"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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nice is looking Nice! Nice, France that is.

"Looking Up Nice"
by James Swanson / Traveler Marco
20" x 16" oil on canvas
Sometimes you can look and look for something that inspires you to paint, and then turn around and find the perfect painting staring in the face.
Traveler Marco and his friend Pilli

Well if you turn around and look up as our new Traveler Marco did you will. Marco has been a favorite photographer of mine for a while now. I just love his compositions and the light he catches.
Nice, France from Marco's Album
Our new Italian Traveler was on a trip to Nice not long ago and that is where we meet up with him.
Traveler Marco's Story: The historical center of Nice is quite similar to that one of Genoa
(my town) in Italy, with its typical buildings so near one another
along the narrow streets.
All photos are from Marco's photo album,
In Nice’s historical center the headstones are in memory of the dead soldiers and are full of Italian surnames: those ones of the autochthonous inhabitants. Strictly speaking, however, until
Paradein front of the Royal  Palace-Monaco
1860, they were neither Italian nor French. They were Nissarts.
Subjects of the Kingdom of Savoy, they spoke a provincial language but
with considerable Ligurian influences. Today Nice speaks French. In
comparison to 1860, when it  was surrendered from Turin to Paris, it
Marco's wife Silvia and mother Argia shopping in Nice.
has more than tenfold increased its population. The thick inside
immigration from the rest of France toward Nice has made the natives a
lean minority. In the same 1860 in which Italy revived thanks to the
Expedition of the Thousand, it was so deprived of a vital piece of Liguria
(my region): just that one in which Garibaldi (the leader of the
Thousand) was born.
Lascaris Palace and it is one of the more notable historical
monuments of Nice’s historical center.
Traveler Painting: " Looking up Nice" What drew me in on Marco's photo was the way it was presented in his album.  one moment he's walking around photographing stores and alley ways and the next you see this shot of looking up and seeing the sky sandwiched in between buildings.
 Marco's photo that I'll be using for inspiration for this painting.
I wanted to capture in the painting the feeling of the moment when Marco first discovered the shot before he raised his camera.
Looking up Nice-
The initial sketch on Canvas. I wanted to keep this painting loose and very simple and to paint it fast.
Here are some of the colors that I prepared on the palette before I started. This is a great way to paint fast and get a lot of expression in your strokes.
I started with my darkest colors first. I paint them in thin and oily, so when I put another color in next to it the slide together.
Filling in the buildings. I work dark to light in most of my painting and this one fall cleanly into that category. I worked out a good transition from the red to the oranges on the palette and it really helped when I got to this stage. I used a big brush pretty much for this whole painting. I didn't want to tighten up with the small ones.

The sky is laid in. Blue to a warm yellow while without turning to green.The blue sky against the orange in the buildings is what made me want to paint Marcos photo.
Time to start adding a few details. I knew at this point if I started using smaller brushes to put in the details the painting would start to lose it's freshness. So what I used was my palette knife to do the details. One of my favorite painting tools.
Getting close now. just some color adjustments and a few details to put in.
It's getting closer, just a little touch ups to do.
Done! This one was a lot of fun to paint.

Details from the painting.
Framed and Ready to Go.
"Looking Up Nice"
by James Swanson / Traveler Marco
20" x 16" oil on canvas
I had a blast painting this one. In trying to capture the moment of discovery I found a delightful little painting. Thanks goes out to my Italian friend Marco, your photos and story were inspirational, and I look foreword to meeting up again.
And if you have been somewhere interesting and have a story to share let me hear it contact me here or at my website www.theartistandthetraveler.org
Until next time Arrivederci

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Inspiration and Perspiration, the only way to go.

"Hay Day in Waltham"
By James Swanson / Traveler Angela
12" x 24" oil on canvas
See the journey of this painting.

1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration, 
Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits. - Thomas Edison
For an artist, creativity is suppose to come easy as pie, with no writers block, mental blocks or ruts that you can't get yourself out of, just create, create, create right, Wrong! Finding a way to keep yourself motivated is a problem for everyone.
Our Traveler Angela and her dog Bailey
Recently an art show about horses came up, and I thought to myself, "I love horses, why haven't I painted any? I should try and get one done for that show and this painting series",   Ahhh! The Inspiration.
The start of Angela's walk at Waltham with friends. All photos are with the permission of Angela

Now for the Perspiration, and that is where our new Traveler Angela comes in.
Angela is another one of those wonderful walkers in the UK, who makes splendid photographic journeys of her walks. I've always admired her walks and photos and was very excited when she agreed to take part in this painting journey.
It's not all hard walking.
Traveler Angela Story of her walk: 
My first walk of the year with Sherran & Bill. Our arrival in Waltham saw significantly more snow than we had left at home, this was confirmed by a friendly local who stated that at the lofty height of 500ft above sea level they always had more snow than anyone else! A lovely walk in wonderful winter conditions.
Lunch Break

It was a perfect winter dayblue skies, sunshine & powdery snow. Cold obviously, but well wrapped up & in the warm sunshine we didn't feel cold at all! The icing on the cake was to see the stunning sunset at the end of the walk. I guess it was about 9 miles in length.
Stonesby Church
The Wolds is a term used in England to describe a range of hills which consists of open country overlying a base of limestone or chalk. There are at least two such areas, both remnants of a much larger chalk system. They are geologically a single range but are physically separated by the Humber Estuary.-Wikipedia

Back at Waltham on the wolds.
Traveler Painting "Hay Day in Waltham"- 
I'm always trying to find reasons to start a painting. Painting for painting sake doesn't work for me. I like to be focused when I paint. To know where I'm going in a painting, or at least feel like I do, is what drives me on to my goal.

The Photo of Angela's that I worked with for the painting.

Traveler Angela's photo stopped me the first time I saw it a time back, but I didn't know where it would fit in this series. There was something about her photo from the walk that told me a very simple story, about horses and hay in the element of snow that I knew would work in a painting.
The painting story of "Hay Day in Waltham"-
The Sketch on canvas. One of the feelings that I felt from Angela's photo was, that this hay was just put down and that the horses just noticed it.  That's what I wanted this painting to be about, so to do that I tightened the image up to show that.
The dark colors are painted in first, as always with me. I paint the warm darks for the foreground and cooler darks for the background. That gives the idea of depth right away in a painting.
Painting in the snow. If there's one real truth that I've found in all my years of painting,  it's that there is no pure white in snow. If it's there it's barely there. Color is everything when it comes to snow. 
Painting in the sky. The sky and the snow are one. What ever the sky color is the snow will reflect some of it. The sky will be brighter in the painting, and the snow a close second.
Making Hay, Time to start adding color to this painting and finish the block-in.
At this point in the painting I felt I was close. The color was starting to work, the horses were indicated, but not rendered, and the focus was on the hay pile.
But later on with a fresh eye, I saw some problems. The hay and the horses were almost the same, in the same place- but on opposite sides of the canvas, and had the same attention getting.
The first thing I did to fix those problems, was to make the hay bigger. I went back to my original sketch and saw that I didn't make the hay pile big enough. Then, I needed to  make the hay come more forward in the painting. I did that by adding more contrast to it and bring out the sunny side of it.The snow also was a bit choppy, and needed to be cleaned up.
Done, With all the changes made it's time to send this one off to the contest. Even if it doesn't get in it was a excellent paint for me.
Details from the painting.
Framed and ready to go."Hay Day in Waltham"
By James Swanson / Traveler Angela
12" x 24" oil on canvas

I think we're at 100% solution here. Sometimes those simple ideas take a little extra to envision.  A big thanks goes out to Traveler Angela for her excellent foot and camera work. I hope to paint another one of her brilliant walks sometime;  take a peek at some of her walks-Angela's walks
I'm always looking for interesting journeys for this project. If you have one, send it to me here. or visit the website www.theartistandthetraveler.org and leave me a message.
Around and around I go, where I stop, I will find out, until next time- Ciao!