Buds are swelling and the birdies are singing REALLY LOUD. Here’s a little landscape in celebration of spring and the onset of pleasant plein air painting weather. This year aside from illustrations I am working on alla prima painting technique. This one is more like alla secunda, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? Those of you in central Texas might recognize a nook of Ink’s Lake.
Doing a little follow-up with contacts made in Austin and some people on the mailing list that prefer e-mail to getting postcards. I’m tactile-y inclined and would almost always prefer a real card. Not very green of me, is it?
This little composite is an appetizer and if the recipient’s appetite is piqued, the website smorgasbord is ready to satisfy!
Feedback on my image selection is welcome – what do you think? I want to show some characters and a little whimsy.
It’s good to get out and see things!
Last weekend fellow illustrator Bobbie Dacus and I went down to Austin for the SCBWI chapter’s annual conference. Austinites, you put on a good one. Star painter attraction was the great E. B. Lewis, who was inspirational and incredibly generous with his time.
Day two included a watercolor demo which made me want to give that medium a try! I’ve never pursued it because nothing puts you on the spot like watercolor. Decisions have to be made so quickly, there is no wiping off mistakes, and the least bit of overwork destroys the work.
Some photos of the demonstration…
Here the photo reference material has been selected, and E.B. is mixing some grays to begin. There will be several studies done on this sheet.
The first one is a high-contrast landscape. The general shape has been painted with particular attention paid to the quality of the edges. Warm and cool nuances are dropped into the still-wet paint.
The second study is a forest scene with dramatic lighting. Drama is a key factor E.B. looks for when selecting reference for painting. This study begins with a wash of the general color of the light, leaving holes for the brightest whites in the painting. Darker areas are indicated by dropping in more paint, always keeping temperature in mind.
This was the state of things at the lunch break. The third study has also been started, and you can barely see the pencil indication of where a figure will be standing in the dunes. The photo reference for this one was very atmospheric.
Finished. The tape defining the edges has been removed. Texture and interest was added to the first image by working the paint with the edge of a credit card. The dark trunks of the trees were added to the forest scene. A sprinkling of salt into the wet paint simulated dappled sunlight, and subsequent layers of paint worked around the dappled pattern. Some dark values have been introduced to the third piece and the figure has been defined.
You can see a splotch under the third study that came from a preliminary demonstration on mixing grays. The way it ended up under one of the studies was unplanned, but ended up being one of those happy accidents. E.B. had an interesting thing to say about working digitally – that everything has to be planned on the computer, leaving no room for divine intervention or the accidental.
Right side up. These photos were taken on my phone, so unfortunately they weren’t as sharp as I’d like.
Great experience! Gotta go now…gotta paint!
Coles Phillips was active in the early part of the 20th century. His signature “fade-away” style plays with background and foreground and leaves the viewer to put it all together. It was developed at the request of Life magazine, which had asked Phillips to invent a new look for their covers. I’d say he fulfilled that assignment well. I love his highly graphic and stylized look. Some examples follow…showing his style and the usual assortment of pretty girls.
I’m thinking of Phillips now since I’m working more with toned grounds, and letting that tone stand in for the mid values, as many artists have done, especially in chalk studies. Phillips took that convention and pushed it to a very stylish conclusion.
Links to more examples and information on Coles Phillips
For the past 10 years or so, I have done cards featuring dachshunds for Christmas. This is the last in the series — it will be on to something new next year.
Wishing you peace during the holidays and always.