Thursday, September 21, 2017

Horse #2


This stunning horse is definitely one of my favorites.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Horse #1


One thing I particularly appreciated about seeing these wild Pryor Mountain horses was the variation in the color of their coats. The three in the painting are quite different from one another and the painting was inspired after seeing them together.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Ugly Stage

For the artists reading this, don't know if this happens to you but it does to me.
Hitting the ugly stage of a painting. All of a sudden a good plan becomes a mess.
The brilliant execution flounders. There is no hope of recovery.

Well, maybe there is. I've been doing this long enough to know that if I keep working at it I can move through it. But there is always that lingering doubt.

On this piece it happened on the left to middle background trees. I could not see the forest for the trees or maybe it was the other way around. Rather than stop and take a photo (and you would have been able to see the mess) I kept working it. No food, no distractions, no stopping, just trying to quiet my intellectual hesitations and let the painting happen.

It took a while but I believe I came out the other side. The background now speaks more to my experience with the horses than I originally envisioned.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Wild Horses!

Heading home from seeing the eclipse in Wyoming (totality was awesome) I had a chance to spend time with the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses. It has been decades since I have seen wild horses. Ever since a chance encounter in Nevada, I have wanted to see them again.
Through the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center in Lovell, Wyoming (http://www.pryormustangs.org/) I was hooked up with Kristen who, through her contact with the Cloud Foundation, knows these horses by name. http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/

A rugged almost two hour trip by ATV to one of the high points in the horses' 38,000 acre range was worth every bump. In total I saw about 50 different horses! They were eating, running, drinking, splashing in water, mock fighting, mating, resting in the shade, and nuzzling each other. I could not have asked for more. Though I took over 2500 reference photos, I had plenty of time to sit and watch them especially at the spring-fed pond. I must admit I was expecting more mangy looking animals. Hardly. These horses looked like they had just come from a groomer - gleaming coats, toned muscles, and full of energy. I saw a colt, a gorgeous 21-year old stallion and every age in between. The horses' range is in and near the Bighorn Canyon National Recreational Area. (Note: the recreational area is in Wyoming and Montana and quite a scenic drive on route 37.) They are descended from Spanish Colonial horses which arrived in the 1500's and herds have roamed the Pryor Mountains for more than 200 years.

What to paint first? I knew I wanted to start with a large painting. The experience was too overwhelming for a miniature as my first piece. I worked up numerous compositions and then one seemed to stand out. Once I changed the setting to a more interesting section we hiked I had my idea.

Detail of painting




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Finished

Track Team
10" X 30"
Original Oil

Pronghorn are considered the second fastest land animal after the cheetah. They can reach speeds up to 55 mph and maintain it for 1/2 mile. This speed demon can run 35 mph for 4 miles. Either speed would clearly outdistance any of North America's current predators. One theory suggests they evolved their fleetness to outrun the extinct North American cheetah and prehistoric lions and jaguars. Regardless of the origin of their speed, a slate of pronghorn would make for an impressive track team.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Whites


Adding the whites (titanium white and a little cadmium yellow deep for warmth) is what I have been waiting for. All of a sudden the animals had shape and substance. Though I have pushed the color on this piece, it still feels like a natural representation to me. All that is left is the foreground grasses and final touches.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Movement


On my drive through Wyoming this past February and March, I was fortunate to see numerous pronghorn herds. For this painting I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which body positions would give a sense of movement to the piece.


For the antelopes' shadowed areas I am using the purples of the sky to create color harmony in the painting.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pronghorn antelope


On my drives through Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and Saskatchewan I am often rubber-necking looking for pronghorn. Driving on I-25 from Sheridan, WY to Denver, CO almost guarantees at least one good sighting.
At this stage in the painting I am playing with the deepest reds and deep blue-browns for my blacks to get a feeling how they will work with the background.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pushing Color

For the most part I would describe my color palette as natural. The colors of nature work well for my wildlife pieces. But, there is something to be said for a bit of exaggeration in color, a dynamism which can enhance the painting.
So, in this painting I am going to push the color beyond my normal palette and see what happens.
Rather than a typical blue sky I have made it more purple which works well with the complementary yellow background grasses.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Oil Painters of America Jury

As a Signature Member of Oil Painters of America I am eligible to be selected as a juror for their shows. When I accepted to be one of the five jurors for the Western Regional Show, I did not know how much work, how fulfilling, and how inspiring the process would be.
The jury consisted of 3 Signature members and 2 Master Signature members. I did not know who the other jurors were and was charged with telling no one that I was a juror.
Before accepting, I asked if I would be able to submit art to be considered and how that would be fair. OPA has a very equitable system. While I could vote on my own work, my vote would be replaced with the average of the votes from the other four jurors.

The jury process is a two step system. For the first step, all submissions are reviewed and given a number to either pass through for additional consideration or to recommend that the piece not be included in the show.
I did not know the artists' names, but could see the image, size, and description. Each piece could be seen by the jurors online at Juried Art Services as a large thumbnail and then blown-up to almost full computer screen. Before we started, it was suggested the jurors look at each piece before going through them to vote. A detailed voting criteria was given to each juror so we would be looking for the same things. (A note was added to the criteria that we were not to consider subject matter.) You can imagine carefully reviewing almost 900 pieces at their largest on the screen while constantly referring to the criteria would take some time.

On my first pass I knew this was going to be very difficult. There were so many good to outstanding pieces that I had no idea how I would recommend to pass through only 200 - 250. Well, I didn't succeed. I passed through quite a few more for additional consideration. For each piece I did not select to continue, I spent additional time looking at the full screen version to make sure my decision was based on OPA's criteria and not whether I would have approached the subject that way. (Who wants a show without variety?)

It seems the other jurors (still don't know who they are) had the same difficulty I did and when it came to the second round we had almost 350 pieces! The Western Regional show has a maximum of 100 paintings. The scoring system for the second round was much more detailed. Using a scoring system of 1 - 7 (7 being the highest) we were to rank each piece based on the same criteria as before. The criteria is focused on design (values, harmony, center of interest, balance) and execution (drawing, value relationships, color temperatures, variety of hard and soft edges, paint application.)
As a summary:
1.) Very Weak
2.) Weak
3.) Some Competence
4.) Average
5.) Competent (top 15 - 25%)
6.) Excellent (top 10%)
7.) Outstanding (top 1-3% of entries.)

As I worked through all the pieces carefully looking at the full screen version, I voted. For 7's, I had 10, which was within the top 3%. These pieces were truly outstanding and I thought any museum would be happy to include them in their collections. However, when I finished my voting pass, I had over 260 5's and 6's. Back to the drawing (painting) board. Time to carefully review each 6, then each 5 and so on. After several more passes, I had a reasonable number of pieces with a rating of 5-7 with the remainder 1-4 .

The above was the mechanics of the process but being a juror was so much more than that. Looking at a variety of approaches to subject matter and the choices artists made from color to its application was inspiring. I saw pieces that made me gasp at their beauty. Bold choices in lost edges, dramatic and subtle decisions in color, and deft uses of the medium which I exclusively use. Judging with no regard to the subject matter freed me from more subjective voting and opened my mind to a fuller range of possibilities for oil painting.

I was completely impressed with OPA and how organized and very available they were to answer questions. What I was unprepared for was how rewarding the jury process would be.

Like the other OPA members who submitted pieces, I anxiously awaited the notification date and was happy to see that my piece Shore Leave was accepted for the show.

Oil Painters of America Western Regional Show
Illume Gallery of Fine Art
St. George, Utah
November 10th - December 9th
Shore Leave by Linda Besse


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Finished

Hornbill Brigade
7.5" X 14"
Original Oil

Ground hornbills are impressive birds. The largest of the hornbills, males can weigh up to 14 pounds and they can even kill small mammals such as hares to augment their diet of reptiles, frogs, and snails.
To achieve the brilliant red around their face I first painted it white (titanium white with a smidgen of cadmium yellow deep.) When dry, using Liquin as the medium I glazed over it with a various combinations of cadmium red and cadmium orange. Burnt Sienna and Burnt umber were used for some of the shadow areas. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Color Adjustment


The yellowish background (yellow ochre, naples yellow, titanium white, and a little paynes gray and van dyke brown) wasn't doing it for me. I felt it needed to be more peach so the future yellow foreground grasses would stand out. Using my left over background mixture, I added cadmium red, yellow ochre, some burnt sienna, and titanium white.
I've also darkened and added more ultramarine blue to the birds' shadows.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Another Miniature painting

Before I started working on the previous leopard piece, I painted the white passages on each bird's head. These sections will be glazed and need to be dry for that process.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Finished

Shade
8" X 13"
Original Oil

Once the painting is varnished, you will be able to see more detail in the background. I have found that many brown combinations dry dull and liven back to their original intensity once varnished.
My go-to spray varnish these days is Krylon Gallery Series UV Archival Varnish 1376 Semi-gloss.
It adds just the right sheen, not super glossy nor matte. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

More Leopard

Just getting started - lots of cat to go.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A miniature painting

Miniature paintings can be almost any "smallish" size. I've seen amazing work by Wes and Rachelle Siegrist as tiny as 1 inch by 1 inch. (they are world-renowned artists specializing in miniature paintings.)
Fortunately, the next two miniatures I am painting are substantially larger. Requirements for this upcoming exhibit and sale have the size set at 108 square inches or less (the equivalent of a 9" X 12".)
 It would be easiest to do a simple animal portrait and call it good. Guess what I am going to do .... yes, let's paint a full reclining leopard in the shadow of African vegetation.
The painting is 8" X 13" (104 square inches.)

Below I have the background roughed in and some base color for the foreground grass. I like to paint the spots first to give me a feeling of the cat's muscle structure. Once I paint the other colors of the fur, I will repaint the spots and blend the spots' edges into the rest of the fur.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Finished - updated July 20th

The painting is now dry and I've scanned it. Thought you might like to see the difference between the photo of the piece and the scan.
Scanned painting (before varnishing)

 Poppet and Kiera
Original Oil
14" X 31"
Detailed grass has been added since the last post. I've also dry brushed in a bit more gray/blue throughout the grass. 
Another important change is a softening of the background trees. In an earlier post I mentioned that they may be too dark. To push them more into the background so they do not compete with the dark browns in the dogs, I glazed over them using the sky color and liquin. Liquin gave me the flexibility to keep the structure of the trees and soften them to different degrees depending on how much paint was mixed with the medium.

Thanks for following. An additional note on this commission. Each of these in progress photos was sent to my client. It was a nice way to keep him involved in the creation. To one set of in progress photos he replied, "Coolest project ever!"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Almost There


With both dogs completed, now it is time to turn my attention to the painting as a whole. Since the last post I have lightened the breast of the closest bird and enhanced the oranges on his face.
The brush by the birds now has some reds and a touch of yellows (not so much as to distract from the birds.)
Before I begin on the detail grass, I've added some more texture as a base around the dogs. My primary color is yellow ochre darkened with some paynes grey and raw umber.
I've also taken a gray-blue mixture (paynes grey, titanium white, cerulean blue, and ultramarine blue) and dry brushed it into various passages that needed a lift from all the browns.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Two Dogs


The position of the dog in the foreground is classic example of the German Shorthaired Pointer's bird hunting strength. The ability to find the birds and then hold is what these dogs are prized for - in addition to their affectionate companionship.

Some of my best photos of this dog were taken with this dog pointing the other way. My vision for the composition had her pointing to the left. So I reversed some of the images and then used my reference photos of her left side to change her right side coat pattern into her left. The main saddle brown spot is smaller on her right side and does not have a notch, the brown spot on her rump is a different shape, and there is more brown on her neck on her left side. If this was not a commission, these details would not matter, but a loving owner will know the difference.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthair coats come in a variety of patterns. Fortunately for me, these two dogs' coats are distinctive and together make a perfect pairing. Artistically I wouldn't change a thing. My client had the right idea to put both of them in the same painting.



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hungarian Partridge

As the name implies, these upland game birds were imported to the United States from Hungary. In the late 19th century this bird, also called the gray partridge, was released in Washington and California. It now is found in many states and also in Canada.


The patterns on the Hungarian partridge are stunning. To realistically depict them I reached for my small brushes and the magnifying glass! In the painting each bird is between 3 and 4 inches across.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trees and Grass

For the trees and bushes I used the background of my photo shoot for inspiration. The bushes had a reddish tint which I magnified. Once the dogs are painted I'll know if some of the tree trunks need to be lightened for balance.

In the above photo you can see I've added more texture to grassy area. This will form the framework for my grass.

 Here I have roughed in the grass. The upper area is cool with naples yellow, titanium white and blues. As I moved down the painting more yellow ochre was incorporated. Further grass details will be added after the dogs are painted.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sporting Dog Commission

     At a show this February one of the attendees saw my painting Chukar Hunt and found that I do custom sporting dog commissions (in addition to other commissions.) It so happens that he has two German Shorthairs. In early March after the Natureworks show in Tulsa Oklahoma, I had the chance to swing by his house on my drive home and take my own reference photos in anticipation of a painting. Five hundred photos later, and time watching the dogs' movements in the field, I had what I needed.
     Once I finished other painting commitments into early June, I created a mock-up idea and 3 other examples to present to the client to see if I was on the right track. I was, and after some minor modifications, it was time to start.

     For this piece I am using a Jack Richeson Umber toned hardboard gesso panel. I found they make a 24" X 36" which was cut to 14" X 31" for this painting. After drawing on the panel, I decided to use a classical approach and do a tonal wash using turpentine and raw sienna. (For years I used this approach on a white gessoed board but this is my first time on a toned gesso board.)


Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Painting

When I return from a reference gathering trip, my thoughts are often fixated on the wildlife I saw. Before I start on an upcoming commission, this piece begged to be painted.

Dancing with Waves
Original Oil
6" X 6"

Friday, June 16, 2017

A nice treat

My trip to the barrier beaches of Martha's Vineyard these past three weeks did not disappoint.
Once again I saw Black skimmers, piping plovers, willets, black-bellied plovers, ruddy turnstones, American oystercatchers, nesting black-backed gulls with fluffy babies, common terns, least terns, roseate terns, sanderlings, and osprey. Baby seals were also on the beach - so cute!

But this year I had a special treat. I was there at the perfect time to see mating horseshoe crabs. In a remote stretch of beach it was fascinating to watch this species older than dinosaurs. The females, about 1/3 larger than the males, would move toward the shallow water and attract numerous males. Some females had at least five males in attendance and she would bury herself in the sand beneath the water. Often the only way I would know she was there was her tail protruding above the sand.

As I child I remember seeing numerous horseshoe crabs during the summer but for decades since there have been so few. It was gratifying to see dozens in 60 yards of beach.
Here is one of my photos.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Finished

The World is my Oyster
9" X 12"
Original Oil

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Wave


Notice the bluish teal spots in the the breaking wave. I am using the color to give a sense that the sky is reflected in the delicate bubbles.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A new painting

As promised, I am back to a wildlife piece.
The last oystercatcher piece I did (see blog post March 20th) is slated to for the
Wildlife Treasures Show
Nature in Art Museum
Wallsworth Hall, Sandhurst, Gloucester
England
which runs July 25th - September 3rd, 2017.

In this rendering, I wanted to show not only a different position for the bird but also paint a different treatment for the water. Rather than blues and greens, here is a chance to play with browns and golds.


For the crest of the wave I grabbed one of my least used tubes of paint, Rembrandt Deep Gold. Not sure when mixing it with burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and naples yellow if the metallic will read, but at least while working on the piece it has a nice effect. And, something I haven't tried before.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Finished

Cottages
14" X 18"
Original Oil

This and more of my new original oil paintings will be at the Louisa Gould Gallery, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts starting May 24th.
There will be a special artist reception with live music Sunday, May 28th from 5 - 8 pm. 
I'll be there to show you my completed work.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The warm colors

Up to this point, I have been using cooler colors for the pink & green house and the pink & blue house. The reason I wanted to paint this piece was the contrast of the warm colors of the sunlit near house with the two other houses.

I am really enjoying these yellow and oranges.


Almost there. This has taken a lot of hours, but painting that lower left orange rocking chair made it all worthwhile.

In case you are wondering where these gingerbread houses are, they are in Cottage City, Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. You can find out the history of this place with this link
 http://www.didyouweekend.com/content/gingerbread-cottages-oak-bluffs-marthas-vineyard
and this link:  http://www.mvcma.org/history.html

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tiny brush work


The upper pink balcony took a lot of tiny brush work. On my palette I have three main pinks mixed, starting with a base of rose madder, and am using them throughout the piece.

Some roof detail completes the upper right section.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Color

One of the tricky things of this piece is the colors. I spent a bit of time figuring out how to make this green.


Don't find too many fancy teal/green balusters in nature. I mixed several shades from dark to light in this color range to give the posts depth.


Monday, May 8, 2017

A Challenge

Usually after experimenting with a technique, my next piece will use some of my more usual methods and subject matter.
Not this time. With this upcoming show at the Louisa Gould Gallery, Martha's Vineyard, MA, I wanted to really challenge myself with a very complicated scene. (for those of you who would like to see more wildlife paintings, thanks for your patience. I'll get back to them after this one.)

Here goes.
The drawing gave me an idea of just how long this piece will take.



I am starting with the shake siding. It acts as a foundation and doing it first helps unify the piece.
This painting is 14" X 18" and I am using a Jack Richeson Toned gessoed hardboard panel with an umber wash.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Finished

Waves
24" X 36"
Original Oil

When I completed the white of the broken wave, the foreground seemed too cool. Since the last post I added some warmth (yellow ochre, van dyke brown, titanium white, and a little paynes gray) to the sand showing through the foam. I left some of the darker green/blue color around the edges of the circles and ovals to give the white foam a feeling of height.
Some of that same warm color was brushed into the cool areas of the broken wave.

I hope you enjoyed this journey with me. Can't say I didn't struggle with this new palette but I believe the painting and I are better for it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Breaking Wave


This is the part I have been waiting for. I love the feel of power, elegance, spontaneity, and movement in a breaking wave.

I just came back from lunch and took a hard look at the painting. The wave is too blue. Yes, it is the ocean but it needs to be warmer. The last aqua section could be throwing me off, but I am going to warm up the breaking wave.
Looking over my greens (sap green is my go-to green and I occasionally use viridian), it is time to break out my rarely touched greens. Grabbing another disposable palette sheet (my original is a mess), I squeeze out some chromium oxide green and some permanent green medium. Mixing each with some naples yellow and liquin, I begin to brush the underside of the wave. The brightest mixture, permanent green medium and naples yellow I save for the "see-through" section of the crest.


I've also added more warm green to the foam of the breaking wave, its reflection, and the flat areas.

It appears to be working. OK. I admit it. I don't believe I could have achieved these colors without the aqua tinted gesso.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Painting Water

There are so many moods to water so I do not tire painting it.
What captured my attention with this scene was the different treatments I could play with in one painting.
There is the distant blue ocean, the crest of the breaking wave, the smooth underneath of the wave, the flat surface between the breaking wave and the broken wave, the foamy broken wave, and the foam remainder from a previous wave which shows sand underneath.

Above is the start of the closest foam section.

The closest section is completed for now. Once I have the rest of the painting blocked in, I'll take a look at this again.

The aqua tinted gesso is still driving me nuts. I can't decide whether to try and work with it (which is the whole point) or ignore it and mix colors like I usually do. Maybe I'll have a better sense of the painting once I move back to the breaking wave.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Experimentation

Several blog posts back, artist Peter Brown inquired about my reasoning for choosing a particular color of gesso for a piece.
This got me thinking about the color of gesso for this next painting.
What if I tinted the gesso an aqua? How would that influence my palette?

Rather than trying the idea on a small piece, figured I'd just go for it. The painting is 24" X 36".
For the tinting I used Turquoise Green and Lake Blue (a little bluer than cerulean blue) and then did a ultramarine blue - paynes gray turpentine wash over my drawing.
Here is the start.


Right now I am at the point of "what was I thinking???!!!!"
This color is throwing me completely off. Usually one sheet of my disposable palette lasts an entire painting. I am only this far and almost the entire sheet is filled with trying this blue combination, then that one.


I am not ready to concede this gesso color was a mistake. The painting will probably take longer but I may find some good surprises with my choice. When I first used the Venetian Red gesso I had no idea that it would push my palette to be more dynamic.
This experiment is going to be a challenge. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Almost There


This painting is almost there. I am going to let it sit for a while. Taking a step back will give me a chance to assess the details which will give it that extra something and finish the piece.

With an upcoming gallery show on Martha's Vineyard, my next oil painting will be a departure. Stay tuned.