"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, December 27, 2009

"The Kind Soul"

"The Kind Soul"
By James Swanson / Traveler David W.
24" x 18" Oil on wood panel

See the journey steps of this painting.

"In Heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here"- From the polka of the same name.

When I began this painting journey one of the first persons that I met was Traveler David W.

Traveler David W. at the pub.

I was sitting at a train station on a cold March morning feeling very happy and excited, because I had just came up with the Artist and Traveler idea the day before, and along comes Traveler David W. and stands besides me.

The London snow. File photo

He grins as the train approaches and says that he has been chased by the snow since October. Then goes on to tell me about being stranded North of London for the Super Bowl because of it.

14" of snow in London.

And just like that, a light bulb goes off in my head saying, I have to talk to this man, this is the start of the journey. So I did and haven't looked back since, so here's Travelers David W. story.

Letchmore Heath, Watford, Hertfordshire- file photo no snow

Traveler David W. Story: David was in London for business and was caught in one of the biggest snow storms that they have had there in years, 14" of it. David was staying with some friends in Letchmore Heath, north of London when it hit. He was only going be staying for short time, but ended up staying for weeks after being snowed in.

One of the places that was open in Letchmore Heath during that time was the village pub -The Three Horseshoes. A Great little gem. Very friendly locals and staff, very cozy wee pub to wile away an wintery evening in. And that is what our Traveler David W. did, spending some time with friends over a tall cool one.

The photo of Traveler David W. that I chose to paint from.

The Traveler Painting "The Kind Soul"
When I looked at Traveler David W. photo album of Letchmore Heath one of my favorite photos was of the bar maid looking off into the distance.

It reminded me of Edouard Manet's painting "A Bar at the Folies-Bergere" and I thought how appropriate, painting in a pub in England.

The Sketch- What I tried to do here is work out the movement in the the painting. How I was going to lead the viewers eye around by lining up objects in the painting.

The Sketch on wood panel- A oil wash is applied to the panel and with vine charcoal I laid in the sketch. I've painted a few landscapes on these panels, but this is the portrait painting that I'm trying one on.

Painting in the darks colors first. It sounds like a broken record after a while, but you have to start so where and the structure needs to stand out first. Everything of the painting works off that structure.

Painting in the skin color. This was a bit tricky. The image is a lot darker than you would think, and I had to mix the paint colors quite a few times to get the right values.

Painting in the background. The warm yellow walls and the cool light coming in from the right was a tough one to make work. At this stage it isn't working, but there still is a lot of painting to do and getting the painting blocked in is the most important thing right now.

End of Day one - Painting is blocked in, but I need a fresh eye before I look at it again.

The redefining of shapes and color is my next step in this painting. I saw a lot of drawing problems and color problems in the painting at this stage. I also felt I was losing a lot of the freshness in the painting, and decided to use a tip that I received from a dear old painting buddy, who always has good ideas on how to save a painting.

Painters Tip from Mike L.- When painting from a photo it's good sometimes to flip the canvas upside down and paint. That way can you see and paint the shapes and not get caught up with, is it looking right and fiddling to much in one area. It will freshen up a painting and feel more natural.

The painting flipped back around and ready to be finished up. Painting upside down fixed a lot of my problems with this painting. The tint of the skin was way to light and not near warm enough. The face shape was off, the shadow side was too light, and the shadow shapes were wrong.I also removed the beer tap on the warm side, it didn't feel right.

Now the painting is getting there. I need to move some color around - like the blues and some cool colors to the warm side of the painting. I repainted the hoody that she is wearing. It was too light and cool. There are still drawing problems, but I know what they are and will get to them. And I also put back in the beer tap, it did need something on that side to balance off the composition.

Done, at least for now. When it dries I might need to rework some face shadows, but for now it good. By putting some cool colors on the left side the painting has a much better flow and the yellow walls don't scream out so much.
Details of the painting.
Finish and framed

"The Kind Soul"
By James Swanson / Traveler David W.
24" x 18" Oil on wood panel

Painting a English pub was a very jolly good time for me. I was able to work my way though a crowd of problems that I was having and able to finish the painting. I also received a good tip from a friend on painting that I was able to share.

I thank Traveler David W. for being a part of this journey and look forward to painting with David again. It was special to be able to paint something from the first person I met on this journey. If someone out there who has a travel story and would like to be a part of this project contact me here or at www.TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org

Until next time Cheerio!

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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.