"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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross, Glencoe?

"Road to Glencoe"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Eric
12"x 24" Oil on Panel

Watch the journey of this painting.

"Put the coffee down! Coffee is for CLOSERS" One of my favorite movie lines, it's from the movie Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross. It has nothing to do with our next painting adventure, just a name thing.

What's in a name? There is a town near where I live named Glencoe- really a village, whats the difference between a town and a village?

Welcome to Glencoe IL.

I'm sure there are Glencoes all over the country, but the original is in Scotland. And that is where we meet up with our old friendly Traveler Eric.

Travel Eric in Scotland on vacation.

Eric has hiked in almost all the National Parks in Canada, but on this vacation to Scotland, he was walking, hillwalking that is. Hillwalking or fell walking is a national past time in the U.K. and by the photos I've been getting from these walkers I can see why. It is Gorgeous country, and worth every step they take walking it.

Eric's Story:
These pictures were my introduction to Glencoe. It was drizzling and raining and I climbed up a short trail in a car park for these views.

The "Hidden Valley" is on the left side of this picture. The valley is actually fairly high up. A blockage at the front caused a raised valley to be formed. There is a nice hike going up and to the end of the valley.

If you are good and eager you can then hike the steep scree wall at the end of the valley and then walk a trail along the ridge connecting the mountains.

Such a hike makes for a long day; 8+ hours. Typically one would come out the valley beside the hidden valley, Coire nan Lochan.

During our Scotland trip this was the only place where we experienced midges.

Eric in Scotland and wet.

It was generally always drizzling. I'd never consider camping in Scotland! Salvation is hostels with a drying room and a kitchen to cook food! The hostels were great and we found the people wonderful.

The Photo of Eric's that I painted from.

The Traveler Painting :
" Road To Glencoe" I could paint in the U.K. forever and never capture all the wonderful places that I'm seeing from our Travelers. Eric has let me be a tourist of his Scotland trip photo album. With his eyes, camera, and feet he has filled one of the voids I had in Scotland.

The Sketch: By now you should now that like a road trip a painting must have a plan or map. That is why sketches are done. This is the sketch that I ended up going with to start this painting journey.

The Darkest darks are painted in. Here the prepared panel has been toned with a warm grey. Lighter areas have been pulled out with a paper towel.

Painting in the foreground and working my way back to the mountains. A good way to feel and create the depth in a painting.

Sky is painted in last. Painting is Blocked-In. Time to start defining the color and structure of it.

Painting Tip: This painting tip is from a book that I've been reading. I've been reading it for years, not because it's long and I read slow, but because of all the excellent painting information it contains. It's "Oil Painting- The workshop experience" by Ted Goerschner, if you can find this book you should take a good long look at it. It has a lot of good thoughts about painting, art materials, and color. It has helped me out quite a few times, maybe it can help you too. And that is my tip, keep looking, searching, and learning.

The clouds coming over the hills is what drew me to this photo and I wanted to capture that and the way the sunlight was striking the hills.

Redefining the space with color. Things are taking shape areas of the painting or being adjusted for where they should be in the space.

Working on the lighting of the hills. End of day one.

Before I paint on this second day I've taken this photo of the painting and brought it into Photoshop to see what changes are needed. This is good way to take a fresh look at it and see what pops out at me. At this point I'm not looking at Eric's photo anymore, I'm looking at just the painting.

Pretty much done. There was a lot of edge work that needed to be done to finish this painting. By edge work I mean where one color meets another color. The ridges of the hills is a good example. The closer hills have a much harder edge than the ones farther back.

Done, the only difference between this photo and the one before it, is this has been sprayed with Demar Retouching Varnish. See how the darks have come back to life.

Details from the painting
Framed and ready to go."Road to Glencoe"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Eric
12"x 24" Oil on Panel

That was a nice painting trip. Thanks go out to Traveler Eric, for the use of his photos and for sharing his trip to Scotland with us. This project wouldn't get very far without friends like him. If you would like to join in on this painting journey you can contact me here or at www.theartistandthetraveler.org

Well, it's that time again, another Traveler Painting finished, brushes and palette cleaned and ready for another adventure. I'm off to meet up with another Scottish Traveler, until then keep your kilts dry.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Real Men Don't ask for Directions.

"Loch Dubh"
By James Swanson/ Traveler David B.
11"x 14" Oil on Linen

Watch the journey of this painting.

The Case of the vanishing Village. I've been listening to a series of books by M.C. Beaton about a Scottish Detective -Hamish Macbeth-in the village of Loch Dubh in the Highlands of Scotland.

Part of M.C. Beaton Book series

I listen to a lot of books on tape when I'm painting-now they are on CDs, but they still call them books on tape, hum?-and I thought I'd do a search and find out what this village looked like to see if there was anything interesting to paint there, and that is how I met our next Traveler David B.

Davis B. on top of the world

Traveler David B. was hospitable enough to stop and give me directions when I was lost looking for Loch Dubh. He helped set me straight about the sham of these M.C. Beaton books.
The BBC made a TV show from the M.C. Beaton books

There is No Village in Loch Dubh it's made up he told me, but there is a Dubh-Loch and he should know because he has climbed there and has taken some nice pictures of it too.

Traveler David B. Story:
One advantage of being self-employed is the possibility to take advantage of the fickle Scottish weather. Just such a chance occurred the day after I was doing some work up in Aberdeen. After visiting friends in Banchory, I headed up to the car park at Loch Muick. With all the rear seats out, its possible to sleep in the Espace and carry a bike (or two). So, I was ready to go at 7.15am next morning (28th June). Weather good - cloud high - no wind.

David's hand drawn walking route

By 8am, I was stashing the bike in the trees at Glas-allt Shiel, and heading off up the path - good underfoot initially, up past waterfalls to the Dubh Loch.

Creag and Dubh-loch is the dark hill in the distance.

A bit muddy for the next mile or so, then continued up gentle grassy slopes to Carn an t-Sagairt Beag (10.30am) well populated with a herd of deer. Not quite sure why I hadn't planned to include the White Mouth Munro - that had to wait for a second trip in 2004.

passing the Dubh Loch en route for Cairn an t'Sagairt Mor

Across on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, I could see something white or metallic just below the summit. Intrigued, I headed in that direction, and found the remains of a crashed plane. A few minutes later (11am) I was on top of the first Munro of the day, with its curiously split cairn.

40 minutes later, across a shallow depression, I was on Fafernie - surely the "top" with the least drop between it and its Munro!

Looking east from Carn an t-Sagairt Beag to the distant summit
of Lochnagar, with the cliffs of the Stuic on the right.

Another drop of 10m, then a slight rise, and within 10 minutes I had reached Cairn Bannock. Munro number 142 - the half way mark. A quick calculation showed, that if I took the same time to do the next 142, I would "complete" in 2028 at the age of 71. Perhaps I needed to show a little more urgency!

Anyway, Cairn Bannock was a good half way point for an inhabitant of Selkirk:

Tops come easy in this corner of the world:

Traveler David B. photo I chose to paint

Traveler Painting-" Loch Dubh" Real men don't ask for directions, but when they are given freely, you can take them. And that is what happened with me with Traveler David B. on this painting, I was looking for a small quaint village and found a cathedral of stone and sky. Lucky me!

Traveler David B. was on his 143rd Munro during this walk, which means he just past the half-way mark (as there are 284 Munros in total). Good place to stop and grab a picture.

The sketch: David sent me a few pictures of Dubh Loch to look at, and I did some sketching and decide on this sketch to to paint. The design was simple and straight forward and the color was striking- the yellow against the blues.

The Canvas is toned with reddish brown mix of paint and the sketch design is brushed in. A red tone was chosen, because the mountains are the major part of the painting and they are near this tone of color.

The Artists Tip: This is the secret oil medium I paint with sssh!, Safflower oil. That's it straight Safflower oil. I try not to use Turpentine or Mineral spirits in my studio, they really stink up the place, and not too good for ya. Quite a few Oil Paint Makers-Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton, etc... use Safflower oil as the binder for their pigments. It doesn't yellow or smell like linseed, it dries pretty fast, and tastes great-That's before you paint with it. Oh, and it's cheap. I buy it in big quart bottles at the grocery store. I also use it to clean my brushes. Give it a try, it's good stuff.

Darks are painted in first for the structure, then the yellow ground to base the other colors off of, I wanted the yellows to help push all the other browns back in space.

At this point it's the painting is Blocked-in. Wet paint pretty much covers the canvas. Now it is time to start defining a few areas.

The major colors are in place, sky is done, the shadows in the mountain have started taking form.

I am painting in the stones of the cairn here. I am not trying to paint the stones from the photo, just the feeling. If I did that, the viewer wouldn't get past the stones and into the whole painting.

Done. That's all it needs.

Here are some details from the painting.

Framed and ready to go!

"Loch Dubh"
By James Swanson/ Traveler David B.
11"x 14" Oil on Linen

Thanks to good directions from Traveler David B. I have seen Loch Dubh, but it's really Dubh Loch.
Looking for one thing and finding something better, I must be lochy-lucky, I should play the lottery. Traveler David B. has now reached 242 Munros - only 42 to go! I'll let you know when he finishes.

Well it's time for for me to clean up, and slide on down the road and meet with another Traveler and see what's going on, til then Mar sin leat!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting there is half the Fun.

"Sunlight in the Valley"
By James Swanson/ Travelers Geoff and Vivien
18"x 24" Oil on Panel

Watch the Journey of this painting.

Lights, Camera, and Action - One of my favorite movies when I was growing up was " How Green was My Valley".

Seen it? Well it was about a wonderful family of coal miners in Wales, England and there struggles to survive and stay together. It stared Maureen O'Hara, Walter Pidgeon, and a young Roddy McDowell. It had some beautiful scenery in it and I always wanted to see that area because of that film. It's a great movie, and you should take a look when you get a chance.

Travelers Geoff and Vivien's Tent
that they stay in on their walks.

Well, our next set of Travelers Geoff and Vivien have helped me see Wales, from a whole different point of view than the movie did. They are what you call Hillwalkers. Hillwalking is sort of like hiking, but instead of following a path in the woods you follow one on top of hills and small mountains.

Foel-goch (01 Nov 2006__12:59:43)
All the photos are from Geoff and Vivien's
little 4-day walk, all rights reserved.

Travelers Geoff and Vivien have a wonderful web site v-g Backpacking in Britain where all their walks and trails can be seen. It's a very informative backpacking site with all the bells and whistles a walking traveler might need. They are also very good at photography and take great photos of where they have been.

Glyder Fawr summit area (02 Nov 2006__10:50:41)

Traveler Geoff and Vivien's Story: The photo was taken on the morning of the first day, at the top of the first very steep ascent of the walk, near the summit of Carnedd y Filiast on the western side of the valley. We pitched our tent for the night at Bwlch y Cywion.

This is the photo that they let me work from.

This is a fine spot for a pitch, a superb location with the cone of Y Garn directly ahead and the rocky buttresses of Tryfan above the waters of Llyn Ogwen. The feeling is just one of being independent and self-sufficient in one of the finest landscapes in Wales, with splendid views to enhance the spirit leave the baggage of modern life behind.

Early sunlight on Tryfan & Glyder Fach (02 Nov 2006__07:47:13)

Also the realization that such beautiful wilderness is very limited in this country and that we are fortunate to enjoy it while we are healthy and (reasonably!) fit.

The Painting Traveler Geoff and Vivien's "Sunlight in the Valley"- I came up with a new little topic for the painting series with this painting-places from books and movies that travelers have been. If you have been to a location like that let me know.

The Painting Sketch- a couple of things made me want to paint this photo. First, I loved the lighting. What a sight to wake up too. The green valley was in a perfect place for a good design. Second, was the great depth that I could feel and see in it.

This is the sketch of the painting on an 18"x 24" prepared wood panel.
This is a good size painting because I like this photo so much and wanted to do it justice.

The Palette for this painting, a lot of greens, browns and purples-put into puddles of color for easy and clean use.

I'm starting with my darkest dark to set up this painting. No other color in this painting will be as dark as these.

Next I moved on to the block-in of the mountain and mountains behind the mountains.

Artist Tip: Painting depth in a painting. A Painting friend of mine told me about a book " Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting" by John F. Carlson. In this book Mr. Carlson discusses the principal of air, and how to paint it. It's a pretty simple concept really- the closer something is to you, the less air there will be between you and the thing. And things farther away from you will have more air. Air doesn't have much of a color up close, but the farther things are away from you the more characteristics of the sky are taken on. Each level of depth adds more air to its self or more sky- kind of like curtains of layered air. The sky usually is bluish, so the farther things recede in space the bluer and lighter they will become. That's how I'm working in this painting with the mountains.

The skies turn to be blocked-in. Right now everything is getting a little muted. The thing with prepared panels is that they soak up the oil in the paint, and then the paint seems to dull down a bit. But all the color will all come back at the end when the finishing coats of Liquin or varnish are applied.

I'm reworking the sky and far back mountains so they blend together a touch more. I'm holding off on the valley knowing it's going to bring this creation to life when it's painted in.

End of Day 1 - I had to get this painting totally blocked in before I was done for the day. I've been waiting to put in the green valley until I made a few adjustments in the mountains. These photos of the painting are taken with the painting on the easel and don't do the painting or color justice. It's much more vibrant.

Day 2- Day 1 was a good start, but there are a few things these fresh eyes see that will need to be changed. I didn't like where the green valley was hitting the mountain. It seemed to create a line going across he painting. Some of the mountain colors are off a long with the sky and clouds.

A lot of clean up and color adjustments have been done, but still needs some more pop in areas.

Here I'm working on the foreground, trying to build more contrast there to bring it forward in the painting more, but at the same time not to let it take over the painting.

Finished painting- it's done pretty much, maybe a couple of adjustments later, but this is it. The colors in this piece are a lot richer than in these photos.

Details from the PaintingDone and Framed
"Sunlight in the Valley"
By James Swanson/ Travelers Geoff and Vivien
18"x 24" Oil on Panel

What a nice start to my first trip to the U.K. Geoff and Vivien have been most kind with the use of their pictures. So I would like to thank them here for all the bother I caused them. And to Geoff, who has been having a little foot problems I hope the injuries are behind you, and get back up on those mountains. And if anybody has a place they've been that falls into this topic of movies and book places- I'll except songs too- let me know here or at TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org

I'm going to be hitting the road here now and meet up with the next Traveler, until we meet again, Cheerio old chap.