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Old 12-16-2004, 08:03 PM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Cool Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Here is one I'm working on at the present....first, a plein air I did about a 7 weeks ago, the plein air- 9"x12" oil on linen



..and now the beginnings of painting a larger instudio version from the plein air...24"x 30

here was the basic steps...
beginning the block in...(turps, pigment a bit of copal)



a bit further along-


blockin' finished....


and...the end of day one-


here, a couple closeups-




Some of the Dynamics recreating Painterliness-

In converting a plein air done from the subject on location to a larger instudio piece...the challenge on my mind is to maintain a sense of spontaneity so that the piece does not look overdone and lose its freshness.

The challenge for me is that the look of the plein air or style pretty much takes care of itself.

I've seen a good number of threads where someone wants us to tell them what we think of their "Impressionist" painting when in fact, they looked at an Impressionist's work and then labored to attempt to mimic the brush work and color to apply instudio to a subject of their own.

Of course, it is noteworthy to be moved by Impressionist works and attempt to understand them, but starting with the stylized look and work backwards often well misses the point.

For example, Monet was called the "painter of light"...not the "chaser after style!"

The look...that Impressionists had which was unique is one that many today are discovering simply by painting on location.

...its simple common sense. You take a painting that might take you ordinarily 20 hours from start to finish...(mine used to take 200 hours), in the comfort of your studio to think every step out carefully, but now...set up outdoors with a window of perhaps 2 hours of cooperative lighting that establishes the mood and drama of the scene and thus the very reason you were compelled to paint. Knowing you have such a severe restriction of time...its like damage control combat readiness.

See how sailors normally swagger and walk about the deck of a ship? They've got time. Ever see the movie Pearl Harbor and see how the sailor/actors moved about while under attack? It was organized chaos.

Why do I say "organized?" Because in the Navy (I having been a sailor), every sailor drills and drills for such things. You have your station, your duties. Chaos, because when the moment happens everyone is going every which direction, but all calculated for the necessity of the moment.

Standing there with paint, you do calculations. Some of those are intentional, some you go with the flow because nature always throws a surprise or two at you. With more experience (like the sailor's drills) you get on top of the situation and future potential situations.

The "look" however...is not generated by focusing on the look anymore than one thinks about the phone they are holding while having a conversation.

Those accustomed to painting instudio not ever having attempted to paint outdoors on location may not likely ever come to fully realize this. Instudio, one has endless time (with exception of meeting some deadlines). Such time instudio gives more time to consider technical application, how such will contribute to the look and so forth.

Outdoors...focus for me is on nature, its mood and the moment. You learn to trust your instincts and get beyond concerns to fabricate a look. The stroke of the brush is necessary calculated essential economy in effort to not be outdone by a light that may at any moment disappear.

What I find to be a challenge instudio when converting a smaller plein air to a larger work is that I now have this thing called "time" on my hands. I don't have the actual scene in front of me anymore, no nature taunting me with threats of removing the light. Time for the left brain's analytical convergent way of thinking to have greater role.

Each artist has to come to know themselves, and what can be trusted and what cannot.

For myself, I feel my past wildlife instudio work mandating hundreds of hours in a single work is a threat. That I know I can paint endless photo realistic details in a sense hangs over me, and I know I have to keep that inclination in check.

So...outside, painting from life I totally enthrall myself with nature's presence and beauty. The harmony is an existing one with existing natural light, and using a limited palette of color to minimize the need for left brain analysis the painting nearly takes care of itself. Other than purposing to have sound composition, intended variation for interest...I get into a zone or groove oblivious to anything else but that moment, the scene.

Inside...I now have a large canvas waiting to receive -dun dun da daaaahhhh (music playing) "a LOOK!!!

Knowing I can't help now indoors but to think about the look I will attempt to mimic the life that the smaller plein air study is inherently imbued with. This is not as easy as it sounds! One must know their tendencies to overstate, get out of sync, or let another agenda take over. Restraint!

For myself go to the larger canvas, I reach now for much larger brushes.

While others see a large canvas and see opportunities to put in more details, I see details as the thing that threatens to suck the life (the spontaneity) right out of the work. It is not the detail that suggests life. A carcass without breath has detail. For a body to live...life must be breathed into it. In my thinking, it is the play of many factors that creates this spark, and for too many years I was a prisoner thinking detail accounted for that.

Color, value, neutrals, variation compositionally..especially verticals juxtaposed horizontals. Negative space...and so forth. Detail can be suggested...these other things have to be there. Literally. The detail of the importance of these other things is a thing many artists miss while distracted on adding detail which results in stagnant lifeless visual records.

So...rather than see a large canvas as a potential to put in more detail I consider two things...one, use the largest brushes and biggest piles of paint possible. Use that largest brush for everything until it can no longer be used, and ONLY THEN reach for the next smaller brush.

Reaching for a smaller brush too soon, at least for me, finds that tendency to suddenly want to get caught up in particulars or possible unnecessary detail likely happen.

Secondly, I consider where I want the viewer to stand in seeing this work. A smaller plein air a person can get the sense of life just a pace or so back. I intent the viewer to be about 3 to 4 paces back for the larger painting.

In a sense then...the larger work seen from 12-15 feet away can and should have a similar appearance as the smaller work seen from 2-3 feet away.

People might walk up on the large piece...and then become aware of the chaos, but they find it interesting just the same when they observe an organized chaos that works to give them the intended image 4 paces back!

My habit is to squint my eyes while working...which gives me a sense of how it may appear stepping back, when stepping back is not always convenient.

A larger work need to have no more detail than I can detect with my eyes squinting for it to work 4 paces back.

Edges are more critical on larger works...as edges translate to a form of detail.

If I can see a sharp edge of an object supposedly 40 yards away, a precedent is set that I ought to see that much more detail in everything closer to me than that object. So, controlling edges, obscurring or softening is important.

Here is where I was at about two weeks ago on this larger 24" x 30" oil...



Working on foremost rushes, darkening their bases (more yet to do...refinements), suggesting variation in upper contours to feel like grasses and reeds. Had fun working abstract elements into the reflections...still more to do.



Used sky color to sculpt shapes of rush reflections in the water...



squint your eyes at this closeup of the foreground rushes and sky...and see how a sense of spark comes, and you can feel the sky. The suggested strokes are enough to sculpt out the reflection.

I'll try and get an updated image up to where it is currently at.

I just recently took a high definition digital image of this piece, and made a smaller near 8 x10" print on Velvet Fine Art paper and my Epson 2200 printer.

One reason I like a larger painting instudio is for making of smaller prints that I can mat and frame up for galleries I'm in. Giving an option for some range of more affordable works of mine for gallery patrons.

Such smaller prints tend to elevate more prestige to the larger work when hung in a gallery. For me in northern Wisconsin...I won't find large works often sold, usually a few to half-dozen a year if lucky, but always the gallery owners tend to believe the large ones draw people to my smaller ones, and in turn the smaller works make one particular patron feel greater appreciation for the larger piece.

Larry
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:55 PM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Here was one exercise on my part to reduce this large studio piece down to a print. Someone was eager to have a print of this for Christmas...and I'm close enough to being finished I consented. It was a chance to play with it on my Epson 2200, configure settings and get to know it better.



as to the painting itself, I'm working on edges...softening that which is further back...since edges translate as information pertaining to depth illusion. Will work on varying darks a bit...but, as said...not far from done.

This print is approximately 8"x 10" in size reduced down now from the 24"x 30"...and will look nice matted out to about 11"x 14"

Larry
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Old 12-19-2004, 08:33 PM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Larry, The studio work is lookin' good. I like it as much as the PA painting, and that is usually not the case for me. Great explanation too!!! Mike
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Old 12-20-2004, 08:56 AM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Larry...how do you come up with these posts just as I am pondering the very same thing? I have a small PA I'm looking at to do or not do in a larger size. Maybe it's size is part of its charm--I can't decide. When does one leave it to stand alone?

Kathy
in slightly snowy, very cold Harrisburg
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Old 12-20-2004, 09:22 AM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Quote:
Originally Posted by m r pacitti
Larry, The studio work is lookin' good. I like it as much as the PA painting, and that is usually not the case for me. Mike

Thanks Mike...appreciate hearing this...
working a larger piece to not appear overworked...is a bit of work, and happy when that works out.

peace

Larry
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Old 12-20-2004, 01:23 PM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Larry,
Thank you for your demo. I found it to be, as always, very well thought out and informative. It also helps and gives me new perspectives and insights, which as a beginner, I find very valuable. Again, Thanks for your share.
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Old 12-20-2004, 01:50 PM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Quote:
Originally Posted by uofa1982
Larry...how do you come up with these posts just as I am pondering the very same thing? I have a small PA I'm looking at to do or not do in a larger size. Maybe it's size is part of its charm--I can't decide. When does one leave it to stand alone?

Kathy
in slightly snowy, very cold Harrisburg


I'm sure there is no easy answer to this. For one, if it didn't work as a small PA chances are we wouldn't find the impetus or compulsion to consider engaging in redoing larger. Chances are a work that is worth doing large will be a good PA that has charm of its own.

As I was working on this one, I definitely felt the smaller work had some suggestive strokes that worked well to state nearly better than what I was trying to accomplish larger. I felt the charm of it...and decided the larger work would not be an effort to compete with the PA's charm.

I decided this work would be more a focus on edges...and other ways of suggesting depth. Afield, the drama of light and color worked naturally that way...but the larger work allows for other factors to come in.

There is a local dining area that sometimes I perform my music in while folks are dining...and then crank up a louder set for later before tearing down. I have a number of my larger paintings in that space. When eating there myself with my wife...I just get a feel for what would look good there.

I dunno really...its like there are movies that come out more epic and grand that I think right off would be one I'd like to see on the big screen. Other movies I think, "this one I can wait to rent the dvd because big or small screen it wouldn't matter!"

I have a lot of plein airs...and much to choose from, and the urge to paint large does not come to me often. When it does come...I have a sense right away that this one would draw the viewer in. Like the big screen, worth seein'.

A lot of smaller plein airs have charm to them for capturing a minor thing in the drama of the moment. Sometimes a larger work is an effort to explore that a bit more. Such exploration even serves to help me appreciate the beauty in something perhaps so simple yet eloquent and necessary. I think it helps me be a bit more sensitive in the field.

Sometimes exploring that minor thing that worked well in a plein air turns quickly to appear overworked in the larger work, and the charm is lost.

I found that I had to go back into the reed/rushes area about midground and obscure and soften some of it. The larger work gives you the sense you ought to be able to see the detail of an area. An area you gave no second thought to in the plein air. The thing is...part of the charm of the small PA did not find the eye dwelling long on that area of the reeds...but as a larger painting the brushwork and attention did.

I was not comfortable with that...and proved to be a visual voice I had to tame down.

If you compare the image of that which made the print (which is the look of the larger work now) to where I laid it all initially in, you can see I took some emphasis and linear stuff out to play it down. What I had initially fought too much with the diagonal bringring the eye down and to the lower right.

Here's what I mean...


the eye path didn't flow smoothly...creating distraction, disharmony, interference...

SO, in closing some of this space up, diminishing brushwork that suggested unnecessary detail not only did I recover depth similar to my plein air, I also helped the diagonal flow down to the right side (red arrow) and from there the eye can work back up in a circular fashion (magenta arrow) up over to the right again, up back over to the left and down.



Larry
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Old 12-20-2004, 01:51 PM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

my pleasure Tom...thanks!

peace

Larry
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Old 12-20-2004, 03:52 PM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

"ah", said the blind girl, as she picked up her hammer and saw. After reading your comments, I think that the small PA I'm pondering could use some exploration in the dark shadows of the old mill---if I get around to it, I will take a pic and post. I tend to not fall in love with a painting as once it is out of my system, I'm done with it...but this piece has my heart, for some reason.

Back to the work table, a commission awaits......thanks again Larry!

Kathy
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:28 AM
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Re: Maintaining Spontaneity from PA to a large canvas...

Hi Larry. My name is Bob Glass, a newbie to this website as of yesterday! I have been plein air painting for about 4 or 5 years and haven't done a single studio painting since I started painting outdoors. Unfortunately, that means, no working during the winter months, (Michigan winters can be harsh!) which frustrated me in ways untold. I've thinking about starting to paint larger paintings from some of the 8 x 10's that I wasn't completely satisfied with. Your suggestions, tips and encouraging insights have helped me decide to start right away and "redo" some of my summer "disappointments". I look forward to painting THIS winter!
Oh, I just remembered where I've seen your name and paintings....the IPAP website! You can check out some of my paintings there, maybe give me some feedback? (I mean an honest critique if you have the chance?)
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Old 12-21-2004, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renaissancebob
Hi Larry. My name is Bob Glass, a newbie to this website as of yesterday! I have been plein air painting for about 4 or 5 years

Hey Bob...welcome...
I've not been out much this winter painting, but due more to a teaching schedule and bowhunting. Yep...still getting out in my stand at 7 degrees and wind...(had a nice eight pointer six nights ago come in...neat to see),
but, I'll be out more this Christmas break, January and so...and especially as the day begins to get longer again. Otherwise my out times with paint our weekends.

I dress in layers and look like a Pillsbury Doh boy...but, I don't get cold. Well...50 years of age now, not yet anyway...perhaps someday.

I have a cabin in the greater Marquette/Negaunee area of upper Michigan, do a bunch of painting up there. Gone up there as long as I can remember back into my little boy years. Beautiful area...but, right here in NE Wisconsin ain't shabby either.

Glad you found us...you'll soon wonder what took ya! hahah...great people, lots of sharing and so forth. The listservs are very good too, getting to freely share our images and talk has some advantages here as a webcommunity.

yeah...there's a lot that can be gleaned actually in working up some PA's larger that prepares you for perhaps the off season, gets you on top of the game even more when the seasons come back.

I'm sure I've seen your work as I go thru the IPAP folders frequently, and I tend to remember work better than names...hahaha...so, I'll back in touch with ya. As I said, nice to have ya here!

Larry
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Last edited by LarrySeiler : 12-21-2004 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 12-22-2004, 10:02 AM
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the trap that awaits us...

Was doing a bit of reading last night in Dan McCaw's book "A Proven Strategy for Creating Great Art"

He had a little side note block on daring to take risks pointing out a trap that many of us fall into-

Quote:
Originally Posted by McCaw
We start a painting and things get too good too fast. Something in the design or color or whatever hits a chord, and immediately we start to value the painting. At that moment, we start protecting the thing we've already done and stop growing as artists by refusing to take further risks. We love what's happening on the canvas that's making us feel like artists so much that we freeze.

Dan goes on to talk about pushing thru by choosing at some point to not value the painting. The biggest strides being made. Opting for freedom and taking chances going farther that had he been protecting something he valued. Daring to lose, one gains.

I certainly think as a plein air painter developing an ability and ease to see a thing quickly and capture it readily/routinely that we oft feel we've got something or not rather early.

There is this dichotomy in a sense that we put so much stress upon ourselves to get a feel for the mystery, those essential elements that are responsible for the beauty we are drawn to that once having that sense...an imperative to prove our capabilities to nail that thing down makes the very idea of taking risks to push beyond for perhaps a greater thing, well...can be undaunting. It might feel as though leading to aesthetic suicide.

Yet...I understand what Dan is saying.

It did not take long in my larger piece to arrive at a feeling of the essential elements, the composition to be working. From there a move into a finishing mode more or less kicks in. The idea of making changes to be more different than the study, perhaps "better" incurs a sense of risk.

Perhaps...in another thread, it might be interesting to take on that discussion, taking risks. The worst that could happen is we scrape some paint off, learn a bit of patience and go at it again.

Larry
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