"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 2, 2011

A Good Friend is Hard to Find, But Not This Time!

"The Falls"
By James Swanson
20"x 16" oil
Traveler Tom Bussler, CA
Here's how the paining was made.

One of the first new friends I made when I got my first job in Advertising was an Artist's Rep by the name of Tom Bussler. 
Traveler Tom Bussler
Tom was from Minnesota and us Great White Northerners (OK I'm from Wisconsin, but close enough) had somethings in common. But the main thing was we both liked beer. Go figure.
A while ago Tom moved out to California for work and some girl reasons. We now catch up every now and then on FB. 
Last summer Tom took a trip to Yosemite Nation Park. And I thought that his photo album of his trip was really well done and felt I could get sort of a feeling for this place in a painting. So here we go a walk to the falls with Traveler Tom Bussler.
Trail Map

Toms Trip Story: Started about 6:30AM from Camp 4(red) and walked 2.5 miles to Housekeeping-(green) where I caught a shuttle to the trailhead(blue). Hike began there up the Mist trail to Little Yosemite Valley then Half Dome(black). Back down to Nevada Falls and took the 
John Muir Trail(pink) back to trailhead- about 18 miles on the trail. A mile up the trail is the bridge below Vernal Falls (in background). Ragin' water and a bit cool this early.

Vernal Falls (317 ft drop). Mist trail runs along the side and up above. Named mist for a reason.
Stairs to right of Vernal Falls just to the right. Stairs and more stairs.....
Above Vernal Falls....
Tom's photo of Vernal Falls from the misty trail  inspired the painting.
Traveler Painting "The Falls": This is how I went about taking on this painting. Tom's Trip to Yosemite was quite inspiring. The reason I chose this photo to work from is the subduded color and the misty feeling it has.
Here are the Steps to "The Falls"
The start of the Painting. I like to get rid of all the white canvas  and rub in a good ground cover

A palette full of colors. I try and keep the number of tube to a minimum.
Here I have mixed up some of the basic colors for the painting. As the painting progresses  these colors will be combined to make lots more colors. This is the best way I've found for making colors harmony in a painting.

The real painting begins. The dark colors are painted in first. Warm darks are in the front and the cooler darks are painted in for the mid-ground. This helps create structure and depth for the painting right away.

Next I painted in the sky and started painting the farthest back background working my way forward. I worked that way because, I needed sky and the mountain to be close in value and this is a good way to judge them without a lot of other colors effecting them.

Here the painting is all Blocked-in. Pretty simple stuff, big brush and big strokes. Getting a painting blocked-in is one of my first goals in painting. Now I can go and start making adjustments and work towards the finishing strokes.

First round of details and adjustments have been made. Most of the work was in the water and rocks. The water fall is where I started and worked forward from there, getting a little sharper and defined the closer I came.
OK, it's done. There was a lot of things that I never had to change in this painting. The trees and the mountains were pretty much right. The main thing that I changed was the sky. It felt flat and didn't seem to go anywhere.

Framed and Ready to Go!

"The Falls"
By James Swanson
20"x 16" oil
Traveler Tom Bussler, CA

Many Thanks goes out to my old friend Tom Bussler for his long hike on this trip. Tom has a company called Hi Road productions,  that does a lot of work in advertising and TV, check it out when you get a chance! I have a few other paintings on the easel from this one. 
But that is another story :))

If you have a interesting place that you have been and would like to share it, send it on to me here or to www.theartistandthetraveler.org
So until next time Happy Trails!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Map it and Paint it.

I've done quite a few different ways of traveling so far on this painting journey. I've seen things from Travelers on glaciers to volcanoes, from oceans to mountains and now with the help of Google street maps I get to see Terre Haute IN.
Down town Terre Haute the land of the Wabash Cannonball.
 This is the kind of photo that I used to paint this little part of this painting project.

One of the many views of Terre Haute, IN. I found during my virtual tour 
of this all American type city. This is the first stage of this painting that
 I was able to do in one quick sitting, I liked a lot of it and didn't 
think a ton of more work was needed. 
I got this idea from my wife Becky, who is a professional children's photographer. She does a lot of Traveling around Chicago for photo shoots and likes to see exactly where she is heading and she uses Google maps to see what the street looks like and where she can find parking.
I thought it was an interesting idea to travel using Google maps to see an area so I thought I'd try it out on this next little project of Terre Haute IN. paintings. 

"NEXT TO THE TRACKS"12" x 16"  I really didn't do an awful lot more to this painting from the last stage. I toned down the house made the tree next to it stronger. I also added a man to it. 
Traveler paintings of Terre Haute via Google maps: Most Traditional artist these days paint with photos as reference in some way shape or form. Some artists like perfect photos and some like really bad ones to work from. I myself will use anything. To me no matter how good or bad you photo reference is you are still making a painting and it has to stand alone by its self in the end. So these map photos from Google will do the trick just fine. Also I  painted these in a plein air style( as if I were standing right there.) and paint them pretty fast.
Steps to a few Google map paintings

The painting of 3rd Street is started. I've been trying out a
big brush technique to block in paintings a little different.
Here is the color palette that I mixed up for the start of this painting.

One of my favorite parts on a painting is putting
 in the dark colors in the beginning.

Putting in the sky here was pretty simple with this big brush technique.

The painting is blocked in here and is now ready
for a few corrections and details.
Almost there. Just some general clean up and some color adjustments are needed.
"3RD STREET" 12 x 16"

I found this little scene on Putnum Street and felt it
would be a nice little painting. Using the big brush technique.
I was able to this painting going pretty fast. 
"PUTNUM STREET" 14"x 18"

N 4th street Terre Haute, IN
After I found this place to paint I did play with the image in Photoshop before it was ready to  paint.
I also wanted to paint this as if I were standing right there (Plein air style) in the summer sun.
Oil sketch for the painting "Edge of Town".
I was real excited about this spot I found in Here haute and
wanted to paint the painting with that feeling. 

The warm darks are painted on top of the sketch.
This big brush technique keeps me from noodling
things out and forces me to see the big picture.

Putting in the rough landscape and trying to keep the painting
exciting with stroke and color.
Blocked in. A lot of good things are going on so far with this painting.
Now all i have to do is find away to tie them together.  
"EDGE OF TOWN" 16"x 20" oil
Near plum street you will find the Railroad Museum. There you will find all kinds of railroad history from locomotives to historic buildings. There on the edge of the museum property is the Halley Tower. It's the last maned switching station in the Midwest. Thus worthy of a painting.

HALEY TOWER, 20"x 16" oil
My little Google trip of Terre Haute IN. was a virtual a wakening. Seeing this city street by street from a distance was pretty extraordinairy. I highly recommend it for everyone. Check out Terre Haute sometime it's a very interesting place to see from a computer or with your own eyes!
Off I go to another town. If you have a town that you want me to check out send me a note here or at the website- www.theartistandthetraveler.org.
Until next time Tally Ho!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Land that Time Forgot!

 "Mackinac Horses"
By James Swanson
20" x 16" Oil on Linen Panel
Traveler for this painting Mary M.

News flash! A tiny island off the state of Michigan has stopped time!
No motor cars, trucks or buses move there and people have to get around like they did a hundred years ago by foot, bike or horse.
Downtown Mackinac Island
Welcome to Mackinac Island, and the home of the Grand hotel.
The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island
This is where we meet our next Traveler Mary M. 
One of Traveler Mary M photos
Mary is an old family friend who visited there a few years back and was kind enough to share her photo album from there.
Mackinac State park
Traveler Painting "Mackinac Horses"This next painting came into being because of an art contest at Mackinac. The contest had to do with Mackinac life. Since our friend Mary had recently been there she offered her photos for me to pick from. I wanted to paint horses do I cropped in tight on one to work from.
Painting steps to Mackinac Horses:
Oil sketch on canvas. 
Here are the colors I mixed for the beginning of the painting.
The darkest dark colors are painted in first.

Next I moved to the mid tone colors.

Then the higher key colors were added. At this point I decided that I was going to just paint the horses and their rigging and let the background go.

Here the defining of the horses took place. To keep the painting from getting flat I gave the horses their own space. I did that by painting them slightly differently. The front horse received most of the little details while the other horse was done in big simple strokes.

Done. This painting was fun. It was one of those paintings where when ever you put down a stroke you liked it and went on.
Details from the painting

"Mackinac Horses"
By James Swanson
20" x 16" Oil on Linen Panel
Traveler for this painting Mary M.
A big thanks goes out to Mary M. for the use of her photos. See more of her photos here.
Also a little note on this painting, it didn't win a prize in the art show. But it was bought and will be staying at the Grand Hotel. Not a bad new stable.
Well, I'm off to find a new venue to paint. Until we meet again hold on to your horses.
The artist and traveler project is always looking for new places and faces. Contact me here or at www.theartistandthetraveler.org to take part.