Monday, January 31, 2011

Old man top of the world

This gnarled old tree high up on a mountain was a trunk found by my wife's brother in one of his many treks.  I worked with the shapes of the trunk and added colors, tone and movement throughout the painting to bring out the power of this ancient life that had carved out an existence in this impossible and breathtaking environment.  I wanted the glow in the sky to almost seem to come from the stump itself.

Old man at the top of the world

Primrose Hill Secret Creek

Hidden deep in back of a neighborhood was this marvelous creek with it's undisturbed banks.  I was struck by the jewels that were the fallen leaves and the colors of the light that came through in shafts and reflections.  It has a wonderful jumbled complexity yet holds together in a single composition both visually and emotionally.  The broken verticals of the dark tree and it's fractured reflection anchor this composition.  the two ducks I painted in as well to give the eye a secret in the complexity to find.

Primrose hill creek

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bar Harbor windy shore

This image evokes such a sense of untouched nature for me.  I painted the moose into the shot because we had seen one earlier in our hiking that day and I felt he brought the moment and sense of misty quiet to a place of anticipation.   I especially enjoyed simplifying the layers of trees and finding the severe shapes of the exposed rock face.

Bar Harbor Windy Shore

Bar Harbor Rock views

Again, Bar Harbor is a place of such varied and breathtaking views and sights.  I am particularly struck by the caligraphy of the rocks and the wonderful gestures and rich shape and color relationships that come with such an artistic biome.  both of these paintings are rich with powerful hard edges shapes and interesting local and zone color relationships.  In particular the cliff tree image has some strong darks in the rocks that set the whole composition moving for me.

Bar Harbor Cliff Trees

Bar Harbor Cadillac Mtn scrub tree

Friday, January 28, 2011

Moss Oak abstract

This is one of my favorite images because of the incredible shapes, the flow of the shapes and the wonderful colors I was able to coax out and paint in.  Decaying wood is like a painters palette.  This image really illustrates some of the unexpected colors that happen between things.  Look at the the slightly darker blue green of the barely seen leaves as they blend with the sky color up in the canopy. Ordinarily I might have painted them a distinct color from the sky because that's what I believed them to be but first forcing color simplification on the base photo brings out other possibilities to paint into.  the color transitions from the foreground to the background are also so interesting and so varied.  Really a joy to develop and paint this one.
Moss Oak

Lincoln Park Lichen Bark

In  this image I really worked to bring out the layers of lichen and moss that were slowly growing their way up this tree.  Simplifying the background trees to just simple shapes with little surface detail and making the foreground tree have most of it's shape relationship with the sun patches cutting back across the ground really brought this image together.  the shapes created by the color patches on the right side of the trees base really got wonderfully contorted.  I would love to do one of these as an enormous mural so that the hard edged abstract shapes took on a different scale.

Lincoln Park Lichen Bark

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The simple drama of trees

I have always been enchanted by Plein Air painters and by the romantic era in painting.  I found that breaking down the images into their more graphic elements sends me in that direction (happily).  These two images really came through as they became simpler.  It's so interesting how emotion can be found in a photo or coaxed into a new place by the artists choices.

Lincoln Park tree at sunset
Morning's cold fire

Hane's dock snow forms

Here are a few more digital studies of snow and the forms and shapes it creates.  I braved deeply snow covered roads to travel the half mile just after a blizzard to find these wind carved moments around trees near the bay in this park.  As I worked on these I was struck by the unexpected textural relationship that emerges when the tones become hard edged between the micro color zones in the snow and the bark of the tree.  Very unifying and rich.  The colors were also a challenge here to find the greyed violets and blue blends in the snow and the trees.

Hanes snow bowl 1
Hanes snow bowl 2

Hanes bog in winter

Here's three digital paintings of a local small park called Hane's park shortly after a big snowfall.  I love the quality the color shapes take on with the inky water and the bluish snow clumps contrasting and breaking everything up like floating negative space.  The snow pushes these images more abstract and compresses the visual space in wonderful ways. I've been experimenting with the color of water and reflections that turn the surface into color patterns like intricate stained glass.  Again, this process exposes some very different ways of seeing the natural world.  Individual things become melded into bigger gestures and randomized patters and what used to be unified surfaces now become puzzle pieces of tone and saturated line.  Comic book artists understand much of this because of the nature of their craft but these images dissemble the shapes with nature's randomness rather than human stylization.

Hanes Bog #1

Hanes bog #2

Hanes bog #3

Cadillac Mountain rich colors

Bar Harbor is one of my favorite places on the planet.  Here's a composited and heavily painted image that uses some of the incredible stone formation from the summit.  I was intent on bringing out the furtive shapes of the moss and scrub grass and show their relationship to the marbled rocks and the graphics the shapes create when turned hard edged.  I've painted the colors to be how I felt about the place and unabashedly pulling bits and parts equally from my imagination and other photos.  This isn't traditional media so these images are about the end result.  The process is very freeing.
Cadillac Mountain colors and shapes

Here's a close up showing the wonderful abstract shapes that emerge and that I get to play with and paint into.  These rock surfaces are not just a stipling of color.  They are twisting and cropped shapes that have tremendous energy at the miniature level and mass up to create a richness that goes beyond impressionist dots.  Look at the colors that emerge as well.  I have several hundred of these paintings and after having done them as an experiment over the past few years I find they have informed the "from scratch" paintings I'm doing in a big way.

Bar Harbor rock close up