Ah, I had been waiting for this. Last year a Facebook challenge The Watercolor Snow Scene Festival cranked up and I wanted to paint snow I had actually seen and felt. I was in Alaska last year, but somehow southern snow what I wanted for this project. So, I waited. We got through January and nothing, (it is the south), and late in February finally some snow. For those of you who don't live in the south, our snow, if we're going to get it, comes in late winter. It's most common in March for some reason. Usually we just get a dusting if anything, but the last two years we've had decent accumulation. 5 inches this year. Nice for us and it's gone in a day or two. Everyone stocks up like we're planning for a nuclear winter then we play a sort of bumper car rally when people are driving around looking at the snow. Hint- just because you have an SUV doesn't mean the laws of physics don't apply. An object once set in motion wants to stay in motion, etc. SUV- more mass, you get the idea. We walked. Noelle made it to the end of the street, ran in to visit a neighbor and warm up, then made it another half block before deciding she lived in the south for a reason, that reason being she didn't have to walk around in any damned snow, and turned for home and a warming glass of wine. I joined our neighbors and we walked down town took pictures, tossed a few snowballs, had a beer in a deserted Opelika. We packed a couple of hideaways in case the coffee shop was closed. Here are a couple of my warm studio paintings of the day. Still working on a few more. The gal in the red jacket would have been Noelle, but my neighbor Audra braved the cold so she got the glory. It was a great day all in all.
I've recently finished a commissioned work for an old friend who found me on Facebook, maybe I found him, I can't remember. Still, the fact remains we got in touch. He saw my recent paintings and, most kindly, contacted me about doing a piece using his photography as inspiration. Over the years I've done quite a lot of commissioned work, but until now, I hadn't thought about how they are different than my architectural illustrations and gallery work. They are, in essence, paintings done of a subject you are given and not found yourself. Secondly, someone has asked you to create something with expectations already in mind about the outcome. Both of which are extremely similar to an architect calling you and asking you to complete a rendering for marketing or client needs.
So, how do you keep that vital fresh feeling alive in a commissioned work? Man, I don't know to tell the truth. I have found something useful that tends to bridge the gap though. I'm honest up front that I am not going to do an exact representation of what I see in a photograph. It's got to go through my filter and come out the other end. (insert joke here) Colors, time of day, built elements; well all of it really, is subject to manipulation and changes. I usually ask for many different photos of one subject or multiple photographs showing different subjects and ask that I be allowed to choose what photo or combination is used. This way I get to have the click of the light bulb and if I know anything it’s that little click that means all the difference. I had a great time working on these although I must admit I fussed over the first one and ruined it. You won’t see that here. It’s back in the paper bin awaiting another chance at life as a study.
A good patron hires you. A great one also says go for it. Thanks J.
I had the weekend to myself as Noelle was in Atlanta with two of our three dogs. She was attending a dog / Terence party and Ginger our beagle is sort of a canine Weezer of Steel Magnolias fame. Her social skills are limited at best and to top it off they were having a dog cake which is as I understand it is just a load of dog food and treats piled up and stuck together which, when introduced to a largish pack of hounds, creates a festive feeding frenzy which would make the most seasoned piranha whet his pencil and take notes. When the 15 or so fights are broken up and the pups returned to the bosom of their owners, all that is left is the stripped carcass or cookie sheet and a few dazed onlookers. Quite fun I hear and I asked that Noelle shoot a video so maybe I'll post that here too. If you have had the pleasure of watching our beagle eat you will understand me when I say there is no way in hell I would allow her to attend this sort of event. Things would quickly spiral out of control and in addition to a party there would be possible vet visits and legal issues to be sorted out. It seems that this little experiment is touching on my dogs as much as my work, but hey, that's my life. Equal parts animals, wife, work, and play.
So, I had the weekend to myself as I said. I decided to try quick watercolor sketches and did around 6 all told. I've included a couple here. My work is pretty exploratory right now. By that I mean I've taken it upon myself to see as much work from other artists as I can and that always makes me want to try new things. I have in the past tried to stick to a certain style, but right now I'm just seeing where this is going. The guy that seems to be moving me the most right now is Joseph Zbukvic. If you haven't seen his work I highly recommend it.
Here are a couple of my favorites. I love a sketch. I'm trying to keep that spontaneous feeling going during the painting process. Sometimes it works and more often that not I end up having to take the lessons learned from a failed painting and try and correct it on the next go. I'm more than happy to do so. If you're not screwing something up you're not learning in my book. If you feel you don't have anything else to learn then you are a dead man.