"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.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"The Orange Forest"

"The Orange Forest"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Barry
12"x 24" Oil on Panel

How this painting was painted.

Been there, done that, and doing it again! When ever I go outside to paint - plein air painting-and find a good spot to paint there is usually another good place to paint close by. Sometimes you hit the jackpot and never move more than a few feet all day.

Return to Half Moon Bay

This is what happened in this series a little while back when I painted a photo from
Traveler Barry.

Traveler Barry editor of the Coastsider.

I had a good experience painting this one from Barry and knew that the other photos that he had sent me were just as good.

"Beachwood at Half Moon Bay"
This painting won a best in show award.

I planned to paint a few of those photos, but was just waiting for a place to fit one in. The chance came not too long ago when I wanted to try out painting on a gessoed wood panel.

Some of the photos I received by Traveler Barry.

Traveler Barry's Story: Barry was working on a story for his Coastsider Magazine about a vacant piece of land called Beachwood and it's development in Half Moon Bay. He took some wonderful photos for the story, and I happened upon one and was able to contact Barry about being a Traveler.

The vacant land that is fought over.

Barry on the parcel of land -The city wound up taking possession of the property for $18 million. They will most likely seek to develop it as profitably as possible. It'll probably take a few years. A lot of the landscape in you painted should be safe because it does contain wetlands, but until the wetlands are delineated and the Terms are agreed upon, we won't know.

Update: In the November election, the slate representing the current city council majority swept the field, so they now have all five seats. While Beachwood was destined for development in any event, I expect the result to be a very aggressive move to develop the property faster and more thoroughly.

The photo from Barry that I will work from.

Traveler Painting " The Orange Forest" Traveler Barry was able to catch some beautiful early evening light on this field. That is what drew me in to paint this place at Half Moon Bay. The warm light of morning or evening is really the best time for photos., ask almost any photographer.

The Sketch: In looking at the photo I decided to add a little more roll to the hills, and I wanted the orange lighting on the trees to stand out- re the orange forest name.

The translated sketch to the gessoed wooden panel. The paint that is laid down on this panel is grabbed by the surface. It sticks and doesn't slide around much. A good feel.

As always I start with the darks to set up the structure of the painting.

Painting in the sky and ground.

Painters Tip: Structure of a Landscape painting - It's pretty simple idea, the Sky will always be the lightest light. Next lightest is the ground, grass, flat horizontal things. The lightest after that are, angled thing like slopes of hills, or rocks, and boulders. The Darkest areas of the painting are verticals, like trees and sides of buildings. Things that see that much light.

Painting is all blocked in. All areas are painted now it's time to adjust the colors.

Adding the house: When I had the painting to this point, it felt heavy on the right side. All the interest was there and it needed to be balanced off a little. To even the load I added the house. A human element in a landscape painting is like adding a tree. The viewers eye will go right there, so making the element small like the house will draw some attention but not keep it from the rest of the painting.

Done. There weren't any clouds in the photo, but the sky need something to give it space. My first try with the clouds was too illustrative. Yeah the looked like clouds, but didn't match the rest of the painting feel and stood out to much. Simple clouds, simply painted,with not much detail is what was called for.

Details of the painting
Finished and Framed

"The Orange Forest"
By James Swanson/ Traveler Barry
12"x 24" Oil on Panel

They say a good artist can find beauty in anything and anywhere. In this little undeveloped field in Half Moon Bay Traveler Barry found a lot of beauty. My thanks goes out to Traveler Barry again for this fine find and his updates on the land. I hope it not re-zoned for a strip mall.

If you would like to become a traveler in this painting journey contact me here or at the web site www.TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org and have a story to share. I am currently looking for Travelers who have been to The Isle of Man in the UK and Africa.

Thanks for looking in, and I'll see ya on down the road with another painting journey.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Pentlands

"The Pentlands"

By James Swanson / Traveler Dave H.
15"x 26" Oil on Linen

Out with the Old and in with the New. That's usually how most things work, but not in Edinburgh UK.

Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat
All photos by Traveler Dave H. all rights reserved

A place where history and the world of today walk side by side. And who would know Edinburgh better than our next Traveler Dave H.

Traveler Dave H ( self Portrait" Meshface")

Dave lives and works in Edinburgh, in fact Edinburgh is his work. Dave has photographed pretty much the whole city and countryside of Edinburgh for decades.

Waverley Bridge 12

Going through his web site is like taking a personal tour of the city. It's well organized and nicely photographed, but what would you expect from a professional photographer. I highly recommend taking a look at his fare city site.

Traveler Dave H Story: Climbing the Pentland Hills to the south of the city. They're less than 2000 feet high, but I know that would be impressive near Chicago! It' just a favorite place with good views.

Corstorphine Hill and Granton are visible in the distance, through the snow-clouds drifting by.

I Panned the camera slightly left to catch the pool of sunlight on Sighthill district.

This is the photo of Traveler Dave H that I chose to paint.

A telephoto shot from the same standpoint. The water is the Firth of Forth (Forth estuary) leading to the North Sea.

Traveler Painting "The Pentlands" I liked a lot of Dave's photos and knew many of them could be made into nice paintings. The one I chose to paint though wasn't even in the mix when I started researching Dave's photos. It was summer, 90 degrees outside and I didn't want to think about winter. Well, it fall now and winter is real close and I haven't painted snow for a wile now. So here we go.

The sketch. Dave has done a lot of the work for me. A good design, nice lighting and interesting color.

The sketch on canvas. Here I've decided to give myself some lea way with the painting. Instead of painting on a stretched canvas, I'm painting on canvas that is just tacked to a board, and I will size the painting later. Leaving me freedom to try and explode into the painting.

Laying in the darks first, I want these darks to shoe through from underneath. I also want some of the drips from the oil wash to show in the painting.

Here I'm laying out the city in the triangle of blue. I'm painting this painting fast as I would paint a plein air painting. Everything will be mostly indications of color and strokes.

Putting in the sky. I'm laying in a Turquoise type blue knowing most of it will be covered up by purple clouds.

Snow time. I can't paint any farther with out the highest key colors being put in. I was trying to paint the snow thickly with the brush, nut the linen I was painting on wouldn't grab the paint from the brush.

Painters Tip: Painting Darks and Lights - This is an old rule of thumb for painters. Paint your darks colors first and your lights last. You want to keep the light high key colors as clean as you can get them. They will dirty up if put in too soon.

Work the clouds in over the turquoise sky, and adding details to the foreground.

Finishing up with a little more sky coming through and cleaner snow. I ended up putting in the snow with my palette knife to get the paint thick enough to feel like snow.

Details from the painting

Done and Framed

"The Pentlands"
By James Swanson / Traveler Dave H.

15"x 26" Oil on Linen

That was a whole lot of fun. Painting just on canvas with no framed edges holding me in. The only problem I really had was how to crop the canvas, but the is pretty easy to look at in Photoshop.

I'd like to thank Dave H for being a Traveler here and showing me around Edinburgh through his web site. Dave put up with me changing my mind on what I wanted to paint very nicely and gave me some very unique views of his city. And I someone out there has some interesting views of their cities or countryside, give me a holler here or at www.TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org I 'd like to take a look.

Well that's about it, I'm off to our next location and to meet up with the next Traveler. Til Then Tally Ho!