"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.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Painting-part 2

The Painting so far.

ppearances often are Deceiving.--Aesop (~550 BC)
The Greeks have all the good sayings. This saying sort of sums up how this project for the 6th Grade of Ogden School in Illinois has been going.

The inside of a Geek column.

The 6th graders from Ogden have sent the Artist to find a Traveler for their painting of Greece for a school gift. That is where our Traveler Diane comes in, Diane went to Greece to find her past and found her present.

Athens from Traveler Diane's Greek Trip

The painting doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but it has come a long way it just doesn't look it yet. So I guess Aesop was right, now what about Greeks bearing gifts?

Traveler Diane and her Greek relatives.

Traveler Diane's Story: When I talked to Traveler Diane about her trip she had nothing but wonderful things to say about Greece.

Diane and her family in Greece.

Meeting her extended family was truly a warm and touching time. Even though they didn't speak English, Diane's Greek relatives were kind, warm hearted, and went out if their way to make her feel at home during her stay.

Diane's first meal in Greece. Yum!

The Traveler Painting Greece Part 2: When we left this painting I had the it almost blocked in with paint. Now the painting has gone through a few changes, but before I get into that I have a question to answer first.

Well, not exactly a question, Ogden student Issac, told me about a comment the 6th graders made while checking out this blog on their painting. When they saw the picture above he said the whole class screamed, "scribbles" and didn't know what I was showing.

What I was trying to show was the design and the effect I wanted on the viewer. Here's what I wanted the viewer of the painting to do. Start looking at the painting at A ,and then be lead to B, and then on to C, and the rest. Thanks Issac.

Back to the painting- With most of the mid-tones colors ( colors in between real dark colors and the real light colors) painted in it's time to start on the light colors. And that is the buildings in the background.

While I was painting in some of the buildings in the background I realized the design wasn't working quite the way I wanted it to so I needed to make a change. What was happening was the big boat was pointing the wrong way, and leading the eye off the canvas. By adding the new boat tip in the right hand corner and lining it up just so, the design would work much better.

Painting is fully blocked-in.
That means the whole canvas has been touched with paint. It's not done, but you can see it's coming together.

The start of color adjustments.

Artist Tip: It's hard to judge colors by them self, that is why it is important to block-in a painting quickly and then make adjustments. It's kind of like what a rough draft of a story is for writers.

It's getting there. Lots of color adjustment to make still, but the painting is starting to take form and feel like a painting.

Details from the Painting so far.

Now that the painting is blocked in and a few color corrections have been made, the next part of this painting is deciding on the next coarse of action. The painting is wet and will now have to dry before I can work on it again. So there will be plenty of time to figure changes out and answer any more question the class has about the painting. If you have any questions send them to me here or at www.theartistandthetraveler.org

Until next time, keep your chin up and keep reaching for the stars.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My big fat Greek Painting

The Ogden school painting so far.

Am I smarter than a 6th Grader? Well, when I started out on this project I thought so. Now I'm not so sure.

the Acropolis from Diane's trip.

When Greece was picked I thought of all the great places in it to paint, like the Acropolis or Athens or maybe even where the 300 Spartans made their stand Thermopylae.

From movie "300"

But I was told to forget about Thermopylae by my 6th Grade son, " There's nothing there but a plack, and not much to see. And if you are thinking about painting Sparta there is nothing left of it either. It's all dust now."

So, smarter than a 6th Grader? I might be in trouble.

Traveler Diane in Greece

But I know our Traveler Diane on this journey is smarter than a 6th Grader when it comes to Greece. Diane was born there, adopted by a Greek American family hen she was 11 months old and went back to see her roots 50 years later.

More of Traveler Diane's Story: I went for 15 days, I went to Athens, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini and Evia.

Photos from Diane's trip.

In Evia I met my father's family, cousins and aunts and uncles. It was lovely. Even though some of them didn't speak English, their warmth and family love was abundant.
Diane's and her Greek relatives.

What I found out in Greece was very poignant. I found my story- the one I never had expected to find. (a long story) but at the end of the day what it made me discover was - there's no place like home. And it gave me a deeper love and appreciation for my parents, the ones who raised me.

It was sort of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I traveled to this far away beautiful land only to find out that home is where the heart is. A little corny, but a nice lesson to learn on your 50th year.

The Photo that I will be working from for the painting.

The Artist's Big fat Greek Painting: Finally the start of the painting. Here I will try and go through what I'm doing and how I paint.

The Sketch: I never just start painting. I plan out what I'm going to do first and I do that with the sketch for the painting. It's like my road map- It puts the design in my head and I try and not deviate from it much.

Transferring the sketch to the canvas is my next step. I basically redraw my sketch design on the canvas. What I'm painting on is a 18" x 24" Oil primed Linen board. I've just started painting on these boards and think they are great.

Next step mixing up the paint colors. I premix most of the colors for the painting on my palette before I paint. That way I can see if a color is wrong and fix it before I brush it on the canvas.

I make big puddles of the colors for I won't run out in the middle of the painting.

Having so many of my paint colors thought out a head of time lets me concentrate on painting when I'm painting and not mixing.

The next step- Yes there are a lot of steps- I start really painting with my darkest colors on my palette. This helps give the painting structure and weight so it is easier to balance all the other colors that come after it.

Artist Tip: In Oil Painting starting with your darkest colors and working towards your lightest colors is the most common way to paint. Painting in pastels is also done this way, dark to light. In this manor your lightest colors will stay cleaner and have more punch.

After I've put in my darks I try and put in my biggest mid-tone color. In this painting it's the water and hills. At this point in the painting I'm not really worried about the painting strokes, I just trying to block the painting in. Basically cover the canvas with wet paint.

Close-ups of the painting so far.
Starting to add some brighter colors,some reds and oranges.

Time to start on the boats. I wanted the water pretty much worked out before I started the boats. I needed the water wet so I could get a nice soft edge where the paints would meet.

A good start to this painting for Ogden School's 6th Grade class. I was able to get pretty far on this painting in this one sitting. The next time we meet I will start defining the building and some of the other ships a little more. Lots still to do though, and some more of Diane's story.

If any of the 6th graders there at the school want to help me out on this painting, send me your ideas or drawings at www.TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org.
Maybe you can help improve the painting and prove that I'm not smarter than a 6th Grader. Hum?
Thanks for looking in and until next Happy trails!!