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View Full Version : Step by Step Demo...the St Louis River falls...


LarrySeiler
06-18-2005, 02:00 PM
I tented for near two weeks in the far NW corner of Wisconsin outside Superior on Lake Superior. Unfortunately, it rained nine of twelve days, which is not fun for a plein air painter...

I thought I'd take share one acrylic I did this past week at the St Louis river near Tomson, Minnesota at the far western entrance to Jay Cooke Park...

Here is my set up...a 20"x 24" stretched linen canvas on my El Greco Mahogany halfbox French easel...and of course, a gorgeous inspiring location-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-setup_location.jpg

I begin mixing some darker value of violet...use a bristle and draw out contours of the masses. Ordinarily, or with oils...on a canvas this size, I like to wrap a rag around my finger dipping in turps and not bother drawing contours, but masses in the large shapes. It is not as practical with acrylics as the paint seems to resist an easy wiping on and is just as easy in this case using brushes as would be a rag. That I found out from experience...

Next I use a larger synthetic flat. I put paint around the exterior contours of a styro foam picnic plate, mixing in the center of the plate for a palette. I work very quickly, and there really is not choice for the acrylic plein airist as the paint will dry on you especially in the presence of a warm sun. I put out what I need, and really not more...and my intent is to block in those contour lines with color masses. I paint acrylics generally from dark to light. I mass in the darkest value and work layers building toward the lighter and warmer colors over the top-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-contour_blockin.jpg

my paints are Galeria, using the convenience of the 200 ml pour spout flip top jars, and quite affordable at about $10 per bottle of color. For years I used Atelier professional Chromacryl colors...but I have come to enjoy and appreciate these Galeria pigments. They are bulky, and I haul this plastic toolbox around which can double up as a seat for me to sit on if I should like-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-paintsbox.jpg

there has been some talk in the past about wearing or using sunglasses in lieu of bright sun, and many here know I tend to paint backlit subjects which has me looking into the sun more often than not. Hard on the eyes. Here, I took my sunglasses and put them over the camera lens to give you an idea how it differs from the natural appearance of the view. First without the glasses, next with...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-ref_withoutsunglasses.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-ref_thrusunglasses.jpg

You can see that color is a bit compromized...but I allow the glasses to sit just a bit down on my nose to give me relief from the sun, but lets me look down to see my color and mixing. I tilt my head a bit to see over the glasses at times to judge actual color. Its a bit of a pain....and at times I simply remove the glasses altogether, but looking toward the sun takes its toll believe me. This painting took four hours to complete, and after squinting my eyes, looking hard and so forth my eyes ended the session with a permanent annoying blur of everything and took nearly an hour or more for my vision to return to normal. Guess that's not good, and I intend to talk to an eye doctor about possible alternatives here in the next couple weeks.

Here now the masses blocked in are complete. The paint in its initial stages is fairly watercolor like or thin...and lets much of what is beneath visible, streaky. It will take a process of building up to arrive at the values and color I want, and the level of opacity I want of masses. This process though does give leverage and control that allows a lot of depth and variation in color which gives the acrylic its power in the end. Oil paint as a dense and thicker medium inherently captures existing light in the room or air and gives a jewel-like brilliance, acrylics achieves it by transparent layering or adding various gel mediums...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-blockinmasses_done.jpg

Its important now to begin to strengthen values, put some distance between foreground planes and the distance, and give character to the rock faces...so, I begin to suggest crevices, shadows, some more color and layering of the rocks...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-rockdefinition.jpg

here a closeup of that effort...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-rockdefinition_closeup.jpg

I work on defining and suggesting my distant trees mixing up some sky pigment. I don't paint trees. I don't advocate novice artists to think of the "what" of what they're painting. Artists see in a different language. Sure, Da Vinci wrote a whole book on tree anatomy based on an ideoogical worldview of mathematical ordering in the created universe, but...as artists we can see and judge in a visual language that can become highly refined.

After all...how many trees are there for you to study and attempt to become expert of? There are endless pines, gazillions of hard and soft wood deciduous trees. Instead...I squint my eyes, see the basic shape of the tree mass, block it in...then use sky pigment to sculpt negative space. Negative space is defined as that area seen around, in-between and thru a mass. So so so much easier suggesting trees this way than actually looking at and trying to paint the tree itself...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-distant_treework.jpg

Here...you can see this tree work up close, and I have only refined the one tree...the others to the right waiting their turn. Once I shape the mass to appear as a tree with negative space pigment, I do go back into the foliage masses to suggest various value changes, depth, warm and cool...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-distant_treeworkcloseup.jpg

One area many acrylic painters struggle with and where oil pigments shine is the nature of oil to be textural, impastoish, thicker...

I don't let that distinction stop with acrylics, because texture is an important finishing step for me to help suggest depth and suggest detail. I use Liquitex Extender gel medium (the only time I use a medium with acrylics, otherwise I use just water)...and mix about half gel half color. I use the painting knife and suggest nearest foliage....

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-texturizing_foliage.jpg

I also use the knife and gel liberally to sculpt (and sculpting is really what it feels like) the suggestion of movement, foam...and effects of light...it appears very abstract and chaotic up close, but it is what it does for the viewing backed away. I squint my eyes often while applying this, as it gives me a sense of what it will look like backing up taking it in as a whole...

the water...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-texturizing_water.jpg

This pigment dries this way holding texture...and while the texture as an effect has been my motivation for using it, acrylics I have done on canvas surfaces have been confused even by gallery owners to be oils.

and now...here is the finished acrylic 20"x 24" plein air...
hope you find this useful and if nothing else, of interest...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Jun-2005/532-finished_stlouisriveracrylic.jpg


Larry

Charlie's Mum
06-18-2005, 03:11 PM
Larry, thank you so much for sharing this - I'm sure many will find it very informative.
I do like the colours you've used in the rocks - and the water ...... I hope others notice this too - the effect of rushing water disturbing the bed of the river.

Do you use black in your palette/ - or do you mix your blacks from other pigments?

Lady Carol
06-18-2005, 05:47 PM
Larry it is always such a pleasure having you visit and demonstrate your plein air in the forum. I always learn something and I always want more when I read your threads. This certainly hasn't failed to please, either.

You have made this look effortless but I know it is many years of practise that has achieved this result. Kudos.

LarrySeiler
06-18-2005, 06:05 PM
Larry, thank you so much for sharing this - I'm sure many will find it very informative.
I do like the colours you've used in the rocks - and the water ...... I hope others notice this too - the effect of rushing water disturbing the bed of the river.

Do you use black in your palette/ - or do you mix your blacks from other pigments?


thanks...appreciate it...
as a rule (which especially plays out and is held to with my oils) I don't add black to the palette as I simply observe in nature hints of the presence of color in even the darkest values and black tends to kill a lot of color. Unfortunately, acrylic is by nature more transparent, and adding water for the sake of flow inherently separates pigment particles and makes it that more transparent. I found I needed to add a bit of black to help deepen the darkest darks, but was very careful to make sure the hint of color remained pre-eminent....
- - -

Thanks Carol...appreciate the comments as well. The fact that acrylics seem to dry even faster standing on location with moving breezes and sun does present itself as an immediate deficit and acrylics are perhaps even less suited for the feint of heart of those wanting to paint successfully on location.

I am stubborn...having spent 20 years instudio having come to value and realize what painting on location versus reliance on a photo is going to bring to the table for me and it is always worth that sense of risk of failing. Painting directly from life is a way of deeper seeing, and one needs to be there to see what deeper seeing reveals. A photo unfortunately does not have the sensitivity of the eyes and generalizes areas according to values or biase toward chemistry in color.

It is a comfort for me knowing the speed which acrylics dry to have this sense of prior experience, so you are right about that...however, I would not for a moment allow that to be the excuse for lesser experienced/trained artists to talk themselves as this being the reason why they would not consider plein air with the medium. One learns by the doing...and the doing cannot be bypassed. Its one's dues...and after all is said and done, the office space of setting up in the arena of the sublime cannot be beat!

thanks much...take care

Larry

Bertoni
06-18-2005, 07:40 PM
Larry:
Thanks so much! I found this demo to be an extremely valuable learning experience!!

artcrazy
06-18-2005, 08:20 PM
thanks for this fantastic WIP, Larry. :) I'll return to it many times I am sure for inspiration and education!
:clap: :clap: :clap:
gorgeous end result, by the way! :clap: :clap:

LarrySeiler
06-18-2005, 08:36 PM
thanks Bertoni and Nicole...glad it was found to be of interest and use...
take care

Larry

stoney
06-18-2005, 08:50 PM
thanks...appreciate it...
as a rule (which especially plays out and is held to with my oils) I don't add black to the palette as I simply observe in nature hints of the presence of color in even the darkest values and black tends to kill a lot of color. Unfortunately, acrylic is by nature more transparent, and adding water for the sake of flow inherently separates pigment particles and makes it that more transparent. I found I needed to add a bit of black to help deepen the darkest darks, but was very careful to make sure the hint of color remained pre-eminent....
- - -

Thanks Carol...appreciate the comments as well. The fact that acrylics seem to dry even faster standing on location with moving breezes and sun does present itself as an immediate deficit and acrylics are perhaps even less suited for the feint of heart of those wanting to paint successfully on location.

I am stubborn...having spent 20 years instudio having come to value and realize what painting on location versus reliance on a photo is going to bring to the table for me and it is always worth that sense of risk of failing. Painting directly from life is a way of deeper seeing, and one needs to be there to see what deeper seeing reveals. A photo unfortunately does not have the sensitivity of the eyes and generalizes areas according to values or biase toward chemistry in color.

It is a comfort for me knowing the speed which acrylics dry to have this sense of prior experience, so you are right about that...however, I would not for a moment allow that to be the excuse for lesser experienced/trained artists to talk themselves as this being the reason why they would not consider plein air with the medium. One learns by the doing...and the doing cannot be bypassed. Its one's dues...and after all is said and done, the office space of setting up in the arena of the sublime cannot be beat!

thanks much...take care

Larry


Very nicely done, Larry. Many thanks for your generosity. :wave:

Marty C
06-18-2005, 09:34 PM
Hi Larry,
As always, an interesting and informative demo, resulting in a truly exceptional work. Your pieces have "Seiler" stamped all over them, your work has such a recognisable style and very obvious class and skill.
As you say, plein air acrylics are not for the faint hearted, but you have shown it is possible, and more than that, that wonderful works can result.
Thanks for sharing.

idylbrush
06-18-2005, 10:10 PM
Nicely done, learned a great deal. Thank you.

LarrySeiler
06-19-2005, 03:12 AM
its a privilege to share what one experiences and understands and then receive the double blessing of others sharing appreciation. Thanks so much, and as a father/grandfather myself..may I extend a happy father's day to one and all

Larry

Bill P
06-19-2005, 07:18 AM
Thanks for that great demo. Enjoyed reading through it.

LarrySeiler
06-19-2005, 11:14 AM
thanks much Bill...appreciated...

Larry

Wayne Gaudon
06-19-2005, 01:12 PM
nice demo .. nice country ..

bistus
06-19-2005, 07:34 PM
Thank you, Larry. Your demos are always very informative. It is amazing how much I have learned from your posts at Wetcanvas compared to what I ever learned in an art class.

Leslie Pz
06-19-2005, 09:18 PM
Excellent! Very nice to see each step and not have to wait, in between!!! Piece is very nice. As peaceful as the spot you chose.

Thanks for such a terrific WIP!
-Les

bjcpaints
06-20-2005, 10:36 AM
Wonderful Demo Larry! Thanks so much - especially or explaining why you do what you do when you do it! Hows that for a sentence?! :) Anyway, I will be the one to ask the dumbest question. Why did you not put the railroad trestle in the painting? Was it so it would have a timeless look? I really like the trestle and would like to see it there. Just me I'm sure. There's always one, isn't there!?!
Best wishes,
Barbara

LarrySeiler
06-20-2005, 11:46 AM
Why did you not put the railroad trestle in the painting? Was it so it would have a timeless look? I really like the trestle and would like to see it there. Just me I'm sure. There's always one, isn't there!?!
Best wishes,
Barbara


When painting outdoors as often as I do, one begins to learn intimately one's inclinations, leanings...why drawn and compelled...
It seems many artists like to add a few figures, and there were a couple girls at one point that stood on a distant ridge. Some artists would immediately suggest such as additional points of interest.

For one...I knew from the get go that it wasn't the bridge that compelled my need to paint this, and that a painting works first as a painting. Seeing the painting...without the reference, viewers will certainly not miss the bridge. True, if I were to try and sell it to a local, they would perhaps need it for a sense of authenticity.

Truth is though, were I to include the bridge, it would definitely become a focal point of interest. It would have changed the whole emphasis, and even could have been titled, "Trestle Bridge Over The St Louis"

I guess from a pyschological standpoint too...my paintings show a consistent absence of evidence of humanity. That perhaps says something. Nature is pristine...not that human presence is not welcome nor invited, but so much of humanity that I have experienced in my life is brutish, bulls in the China Shop'ish, degenerate, hasty, laxed to enjoy beauty or appreciate nature and the handiwork of Intelligent Design.

Many of my patrons that buy my work...imagine themselves being there...but, they too wish to escape the insanity of the modern world and would prefer to imagine if they were there it would be by themselves alone or an intimate other.

Its also how I prefer nature when I am simply hiking about.

In my tenting...I was at one state park and decided after several days it was time to pull up stakes and check out another state park. I drove a good distance, the area had 59 campsites and I saw most were reserved, (meaning there was going to be a whole lot of people showing up). A lake with a beach (that means kids, with parents that no longer discipline or teach respect)...and the park as a whole appeared a bit too manicured...too KOA'ish...so, I turned around..drove all the way back to the park I had come from which offered fewer amenities (desuading those demanding more comfortable camping) but a beautiful close accessible waterfalls intimidating river and reset up camp on a different site.

I appreciate the good in others, and the arts seem to be a vehicle that brings that out. I love being around musicians and other artists, especially other plein air artists too seeking beauty.

The outdoors has been a big part of my entire life...a sanctuary, a bid to come to the silence to see and experience intimacy. I believe in the Creator and the outdoors reminds me of a time when everything was said to be "Good" after its creation. There is not always evidence of seeing that proclamation walking out in the modern world...but it is more readily apparent to have been once so when alone in the sublime.

I did paint one painting this past couple weeks of a bridge (one of only six of its kind) crossing the Amnicon...called the "Horton" bridge which was built with a series of clips and wires rather than rivets. I didn't paint anyone on it...but it allows for possible narrative for those that might imagine meeting kindly good folks upon it.

Larry

bjcpaints
06-20-2005, 01:51 PM
Thank you for your explanation Larrry.