Thursday, May 21, 2009

Preliminary drawings for "FALL"

(Perliminary drawing for "Fall", pencil on strathmore paper, 20 x 30 inches)

I have grappled with the challenge of adding figures to my work for years, and only recently have I begun to do figurative work that I'm satisfied with at the level of my landscapes. The more I keep working at it, the more I admire artists that do it well... Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth are just a couple of examples. Then add to the list Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Grant Wood, Andrew Wyeth, and more. And as I have begun to overcome some challenges of mine with the figure set in a landscape or interior, I have found that one of the most important foundations is in my drawing.

(Snake and leaves detail, from drawing for "Fall") So rather than jumping right onto canvas, I now do fairly resolved pencil drawings seperately on paper first. I have done preliminary sketches of heads, hands, and figures in my sketchbook. Then I move on to a large sheet of paper where all of my mistakes are made, erased, and fixed, until the drawing is to my satisfaction (these are the drawings you see posted here). Then I enlarge that drawing onto canvas. This way I don't have to fight the drawing so much when I approach the painting... I can focus more on color, brushwork, and painting technique. But I still make subtle changes and corrections with the drawing on the canvas as I go.

N.C. Wyeth, in his confidence, didn't seem to have much need for resolved preliminary drawings on paper. However, Rockwell executed one for nearly every painting he did, and they were nearly full-scale to the paintings. Artists have varying methods... to each his own. They're both awesome.

("Brandi" pencil drawing on strathmore paper, 14 x 28 inches.)

My finished painting of "Fall" will be a large 36 x 54 inches, oil on canvas (work in progress). It's one of the more complex and detailed paintings I've ever attempted... it includes two full figures, a big bush with more leaves than I'd ever want to count, the ground is covered with grass and leaves, and a neighborhood full of houses in the background. I'll talk more about some of the underlying meaning of the piece when I post the finished painting... but don't hold your breath, this piece will take me a while to finish!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Urban Landscape Award

As mentioned in my previous post, I attended the California Art Club's 98th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. It was a very exciting evening, I got to see allot of old friends and meet some new ones. There was a bunch of great artwork in the show, and I feel very honored that my painting, "Looking Inward", won the award for Urban Landscape, sponsored by Art Ltd. Magazine.

That's Christopher Slatoff (left), myself, Peter Adams (CAC President), and David Gallup

"South Rock, Laguna" 10 x 12 inches, oil on canvas.
In contrast from my urban landscape work, and to keep the blog updated with new paintings, this is "South Rock, Laguna", 10 x 12 inches, oil on canvas. I executed it on location with my painting pal Bill Wray a while back, then finished it in the studio. I've got a handful of plein-air pieces that I'll post here in the future.

Pictured below is "Above Torrey Pines Beach", oil on board, approximately 20 x 28 inches. This is one of my favorite areas here in San Diego, I enjoy hiking along the trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve, and do a little bit of plein-air painting there when I get a chance. It's a departure from my typical studio work, but I enjoy getting out and soaking in the sun when I can. It's only a ten minute drive from my house, and a big reason why I moved to SD. Doing plein-air painting helps me keep an eye for color and forces me to work faster... and as a studio painter, I often feel cooped up, it's nice to get outside.