Tuesday, November 28, 2023



Weather Wise
14" X 14"
Original Oil 

Above is the scanned painting so it looks a bit different than the in-progress phone photos.
One of the more tricky aspects was painting the lower part of the owl. I saw him on a branch which was not snow-covered so I needed to make it look like he was part of this snowy scene. His talons would have removed some of the branch's freshly fallen snow and his feathers would land in the snow but not fully remove it.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

My Snow Reference

 I thought you might like to see how I went from my snow reference photo to the background of this owl painting. While I didn't save each individual step, this should give you a flavor of how I modify my photos.
My first step was to look through maybe 60 or 70 of my snow photos. Fortunately, living in the woods in eastern Washington gives me many opportunities to step outside and grab some winter shots. I was looking for interesting snow when I hit upon a photo I took January 28, 2008. 

Photo 1. This photo was taken from my living room deck. I just love heavy snow on evergreen trees. This particular photo had potential because it incorporated close up boughs with distant ones. 

Photo 2. The photo editing program I like to use is Paint Shop Pro. While it is not as advanced (nor as complicated) as Photo Shop it has all the tools I need. And, I am not trying to create the perfect photo, but a guide to inform my background.
From Photo 1 I have used the Brightness/Contrast tool. I increased brightness and decreased contrast. I also used one of my favorite tools, Vibrancy. In Paint Shop Pro this tool is found under Hue/Saturation. Now that I have a more pleasing and colorful reference photo to work with I start looking for an interesting crop.

  Photo 3. This is the lower right section of the above photo. After various cropping options I thought a square format, which I rarely use, would work well for this painting. As I am working through this process I am renaming and saving the files as .tif to avoid losing details with a .jpg. 
As an example, this photo is called 
snow background 100-8255- bright - low contrast-v-crop 
The 100-8255 will lead me back to the original photo and the details following let me know what I did to the original photo. The v in the name is my shorthand for vibrant.

Photo 4. Here I have tried the Soft Focus tool to see how I like it. I think some of it will inform my background so I saved it as an additional guide for the painting. 
I have also tried increasing the warmth in the white balance, modifying brightness/contrast, increasing green, decreasing red, adding and subtracting vibrancy and a host of other changes. Photos 3 and 4 are the closest to what I want.


 Photo 3 and 4 are the beginning references of the painting's snowy background. Once I added the owl I cropped the background snow further. As I paint I change things to better fit the painting. These background reference photos may not look anything like the "real photo" Photo 1, but I believe the snow feels more real in the painting with the changes.
My yellow ochre turpentine light wash over my drawing also adds an additional element to the color scheme. The overall color in the painting is warmer than Photos 3 and 4 but the color mixing on my palette is close to the above.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Starting on the owl


I started with the owl's eyes. Now the owl can watch to make sure I am painting him correctly.

; )



Friday, November 10, 2023

More background


In this stage the bits of "white" haven't been painted yet. 

There are some areas which need attention and as the painting develops further they are addressed.
Note: quick phone photo



Monday, November 6, 2023

Close to Home

 While many of my subjects can be continents away, often my own backyard is inspiration for a painting.
The background for this painting is inspired by the trees and hillsides off my living room deck.

This is a rather complicated setting and rather than focus on one section of the painting or work from my usual top down, background to foreground, I am taking a different approach.

I started with the rightmost boughs which are closet to the viewer and will have the most detail. 

Most of the shadowed snow is done (though I keep tweaking it) and before I add the far background and the sunlit snow I am playing with the pine needles.
The upper left snow just down from the top is more of a blue/teal than a blue/purple. The sun is coming from this direction.