"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, October 21, 2010

Meet Me in Venice!

"Meeting in Venice"
By James Swanson / Traveler Ash
20" x 16" oil on linen
See the journey of this painting.
There are some great places in this world that you just can't take in fully in just one trip; Venice is one of those places. We did a quick trip to Venice for the Special Edition for this painting series, but Venice needs more exploring, and this is where we meet our new Traveler Ash.
Traveler Ash
Traveler Ash, is very worthy of the title "Traveler".  He has been around the world and then some in his travels.
All photos of Venice are from Ash's website
Ash became a Traveler for this series through the recommendation of another Traveler Erie, who knew Ash from their college days.

Traveler Ash's Story: I've only ever been Venice once; the weather was slightly wet in early April 2002.  St. Mark's square was very wet - one could see several inches of rain over it at times.
I went with a good friend from University, Andrew Kuhl.  We had studied engineering together; and he's now a medical doctor.
Andy was living in Ottawa, Canada at the time.  I was living in London, UK.  He flew over to visit London, Venice, and Paris.
The nice thing about going in April is being in the off season, and the number of tourists is significantly less than in the summer.
Several hours before this scene we had been wandering around the Venetian Arsenal which is a number of shipyards and armouries that were used by the state to produce its naval dominance.

 I remember we ate in the surrounding neighbourhoods, were the residents were more likely to live, instead of the tourist spots. We had a lot of pizza, but this trip was before I had discovered red wine ;)

One funny story (in retrospect) is that Andy almost missed his flight out of Venice, because the flight was actually earlier than he thought  To get to the airport he had to run through the streets, because it was faster than getting the ferries.
The photo of Ash's that the artist worked from for the painting.
The scene you have painted was taken from a bridge, and is close to the room had been staying nearby to St Mark's square. It was a private home, with the upper rooms being used as guest rooms.  The day was slightly overcast and we took a ferry away from St. Marks slightly after that photo.

Traveler Painting "Meeting in Venice" I must say that I've been very lucky in the painting project so far. Because of it,  I've been meeting new people and seeing places in a unique and  sometimes more casual way.
This painting, has been on my mind to do for quite a while ever since I met Ash. I've been holding back on using Ash's travels in this series, because I knew once I opened up his cookie jar of photos,  I would be tempted too much to keep going back.
But the time has come, Ash's Trip to Italy was a really nice one and too good to pass up.
This is how "Meeting in Venice" was painted.
First I tinted the canvas with Burnt Sienna, and then sketched in the design of the painting.
I mix a lot of my colors for a painting before I start in painting. That way I can see how they work all together before they are painted on. It really helps with the speed of blocking in a painting.
I started painting in my darkest darks first and then the sky. I try and keep the painting balanced as I work on it. 
The buildings and the water was painted in next. the painting is almost blocked in here, with just the people to paint in. The water and boat are the key elements to this painting and I wanted them to be put in fresh looking.
The people are now painted in. People in a landscape steal the show. In this case I didn't want the people to command too much attention so they had to be painted in very simply and cleanly.
At this point I thought I was done. Everything was in and color was adjusted. So I put it away to dry for a while. But when I put a fresh eye on the painting later, I knew it wasn't quite there. It needed to be pulled together a little more, here and there. 
Okay, now I'm done. Before this the painting was a little stiff. I felt it need to be brighten up in spots to keep the focus of the painting on the lower half.
Details from the painting
 Framed and ready to go.
"Meeting in Venice"
By James Swanson / Traveler Ash
20" x 16" oil on Linen
Traveler Ash has been very generous to us with his photos and memories of Venice, and I want to thank him for taking part in this little painting project.
 Ash has done some pretty mean traveling, so I know we will all be seeing him again real soon. The cookie jar has been opened! Ah! thanks Ash.
This project is always on the look out for more cookie jar places. If you have one, and would like to take part in this painting expedition to see the world from one spot, contact me here, or go to the website and find me.
Until next rime Arrivederci! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Real Roman Piece of Work.

"The Old Roman Wall"
By James Swanson / Traveler Greg
20" x 28" Oil on Linen
Only the Roman's would think of putting up a wall in the middle of nowhere to seal off their territory. 
 Gate of Hadrian's Wall.
Well, maybe not the only ones, but you got to love their gusto to split a land in half with a giant wall. And not just a wall it's a monument to these giants of history.
All photos are from travelers Greg photo album.
Hadrian's wall was erected by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122AD. It was put up to keep the unruly hoards of Picts and Vikings out. Only a small section of the wall is left today.
Traveler Greg from Preston

And this is where we meet up with our new Traveler Greg from Preston. Greg went on one of his photo expeditions to the wall to try and capture it and sent us some photos. 

Hadrian's Wall extended west from Segedunum at Wallsend on the River Tyne to the shore of the Solway Firth, ending a short but unknown distance West of the village of Bowness-on-Solway. The wall is entirely in England and south of the border with Scotland by less than one kilometre in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, and 110 kilometres (68 miles) in the east.-Wikipedia

Some Questions The Artist had for Traveler Greg: 
Was it your first time to the Wall?
Greg-"I've known about Hadrian's wall since childhood... and this must have been my fourth or fifth visit, with or without family. But this time I just went there on my own to get photos of it...and had a brilliant bright sunny day."

How far from Preston was it?
Greg-"About 100 miles north of Preston.. .. 2 hours on a train plus a half hour bus ride."
Any thing special happen that day there? 
Greg-"I encountered a couple of monks.. carrying a cross.. on a pilgrimage from Lindesfarne to Carlisle across England via Hadrians wall footpath."
The photo that I will work with from Greg.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All for One and 14 Days in All.

This is the recap of the 14 Day Special Edition Travel Paint for The Artist and the Traveler. This special project had a special guest, meet our guide Traveler Jim M.!  
Our hosts on this trip, Travelers Jim and Cathy.
Jim and his wife Cathy took a 14 day trip to Northern Italy following the trail of PBS travel show host Rick Steves' Italian journey to see the real Italy.
This Trip of Jim and Cathy's just got better and better. From Venice, to Padua, To Ravenna, to Assisi. to Montone, to Orvieto, to  Agriturismo, to Loro Ciuffennato Certaldoto Lucca, to Carrara, to Vernazzaand now on to Orta San Giuliowhat more can we see? 

Day One Painting -Venice 
I wanted to start off this little series with with a good painting to set the tone. With this one I feel I did.

Artist's Notes: In these paintings for Traveler Jim's trip, what the I was trying to capture was a over all feel for the whole trip. What I did with Jim M's travel journal and excellent photo reference, was a day to day, from landscapes, to towns, to people,  experience of the Travelers trip in paint.

Day 2 - Padua
Making a painting a day to represent a day in Jim's trip was my goal. That meant the paintings had to be relatively small in size and simple in concept and design.

When I'm out in the field painting (plein air) I only get a matter of hours to get a painting done from start to finish. And that is how I approached Jim M's travel days.
As you can see, I had to cut down a lot on what I was going to paint from his photos and focus on things that allowed me to be done in the small time frame, but yet make a nice painting.

Day 3 - Ravenna
This was my first real landscape of the series. I felt like I had a day off with it. There is a lot of shine to all these paintings because of the wet paint. The shine isn't part of the painting. When it dries the glare will be gone, and the full color will be able to be seen.

Day 4 - Assisi.
This painting was the one that I ran out of time on. When it dries I'll be able to rework a few areas I wish I had time for.
Day 5 - Hill Town Montone
After Assisi I went for a landscape to paint. I liked the small grouping of trees up front in Traveler Jim's photo and wanted to concentrate my energies there.

 Day 6 - Orvieto

This painting has a funny little story to it. When I decided to painting Italy this was one of the first paintings I started. It was from a friend trip in 2008. And the reason you find it in this series is Traveler Jim's photo is the exact same spot taken a year earlier.
Day 7 - Agriturismo
Olives trees had to paint them.
The red clock tower lighting is what did it for in this painting. Again the painting was real wet and glared up a little. I will replace these shots when I get some good shots of them made.

Day 9 - Certaldo
I had a root canal done this day, and thought it only fitting to paint a view through a hole.
Day 10 - Lucca

Painting statues again. Italy is known for it art so it was only fitting to paint some of it.

Day 11 Carrara
This is Walter. A true character of Carrara. Traveler Jim said  He was the tour guide for the marble museum they visited, He was charmer with many fun stories to tell.
I tried to capture Walter, but he was a little tricky to catch a lot like the real one I was told.

Day 12 - Vernazza

This is one of my favorites of the trip. It was a tough one to paint just based on how this Vernazza ever came to be there.

This painting signals how this whole mini series came about. If it wasn't for another Travelers painting that I was working on I would have never have come across Traveler Jim M.

 This is the painting. Traveler Jim happened to have a photo on his website from this very spot and sent it to me after I contacted him about it.
His photo did answer some questions I was having.
This is  Orta San Giulio.. I just really liked the lighting on the boat on this one. I wasn't sure if I was going to paint in the sea gulls or not. 

Orta San Giulio. again.  The roofs and the mountains was a good place to end this trip I thought.
Day 14 - Orta San Giulio.
This mini series of painting was a different trip for me and the Artist and the Traveler project. I usual only do one painting from a traveler per location. But I've been finding there are a lot of great trips out there and they can't be told in just one painting. Thanks again to my great traveling host Jim., who sent me what ever I asked for, and then some. It was a pleasure to paint his place in this project.
I do have a few other mini series planed for the future like Following the David Livingstone trail in Africa, a ten day car trip in New Zealand and Island hopping in the Galapagos, but for a while I will be hanging out in Italy. 
If you have been to Italy I'd like to hear from you I can aways use another great guide like Traveler Jim M.
Ciao for now.