"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, July 13, 2009

Blue Cactus Mountain

"Blue Cactus Mountain" By James Swanson & Traveler Tom/Lauren "10"x 20" Oil on Linen

The close-up journey of this painting take a look.

I just flew in from Amsterdam and boy are my... OK, everyone who knows me, knows I have a bad sense of humor.

Traveler Tom Pic

This painting series comes to you from the support of my friends- the Travelers. And I, the Artist, Jim Swanson paint from my studio in Chicago with their stories and travel pictures to guide me, trying to connect the dots of this world with paintings.

The Travelers are different people I know or have just met-pretty much anyone can be a Traveling friend of mine. Just have a nice trip and a good story to share and I will share the journey in paint.

This is Tom

A new Traveler sent me some pictures from the desert in Arizona. Traveler Tom was in Tucson AZ. for a wedding, and had time in between picking people up at the airport and bridal fittings to snap off some shots for me.

Traveler Tom also took the time to call me as he was talking the shots to ask what kind of images I was looking for? He said," it was high noon out there and not much to shot." I told him," the best time of day to take pictures was either in the morning or evening."

Tom's postcard

Tip: Whether your taking pictures and painting Plein Air, the light over head in the afternoon doesn't cast nice shadows, the lighting in the morning and evening is warmer and casts long shadows. And temperature wise in the summer or desert a little cooler to work.

I also said to think about close-ups. If nothing jumps out at you from one vantage point, change it. Look at it in a different way. This is a good way to get out of creative ruts. Change your view, and other things will open up a
nd you'll see things in a different light.

The sucker Tom bought for me.

Well, good old Traveler Tom has come through for me. I received a CD filled with some nice cactus shots, mountains, and desert. And look I also got a sucker with a scorpion in it. Now that's the kind of Traveler I'm talking about! It also looks like Tom had a good time on his vacation.

Tom's pic to use.

And I picked out this shot to start my desert trek. I liked the blue mountains against the desert tan. I had a few questions about this shot and Tom was more than helpful in his answers. In fact he tried to get a close up of this cactus for me but the cactus already was taken. Bees had made a few homes in this old cactus and Tom couldn't get close enough-chicken- to get a closer look with the bees hovering around. No pain no gain Tom!

Tom and Lauren

By the way the wedding he was at wasn't his, but it did put some ideas into his head. I am happy to announce that Traveler Tom, is now Travelers Tom and Lauren, and are going to their own wedding sometime next year. Congrats Tom and Lauren, and thank you for your images and keep them coming.

Traveler Tom & Lauren Painting: The CD I received from this couples trip was full of good shots. Shots you don't see here in Chicago, lots of cactus and mountain shots. I decided to start off small here in the desert to get a feeling for the place. I plan on tackling a bigger painting from the CD later on.

The Sketch- A quick sketch to get my self into the picture and to start breaking the scene down into a design for the painting. I already had a canvas in mind when I started sketching. A 10"x 20" horizontal canvas that I stretched recently.

Artist Tip: Know the shape of your canvas when you do your sketch. It doesn't do you any good to design a piece to a long horizontal canvas and then paint it on a square. Design to what you have.

The Palette- I'm going to be working with a triad of colors for this painting of yellow, blue , and orange.

The Sketch on canvas- I rubbed the canvas with a small amount of paint and then went back with a paper towel and pulled out the lighter areas. I then drew from my sketch this scene.

Half way blocked in- I usually start painting with my darkest dark but this time I wanted to put the mountains in first because everything is going to work off it. Then I put in my darkest dark.

The painting blocked in-
All the colors are there on the canvas, now it's time to make adjustments and fill in some more blanks.

The painting is getting there. I have a few common sized frames in the studio for for putting on wet paintings when I'm working on them. It cleans them up and gives me a fresh look at the painting and to see where it needs work.

Revising- I didn't like where the mountains came across the painting, it was cutting the design in three equal sizes. I looked at lifting the mountains on the right side, but that echoed the tumbleweeds around the cactus. So I lifted them up a little and on the lift side of the mountains i took them all the way off. Much better.

Real close. I'm pretty much done. I'll make a few more tweaks of color and it will be there.
Details from the painting.
Done. And Framed.

" Blue Cactus Mountain "
By James Swanson / Traveler Tom & Lauren
10"x20" Oil on Linen
This first little foray into the desert turned out fine, no rattlesnake bites or any sand blowing on my painting.

There are defiantly more paintings to be done here. I'll try and get to one soon, but for now I'm moving on I hear the sound of dogs barking and the hunt is on!
Thanks, Tom & Lauren and congrats again, I better get an invite to the big shindig! I'm off to North Dakota to meet a new Traveler Jim A. See everyone on down the road. If you want to take part in this art project send me a line or go to the artist and the traveler web site and sign in. There is a lot of this world to paint still!

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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.