"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.

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!


  1. Excellent nice to see my mums handy work being put to excellent use - well done James ;-) Joanna x

  2. Tasty hay. It must be the lighting you brought to the image. You are becoming the hay master. I like the roll, too. Very nice, Mr. Swanson. I owe you a picture from Spain. I have just the one. Or a few...


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.