Thursday, March 27, 2014

In the Studio, Art Class: March 27, 2014

Busy week! It's nice to have a lot of starts going on at the same time.

Upper left, a 40 x 72 commission that is almost complete. This is a variation on an earlier large work in oranges and yellows. This oils is all about reds, yellows and greens. The trick is to keep the colors flowing all over the canvas, working the front to back and using leaf shapes without making portraits of the trees. Just a bit more tuning and it is done.

Lower left is a the now completed skycape Huddle at the Ocean 30 x 30 inches, started during my art class in St. Simons, GA last month. More info on the blog link.

To the right of that is a very old oil pulled out to the stack of paintings gone bad. It was once a very nice oil, but I overworked it my a country mile. I learned not to work at night since the lighting is not as true and I'm just not as fresh, giving me the tendency to slog on rather than paint smart. I painted over the foreground with a somewhat transparent yellow, added the dark trunks on the left and now a new painting is emerging from the earlier start. It calls to me now and I'll go where the oil guides me.

Center on the easel is another start from a workshop done here in the Denver metro two years ago.  It was also in the stack of coulda-shoulda made better starts at the time. After seeing it again last week, the start was pretty good after all. The bottom was just yellows and white canvas, so the aqua greens were added first. The white canvas coming through really shouts... hmmm. The trees were just a mass of upright trunks in very dark colors. I've added purple going to blue foliage to get something going, allowing a lot of the darks to come through. The entire oil is up for grabs - no spots are sacred, but it has the potential to remain a very strong and interesting landscape.

On the easel is the now completed oil Ed's view, Tomahawk Lake, 30 x 48 inches. It is one of those classic lake shapes. Not wanting to do the typical look,  I did my best to make it an interesting painting to view. It helped a lot to make a good start with some unusual colors thrown in for complexity and interest. Watch this blog Monday, March 24th for a posting that shows this finished oil in progress.

I'm starting to love that challenging stack of 'bad' canvases to pick through!

Monday, March 24, 2014

New Work and Art Class: Ed's View - Tomahawk Lake, oil on canvas. Shown in stages of creation.

Ed's View - Tomahawk Lake
Oil on canvas, 30 x 48 inches

I visited Ed at his lake house a year ago. It was a great visit, relaxing at his lakeside home. The photos taken from that trip often came to mind, but I never put the brush to canvas until last week. Ed and a friend were come to stay with me and I was struck with inspiration to make a go of the lake on canvas.

Here's the progression of the canvas below.

The idea was to make this simple, all green subject into something far more interesting. I quickly laid out the design with a few pencil marks and pushed off with an unusual green and anything else that would not be green. At this point I was looking to make an unusual color statement early.

Purples are added to the sky and water, but not the same kind of purple. I'm starting to run colors into the reflection to see what happens. I'm liking the greens in the water surrounded by the reds, but how to pull that off?

Here I'm in danger of loosing power as more color and body is painted in. It's really easy to make a muddy mess here, so I'm keeping the colors distinct as best as I can. This is a strange color palette that will need some real attention to pull it together in a believable and interesting way.

The addition of the oranges and yellows helps keep the painting fresh and it adds more interest. More darks are laid in to increase the power and presence of the bottom reflection. At this point, I let it dry a bit for one day.

Working on a dry canvas is a big help here. I'm adding some light blues, yellows, and rose over yesterday's paint. Now the oil is coming to life more. At this stage, it's very easy to fill it in, leaving a duller work. Today's colors are laid in so that the underlying color comes through. This gives the work more complexity and unexpected color combinations result. Even though the oil is less rough, there is still much that interests the eye. The sky and water are complex surfaces just like the land mass. I didn't set out to do this, but the oil is leading the way now.

Here the oil is done. The land was filled in with a minimum of foliage and tree trunks.
I left is alone a came back to see in again two days later.

After some deliberation, I decided to put blues directly into the yellow cloud and used a variety of colors to overpaint and calm the sky and water more. When I was adding the ochre yellow to the water, it had the side effect of giving the water more mass and increasing the airiness of the sky. Nice! I've also hinted at grasses more in the bottom left.

Since I had a photo of the successful session before, I elected to gamble and try for a soft, shimmering water surface. Both versions work for me since they are still underworked and chromatically interesting. Today I like the last, more poetic one but I'm already thinking of starting a larger canvas with a new color combination and keeping it on the rough side. 

I got a good start with this oil and once it was about 1/3 of the way in, the canvas told me what it needed next.

I thought the oil was finished but a couple of days later, I decided that the green trees were too pat. So in this version I eliminated them, but not completely. I painted into them with another blue (different than the trees on the far right, but it doesn't show that well here.)

Last, I added more aqua trees to the center of the tree line, made the reflections more interesting, and adding more shimmer to the lake.

It almost painted itself!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Works: Huddle at the Ocean, oil on canvas

Huddle at the Ocean
Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches

This is an oil started as a demo at my St. Simons, GA art workshop last month. I worked to keep it fresh, showing the work and complexity. The land at the bottom was originally a dark strip that I reworked to make it more interesting.

I had a friend watching me paint and discuss what I was at the time. Since there was an audience, I wanted to take that bottom strip further. Brighter colors were added, some indiscriminately and at the last minute, I decided that the bottom left needed something, so water became the device to add more interest.

Most of the colors were pushed a bit further, with care to not use the same blues and purples everywhere. In the end, I didn't paint out all of the original dark land but left small bits of colors and shapes at the center-bottom of the land mass. They became the ocean side 'huddle' of whatever the mind makes those shapes to be.

I'm ready to do a much larger version of this one!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Nancy Rynes Describes the Landscapes She Saw in Heaven

Soft Blue Progression, pastel

Yellow Wall, oil 36 x 60 inches

I recently became good friends with Nancy Rynes here in Colorado. She was in a very serious accident earlier this year, resulting in a lengthly near death experience. Nancy is a scientist and was not a person really interested in spiritual topics until now. Nancy described a part of her experience today in her blog today entitled “What I Saw and Experienced in Heaven.”

She was guided and shown much on the ‘other side’ and was instructed to write a book about her experiences in the beautiful and loving place she was shown. 

On her blog today she talks a bit about that journey and told me that some of my artworks come close to describing the landscapes on the other side.

Quoting Nancy:

"The closest I can come to explaining what this Place "looked" like to my feeling-senses is to point you to the work of artist Ken Elliott. His paintings come closest to capturing what I felt underlying the landscape Over There. I'll share two pieces with you here with his permission, but please check out his website ( for more examples.

"Soft Blue Progression," top, comes closest to showing you what the visuals looked like for me. "Yellow Wall," as well as Ken's other paintings, gives a sense of the energy or vibration of LOVE and PEACE that build everything There."

Please visit the rest of the story on her blog:

We are looking forward to the book you have been instructed to write by the loving beings you saw over there.

Blessings to you, Nancy