Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Work: Forest Light oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches

Forest Light
oil on canvas 40 X 30
Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts

Over the years I have attempted a lot of oils and not all of them ended up as finished works. This piece was begun about three years ago and put aside. 

Had I made a better start at the time, this painting might have essentially finished itself By offering a clearer path to resolution. Instead, the canvas was a muddy muddle without clear areas of focus. It was unappealing and I didn't have any ready solutions to take it forward.

This oil was in a stack of orphan canvases that needed help. My plan was to add three things the canvas lacked: contrast, drama and clarity. Thanks and gratitude to my teacher Wolf Kahn for those insightful tools.

The painting was already dark enough so that when I added lighter areas, the oil was immediately more appealing and happily, the contrasts began to emerge. Immediately I had a better composition to work with and more options presented themselves.

Greens are not usually a focus of my works but since I was pushing off with this older image, I wanted to gamble with a variety of greens in a way I hadn't attempted before.

To increase the dramatic effect and depth, a number of colors were tried in the background: pink, orange, rose, blue, and purple. There wasn't a color system at work, I was contrasting the greens with an interesting array of color to see what would work best. As it turned out, I found a way to weave all the colors together creating the effect of a left to right motion. It was a nice counterpoint to the predominantly vertical composition.

The last touches were the blues in the upper right foliage and the few bright red leaves. Both moves added complexity and additional points of interest in a subtle way. 

In the end, it took patience, a bit more artistic experience and clearly seeing what was needed to bring the painting to life. 

I'm going back into the orphan stack to see what I can fix next.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Works: Chromatic Forest oil on canvas

Chromatic Forest
Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

I began this oil as a demo at my Making it Fine Art Workshop in Marshfield, MA last year. Sometimes the creation of artwork is not a logical or linear process and this oil is a good case in point.

The oil began nicely - a very nice start and one of the teaching points of the demo. Once it was shipped back to my studio, I did a bit more work on it but didn't have a clear direction of where I wanted it to go.

Since there are always others oils in progress, my attention was drawn to other canvases. Months later I was going through the stacks of unfinished oils and found this 30 x 40 behind a number of larger canvases. Once I saw it again, some fresh ideas and directions came to mind using lavender and aquas in the forest. The unexpected foliage color set up the light in the background nicely and I was able to achieve a balance of transparency and density. The oil then became a playground for more colors, contrasts and atmosphere.

Monday, June 8, 2015

In the Studio: June 8, 2015

There are a number of works in progress right now, 4 are shown here. It hasn't been dull lately with all these starts. I'm creating a lot of problems and enjoying the 'chess' game, searching for the solutions. At this point, the paintings are talking to me, telling me what they need.

It is very important for me to have a lot of works in progress at the same time. The advantages are many, but one of the most important is that it keeps a single painting from being too precious.

Everything is up for grabs here. Subtle or sweeping changes can be made - whatever makes for the best possible outcome. When I get to a dead end or stopping point, another painting in the studio is calling for attention.

Someone is arriving from out of town for private lessons today. It's always fun and a thrill to share ideas in the studio.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Exhibition: Total Arts Gallery, Taos NM Opening

Here are some photos from the opening of my Two-Man Exhibition with Kim English at the Total Arts Gallery, Taos, NM in May 2015. It was a great evening. Thanks to all that came and to everyone at Total Arts for the great show!

The exhibition is up through the month of June.
view the exhibit here

Kim English, left

Ken Elliott, left

Kim and Ken outside the gallery on opening day

My oils in the exhibition: