"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.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Mack Way

A New Season 20x 16 Oil by James Swanson
Traveler for the painting was Heather May

Being creative and staying that way are two different things. In my world keeping inspired and motivated to create art is a full time gig. Finding new ways to push yourself is a battle in it's self. That is why one of the ways that I keep pushing is to enter juried exhibitions. These exhibitions are where you are really being judged by your peers. To be accepted into one of these shows can be exhilarating to your work, but not being accepted can be a little devastating also. At least for a little while.

One of the exhibitions that I am sending work into this year is one on Mackinac Island.
Mackinac Island is off the Northern coast of  state of Michigan. It's a place where time stands still. No motorizes vehicles are allowed on the Island. Everyone there gets around by either their legs or by horse draw carriages. The place is vintage. 

This year the art exhibition on the island is about the places on Mackinac Island. I know a few travelers who have been to the island, but I wanted a different view for this one. 

Photos from Heather May's Blog

Meet a New Traveler to the project Heather May. My inspiration for the painting "A New Season". Heather has a wonderful blog "mackinacislandgalthat she does about the island from a locals view all year around. 

" I live on Mackinac Island year-round, and work as a candy maker in the summer and a fine arts teacher in the winter, capturing memories through a blog as I go along."

Heather's photo from Mackinac Island

Heather takes some fabulous  photo of her Island and I was excited when she said she'd be honored to be apart of the painting project. Thanks Heather.

The photo I chose of hers is this one from her blog.
 An early spring morning before the tourist season starts. I loved the light in her photo and the dramatic shadows from the pier posts. I new this would be interesting to paint and was special. Only someone who lived on the Island could see this at that time of year.
Here are the painting steps to "A New Season"

This is the start of the painting done after a sketch and the design were figured out.

It's just a little bit of Burnt Sienna and oil brushed on a linen panel with the design painted in.

As always with my paintings I start painting in the darkest colors first. Here I have started painting in the structure of the ice and some of the water around it.

Here the painting has progressed quite quickly. Knowing that the sky and water are reflections of each other  helped  speed things along.
I try and stay as loose as possible at this point in a painting. I look for brushstroke energy. Big strong meaningful strokes that have tons of character to them. The sky is almost done just with them.

Next I put in the ice. Using the greyed out part of my palette colors I was able to loosely brush them in.

Now the work begins. Everything up until now could be loose and goosey, but now I had to lay in right where all the posts and shadows needed to go. Knowing how to brush one oil color over another wet oil color is one of the hardest things to learn in oil painting. Especially a light color over a darker one and not having them mix too much or vice versa.

This painting is getting close to being there at this point. I like a lot of what is happening, now all that is needed is some small color corrections.
A couple of the posts in the front aren't dark enough, the ice at the bottom of the painting seems to bend downward, the building needs help and paint edges need to be taken care of. So I'm going to do all those things and the painting should be there.
Done. With the few corrections made the painting is finished!

Details from the paint

I love how this painting turned out. I think it's very exciting and has a lot of beautiful color movement to it.

A great BIG thanks goes out to our Traveler Heather May for this one! I couldn't have painted this one with out her.

The only sad note about this painting is that it didn't make it into the show there on Mackinac Island. I was hoping that Heather would have been able to see the painting from her photo up close.  I did have another painting make the show, but I'm sorry that it wasn't one of hers. But like a Cubs fan there is always next year!

Thanks for taking a look! To find out more about Mackinaw Island or Heather May see her blog mackinacislandgal and to see more of this painting project go to- theArtistAndTheTraveler.org

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