"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.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Double Feature

"Winter Hay Stack"
By James Swanson/
Traveler Helmut
16" x 20"
Oil on Canvas

By James Swanson/
Traveler Helmut
14" x 18"
Oil on Linen

Two for the price of One! Buy one get one Free! Double your pleasure!

These are a few advertising slogans that are meant to entice you to buy and get more.

Helmut with his dog Sheila and Ann Hiley
( photo from the
Hiley website )

This next painting project is also meant to entice you, it's really two projects, thanks to our new Traveler Helmut.

Photos are from some of Helmut's many walks

Helmut is a walker in Austria I found through a link from another Traveler. The link said something about “Helmut’s photographic record of his trips around his home in Winzendorf Austria”.

Helmut know his botany.

But when I looked at his site, it was way more than just a record. Helmut takes some wonderful pictures that captures his home and other journeys of his. Take a look when you get a chance.

From one of Helmut's many walks

Helmut’s Story: I share my landscape impressions as seen through the lenses of my digital camera with all who are interested.

Helmut's home Winzendorf

I am reporting about short walks and bicycle tours to the surroundings of my home Winzendorf as changing during the seasons, as well as about other areas visited on day tours, journeys and vacation.

Helmut's walking companion Sheila

2 Traveler’s Paintings - “Winter Hay Stack” and “ Winzendorf”

The photo of Winzendorf I used to work from.

These next two paintings are a Double Feature for you. The “Winter Hay Stack” painting was started as a painting demonstration for my painting class and “Winzendorf” was a paint along the class and I did together. I don’t have many photos of either of these as they were painted, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and show both.

The photo of Helmut's I used to paint from.

“Winter Hay Stack” Out of all of Helmut’s beautiful photos I picked this one because when I saw it, I saw it as a painting. That’s how I pick out a lot of photos for this journey. I see it and it just says paint me. And that is what I did with this one.

The Sketch: Yes, I did this little sketch in front of the class. It’s funny no one laughed at me for the dumb little drawing. But this little drawing has all the info for the painting. Helmut already had a nice design in the photo all I had to do make it work in a painting.

This where the painting was after the first class.

It was a good start and I thought I'd be able to knock it out the rest of the way pretty easily. Wrong!

This where the painting was a few days later. I didn't get to do much with the hay its self in class, so I started the work there.

A few weeks later- After staring at this painting for a couple of weeks I finally came up with what was bothering me. The snow was just too strong and needed to be knocked back, and the hay stack its self was too wide.

Now the painting is getting somewhere. A lot of small fixes are adding up. I lighten the snow- again, and worked on the background. I'm trying to get Helmut's village back there to read but not be seen or over powering.

My photoshop fixes to be done to the painting. There is nothing worse as an artist than reworking a piece and screwing it up, because you weren't sure what to do. That is why when a painting gets to this point I photograph it and play with it on the computer.With this fresh look I could see right a way what needed to be changed. First clean up the trees and things in the back. The big thing thought, was to add a fence and it's shadows.

Done! Only a few months have gone by since I began this painting. But know I can finally say it's done, complete, finished!!!
Here are some details from the painting.

Done and Framed

"Winter Hay Stack"
By James Swanson / Traveler Helmut
16" x 20" Oil on Canvas

Painting #2

Helmut's photo that we worked from.

This painting was done as a “paint along” with my painting class. The whole class and I worked from the same photo of Helmut’s. I’d paint and the class would follow. As I was painting and walking around making painting comments to the students, I forgot to take photos of the paintings progress, but I did take a few shots of some of the student’s paintings for you to enjoy.
The Sketch: as a group we dissected the photo for our paintings. One of the things the students wanted to take out of the picture was the telephone pole. But I over ruled saying that was one of the photos strongest elements to me. And with the strong diagonal coming in from the corner it would be a stop in the painting.

Student Teri working near the end of class. She had a real nice start for one class.

Student Karen's painting at the end of class. Heck of a start too.

The teachers(mine) painting- It was a good start for me. I wanted everyone to paint the depth that was in Helmut's photo. After painting in my darkest darks we worked from the back mountains forward, trying to capture the depth.

End of class. Lots of things need to be done yet, but over all a real good start.

I finish the painting the next day. I like to leave the important little things until the end - like the trees and the houses. And finally the pole went in. I painted it with the edge of a palette knife.

Framed and ready to go.

By James Swanson / Traveler Helmut
14" x 18" Oil on Canvas

That was double the fun wasn't it. I want to thank Helmut for the use of both of his photos, and I hope to paint a few more of his wonderful walks soon. Take a look at his site www.landschaftsfotos.at/ he really gets around and knows his flowers.

And if you get around and would like to join in on this painting adventure send me a note here or at www.TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org.

Until next time “ So long, far well, I really have to go.”

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mulroy Bay- Back in Time.

"Mulroy Bay, 1983"
By James Swanson/Traveler Larry
20"x 16" Oil on Linen

Watch how this journey was painted.

Oh Brother, What a Trip.

We've all dreamed about leaving everything behind, taking off and seeing the world while you're still young.

Back in 1983, Traveler Larry and his brother Steve did just that, they left their home in Chicago and went on an adventure of a life time to Europe and Asia.

London-All photos are from Larry's photo album

And part of their 8 month adventure was to return to their roots, Mulroy Bay in Northern Ireland. And that is where we catch up with the two.

Traveler Larry and Steve. (Larry is on the right)
Travelers Larry and his brother Steve's Story: After gallivanting around London, walking the heights in Wales, visiting the jazz festival in Edinburgh, Scotland,

The Fairy Flag

and seeing fairy's in Skye, the two brothers traveled on to Mulroy bay in Northern Ireland to see their ancestral home.

Road to Mulroy Bay

One of their many stories of the place, was calling home all excited to tell their Mom that they where there, in Mulroy Bay, her families original home. And also finding out that the river that runs into Mulroy bay had the same name as their fathers last name.

A page out of Larry's travel album on Mulroy Bay.

How weird was that? It must have been destiny or karma that their parents would meet, or it could be Traveler Larry and his brother just visited one too many pubs while they were there. Which I wouldn't put pass them.

The photo I'll be working with is from NW tip of Donegal Ireland
- near Sheeps Head Point and Mulroy Bay.

The Traveler Painting - "Mulroy Bay 1983"
Traveler Larry was one of the very first people that I told about this idea of seeing the world in paint. He was also the first to offer up this trip that he and his brother took. And at the time I thought it was very appropriate that my painting journey would started over a green beer with a friend close to St Patricks day.The Sketch: This is my rough little sketch of how I was going to break down the photo and put together the painting. First, I was going to concentrate on the town and road. To do that I decided to make the painting vertical. I slid the most interesting part of the mountains in the background over, and left the foreground to your imagination.

Dark colors are blocked in first. I pretty much always start this way. Painting the darks in thin, and letting them show through in the painting.

Here I'm putting in some foreground color and background color to start getting the correct depth for the image.

Now comes the sky and the water. Since the water is reflecting the sky here, both were able to be painted in pretty fast.

The Painting is blocked in. One of the things that I try and do is block the painting in as soon as I can. That way, I can see and judge all the color combinations going on in the painting, with out seeing the canvas color.

Color adjustments- I really liked the warmth in Travelers Larry's photo. With the painting now blocked in, I can work on bring some of that warmth back in.

Done- I kept a lot of my first impressions in this painting. I was really close with the mixing of paint colors on my palette, so making that adjustments on this painting went pretty fast.

Details from the Painting:

Framed and ready to go."Mulroy Bay, 1983"
By James Swanson/Traveler Larry
20"x 16" Oil on Linen
This painting was started as a painting demonstration for an Oil Painting class that I teach and finished it up later.

Working from someones old memories is fascinating for me, because of what a Traveler chooses to remember about a trip is a journey in it's self.

Traveler Larry and his brother Steve have some more wonderful stories about their long adventure, and I hope to tell a few more sometime soon. Thanks Larry and Steve for letting me tag along. If you have a trip that was memorable let me know and maybe we can make a painting out of it. Contact me here or at www.theartistandthetraveler.org.

Until next time Slán libh.