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.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
There is a point in nearly every painting I do, usually about the 12 hour mark, that I find more to hate than to love about what is on the canvas. I don't go so far as to take a knife to the canvas, but I spend many heart rending hours trying to will away that hate. The only thing to do is go in with more paint and paint away the offensive areas and create new magic. This takes no strength of will, because I already hate the area. So, suffice it to say that it will look better next time you see it. Ugh!
Friday, January 07, 2011
Oops! You caught me in a cranky moment. I am dealing with the new computer/external hard drive woes and can't wait for the procedure Frank is promising me where any photos I upload to my new computer will automatically be copied to the external hard drive. My editing software doesn't recognize the external hard drive, so I have to upload my photos to the desk top, edit them and then move the file to the external hard drive. Of course, now that I've written that, it occurs to me that it's not too many more steps and I should quit whining! Afterall, I have a new, superfast hard drive and updated editing software so life really isn't all that bad. Just...different. Speaking of different, can you spot the changes in this painting? My husband could and we all thought he was oblivious to my artwork. Just turns out that he needed better lighting in which to view it. So, thank goodness he tackled my "honey do" list this past December and finally installed my track lighting chandelier in the dining room where I have one spot trained on my easel which displays my work in progress. It's a great set up for me, because I can bring my painting down from the studio and let it sit in a spot light all night where I can view it from a couple of different vantage points and determine what needs work the next day. I may just put in 2-3 hours of painting a day, but am working the rest of the evening every time I walk through that space. Anyway, if you haven't figured out what has changed, the ground is a huge hint. It's mostly lighter, but I worked on all the shadows, too. Worked on some background and worked on the background leaves in the trees so that there's a bit of a feeling of depth there. And, I worked on most of the tree and tree limbs. Unfortunately, my editing software doesn't include photoshop, so I couldn't get rid of the glare on the lower tree limbs. I will have to rough them up a bit, with some thicker paint and a painter's knife which will cut down on the glare. I love how the colors in this painting are so harmonious with two other paintings I have in the dining room right now: Berkeley Bird of Paradise and Boat (www.conniemiller.net).
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Usually the leaves fall in Autumn. While painting this, I purposely chose not to put in all the branches and leaves right away, to leave room for background sky. So, now I've put in more branches and leaves. It's still mostly blocking in, but I do work all around the canvas and have been dealing with the trunk of the tree in more detail. What's really bugging me, at the moment, is the ground. The sunlight was so strong that the colors were more washed out, so I will have to tone down the saturation. Having a new computer and dealing with accessing photos stored on our external hard drive has been a pain, and a distraction, but I now have my photo editor installed and have figured out an extra step for storing photos, so I can crop photos again! I'd much rather that all that stuff was second nature and I could just paint, but this seems to be the month of learning new things...like a new website! If y'all haven't checked it out, it's www.conniemiller.net, hosted by Fine Art Studio Online. I may also be checking out their blogware and see if it's a little more user friendly for a person who can't figure out how to set paragraphs! I'm sure it's some little html symbol, but it's beyond me at present. So, that's why all of my thoughts run together...much like the title of this blog!
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Autumn in Virginia is absolutely lovely; something I missed when we moved to Texas so many years ago from Michigan. The colors of the trees, on our drive to Monticello from my daughter's apartment in Richmond, made us ooh and ahhh the entire trip. And, once we got there, we knew we'd come at just the right time. The maples blazed, the sycamores were ruby red, any number of trees held golden to bright yellow leaves. Everywhere we turned, on our walk of the grounds at Monticello, there were purple mountains as a backdrop and muted to brilliant foliage as our eyes moved across the landscape and our cameras clicked away. This particular tree was in Jefferson's "back yard" and grabbed me from every angle. I particularly love the gnarly trunk and the low sweeping branches. The sun shown golden on the fallen leaves all around it, which makes this enormously warm and inviting to me. Let me explain the funny shapes of blue on the canvas. I really hate "sky holes" and try to avoid them whenever possible. Instead, I prefer to paint in the sky and later bring in the tiny branches and bits of leaves so that the sky is then peeking through instead of what I perceive as lying on top of the painting when the "sky holes" are painted in. I think you get a lacier, lighter effect this way. And so it looks a bit awkward at the moment, because I did the sky with a painting knife, which means thicker paint that I couldn't paint into without making a mess. I'm not an a la prima type painter, so it's what I'll get to today or tomorrow. I hope you enjoy the colors!
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
It's been 3 weeks since I have done any painting and maybe that's why I've been a little cranky. I've had this painting in my head all this time and was just waiting for the opportune moment to get up to my studio and start the sketch. I also knew that I wanted to do it in a large format, 30x40", so that it would make a nice statement. And I think it does already!