Monday, October 31, 2016

Anatomy of a Murder, I mean, Painting!

Happy Halloween!

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that in July I travelled to England and Scotland. I love to travel! Regular blog-readers will also know that my previous incarnation had joined the US Navy to see the world, only to be stuck inside a cramped submarine during WWII. When the sub surrendered to the Japanese, he chose to commit suicide.

Is it any wonder that I like to travel? Now and then on this trip (having recently met my previous incarnation), I would stop and ask, "Willy [for that was his name], are you enjoying this? Seeing the world?" I'd get a distinct impression of pleasurable amusement from him.

I cheated. I cheated big-time. I blew up the original picture and traced it onto the canvas.
Didn't want to struggle through all that perspective and such. Bad, bad Strick!
Then again, one of my college profs, a big-name illustrator turned fine artist, always told us that
anything that brought us quickly to doing the actual art was entirely "legal." Yay!

I take SCADS of photos on my vacations! In the future, I'm hoping to have enough time to stop and do some plein air paintings. But this was a bus tour, and bus tours aren't set up to really see the countryside, much less stop for a couple hours so someone can paint.

There's no scarier thing in this world than a white canvas. Usually I do a bunch of random color
washes, but here I was experimenting with color as well as value. The values of the background
buildings and sky are opposite what they were in the photo. It was an overcast day, but
it was a BRIGHT overcast. I was trying my hand at "Playing God" within my painting.
**I** control the color. **I** control the value! Bwa-ha-haaa!

So I work from photos. I usually have a handful of shots of the same site to work from, but in this case I'd just turned around and there it was. I was on my way back to the bus there in England's Stow-on-the-Wold and didn't have that much time to lose. Click! I knew it would be a perfect shot.

Speaking of "playing God," I put a cat in that one window who wasn't there originally. Felt
so naughty! This is the "wait and see" stage, where I leave the canvas on the easel for a
few days (or in this case, weeks) so I can come back with fresh eyes and make final changes.

I love painting from my travel photos. It cements me to the memory and as my skills improve, I like to think that I'm bringing out aspects of the place that people don't usually notice.

I also hope that viewers will be immersed in the atmosphere of the spot. Perhaps they've been there. Perhaps they've dreamed of traveling there.

The final changes were mostly in that ochre archway on the right, toning it down and
tying it more to the purple side of the house. "Stow-on-the-Wold" (I
couldn't think of a snappier title), 18x24", oil on top of acrylic; stretched canvas.

Maybe they're like Willy and can never set out to see the wider world. However the world brings them to view my art, I hope they like it.

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