"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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Games We Play.

"The Captains Game"
by James Swanson & Traveler Linda
18"x 14"Oil on Linen

See this Painting Journey from Start to Finish.

Ever have that deja vu feeling? Well, my next painting journey was something like that, I kept having this feeling that I painted this painting before. Strange?
And no wonder with our next Traveler in this series being my old friend Linda. When I started this Painting adventure around world, Linda was one of my first old friends to say yes to taking part in it.

Traveler Linda

We were friends in college -CCAD if you need to know- but lost touch after graduation. Like a lot of my old cums, after I have hooked myself into the network, I started reconnecting with friends. Traveler Linda being one of them.

Door at Captain's Whidbey Inn-All photos shot by Traveler Linda

One of the things that I noticed after remaking old connections was that these people had gotten around since I last seen them as staving artists, and have some great photos to prove it. Traveler Linda has been most gracious in letting me use what ever photos that I want from her albums. And for that I say thanks, because Linda loves to travel and take photos. Linda must carry her camera around everywhere.

Next Stop Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island Map

Traveler Linda's Story: The Captain Whidbey Inn on Whidbey Island a couple hours north of Seattle is pretty special because it is historic and because it is made from madrona logs.

This is the only madrona log building that I have every heard of, and it's pretty large, which is somewhat rare for old log structures.

Madrona is very dense, hardwood, and doesn't rot very fast which is why it's still around I guess. The dartboard is in the bar off the restaurant in the inn. I love that room with it's expansive view of Penn Cove, known for its mussels.

Love them too. I heard about this in while hanging out in Coupeville nearby when I was staying in a beach house on the other side of the island.

This is a great place to escape to since the island is close to Seattle, and the historic aspects of the inn are like a time warp.

It's like you are the visitor to the inn one hundred years ago!

Traveler Linda's Painting:"The Captain's Game" When Linda gave me the OK to paint some of her travel photos I had a tough choice. She had so many nice shots and interesting places that I decided after a couple of sketches and different painting starts to trying something different for me and this series of paintings. I picked to paint this Dart Board from Captain's Whidbey Inn. I just liked the feeling of it. The marked up pale blue/green door and the old dart board. I'm thinking of this as a still life painting.

The sketch- knowing your subject really makes a difference in painting. I know I'm not there physically to paint this board, but do have a dart board and I am thinking more about the design right now.

The sketch on the canvas. The hardest part of this sketch was laying out the dart board's numbered areas. I had to count them a few times to get them right.

Artist Tip: Paint quality, there's a saying "A good Artist never blames his art materials." I think the opposite can be true also. I try and paint with the best materials that I can afford, but sometimes I do buy what's on sale rather than the usual. And then, being the thrifty Artist that I am I end up paying for the mistake in more than money.

Good professional paint does make a huge difference in painting. Professional paint is stronger in pigment and in tinting. The money you saved on the cheap paint will be lost when you use half the tube to get the right strenght of hue. Not to speak about the time waste either! Good materials will take one worry away from what you are doing, so you can concentrate at what is at hand.

Adding in the Darks first. Like pretty much all my paintings, the darks are the first things painted in. This will help me keep control of the many dart board segments.

Bringing in the door color to get the right color contrast.
Painting is blocked in. Time to start making adjustments in the drawing and the colors.

Working on the numbers. Getting the numbers to work right with this painting took a little doing. Here the painting is getting close, but something was missing, and the painting had no flow to it.

Final adjustments have been made and piece of the red sign has been added. I played with the painting in photoshop to figure out what was needed in this painting. The sign helps lead the viewer into the painting and up around the board.

Details from the Captain's Game

Finished and Framed

"The Captains Game"
by James Swanson & Traveler Linda
18"x 14"Oil on Linen

This painting was almost like painting a still life, except I wasn't there again and had to rely on my good friend Linda for this photo. If you would like to join me in this painting adventure look me up at the artist and the traveler .org web site
Traveler Linda has just returned from a very cool trip to Japan where she helped build a hay bale house and climbed Mt. Fuji. But that is another story and painting.

All righty then, I'm going to be moving along to meet up with a couple of new travelers from the UK. Until next time, keep those brushes clean and your wrist loose.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Great White North.

"Still Water"
by James Swanson / Traveler Eric
8"x 10" Oil on Panel

See the journey of this Painting.

When it rains it pours, and what do you do when you're in the middle of a hike and this happens?
My new Traveler in this painting adventure Eric knows.

Traveler Eric

Traveler Eric, is another new friend of mine that I've never met in real life. I kind of stumbled across Eric while I was doing research for another art project, and it was a very lucky slip on my part.

One of Eric's photos from this hiking trip.

You see Eric is an avid hiker from Canada-The Great White North, get it? sorry- and he has hiked, biked, or caved everywhere there and also loves to take photos to document the trips. A perfect fit for this Traveling art concept.

Just a walk in the woods?

Eric has agreed to let me paint a few of his wonderful adventures, and I'd like to say, I am very happy to have Eric on board for for this painting journey. He has a very nice eye for his photography and gets to places I could never get to also.

The start of this journey.

It's hard not to remember that place. It was about a 2 hour hike thru grass higher than our waist
- and all of it sopping, dripping with dew. We were soaked within a few minutes.

A little bit of dew.

Then there was the climb up the canyon walls. The best part was coming down a day later - in the rain - and coming down waterfalls while hanging onto trees and whatnot.

Here are pictures at the campsite at the end of the pond. We just had a day of fairly heavy rain and the sound of water coming down from the plateau is all around you. Where there was dry rock the day before there are now waterfalls.

The image I choose to work from.

Traveler Eric's Painting: "Still Water"

When I came across Eric and his photo's I was blown away by where this guy has been and how he got around. My feet hurt just looking at all his photos. Since I have just finished my vacation of Plein Air Painting I thought I'd keep it going a little longer and try and painting one of Traveler Eric's images in that style.

Like always, I start with the sketch. I try it get familiar with my subject before I dive in.

Since I'm painting this Plein Air style I'm going to work small 8"x 10" on a wood panel I prepared.

Artist Tip:One of the best tips I ever received in Plein Air Painting is to mix the main painting colors that you see in the subject before you start to paint. That way I paint fast and can capture lighting effects that probably drew me in to paint the scene in the first place. I use this idea in all my painting, it's good way to plan out the painting before you paint.

Moving fast I block in the darks for the structure of the painting.

In Plein Air Painting you have to work quickly or you will lose the light. Working this way brings out big bold brush strokes, because there is no time to dilly dally here. Here I am putting in the sky and water.since the water is reflecting the sky this goes quite quickly.

Fully blocked in. Time to go back in and adjust some colors.

I added a sky hole just to add a little more interest to the sky and water and to lead the viewers eye around.

Done pretty much just need to work on the paint edges. Paint edges are really important, they are almost as important as color. Hard edges of paint strokes come foreword soft edges recede in space.

Done. Here are some Details of the painting.

Framed and ready to go.

"Still Water"
by James Swanson / Traveler Eric
8"x 10" Oil on Panel

I painted this pretty fast, not as fast as if I were in the field, but pretty fast. I had the luxury of the sun not moving and the rain not hitting me.

Thanks goes out to Traveler Eric, for his time and images for this Traveling art adventure. We will be seeing a lot more of Eric I'm sure, because like I said earlier he's been a hiking all over Canada and what not, and he has some real nice photos too.
If you had a great trip somewhere and have a story to tell about it, go to my web site TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org and let me know. From here I'm going to be mozy-ing on down the road to meet up with a old friend but new Traveler in the San Juan Islands. Watch your top knot.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Little Plein air time.

"Three Apple Trees" By James Swanson
8"x 10" oil on Panel

Even the Artist needs a vacation,
here are 11 Plein Air paintings I did on my time off.

And what does this Artist do on his vacation? Yep, I went to our summer cottage and paint in the early morning light and play in the water with the kids the rest of the day.

The Artist with his painting buddy Amber.

The Cottage, not too far from South Haven, MI.

I was on vacation for 11 days and got in 11 paintings and a lot of fun with the family. Plein air painting is a great way to paint because it’s so spontaneous and fast.

Finding the right spot to paint is usually the hardest decision to make while you are out there.

Vacation Day 2 Painting “Boats on Rack” 8”x 10”

The thing about painting is, it's addictive- sort of like hitting a golf ball to a golfer. You know, you go out and hit the little ball around for 17 holes and totally suck, but then you hit one great shot and you are a golfing god and ready to turn pro. Well painting is like that, one perfect brush stroke can make a painting and then you think it's easy. And just like golf, you find if you don't keep working at it often enough you go backwards real quick.

Vacation Day 4 Painting “Blueberry Fields Forever” 8”x 10”

So while I'm here near South Haven MI, I'll be doing some plein air painting, hopefully every day. I'll take my paints and brushes and paint out side. The one thing about painting outside is you find out the sun moves real quick. Shadows change so fast, you have to get a move on.

Vacation Day 6 Painting “Pink Flowers next to Shore” 8”x 10”

Vacation Day 9 Painting“Tree Farm” 8”x 10”

Plein air painting is very rewarding for something that is done so fast. The paintings always seem fresh like the paint is still wet. They might not be perfect but they usually have a lot of expression. And even if a painting does not turn out, you can get some nice color notes to help other paintings in the studio later on.

Vacation Day 11 Painting“Tree Farm Barn” 8”x 10”

Artist’s Tip: When you go out to plein air paint check Twice that you have everything that you are going to need- Paper towels, oil medium, canvases, brushes & knifes, paints, trash bag, and your easel set up. You start to take these simple things for granted in the studio, because they are always there. In the field if you’re missing one of these items you’re in for a long day.

Vacation Day 7 Painting “Rainy Day at the Lake” 9”x 12”

I kid you not. Try painting with out your oil medium and see how far you get, or how frustrating it is to paint after you forgot your easel. That happened to a buddy of mine I was painting with, so packing for the field is really important for a good plein air day. It’s like the old carpenters saying, “ Measure twice and cut once.” well check and make sure you have everything twice and pack once.

Vacation Day 1 Painting

“Yellow Paddle Boat on the Lake” 8”x 10”

Plein air painting is a great way to loosen up your paintings. You can learn so much from painting from life, I highly recommend it. Now I will put these vacation paintings to good use as field studies that will help me paint the Travelers pictures better and faster. Thanks for checking in I’m going back on the road now to meet up with my next Traveler. Check out the new web site www.theartistandthetraveler.org