"Sour Milk Gill" Oil Painting by James Swanson

"Sour Milk Gill" Oil Painting by James Swanson
"Sour Milk Gill" From the award winning painting series.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"The Kind Soul"


"The Kind Soul"
By James Swanson / Traveler David W.
24" x 18" Oil on wood panel


See the journey steps of this painting.

"In Heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here"- From the polka of the same name.

When I began this painting journey one of the first persons that I met was Traveler David W.

Traveler David W. at the pub.

I was sitting at a train station on a cold March morning feeling very happy and excited, because I had just came up with the Artist and Traveler idea the day before, and along comes Traveler David W. and stands besides me.

The London snow. File photo

He grins as the train approaches and says that he has been chased by the snow since October. Then goes on to tell me about being stranded North of London for the Super Bowl because of it.

14" of snow in London.

And just like that, a light bulb goes off in my head saying, I have to talk to this man, this is the start of the journey. So I did and haven't looked back since, so here's Travelers David W. story.

Letchmore Heath, Watford, Hertfordshire- file photo no snow

Traveler David W. Story: David was in London for business and was caught in one of the biggest snow storms that they have had there in years, 14" of it. David was staying with some friends in Letchmore Heath, north of London when it hit. He was only going be staying for short time, but ended up staying for weeks after being snowed in.

One of the places that was open in Letchmore Heath during that time was the village pub -The Three Horseshoes. A Great little gem. Very friendly locals and staff, very cozy wee pub to wile away an wintery evening in. And that is what our Traveler David W. did, spending some time with friends over a tall cool one.

The photo of Traveler David W. that I chose to paint from.

The Traveler Painting "The Kind Soul"
When I looked at Traveler David W. photo album of Letchmore Heath one of my favorite photos was of the bar maid looking off into the distance.

It reminded me of Edouard Manet's painting "A Bar at the Folies-Bergere" and I thought how appropriate, painting in a pub in England.

The Sketch- What I tried to do here is work out the movement in the the painting. How I was going to lead the viewers eye around by lining up objects in the painting.

The Sketch on wood panel- A oil wash is applied to the panel and with vine charcoal I laid in the sketch. I've painted a few landscapes on these panels, but this is the portrait painting that I'm trying one on.

Painting in the darks colors first. It sounds like a broken record after a while, but you have to start so where and the structure needs to stand out first. Everything of the painting works off that structure.

Painting in the skin color. This was a bit tricky. The image is a lot darker than you would think, and I had to mix the paint colors quite a few times to get the right values.

Painting in the background. The warm yellow walls and the cool light coming in from the right was a tough one to make work. At this stage it isn't working, but there still is a lot of painting to do and getting the painting blocked in is the most important thing right now.

End of Day one - Painting is blocked in, but I need a fresh eye before I look at it again.

The redefining of shapes and color is my next step in this painting. I saw a lot of drawing problems and color problems in the painting at this stage. I also felt I was losing a lot of the freshness in the painting, and decided to use a tip that I received from a dear old painting buddy, who always has good ideas on how to save a painting.

Painters Tip from Mike L.- When painting from a photo it's good sometimes to flip the canvas upside down and paint. That way can you see and paint the shapes and not get caught up with, is it looking right and fiddling to much in one area. It will freshen up a painting and feel more natural.

The painting flipped back around and ready to be finished up. Painting upside down fixed a lot of my problems with this painting. The tint of the skin was way to light and not near warm enough. The face shape was off, the shadow side was too light, and the shadow shapes were wrong.I also removed the beer tap on the warm side, it didn't feel right.

Now the painting is getting there. I need to move some color around - like the blues and some cool colors to the warm side of the painting. I repainted the hoody that she is wearing. It was too light and cool. There are still drawing problems, but I know what they are and will get to them. And I also put back in the beer tap, it did need something on that side to balance off the composition.

Done, at least for now. When it dries I might need to rework some face shadows, but for now it good. By putting some cool colors on the left side the painting has a much better flow and the yellow walls don't scream out so much.
Details of the painting.
Finish and framed

"The Kind Soul"
By James Swanson / Traveler David W.
24" x 18" Oil on wood panel

Painting a English pub was a very jolly good time for me. I was able to work my way though a crowd of problems that I was having and able to finish the painting. I also received a good tip from a friend on painting that I was able to share.

I thank Traveler David W. for being a part of this journey and look forward to painting with David again. It was special to be able to paint something from the first person I met on this journey. If someone out there who has a travel story and would like to be a part of this project contact me here or at www.TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org

Until next time Cheerio!

Monday, December 7, 2009

"The Local"


"The Local"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Eric

16"x 20" Oil on Canvas

video
See the painting step for this painting journey.

Yellowstone might have the bears, but Scotland has the sheep. Not baaad!

It's pretty common where I live to go out for a walk and come across a dog or cat, but what if you ran into sheep or cattle? Hillwalkers in Scotland are use to seeing them, in fact they are the locals of the area and the walkers are the tourists.

All photos are Traveler Eric's

On a slope of a mountain in Scotland, is where we meet up with are old friend Traveler Eric again. I was trying not to paint any more of Eric's photos for a while, but a couple of paintings still have some work to do to them, so here's Eric.

Traveler Eric


Traveler Eric Story:

Buachaille Etive Mor - Scotland

This is a wonderful hike. You get to climb several peaks; get impressive views (weather permitting) and the climbing is really quite easy. The initial ascent up the gully is short and steep but it isn't really dangerous; it just looks that way.

The slowest part was taking the trail down into the valley and hiking back to the road. It's a swampy low level walk thru the glen.

Cloud did blow in within seconds. When we climbed the first peak I was racing to get pictures before we were socked in clouds. The cloud came and went quickly and after another hour the clouds lifted and we had a hot sunny day; very unusual on our trip!

The photo that I will be using.

Traveler Painting "The Local" When I come across good Travelers for this painting series, it's like striking gold for me, and Traveler Eric is a gold mine. He loves his hikes and he takes plenty of photos to document where he has been. This photo that I chose is the start of the animal section of this journey.

The Sketch: As always I plan the trip that I'm going to take. The photo of Eric's already had a good design to it. All I had to do break it down what it was and stick it in my head.

The sketch on Canvas: I rubbed in thinned out paint into the canvas to rid my self of the white blank sheet. I rubbed in a mixture of Venation Red and Brunt Umber, and then pulled out the lighter spots the painting.

Adding the darks first. This helps put the structure of the painting in place.

Starting to block in the painting. I 'm trying to capture the depth in the photo. The greens were a bit tricky. Getting them to lay down right took a bit of trial and error in the paint mixing.

Putting in the far background and sky. It's all blocked in and the colors are harmonizing pretty pretty well.

Painters Tip: Getting color harmony in a painting is one of the most important things for a successful painting. Your colors have too have a relationship with each other, and work together. I start at the palette for this relationship. I work out the colors ahead of time there, before I touch the canvas with a brush. When you have most of the colors that you need for the painting mixed on your palette, squint your eyes and to see how they work. If a color jumps way out at you, it's probably a wrong color.

The Sheep. I've been painting everything in this picture but the main focal point. I wanted to have everything ready for this guest before I put him in.

There are rocks everywhere in the foreground, but I didn't want to noodle them out or to noodle out the sheep. They needed to be painted in the same manor as the background. There will be a lot of knife work done for the details, that way I can't miss paint our friend.

Done, that's it. Not too baaad. (Bad joke again) In the detail pictures of the painting all the brush strokes should show through.

Details of the painting.

"The Local"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Eric
16"x 20" Oil on Canvas

Scotland sure has some great walks, and it doesn't matter if you travel by two feet or four to enjoy them. I want to thank Eric again for being such a good Traveler and for his photos. I am always looking for new travelers for this series if you are interested email me here or contact me at theartistandthetraveler.org

Well, I'm off to talk to some new Travelers, thanks for looking in and see ya on down the road. Ta Ta for Now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"The Orange Forest"


"The Orange Forest"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Barry
12"x 24" Oil on Panel

video
How this painting was painted.

Been there, done that, and doing it again! When ever I go outside to paint - plein air painting-and find a good spot to paint there is usually another good place to paint close by. Sometimes you hit the jackpot and never move more than a few feet all day.

Return to Half Moon Bay

This is what happened in this series a little while back when I painted a photo from
Traveler Barry.

Traveler Barry editor of the Coastsider.

I had a good experience painting this one from Barry and knew that the other photos that he had sent me were just as good.

"Beachwood at Half Moon Bay"
This painting won a best in show award.

I planned to paint a few of those photos, but was just waiting for a place to fit one in. The chance came not too long ago when I wanted to try out painting on a gessoed wood panel.

Some of the photos I received by Traveler Barry.

Traveler Barry's Story: Barry was working on a story for his Coastsider Magazine about a vacant piece of land called Beachwood and it's development in Half Moon Bay. He took some wonderful photos for the story, and I happened upon one and was able to contact Barry about being a Traveler.

The vacant land that is fought over.

Barry on the parcel of land -The city wound up taking possession of the property for $18 million. They will most likely seek to develop it as profitably as possible. It'll probably take a few years. A lot of the landscape in you painted should be safe because it does contain wetlands, but until the wetlands are delineated and the Terms are agreed upon, we won't know.

Update: In the November election, the slate representing the current city council majority swept the field, so they now have all five seats. While Beachwood was destined for development in any event, I expect the result to be a very aggressive move to develop the property faster and more thoroughly.

The photo from Barry that I will work from.

Traveler Painting " The Orange Forest" Traveler Barry was able to catch some beautiful early evening light on this field. That is what drew me in to paint this place at Half Moon Bay. The warm light of morning or evening is really the best time for photos., ask almost any photographer.

The Sketch: In looking at the photo I decided to add a little more roll to the hills, and I wanted the orange lighting on the trees to stand out- re the orange forest name.

The translated sketch to the gessoed wooden panel. The paint that is laid down on this panel is grabbed by the surface. It sticks and doesn't slide around much. A good feel.

As always I start with the darks to set up the structure of the painting.


Painting in the sky and ground.

Painters Tip: Structure of a Landscape painting - It's pretty simple idea, the Sky will always be the lightest light. Next lightest is the ground, grass, flat horizontal things. The lightest after that are, angled thing like slopes of hills, or rocks, and boulders. The Darkest areas of the painting are verticals, like trees and sides of buildings. Things that see that much light.


Painting is all blocked in. All areas are painted now it's time to adjust the colors.


Adding the house: When I had the painting to this point, it felt heavy on the right side. All the interest was there and it needed to be balanced off a little. To even the load I added the house. A human element in a landscape painting is like adding a tree. The viewers eye will go right there, so making the element small like the house will draw some attention but not keep it from the rest of the painting.


Done. There weren't any clouds in the photo, but the sky need something to give it space. My first try with the clouds was too illustrative. Yeah the looked like clouds, but didn't match the rest of the painting feel and stood out to much. Simple clouds, simply painted,with not much detail is what was called for.

Details of the painting
Finished and Framed

"The Orange Forest"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Barry
12"x 24" Oil on Panel

They say a good artist can find beauty in anything and anywhere. In this little undeveloped field in Half Moon Bay Traveler Barry found a lot of beauty. My thanks goes out to Traveler Barry again for this fine find and his updates on the land. I hope it not re-zoned for a strip mall.

If you would like to become a traveler in this painting journey contact me here or at the web site www.TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org and have a story to share. I am currently looking for Travelers who have been to The Isle of Man in the UK and Africa.

Thanks for looking in, and I'll see ya on down the road with another painting journey.