"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.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 1 of Portland Painting

Day 1 of Portland journey Painting

The start of a painting is a lot like the start of a trip. You have a real good idea of where you are going and how to get there, but there are detours along the way. With this first painting the detour was right at the beginning, when the Traveler's story was way different than the painting idea. With that I decided to stay a little longer in Portland.

Portland is such a beautiful place I heard it's hard to even stop painting there. When you travel 20 min. in any direction, you have totally different sites to take in. You have an Ocean with its rocky coast to the west. You have mountains over there and big giant forests over here. And that's not even counting Portland's own beauty. The Japanese Gardens are supposed to be a wonderful place to take in. So I'm staying a little longer here. And that will give other Travelers in this journey more time to pack.

Remember to be a Traveler in this project, just become friends with the Artist, have a great story to share, and some type of small souvenir like a postcard or used lift ticket to contribute to the blog and painting. Making new friends and learning about new places is what this project is about. Like I always say, "Come find me, I'll be painting somewhere." and join in the adventure to cover the world in paintings.

The Artist's Notes
: When I received Jerry's story, I felt that what I was going to paint of his journey didn't go with his story. I've illustrated for many a year for books and in advertising and know they need to mesh a little more. So as the Artist, I called for a detour. His story was about how hard it was to get there for a guy in a wheel chair and his dog. And not just any dog a full grew St. Bernard. Jerry's a tough guy, and I'm sure his trip was a lot rougher than he lets on. But that being said lets get to the painting.

The better you know your subject the less you have too known about it. I'm starting this painting on a 20" x 24" linen canvas that has a clear acrylic coat on the surface in my studio. I have the story information from the Traveler; I have a few images to work with and a post card from Portland. Thank you Jerry.

In this first day of site seeing I want to map out what I do. First is the design of the painting. Without a good design the painting will not make it far, a good composition can make a painting great. I like to familiarize myself with the subject or "interview it" as an old art buddy told me. This is where I try and break the painting apart to its simplest forms. With the basic composition in mind I can design the image. (See image below)

With the design figured out, it's time to get busy. First I lay out my colors on the palette. The palette is an old heavy glass mirror. It's real easy to move colors around on and makes for easy clean ups with a razor blade. It's also a real good size, not too big and not too small, so I don't waste a lot of paint. (See image below)

Before I mix up my paint I transfer my sketch loosely to the canvas. I'll rub in a little paint on the canvas with the brush and then use a paper towel to smear it around. Then I'll try and pull out the high lights from the wet paint. And then draw in the sketch. (See image below)

With the sketch on the canvas it's time to mix up the colors for the painting. I work mixing up my colors on the palette like I paint-from dark to light. I'll start with my dark colors first and then work towards my lights-which is the sky in this painting. The sky is almost always the lightest light. I'll try and mix up most of the colors I'm going to need for the painting in small piles of paint.

I look for harmony in the colors on my palette before I put them on the canvas. If a color jumps out too much it's usually wrong, but not always it does depend on what you're painting. Remember sometimes the rules of art are meant to be bent or broken. Funny I've always have found that saying strange, that " Art has rules to go by, and then turning around and telling you it’s OK too bend and break them. Maybe they are more like Guidelines.

OK, finally paint on Canvas. Music is on, and I'm off. I'll lay in the dark colors first to get the structure of the painting down. I put my dark colors in thin and lights colors thick. I work with a large brush to block in the painting quickly. Think big brush, big strokes, and big ideas. By the end of the block in the painting should really be taking form. (See image below)

With painting blocked in and a little break to get a fresh eye, I'll start to refine the painting. Working on the focus and depth. A lot of color shifting and design changes will have too be done. With that accomplished the lighten the studio is gone, and day 1 of the first Traveler painting is over. Time to clean the palette and brushes.

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Have a good travel story and some fun and interesting pictures and we can get started on a painting journey.E mail me here with
name, place, and a few pics of the spot,and I'll get back to you.