Saturday, February 18, 2012

Painting during shows

Moonlight Paint
15" X 23"
Original Oil

I like to paint during shows if I have the space. There are usually a couple shows a year where I can set-up my easel and a small desk area for my paints and brushes and a director's chair. Often I choose a busy-work painting, one whose subject matter has a lot feathers and where the constant interruptions (for questions and sales) are most welcome.

Poor choices would be any painting with a lot of water. While I love to paint water, I need large steady blocks of time for the critical blending. Without it, water passages can look flat and dry. Once I sprained my ankle coming down my studio stairs for a quick break about 10pm. I was working on water. Hobbling (hopping) to the house and putting ice on my foot and resting was not an option. So, I crawled back upstairs to the studio, hopped over to the freezer and found what I needed. A hunk of frozen elk meat. I wrapped it in a towel, propped up my leg and began blending the oils on my board to make it look like water. I don't remember which painting it was, but I do know the water came out well.

Obviously, another poor choice for a subject matter to paint at a show is one that requires a lot of concentration or planning. Ooops. I brought this piece to Safari Club International. While this piece may not look like it needs studied attention, I was using reference I had taken during the day. All the colors had to be transposed in my head to night time. And making a painting feel like night, or with moonlight, isn't just putting a blue filter on it. Contrast has to be reduced, whites still have to glow but with more color. The last thing I want is my painting to look like a 1950's TV western that you know was filmed in the middle of the day but they are trying to convince you it is night.

Well, I sit at my easel the first day of the show (surrounded it seems by spotlights everywhere) and have to "think night." What does rust brown look like at night? Not really, but how would it look in a painting for the brain to think it was night? What "color" is black or white? I started with the angled horizon line and by the end of the 4-day show, the top third was almost finished, except for the far left and far right horses. Back in its transport box for the trip home.

Fortunately, when I was back in my studio and opened the box, the colors seemed to be going in the right direction. The center horse is the main focus and the colors have to be "on" to make the painting read well. Ultramarine blue, veridian, and cerulean blue help pull the colors together. (they may be hard to see in the above image as they are subtle notes in the coat.)

No comments: