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"Plein Air Oil on the Shores of Lake Superior"
Page 4 of 5

Author: Larry_Seiler, Contributing Editor

Now, let's look at several closeups of the rocks, color, and brushwork...
Note carefully that there is a hint of the alizarin coming thru in a dark crevice in one spot, yet a hint of blue/green coming thru in the darks of another crevice. Warm color comes forward, cool tricks the viewer's eye to go back. This is one reason why simply using black for a dark does little to benefit the artist. Here, I not only suggest the darks, but how I use them assists in adding to the depth perspective illusion of the painting.

Note that the suggestion of the strong sunlight striking the rocks is based upon one or two confident brushstrokes left alone, allowing the viewer's eye to mix it all in. Such allows the impression of the piece to seem more to breathe, that is...feel alive!

Here you can see how I've allowed dabs of color to remain as they are, to be perceived as sky poking thru, or background foilage.

It helps to squint your eyes at your own painting from time to time, which amounts nearly the same to taking several steps back to judge your work. Then, you can see the effects of the painting working together as a whole.

Note also, that evidence of my attempting to more and more mix color directly on the painting and not on my palette exclusively can be seen. I've picked up color and applied a stroke; another color and mixed that in by a stroke. I've allowed the mix to be incomplete...that is, I haven't gone over and blended it in. This allows variations of the colors to be sensed, and again allows the viewer's eye to mix color. As the viewer moves about, the painting appears to be mixing and moving with the viewer...adding to the illusion of it nearly seeming to breathe life!

I was discussing only recently on a Wetcanvas forum how realism is really abstract parts perceived as the illusion of "real" when taken in as a whole, that is seen in its entirety. Note here how this closeup appears in and of itself as a possible abstract painting.

Again, take time to see how I am mixing color more and more directly on the surface of the canvas or board. Strive to see the various colors coming thru. Lastly, see how little attempt was made to go back in and blend strokes together. Again, "a brushstroke laid, is a brushstroke stayed!"

One final thing worth noting is that I have attempted to stroke my brush in such a way as to follow the form of the object. This is becoming more and more a habit, requiring less conscious effort.

I have not perfected all such things, yet these concerns certainly are my aim as a painter.

Here is another development of mine which I am enjoying inspite of myself. My many labored hours in the studio during my early wildlife art days certainly felt intimidation when I first stepped in this direction.

Having blocked in the basic color and values I saw squinting during my rag-in first stage, I use my diamond shaped painting knife, and dab pure color as well as mixtures using white. This is nearly to scale for what I was seeing on my painting, so try squinting your eyes and see it blending together. Imagine hearing the sounds of the water.

There are many complicated dynamics going on with water, which I have learned to enjoy and look forward to. Clear water allows the colors and structure of the bottom to be seen. Ripples and waves show reflections of the sky as well as colors of nearby overhanging shorelines. Sunlight filtering thru show color of the water itself. Then, on top of this is a motion, a rythym and pattern unique to each situation of calm or wind. I paricularly enjoyed the edge of water lapping up onto the shore's sand, leaving the wet sand darker.

To simplify, I squint my eyes at my canvas and allow color to blend. This is the most challenging part because while the sun might move...the water is! You strive for an interpretation that is accurate. An impression, which I believe comes easier the more time spent around and observing water.

Perhaps 95% of my paintings include water of some form, and it reflects (pun intended) the enculturation of my growing up and adult life. From early on I spent endless hours with my father, whom was licensed by our state as a fishing guide. I hunted waterfowl breaking yards of ice to get a skiff out into brackish dangerous waters for nearly 17 years. Today, I trout fish, or do any kind of fishing, and prefer walks alone along falls and streams. To paint something well, you need familiarizing with your subject.

The viewers get the result of your life's experiences that come thru your work. For such reason, it is not always easy to simply guide someone wanting to know how to paint water whom perhaps thinks it comes down to a few simple tricks. Something has to be said for spending a great deal of time observing from life. Such things cannot be transferred in an easy to learn lesson, but require each and every person to pay their dues as well observing life.

Don't wait - discuss this topic with fellow artists now in our Landscapes forum!
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