"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 20, 2009

The End of The Hunt.

"End of the Hunt"
By James Swanson & Traveler Jim A.
18"x 16"Oil on Linen

See the Journey of this Painting.

A New Traveler- Jim A: I was having breakfast at a diner one morning with Traveler Jim A. when he said he had some great hunting trip photos for me. I'm not a hunter. I fish a little, and like the great outdoors, but I don't hunt.

But Jim A. is a friend of mine so I had to take a look.

Jim took me through his photo albums and let me take what I wanted. I've been working with digital images for years so working from these old photos is kind of a throw back and a challenge again.

Laying in wait.
The Jim A's Story: Jim has a tradition. Every year in the late fall he goes bird hunting in North Dakota just 75 miles South of Canada. I call it bird hunting because what they hunt is whatever bird is there at the time, duck, goose, or pheasant.

In this photo we see Ed, who has been coming to this spots for years with Jim A's dad. On this trip they came to hunt geese, but an early snow drove off their prey. So they ended up pheasant hunting instead. Ed is coming up one of these coolies-this is what they call the hills there- after a long day of hunting with his catch. It is also his birthday, a happy hunter.

Ed on his Birthday Oct.25

Traveler Jim A's Painting: I wasn't going to paint this shot when Jim gave it to me I just thought it might be nice in a blog for color. Well, I was dong some cleaning in the studio, moving some things around, trying to get more room and I came across some old painting of mine.

I picked it up for a laugh, it was pretty bad painting, but the linen canvas was still tight and square. Me being the frugal artist that I am thought I could paint over this, why not? So I sanded it a little to knock off the old paint ridges and rubbed some oil paint over it to start.

After this sketch to warm up and to look deeper into this old photo, I've decided to move Ed over out of the center and give him the feeling of the end of the hunting day. I'll use the coolies to lead the viewer into the painting and back to the horizon.

Since I'm kind of doing an experiment here painting over an old canvas I didn't want to waste a great Traveler image on it. So I picked out Eds picture to try.

Negative painting, background was painted first

It looks like a pretty simple image so to challenge my self I decided to try something a watercolor artist friend does sometimes, negative painting. Painting the shapes around something to define the thing it self. OK let’s go.

Having the background blocked in it's time to start on Ed.
Painting Tip: Painting can be like Noah's Arc- use brushes in pairs when you’re painting-one for light paint colors and a same size one for dark paint colors. This makes painting cleaner, clearer, and you won't pollute the paint puddles too much. Just wipe off your brushes and keep going.

The Painting is getting there, just a few color and brush stroke adjustments.

The background needed some depth and I want the horizon line to soften up a bit.
Details from painting

Finished painting

"End of the Hunt"

By James Swanson & Traveler Jim A.
18"x 16"Oil on Linen

Well that was different and fun. As an artist we have to challenge ourselves. They don't have to be extreme or permanent changes just some experimenting. I don't know if I'll do some more negative painting again for a while, but I did give it a shot. Thanks to Jim A and his hunting pals for the hunt and the tales. Thanks for looking in as its time to move my easel on down the road and see what else there is to paint in this world.


  1. Jim! This turned out beautifully! Thanks--Jim will check it out in the morning!

  2. Thanks it was a lot of fun, and I'm working on another one of his travels.


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.