a year and discovering the delights of mountain hiking. The photo she sent me was of the view in the Shenandoah mountains on her first hiking trip last Fall. There's tons of atmosphere in this view and I just hope I can do it justice. I blocked it in yesterday, and that's what this is a photo of. Today, all I worked on was the sky and the very distant mountains, and am dead now. Phew!!! I will post a photo of it tomorrow because the sun's too low and yellow in the sky now.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Azalea 18x24 (in progress) oil on gallery wrapped canvas Iris 2011 CS Miller 24x30 oil on gallery wrapped canvas. Lake House View 2011 CS Miller 36x36 oil on gallery wrapped canvas Finished the "Lake House View" without a great deal of additional work. Started a new painting which was inspired by a video of Spring plants. I love the looseness and color combinations. It's had everybody oohing and ahhing, and I think they are inspired by the colors, too. Or maybe it's just that everybody loves an iris. I sure do. I love their long, long stems and their vibrant colors. And, the fact that they show up in the Spring when we're desperate for some color in our lives makes them a superior flower. Add to that my new painting of an Azalea bush (in progress) and I've had a very satisfactory week or two. Satisfying to me to have had the chance to paint them and stretch my skills, and satisfying to have sold the commission to a very happy owner. I'm always happy to sell my paintings to people who I know will love and appreciate them. That's probably why I've mostly just sold to people I know! That may change if "Iris" or "Berkeley Bird of Paradise" find new homes this week while hanging at Real Gallery downtown. If you're so inclined, art galleries on Congress are having another "I Art Congress" this Thursday, June 9th. Real Gallery is a nice space on the west side of the 900 block of Congress (just a couple doors south of Quiznos). They'll have wine and music 6-9p.m. I hope to be there. I have a very sick doggy right now, so all plans are up in the air regarding leaving the house. She's my heart and soul and this house seems rather empty without her little noises right now.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
"Lake House View" 36x36 oil on gallery wrapped canvas...in progress... I had brought the colors into a more realistic realm, in this painting, but wasn't feeling the love. So, after a rousing get together with artist friends where we talked about color A LOT, I took my palette knife and a total devil-may-care attitude and went to town on the water. I liked what happened so much that the hills got the treatment as well. Thinking in terms of color vibrations instead of matching the hues to reality, I had a blast. Generally, you don't go trying experiments on a commission, but I had to throw caution to the wind and listen to the Muse. And I think I've gotten over a hump at last and can strike out on a new adventure.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Sad times have hit area lakes, here in Austin, due to the worst drought in decades. So, knowing that the lake house, whose view I am commissioned to paint, is sitting on a cove that is rapidly drying up, I am glad I went out early this Spring to get the inspiration photos I'm working from. Because, in essence, I am painting an imaginary view at present. Painting a point in time that has passed, for now. I'm hoping that all my thoughts of water in the lake, while painting on this, will conjure up some much needed rain for the area. If it works, folks, I will let you know!
Monday, May 16, 2011
"Barton Springs Bridge" 2011 CS Miller oil on gallery wrapped canvas 24x30x1 1/2" "Devil's Hole Waterfall II" 2011 CS Miller oil on gallery wrapped canvas 30x30x1 1/2" "River Trees" 2011 CS Miller oil on gallery wrapped canvas 30x40x1 1/2" I first picked up a paintbrush 4 1/2 years ago, after not touching one since the age of 13, so I'm pretty experienced in not declaring a painting done until I've touched every part of it many times. This can be good, this can be bad. And sometimes you have to decide that it is what it is and sign it. You can check these out on my website as well: www.conniemiller.net
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
"River Trees" 30x40 Got some work done, after two months of sitting. I am in that mode right now, where I feel that I can't start anything new (no matter how I yearn to get to Richmond scenes that inspire me) until I finally sign a few paintings and get a commission going well. "River Trees" has been sitting long enough, so I chanced it that I wouldn't destroy that which I liked about the painting. I took it from normal to colorful and think it's fun. I also did a blue wash on the background and like it better. I don't think it recedes enough yet, so that will get some work. And, yes, I'm aware that the middle tree is way too purple. I decided that I'd been working long enough yesterday, and it's always good for me to leave a painting in an awkward situation so I'll be prompted to get back to it as soon as possible. I hope it's today, but I am wiped out from my morning. We shall see...
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Barton Creek Bridge was started because I was attempting a loose composition inspired by Scott Ewen's landscapes . It was a total failure at looseness, so I just let it sit in the livingroom to mock me. However, I was still drawn to the composition, so decided to work on the things that bugged me. I told my hubby last night that I usually dread going up to paint when all I have ahead of me are problems to work out. But, I got so involved in making this a good painting this week that it had me totally engaged in the creative process. What a rush!
Saturday, April 09, 2011
"Lake House View" 36x36 oil on canvas "Zilker Gardens" plein air 9x12 oil on canvas "Devil's Hole Waterfall II" 30x30 oil Early this week, I decided that my foot could handle some standing for prolonged periods of time, so it was time to go up to the studio and paint!! I also decided that I would work on a painting that I started back in June of 2010 and hadn't finished in August as planned. It's been sitting on my desk upstairs, mocking me and making me wish that I hadn't made it so monochromatic. So, I got in there and added the greyish greens that are part of the wonderful pink granite of that region of the Texas Hill Country. And I lightened up the background to add some interest. Now, I will let it sit for a bit and see if I think it's done or if I am interpreting visuals in it that no one else is, haha! It's like, I know what I see but does everyone else see it or are they confused about it. On Thursday, I met at Zilker Botanical Gardens for a Plein Air Austin paintout. I thought the hardest part for me would be figuring out a composition and painting fast enough to keep it together when the light changed. Luckily for me, it was a very overcast day, so the light did not change very fast at all. Unluckily for me, I set up my tripod and pochade in the parking space next to my car (not allowed to walk distances yet) and some woman insisted on parking in that space instead of one of the two on the other side of my car. I know now that I could have spoken up and nicely asked if she'd move, but I was so shocked and enraged at her behaviour that I couldn't form any nice sentences. And, since I thought she was with our plein air group, I thought it behooved me to keep my mouth shut and not alienate anyone in the group. She took out her painting stuff and joined another group up the hill who spent the next hour or so laughing like crazy (about what I do not know), so I guess I could have gotten all confrontational on her. But, my mama raised a "nice" girl and so I just spent the morning unhappy that my composition and position had been compromised. In the end, it may have taken my mind off of all the other things that get in the way of enjoying painting outside, so I'm a bit grateful for that (in hindsight). But, in the future, I may have to make up my own sign that says "no parking", or bring an orange traffic cone that I stole from UT Parking after they gave me a ticket that pissed me off. Perhaps, I spoke too soon about being a "nice" girl? Friday morning, I had such a great urge to start painting the lake house view that I've been commissioned, instead of doing sketches in 2 more formats, that I just did it. We haven't decided if it's going to be portrait, landscape or square, so it's presumptuous of me to just start in on a square, but it really called to me in that format and I can always do one in a different size later. I blocked in the darks and lights and tried hard to keep those areas together early in the painting. Then, I had fun with color in the water. I will work on that some more, because the light patches will be toned down as reflections on wind ruffled water. It's fun to paint again! If anyone can tell me how to set paragraphs, I'd be forever grateful. I lost the ability one day and haven't figured out the trick for getting that formatting back.
Friday, March 18, 2011
I had foot surgery, which kept me on crutches for 2 weeks, which also meant that it would be too difficult to climb the stairs and stand at my easel to paint. So, I thought I'd get out the old Prismacolor pencils and have a go. Unfortunately, my full supply of pencils is nowhere to be found (or nowhere that my sweet hubby looked for me), so I had a limited palette and no blending pencil, which is a must. But, it was just for fun anyway. I wanted to make a card for my nephew's birthday and also do a "white object on colored ground" painting challenge, and I couldn't reach any of my white vases, so I found a baseball that this same nephew had signed for me after a winning game, cleaned it up and put it on a colored cloth. He'd given it to me for my 50th birthday and since he's still a primo pitcher, now on varsity, I thought it appropriate to name it, "Birthday Baseball". The second painting is an oil pastel. I was able to clamber into my car and go get some art supplies, thinking that pastels could be fun. I came home with oil pastels, which have a pretty close consistency to Crayola crayons, but you're able to blend them better. It wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be but I'm not giving up yet. I just need to get looser. Yet, you'd think that doing a painting of something that was just in my head couldn't get any looser...ha! But, if you stand about 20 feet away, in the dark, and squint...it's not too bad.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
I am satisfied with the foreground of this painting, but managed to make some strokes for the background and the "leafy" branches that really needed to be addressed. Yet, in the time I allotted for painting, I don't believe it's as finished and as polished as a done painting, so I'll hopefully get to it before foot surgery on Tuesday, because I'll be limited in how much I can walk and stand for a few weeks afterward.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
"Sami's Bouquet III" 16x20 "Sami's Bouquet II" 16x20 "Sami's Bouquet I" 16x20 I set myself the challenge of painting a bouquet and, believe me, it was a challenge! All those shapes and details confused my brain and I made a royal mess of it. Not only that, but I tried doing it with a brush and setting the bouquet at a level, under a lighting that did nothing for me, that the whole situation was just uninspiring. Lesson learned. So the very last effort was done in a looser arrangement (had to change vases as the bouquet aged), composed from a more contemporary angle and painted entirely with painter's knives...soooo much more enjoyable. And that, along with the exercise of painting flowers from life, was what I was looking for. I always want to express the joy I feel in creating art. It comes through most of the time, and I know that this joy is why the feedback I've been getting lately is about how I've inspired someone to take up their own creative endeavors. Secretly, folks, I get a bigger kick from hearing that than any compliment in the world.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Most of this has been done with a painting knife, but I thought it might be nice to bring out the brush to diddle around a little. A small brush is good for fine lines and the wide, flat brush was good for hitting the branches for a gauzy foliage look. Once I got some of those droopy branches and foliage in, I didn't want to mess with the background so much. It didn't need it, other than me wanting to lighten a path through the left side which will draw the eye beyond the tree trunks, which I'll get to eventually. I am having a mental arguement with my style, wanting to be so much looser. You'd think, using a painter's knife, that I would be producing something pretty loose. I guess it'll come when I'm ready for it. Maybe more plein air painting will get me started. Since it's no longer freezing outside, I'll have to make a plan to get out there and do it.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
River Trees 30x40" One can't tell from a cropped photo how large this painting is. I ought to not crop it one of these days, so you can get an idea of how much it resembles a window's view of the river outside (I wish!). It sits in my dining room, when I'm not working on it, giving me the impression that there's a lovely flowing river and, now that I have it at a point where it doesn't bug me, I find it very relaxing and soothing to look at. It would be a nice thing to gaze at in a doctor's office or auto repair shop...two places that cause anxiety. I'd been missing the layer upon layer of painter's knife painting that made up the entire "Storm Wave" painting. It was so freeing to go in with bright colors and then hit it with duller glazes of blues and greens, come back with more brights and lights and then bring it closer to reality. The layers look so good with a top coat of varnish because you can see the under layers peeking through. Lots of depth. So, the trees got a little of that action the past couple of days and then late yesterday I went after the rock walk on the right. I saw blue undertones in the rock, so actually did a pure color glazing of Cerulean on different spots and went off to do something else while it dried a bit. When I got back, there was still enough tackiness to it that I could work it in with a lighter pinkish lavender mix and so it developed some grays in spots. But, right before I gave up for the night, I didn't like what I had and decided to chance mixing right on the canvas with some Titanium white knifed into the tacky paint. It worked a treat! I only mention my success with this as a lesson on how not to listen to your teachers, haha! Mixing pure pigment on the canvas is usually a big No No, so I was mentally slapping my hands even as I was finding it working so well. Another life lesson, brought to you by the Bonga. Feel free to use it, but don't tell anyone I told you.
Friday, February 11, 2011
"River Trees" 30x40" The pink trees may have been restful, but I think I was just reading a bad photo copy and not staying true to what I know these trees to be. BUT, I will concede that there was a bit of sunset light playing on them, so the pink is there to some degree. Anyway, I'd gone so overboard with it that it annoyed me all day and finally, while my soup was simmering at 6:15, I went up to the studio for 45 minutes to see if I could rid myself of the worst of my annoyances. I knew I didn't have energy for more than a bit of glazing, such was my day (or allergies). It's getting there...slowly, but surely.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
This first picture is of the beginning of the painting. Wednesday morning was icy and cold and not sunny, so I attempted to photograph this from inside, with my spots in the diningroom. I'm almost embarrassed to post the picture of the second stage of this painting, because it's such an awkward stage. I painted for 4 hours, late yesterday, and believe that it was 1 hour too long. But, the water looks good at least. I also was on the phone about a brother's medical emergency and keeping a daughter company as she drove back to Richmond from D.C., which is a little distracting to the painting process. But, the water looks good. And maybe, if I keep mentioning the water, you won't wonder too much about the pink trees? Cuz, the water looks great! It's okay, though, because I'll do a glaze over the pink and bring the values down, then move on to the background and then come back and see what I can do about the rock walk on the right without making it too chalky looking, work on all the roots and check on the trees again to see what else they'll need before the final work on the tree limbs. I always wish that I had given myself a larger block of time to work, because I always seem to stop before I've finished a stage, but this painting showed me that 4 hours is too long and you can get ahead of yourself to the point of no return, if you're unlucky. I'm lucky, though, and can see where to go next. Phew! And doesn't the water look great?
Monday, February 07, 2011
I had a couple of hours free, and a cheap 16x20 canvas (sure seems small after my 30x40's), so decided to work through the same experiment with looseism (yeah, I made up a word, but I bet you know what I mean!). I thought the best way to start was to work from my previous attempt, instead of having a photo reference. I can remember some of the photo, and just did a bit of creative color choices in the foliage (which will have to be lightened up at the top), but really tried for nice strong strokes of the painter's knife and let each stroke stand. Problems that occurred: the bridge still stuck out like a sore thumb because I had made it so defined. So, after I'd closed the lid on my palette and was about to call it a day (in disgust), I took one of my painter's knives and blurred the definition with large strokes. Then, it was just one brown blobby thing, so I stole some excess pale blue from the water and went over the large pillars to give them some light. It is what it is, but I am relieved that I could do it and now feel like I can move on to another composition, though I can't recall having anything in mind for my next painting! I've been going like gangbusters here for a couple of weeks, and loving it, so I guess I need to slow up and do some research on what to do next, where to go and how to get what I want from it. I'll take suggestions if they don't involve animals or bridges, haha!
Saturday, February 05, 2011
" Monticello Fall Tree" 30x40 oil on gallery wrapped canvas "Monticello Woods II" 24x36 oil on gallery wrapped canvas Not signed, but I am calling two paintings done! The Monticello Woods II was a no brainer...add some foreground leaves and "leaf" the rest alone. That was the intention, but I did work in some more depth in the foliage all over the painting, BUT I left the ground plane and the trees alone and that's a big step for me. Fall Tree, which will be renamed, "Monticello Fall Tree", just for the heck of it, needed work on the tree trunk. It was driving me crazy with its cool tones which, surprisingly, didn't work well against the warm foliage and warm ground plane. So, Transparent Red Oxide went to work again. Love that paint color! I combined it with Ultramarine Blue, in various mixtures, and reworked the foreground tree and the background tree. Then, used a glaze of Transparent Red Oxide on all the foliage and came back in with the yellows and orange tones to finish it off. I feel like it flows better now, colorwise, and I can relax and...sign them!
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Sometimes it's good to let a painting rest before you go in and muck it up. Because of that, I have TWO paintings resting in my dining room which, along with other finished paintings that I want to hang or are waiting to be framed or are waiting to be delivered to a show, is starting to look like my studio annex instead of the entrance to my home. Kinda colorful, I must say! So, what do you do when you want to give a painting a rest? You start a new one. I believe I've said that just recently and that's why I started "Barton Creek Bridge" on Sunday. Now THAT one has to rest and I started a new one yesterday. And nearly finished it, too! As with "Monticello Woods", this one went quickly but I was able to go even further with it because of having done the other one just last week and stopping it at an earlier point. So, now I have a little bit more to do: I have too many "sky holes" that require a bit of overlay of leaves so they don't stick out like...sky holes. And, I think I will leave it be after that. I am learning, in my exploration of this "less is more" technique, that the dense application of paint sometimes makes the painting more flat and has less of a glow about it. I also see that some of the energy dissipates so I'm going to see if I can manage to get what I want in the first paint application so the glow of the white canvas beneath the paint remains. I think it might take making several paintings of the same composition, like Monticello Woods, to help me with the more a la prima technique that captures the energy and glow. I'll let you know how that goes and what I'll be able to do with the paintings that are "resting" to recapture some of the initial energy and fire.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
3 more hours of work on this and am somewhat satisfied with the results. I don't know if I'll work on it today, because the power company has asked us to cut back on our electrical usage due to the huge drain these frigid temperatures have put on the grid. Rolling blackouts are plaguing the state, though my house has been spared so far. My appointment got cancelled and the grocery store blocked off the frozen and dairy aisles because they've been losing power off and on all morning. Were I to decide to paint, I'd have to power up my laptop for the photo, turn on the overhead fan and my work lights, which isn't saving much power.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
So, Monticello Woods is now signed without me putting another touch of paint on it. Unusual for me to call it finished before I get into lots of color, tones and texture, but a friend begged to buy it at this stage. I couldn't deny her and also thought that it was pretty cool and said a lot with just those few lines of trees. I think I probably would have only brought in a few foreground leaves on the trees and maybe given more dimension to the larger trees, so it's okay to stop. And, what do you do when you'd planned on a week of working on a painting? You start a new one. And the new one, originally, was going to be another Monticello Woods with the added touches that I hadn't gotten to do. But, best laid plans... I was on Facebook and saw a painting a friend, Scott Ewan, did of a river/lake scene. So loose and abstract and inspiring! The reason that I took up the painting knife was to get to that point. I am so inspired by the work of Alex Kanevsky and, in my heart, am heading in that direction. So, with those two artists' work in mind, I started a new painting from photos we took on our walk around Town Lake last year. Best intentions though, were foiled by a bridge! You know me and man made structures. I cannot figure out how to let them be loose! My other complaint will get fixed today and that is that the drawing was fine but my looseness got all over it and messed up the angles of the bridge. Frank noticed it right away, but to give him credit, he first said "Whoa!", which is a compliment if you know my hubby.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I decided to let "Fall Tree" sit for a bit and see if I need to do a few little things or let it stand on its strengths as is. So, to take my mind and attention off of it, I started sketching out some new compositions from the same trip to Richmond. The light there, at Monticello that day, was wonderful and I felt such a great peace wandering the grounds. I'm sure a lot of what I was feeling was because I was with my daughter, whom I miss soooo much, but the beauty of the place couldn't be denied. I even went so far as to sketch a shady path WITH PEOPLE (tourists), which I have been avoiding lately. It's not that I can't paint people or don't want to paint figures; it's just that I like putting myself in the scene and people just clog it up with extra ideas. So, we'll see if I ever paint that one, but this one flowed so easily when I sketched it, and again with painting knife in the block in, that I know this will be a fun painting. I like the elongated format, too. (36x24) I've been raving about how much I love Transparent Red Oxide on Facebook. It's transparency makes it really glow on top of a white canvas. All of the red and yellow leaves in the trees, and the yellowish sky, are all done with just Transparent Red Oxide and gel medium. The ground plane and trees are a mixture of Transparent Red Oxide, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, which makes a lovely chocolatey brown with purple undertones. I usually use Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue for my block ins. I love Burnt Sienna! And now I love Transparent Red Oxide. There's so much yellow in it that, when mixed with Ultramarine Blue, you can get some interesting greens. Won't see many of those in this painting as all these trees were in full Fall mode with oranges, reds and yellows abounding. We were dumbfounded at the glowing colors which surrounded our walk through the woods. 'Twas a wonderful start to a fantastic day which included a Colonial lunch of the best fried chicken I've ever eaten, a steep walk up a mountain to pick gigantic Fuji apples and coffee in cute Charlottesville with a young friend from Sami's high school days.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Nearly 2 weeks later, after a visit home from my daughter and a bad week of allergies (damn cedar fever!), I got back to painting and am happy with what occurred. I was bothered that entire time off by the shadows on the ground; some were extremely cool and the others extremely warm. When you've got such a sunny day, you're going to have a lot of daylight filtering through the trees and so these extremes wouldn't actually be seen in Nature. The tree got some work, too, also because of the light bouncing up and filtering through. Unfortunately, I'm getting a lot of reflection from the horizontal brush strokes, which I didn't see when I was painting, so I'll need to go back and tamp those down quite a bit. Other than that, I don't hate it.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I had to resort to the old tried and true method for "getting it right" when I can't tell what's bugging me the most about a painting. In this case, though, I was pretty sure that what was bothering me was the lack of foreground space and the thickness of the trunk of the tree. What had drawn me to the composition in the first place was the design of the shadows in the foreground, yet, when I did the sketch, I placed the bottom of the tree too far down and stretched out the trunk. I thought I'd be okay with that and lost myself, instead, in the plethora of colored leaves. In the end, or at least 12 hours into the painting, I always come back to what is missing and it was the big, fat foreground. And so, to punish my weak ways, I did a day of technical painting with the canvas upside down so I could only look at shapes. This usually works to help me see things more clearly and I can figure out where the weak spots are. So, I think I got it! And now I may just spend another painting session working upside down so that I can really get the shadows the right value, hue, and color temperature, though I am rather fond of the warmth in them right now (on the right). We shall see. I may just finish making dog food and do laundry for the rest of the day. I'm a hippie mom.