"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.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fixing A Broken Painting

As a oil painter there are always problems you have to over come to make a good painting. Sometimes you either rushed things a bit or your materials weren't perfect or your knowledge just wasn't there yet. The after sight is what I was dealing with recently.

I usually don't go back a rework paintings very often, but I did on this one. 

The Salt Creek painting as it sat on a wall
And here's why I did

There was a lot of things that I liked about this painting when I finished it the first time. 

It was a bigger painting than I usually do.

I liked the composition, the light coming thru the tree, the water effects and the over all colors used was interesting in the painting. 

But what I later decided I didn't like and bothered the dickens out of me was the main tree and the grasses around it.  What was I thinking? And the foreground wasn't as interesting as I would like it to be, and the clouds need help also.

The tree area I would be targeting first a long with color changes
So I made up my mind to go back in and make some changes-

First I would start with the tree! If this painting was going to be any good that tree had to be interesting. So I took a photo of it and took it into Photoshop and played around with it and came up with a plan.

A Plan is the MOST important piece of re-working a painting! If you don't know what to fix you are playing not painting.

The Photoshopped in a tree that I felt would be more impactful to the scene.
 An older tree with a little more tilt to it.
This where I when to work and here is what it turned into.
"Salt Creek" By James Swanson
24 x 30 Oil
The purple mass of trees behind the main tree was something of a surprise, I didn't expect it to work out so well as it did. It added a whole new feel that I went with by bringing in that color into other places in the painting to move the eye around.

Now Salt Creek is ready to go back on the wall, this time with a fresh and stronger look.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day #3 in A Dog Day Month

This is a very special and sad painting. It's a painting of my friend Gillian Bryce's Gidget.
I woke up on Friday morning with a painting in mind for day #3 and that lasted until i saw a post from Gillian telling of her pups death. I painted her 3 pups already for her last year and knew she must be really hurting. I started painting dogs and pets for people because of the death of 
my Amber last year.

With Gillian's heart in mind, I change some days around and painted her Gidget as Day #3. What a great little dog and friend she was.

Day # 3 Gidget
She the up to date paintings of this project here- Dog Day2

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Haley" Day 2 in A Dog Day Month2

When I started thinking about starting up this project this year I wanted it to be more than pretty pictures of great dogs, I wanted to paint the spirit of these great beasts.

Haley, is one of those. This brave little pup is a wonderful subject that I was looking for in this project. Since an accident as a pup, Haley has used a walker to get around. 

When I first saw the photo artist friend Flynn Gentry-Taylor I didn't realize what it was Haley had around her. When Flynn told me she had an injury at birth, she is doing water therapy and has her own walker, she lives in Alaska....I had to paint her story. She really deserves that.

Day #2 "Haley" of A Dog Day Month2
Thanks again to Flynn for sending Haley this way for my month long dog painting a day project. You can see the rest of this project at jamesswansonfineart.com

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day 1 of Dog Day Month2

Last years Dog Day Month of July was such a huge success I decided to do it again.

With in a minute of announcing the project I had people signing their pups up. With in 15 minutes I had a gallery wanting the project to exhibit - the ACE Gallery in Fort Collins for the month of October with part of the proceeds going to animal shelters.

Picking the first pup to paint, was a tough one. I have some many sent in to choose from right I was a kid in a candy store.

I picked Cissy because of the eyes and color. I remember last years paintings and Cissy reminded me of a couple of paintings from that project.

Day 1 painting "Cissy" 11x14 oil
Initial sketch on canvas

Blocked in. Cissy is about halfway done.
Thanks to Cissy's owner Roseanne Hart for sending her in!

The paintings of this project are for sale to the pet owners first before they go on public

exhibition at the ACE Gallery.

See the whole month of paintings at James Swanson Fine Art.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Here's to Bailey!

"Angela's Bailey" 12"x 16" Painting by James Swanson
Traveler for this painting was Angela Espin ,UK

When my old puppy Amber past last year I decided to pay tribute to her by painting a dog painting a day for a month- "A Dog Day Month". When I started the project I didn't worry about the painting part of it. I knew I could do that, for me it was to find the right painting subjects for it. So I put out a call to all my Traveler friends with pets to start the thing off. 

Angela and Bailey
Old friend and hill walking traveler Angela I thought was a no-brainer. Her and her buddy Bailey have been scampering around the mountains of the UK for years and I knew there was some great paintings to do from their travels.
 A Sad moment: I contacted Angela about what I was going to do and find out if it would be alright, but I heard back something that I never expected. Poor Bailey had just past that day. Oh I felt so bad for them.
Angela did agree to let me paint something for the project and sent me many photos of Bailey, but I had this one in mind. I didn't know that this was from their last walk together when I asked for it, but I did when I painted it.
This is how I went about the painting-

 The painting started with a light Burnt Sienna wash. I pulled out the white areas with a paper towel and roughed in the drawing.

 I mixed up my palette of colors for the painting and started with the dark areas letting the canvas come through.I then painted in the background and sky. And then the gate.

 I then painted the fence structure with clean simple strokes. Bailey was next. I wanted him to feel and be painted just like everything else at this point. At that point the painting was all blocked in and I knew all the finishing details were next.

Here is the finished piece as it was on my easel that day. The photo from my iPhone did an OK job to show it for the project on Facebook, but the color was a little off. The details that I loved putting in on this painting (besides Bailey's) were the plants in the front and the light on the fence posts

This is how it really looks.
"Angela's Bailey" was one of the more heart felt paintings that I painted for that series. I liked the way it turned out so much I made into the cover of the calendar for the project.

I must say Angela had a hard time getting over her Bailey dog and who wouldn't? Bailey was a great friend and companion. Their walks together were beautiful and memorable. Bailey will not be forgotten.

Now on to new adventures in painting! See you on down the road.

See more of the paintings from this project at TheArtistAndTheTraveler.org

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Christmas in LaGrange.

"Old Lagrange Rd" a painting by James Swanson  24" x 30" oil on canvas

A while back I was asked if I would create a painting for the holiday Christmas season in Lagrange. I live there and have a gallery, so of coarse I said yes. I then started a quest to find the right spot to depict the village in that season.

I scouted for weeks looking at everything, from grey days to snowy days from side streets to the city hall. Finally one morning after dropping off my son at his school, I was stuck at a traffic light in downtown Lagrange and saw this scene from my car. 
It was one of those mornings where everything was super bright, fresh feeling and crystal clear. The sun was just making its way over the building tops to my right and the light hits this corner and POW! The buildings start to light up with this warm glow! I pulled out my iPhone and snapped off quite a few shots and new this scene would make a nice larger size of a painting. 

So here are the painting steps I did after taking the photos from the car. This is how I go about making all of my paintings.

Step 1.  After I had designed the painting, I toned the canvas and grew in my design.

Step 2. Painting in the darkest parts of the painting. Which were the lower areas of the buildings and the street.

Step 3. Next I painted in the buildings and a few details.

Step 4. After putting in the sky and clouds it was time to go back and make color and drawing corrections.

Step 5. Here the painting is after day one. A lot of nice things are starting to take form. Many areas I won't touch again.

Step 6. OK, after looking at this painting with a fresh eye I felt it was boring and not very cheerful for the subject matter it was to represent. So I when back and incorporated some other photos I took with people in them.

Done! The last stage of the painting. Since adding people I made a few other color changes to make them work with the scene better.
This is how my painting was used in the Holiday postcard.
The painting went on display at the gallery for the season and I am very happy to say that it now resides in the home of one of my painting students.

To see more of this painting project or to see others that I have been doing go to my website www.TheArtistandTheTraveler.org