Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Keeping it Subtle

art drawing charcoal truck abandoned rust rural farm
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"Bygones"

12" X 16", Charcoal and soft pastel on paper

While I do enjoy drawing with charcoal I kind of miss color while doing so.  If you look at my paintings you'll notice I tend to get pretty colorful with them much of the time.  I've added color to charcoal paintings in the last by first applying a watercolor wash and adding a few pastel pencil marks at the end.  I decided to try something a little different this time.  I did start out intending to do just a straight up charcoal drawing but as I went along I couldn't help imagine it with some color.  First I just applied some ochre tinted charcoal to the foreground but that wasn't enough.  So I got out my pastel painting travel box and picked out a few pastels with grayish tones that fit the theme of the drawing.  I was concerned that the Arches hot pressed watercolor paper I was using wouldn't have enough tooth to hold the pastel so I made sure to keep a light touch.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the paper take the pastel quite well, though only light layering is possible.  Just the fact that the pastel was being mixed with charcoal kept the colors on the gray side but I made sure to use colors that would not overpower the drawing.  Bright, saturated colors alongside charcoal just wouldn't look right, at least not with this subject.  I'm pretty happy with how this worked out, I'm sure I'll mix pastel and charcoal more often in the future.

As for the subject, it's an early 1970's Ford heavy truck.  I'm not sure exactly which year or model but it had a gross weight rating sticker on it for 21,000 lbs. so it was pretty heavy duty.  I found it sitting in a field on a ranch or farm in Leamington, Utah.  Leamington is a very small town in west central Utah yet I enjoyed exploring it very much, it had a few abandoned tractors, trucks and cars as well as just having the general appeal of a rural town out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by open space.  I saw very little movement while I was out there and heard even less, the kind of place I think I'd like to retire to.  As for the title, "Bygones" I'm honestly not sure where it came from or how it applies to this drawing.  Sometimes the title for a piece comes to me before I even start working on it, however more often than not I don't come up with a title until I'm finished and need to post it online, that's what happened to me with this one.  While I was uploading the file the title just kind of popped into my head, I'm not sure what it means but for some reason it seems perfect.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Drawing the Mundane

I seem to be drawn to intimate scenes that I suppose others might consider to be mundane.  I see the romance in an old fence post, nature's glory in grass growing along a ditch and wonder in the knots of a tree trunk, so of course these things make it into my art.

art drawing mixed media rural landscape countryside
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"Rural Fence"

8" X 10", mixed media on paper

What does this little scene make you think of?  How does it make you feel?  For me it makes me think of the relative quiet of rural open land, the slight summer breeze making the grass sway as it cools my skin.  I also imagine the hands that built that fence and how time has aged it.  How big was that tree when the fence was originally built?  It was probably small and over time has grown to actually become part of the fence, as well as provide shade for the cows. I get a sense of peace, of tranquility when I'm in a scene like this or when I paint or draw it.  Maybe I'm being a little sappy but I just can't help it.  

This drawing is a mixed media piece.  I started out with some light watercolor washes and then drew the whole thing with charcoal pencils and erasers then I applied a bit more color in spots using pastel pencils.  The result is a subtly colored drawing that I feel is in keeping with the calm feeling of actually being out in the rural landscape.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Adding Some Color

Back in October 2017 I started to participate in Inktober, the annual social media event that encourages artists to produce one piece of art per day using ink. I only made it about two weeks before I abandoned it but that was better than previous years.  Since then I've had these pen sketches laying about and I decided recently to add some color to a couple of them.

art sketch pen watercolor truck 1935 Ford flatbed
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"Abandoned Ford Flatbed Truck"

Pen and watercolor on paper, 6" X 7"

This first one is a 1935 Ford flatbed truck left to rot out in a field in the high desert of northern Utah, you know, one of my favorite subjects.  The sketch is based on a photo I took on a ranch in Wallsburg, Utah.

art card ACEO tractor Farmall vintage red
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"The Old Red Farmall"

Pen and watercolor on paper, 2 1/2" X 3 1/2"

This second sketch is a late 1960's vintage red Farmall tractor.  It's based on a photo I took somewhere along a rural back road in northern Utah but I don't remember exactly where.  It was in very good condition for it's age so I assume it's been restored, probably only does parade duty now.  This sketch is in a size referred to as an ACEO, (Art Card Editions and Originals) that same size as hobby collector cards so that makes it especially collectible, right?

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Getting All Abstracty Again

Okay, I never end up going full abstract, but every now and then I just kind of want to go wild and see how far I can take a subject towards abstraction by slathering on the paint with a palette knife.

art painting abstract landscape rural barn field palette knife
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"Field and Barns"

Acrylic on 1/8" panel, 10" X 8"

Not only was I trying to find the limits of representational abstraction here, I was also trying to simplify.  The foreground "grasses" point up into the diagonals of the "field" which draws the eye to the distant barns which are backed by trees, mountains and sky.  The painting has lots of color interest in it without hitting you over the head with it. I used a photo I took while exploring the rural back roads of Spanish Fork, Utah as my reference.  I think I came pretty close to my goals with this painting, it's pretty simple and abstract while having plenty of that palette knife induced texture I love.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Getting Your Gloom On

Probably not the best title for a blog post but appropriate for today's subject.  Generally speaking I prefer bright, sunny days, but can overcast and gloomy be as beautiful?  I'm not sure but I set out to paint a gloomy day in this painting and see what happens.

art painting oil landscape impressionism nature autumn overcast
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"Gloomy Day Hike"

Oil, 11" X 14" on 1/8" panel

Sometimes you just have no choice, you have to take the weather Mother Nature hands you. Especially during autumn which is a fleeting season, you have to take every opportunity to get out and enjoy the color regardless.  That what I did a few years ago when I made a weekend trip to Ogden Valley and explored the preserved nature areas surrounding the Pineview reservoir.  It was a heavily overcast day, the sun never made an appearance but at least it didn't rain...much, I did get sprinkled on a bit.  I took a lot of photos that day and yep, they all came out rather gloomy, including the one this painting is based on.  One thing about overcast days is the lack of a strong light source tends to reduce the value range considerably, darks aren't as dark and lights are not as light so you end up with a middle key image, something to keep in mind while painting from a photo since the values will most likely be inaccurate in the photograph. I did increase the drama a bit from the photograph by making the sky more interesting.  In the photo the sky is just kind of a flat, purplish gray, a common problem for amateur photographers like me.  While I generally prefer to paint sunny days this gloomy day painting was an interesting exercise.  Also unusual for me was the use of oil paint, my paintings tend more towards grayness when painting with oils for some reason anyway, so quite appropriate for this painting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Little Squares

Seems like I can't leave well enough alone, I'm always experimenting, especially the last year or so.  However my typical go-to techniques have been either lots of layering using brushes and glazing or thick palette knife application.  Last month I made two paintings using a somewhat different technique/style.

art original for sale painting nature mountain outdoors
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"Spring Walk in the Mountains"

Acrylic on 1/8" panel, 10" X 8"


As you can see in this painting the entire image is made up of small, square brush strokes creating a sort of mosaic effect.  I'm not sure this could technically be called impressionism but the image is more abstract the closer you look at it so it does have an impressionistic visual effect.  The technique is very simple and I think that is one of the things that appeals to me.  I did a simple underpainting to establish the composition then simply applied deliberate brushstrokes.  The idea is to always consider the brushstroke color, direction and placement before putting it down, it forces you to slow down and by more mindful.  My goal was to avoid having to rework my brushstrokes.  There is some overlapping of strokes but nothing to the extent that could be called layering. 

One of the challenging aspects of using this technique with this image is that I was using square brushstrokes to represent the organic shapes of clouds, distant mountains and trees without it looking mechanical, I think it worked out pretty well.  The painting is based on one of the many photos I've taken while hiking in the Wasatch Mountains, I think I was on the Willow Heights Conservation area trail for this one.

original painting art classic car Chevy 1948
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"Red 1948 Chevy"

Acrylic on 3/4" panel, 20" X 16"


This second painting was an experiment of trying the "little squares" technique on a vehicle.  To keep it simple I chose a close crop of a 1948 Chevy that I photographed at a car show and I put in a simple abstract background.  While I did have to stray slightly from the "little squares" concept in order to maintain the identity of the car it was easier than I thought it would be to keep the variety of shapes on a classic car identifiable, and it was a lot of fun and went quicker than I expected.

I think there is plenty of potential in the "little squares" technique/style, the process was enjoyable and produced interesting and effective results, I'm sure I'll continue to explore this concept.