"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, September 7, 2009

Sometimes you have to fly stand-by.


"The Hunters"
by James Swanson & Traveler Jim A

12"x36" Oil on Canvas


. video
See how this journey was painted right here.

A funny thing happen to me on the way to the UK.
I was planning on the next painting in this series to start a whirlwind tour of the UK. In fact I have a couple paintings on the easel now, but each have a little ways to go on them before they are ready.

Traveler Jim A.

So I'm back in the U.S. to finish a painting I started, but got sidetracked on. Our next Traveler is Jim A. again. If you remember Jim A. is an old friend of mine, who travels every fall to North Dakota to hunt geese. I've heard his stories for years and thought it was time for a few others to here them.

The Hunters gather
Traveler Jim A. Story: Jim has been going on this hunting trip every year since he was a little kid. It started off when he was 8, his dad would drive him and his brother some the 18 hours from Chicago to North Dakota to meet up with some friends to do some Bird hunting. He and friends would stay in a old abandoned farm house for a week or so and hunt on the J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge about 1/2 a mile from the Canadian border.

Each hunter brings his own dog

Jim has kept up the hunting tradition going over the years taking his own sons along on the journey. Each year they return to the same old house on a farmers land that's been abandoned for a long time. The farmer who first let them use it has long given up farming and moved into town.

A good hunt that day

Some of the time that they spend there they make small repairs to the house trying to keep it standing. After making a few patches to the house, the rest of the day time is spent hunting with there dogs. At night they eat some of other catch, relax and play cards, and wait for the start of the next days hunt. For all the ducks, geese, and pheasant that they get, Jim A. doesn't even like the taste of duck that much, and it doesn't taste like chicken either.

The photo of Jim A. I'll be working with.

Traveler Painting: The Hunters, After looking through Traveler Jim A. photos I came across this one. I liked the browns against the blue sky and snow. Jim A is the hunter with the gun on his shoulder, the other hunter is Joe a friend of Jim's, and the dog is Windsor. The snow just fell the night before, but the hunters came prepared with their winter gear.


The Sketch: I picked this photo to work from because I liked the late afternoon light and all the different browns values. I looked a this photo and sketched for a long while trying to do something with it. I decided to go with a long horizontal design on a canvas 12"x36'". I felt I could get everything in this format and create a strong and interesting painting.


Palette: It's pretty much my usual palette, Cad yellow light, Cad yellow Medium,Yellow ocker, Transparent oxide brown, Indian red, Raw umber, Burnt Umber, Cobalt blue, Ultramarine blue ,Phalo Blue and of coarse titanium White.


I start by rubbing in a warm grey I mixed into the canvas and then sketch with paint the chosen sketch design. I'm going to use the snow and the tall grass of the field to lead the viewer eye into the painting.

Starting with the dark areas of the painting first and working my way to the lights.


There were a lot of different shades of brown in this painting and it took a while to figure out the combinations worked well together. I like to work quickly at first to block -in the painting.

Almost blocked - in Time to start on the hunters and see how things are going to work out.
Artist's Tip:
Sometimes getting back from a painting just doesn't do it. Sometimes you have to put a painting away and wait until it says to you- Sir, I'm ready to be finished. Every artist knows that starting a painting is the easy part of the painting process, and that finishing is the work part.

OK, the painting is all blocked-in the colors are all wrong, but it's a start. Time to get back from it and see what the plan of attack should be.

Here is a material tip that I have gotten for an artist buddy about reworking old paintings- paint a coat of Liquin on the old painting before you start. The old paint will come to life again, it's like it's wet paint again. The darks of the painting will sparkle like wet paint. The whole painting will freshen up and you will be able to judge the new paint going down against the old paint on the canvas. I know a few artists use Liquin as the finished coat. It gives the surface of a finished painting a unified look, no shiny or matted areas that draw away interest.

Working on the hunters, and redefining areas. Lots to do here.

End of day 1 - It's blocked in some color adjustments have been made, but still a long way to go. I kind of feel like the hunters in the painting. The thrill of the hunt and the big let down at the end.
Traveler Jim stopped by and took a look and liked it. He commented about all the different shades of brown that he saw when he was there.


I put this painting on hold after I got it this far. I moved the hunter Joe back to help balance the painting composition. I also added some darks around the first hunter to bring him out.

Finally I looked at this painting start and saw how to finish it. First, since I was painting a person I know I better get that right, and second, I have all these horizontals and nothing visual to pull them together. So I added a few trees which seem to do the trick.

Details from the Painting


Done and Framed.

"The Hunters"
by James Swanson and Traveler Jim A.
12"x36" Oil on Canvas

I'm happy to get this painting done, it's been staring at me for months and taking up some space in the studio. I had breakfast with Traveler Jim A. the other day and told him that I finally finished that painting of him. And what did he say, " I thought it was finished when you showed it to me." See it's good to have friends that are travelers. And if you want to join in this painting adventure, tell me about the place you've been along with a few photos from your trip contact me here or at www.theartistandthetraveler.org

Well, I'm off to meet up with my next Travelers, some wonderful hillwalking folk from the UK. Until we meet again Tally Ho!

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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.