Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Light and Shadow

One of the most difficult, yet essential, aspects of painting any subject is to create a contrast between light and dark. I have always struggled with achieving this effect, especially when painting birds or botanicals. Sometimes the light source isn't very distinct and I have to invent one, or I am too cautious with the dark areas, and don't want the painting to look overworked or muddy.

Now, I think I've made some progress in this area, with my latest watercolor, Kestrel. The light is cast strongly from the right side, defining the form. Another notable thing about this painting is that the bird is looking straight at us, creating more shadow away from the light. Here it is:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I no longer like metal.

Frames, that is. For years, I framed all originals and prints in aluminum frames. The idea was that the thin metal frames were secondary to the detail of the paintings and would not detract from the subjects. Okay, they were really cheap. Now, after listening to advice from other artists and having access to quality wood frames through my workplace, I have gradually reframed almost all of my art in attractive wood. What a difference! If you come to one of my shows you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Making of a Portrait

Most of my portraits begin as a snapshot, supplied by the customer. In this case, she felt this photo best demonstrated the pet's personality. It's unusual to include inanimate objects in a portrait, especially vibrant blue purses, but it's crucial in this case. We didn't want to show all of the other extraneous items, though, and I eliminated them from the completed portrait. I offered to draw the portrait in graphite instead of colored pencil, but she felt that the bright colors enhanced the cat's mischievous personality. Here are before and after pictures:

My goal was to keep the visual clutter to a minimum while still preserving the essence of the picture - a moment in time when the cat was in the bag.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Staying Productive

I've just finished another painting, actually a combination of painting and drawing. I'm still working on creative ways to blend watercolor and graphite. This latest work does that, I hope. Over the years I've done many goldfinches and coneflowers, in many combinations, and this is a new variation on that theme. I wanted to depict the coneflower in different phases of growth, typical of botanical art, but I admit that painting the seedheads gets a little too picky for me. So, by adding graphite instead of paint in that area, I can still be accurate without getting bogged down in the details. Here it is:

Goldfinch and Purple Coneflower by Anne Gilna