Thursday, January 1, 2015

Oranges Brass Bowl and Wine Bottles - Still Life

 I'm very pleased with the subtle values in this still life.  I had painted it about a month ago, and while I liked the darker values, it always seemed dull to me.  I couldn't quite put my finger on the problem.  I didn't want to brighten the entire painting, even if I could figure out how to do that.  Yesterday, I added just a bit more color and modeling to the oranges and I repainted the placemat, making it lighter.  Both changes introduced a bit more light into the composition, but didn't completely change the subdued feeling, which I liked.

Also, this painting was photographed with my new Nikon DSLR and the image is straight from the camera via photoshop Elements.  Other than cropping, the image is exactly what I was able to capture with the camera....and it is a very accurate representation of the painting.   I'm beginning to get a handle on using the camera...a Nikon D5300.  It's an entry level DSLR, but loaded with features and manual settings that permit me to get this kind of shot.  I'm thrilled with it so far. 

Oranges and Brass Bowl with Wine Bottles   12 x 16 oil on panel 
To purchase this painting, please click HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Brass Bowl with Wine Bottles

When it comes to photographing oil paintings and getting faithful reproductions of the original there's a lot to learn.  I've read many sources on the subject, and I'm still floundering.  Then, to add further to the challenge, I'm trying out my new Nikon DSLR for the first time.  I've had a chance to review some of the manual settings and I was very pleased with the resulting picture. I was able to save it in Photoshop without any adjustments except for the normal cropping.  However, now I'm experiencing problems with imported image into Blogger.  The picture below is not the quality of the original image that I have in Photoshop.  I have not had this problem before.   Obviously more to learn! 

This simple still life is done on 12 x 12 linen panel.  I enjoy painting these still life setups.  They are truely painting "from life" - something I think most artists don't do enough of - but they will sit patiently for you as you struggle along...and even wait overnight for the next session.  I appreciate that!

Brass Bowl Oranges Apples and Wine Bottles   12 x 12 oil on linen panel

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Thursday, December 11, 2014

".....home from the sea." Oil on canvas

"...home from the sea" started as a photo taken from my Hotel balcony in Ft. Bragg, California this fall.   I did a small oil study (8x10) to try out some approaches to the night scene and then did this 20 x 24 final painting.  The study was actually the second I've done of night scenes in Noyo Harbor and this is the first larger painting done from either.  I plan to start the second one shortly.

I've really enjoyed trying to capture this night scene.  The fact that there is some intense light in the scene which illuminates other portions of the painting to differing degrees adds to the challenge.  The water is Ultramarine with Thalo Green added to darken the value...and just a touch of Cad Red Medium to gray it slightly.  I used Rembrandt Cold Gray extensively in mixes with other colors, particularly in the buildings and dock of the middle distance.

Overall this image is slightly lighter than the painting, and even of the picture used to import the image, but it's reasonably close.  

home from the sea   20 x 24" oil on stretched canvas
This painting is available framed or unframed.  Please contact me by email for more information

This is the 8 x 10 study done in preparation:
Home from the Sea  Oil Study on 8 x 10 canvas panel

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Friday, November 28, 2014

Selected as "Featured Artist" by Fine Art Studios Online

I am very pleased to have been honored by Fine Arts Studio Online (FASO) as a "Featured Artist" for my plein air paintings.  FASO can be found at this link  if you'd like to learn more about them.

With the permission of FASO, I have included their very nice article below: 

FASO Featured Artists: Artist Bruce Hancock

by Carrie Turner on 11/23/2014 11:45:54 AM

This article is by Carrie Turner, editor of FineArtViews. During her tenure as editor, FineArtViews has been mentioned or referenced by The Huffington Post, MLive, WorldNetDaily (WND), artnet, COMPANY, American Artist Magazine, ArtBizBlog, The Abundant Artist, EmptyEasel and many other publications and blogs. FASO Featured Artists (FFA) is a regular blog series on FineArtViews. Art critic Brian Sherwin is a consultant for the FFA series.  The FFA selections are featured prominently on the FineArtViews newsletter -- and are shared with over 26,115+ subscribers. You can read about other recent FASO Featured Artists by clicking here.

The Old Foundry - Sutter Creek by artist Bruce Hancock

Artist Bruce Hancock strives to capture the people, places, color and culture of America in oil. His plein air paintings are a joy to observe -- each image offers a reflective look at a moment caught in time. Bruce notes that he is devoted to the study and practice of the art of painting.

Bodega Bay Afternoon by artist Bruce Hancock
(Oil on Canvas Panel)

Bruce Hancock offered some thoughts about his life as an artist: "Coming late in life to the easel has presented me with challenges and opportunities in abundance.   After the initial excitement of returning to painting, I began to understand how much I had to learn.  To grow as an artist, I regularly study through workshops and studio sessions with gifted artists I admire.  I have to admit that I feel the pressure of time.  There is so much to learn and to experience and to try.  But I understand too that the artist’s journey has no end, no matter when in life it began."

Art critic Brian Sherwin, editor of The Art Edge, offered some thoughts about Hancock's plein air paintings. Sherwin stated, "Bruce captures the energy of a scene by utilizing bold marks and color. The expressive nature of his work documents a moment caught in time.

Final Rest at Noyo Harbor by artist Bruce Hancock
(Oil on Canvas)

You can learn more about artist Bruce Hancock by visiting

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Night in Noyo Harbor - Oil Study

Each time I've traveled to Ft. Bragg, California to paint, I've stayed in a motel that overlooks the Noyo Harbor.  And each time I've taken many pictures of the harbor from my balcony.  My particular favorites have been at night, when the lights from the restaurants and other businesses, as well as a few lights from the fishing industry buildings, sparkle in the deep dark of the valley that surrounds the harbor.  I've often thought of painting from the photographs, but I've never tried a night painting before.

Today I decided to do a small 9 x 12 study as a practice, with the thought that I might try something bigger if that worked out.   Here's my study, done in about 1 1/2 hours this morning.

Night in Noyo Harbor - Study   9x12 oil on canvas panel 

I used only a few colors here.  Primarily, the darks are Ultramarine with Cold Gray to lighten and red or Alizarin to darken.  Of course, there are lights done with Cad Yellow Lemon, Cad Yellow Deep, and some Cad Red Medium.  Here and there are some hints of green done by mixing the yellow and blue.  

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dolphin Cove Morning

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had an opportunity to paint with friends in the Ft. Bragg and Mendocino areas just this October.   On the last morning there, we visited Dolphin Cove, which is just a little way further up the Noyo River from Noyo Harbor, a place I have painted many, many times.

When I arrived at the Cove at about 9 in the morning, it was still in deep shade.  The high bluffs and fir trees forming the east and south rim around the harbor blocked the sun even this late in the morning.  However I could see that the track of the sun would soon bring it over the ridgeline and the light would begin to reach the boats in the harbor.  I set up my easel at the water's edge and by the time I was ready to paint, the sun had reached the boats on my side of the docking area, while the boats and the hillside on the other side remained in shadow.  It made a dramatic scene of light against dark.

I painted a 12 x 16 plein air piece of two of the boats in front of me.  It's posted below.  After returning I decided I wanted to do a slightly larger and more finished studio version of the same scene.  Fortunately, I had taken a couple of pictures to use along with the plein air painting as reference.

Painting in the studio, I was able to carry the painting further.  In particular I wanted to emphasize the brilliant intensity of the morning light against the dark background.  Of course, my studio painting does not have the immediacy of the plein air experience, but in exchange I was able to develop areas and details a bit further.  At the same time, I tired to concentrate on maintaining some looseness in areas of the painting...and to be careful not to over paint.

Dolphin Cove Morning  20 x 16  Oil on stretched canvas

 This is the plein air work of the same scene.

I've begun to pare down my palette lately - both when painting in plein air and in the studio.  Both of the paintings above were done with the limited palette for the most part. I'm not rigid about it and I feel free to add any tube color I feel might be useful, but I am generally using only about 4-5 colors plus white.  I've borrowed Kathleen's Dumphy's palette pretty much, which she generously shares on her blog along with huge amounts of wonderful information about her painting experience and technique.  The palette is Naples Yellow Deep, Cad Yellow Lemon, Cad Red Medium, Ultramarine Deep, Transparent Oxide Red, and Titanium White.  All of the colors are Rembrandt except the Cad Yellow Lemon, which at Kathleen's suggestion is Utrecht.  The TOR is my addition to the palette.  It's a color I find invaluable in so many ways.  I would have a difficult time painting without it...and it's easily my most used color. (I'm cutting way down on white also, except when it is an obvious color in the scene, as in the two paintings above.)   Kathleen rounds out her limited palette with Rembrandt Cold Gray.  I have it on my palette too, but I haven't learned to use it comfortably yet.  I will be taking a workshop from Kathleen in April and I hope to remedy that!

I rarely have a tube green on my palette.  Mixing greens from blue and yellow and modifying them with red or TOR gives a nice variety and I don't often feel the need for the tube greens.  I still find uses for's a distinctive color that I can't mix.  For many years I used large amounts of yellow ochre and I still squeeze it out nearly every time out of habit.  But I'm finding less and less need for it and I'm now wasting way more than I'm using.

I find the limited palette very comfortable.  As I said, I don't feel constrained to use only those few colors...this isn't some kind of challenge or test...but the more I paint with the limited palette,the less often I feel the need for other colors.  

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Four Days In Fort Bragg, California

Once again I journeyed to Ft. Bragg to join good art friends on a four day painting trip to Ft. Bragg and Mendocino.  It was another workshop by artist instructor Howard Rees of Jackson, California.  A quick scan back over my 170 blog posts shows that this was the fourth such trip I’ve recorded here.  Many Ft. Bragg trip veterans showed up: it’s become something of an October event and gathering as well as a workshop.

The weather forecast in the week leading up to the trip was grim.  Every day was forecast as cold and overcast, with rain on the two days smack dab in the middle of the time.  But as we got closer to the time, the forecast began to change slightly for the better.   In fact, the plein air gods smiled on us and we had simply beautiful days the entire trip except for the second day of the trip which was very overcast.  

Our first day was a Monday morning.   First we did an exercise Howard wanted us to try and it was a good reminder of some fundamental rules for plein air.   The idea was to paint a small landscape on 8 x 10 canvas using no more than 50 brush strokes.  And you had to put a dot on the side of the canvas for each stroke.  In other words, PLAN every stroke, EXECUTE with plenty of paint every time, and NO NOODLING and LICKING!  Put it down and leave it!  As you can see, the idea isn't to produce a great work of art, but to loosen up and begin to think before you paint.  Great ice breaker exercise!  
50 stroke practice  oil on 8 x 10 panel  Sand and insects borrowed from Ft. Bragg

Then we moved on to the mouth of Noyo Harbor and I painted this 8 x 16 view of the buildings at the entry of the harbor.   

Entering Noyo Harbor   Oil on 8 x 16 canvas panel
 On the second cloudy grey day, I really struggled.  I’m not sure why, but it was one of those days when I simply forgot everything.  I didn’t have a plan, I started without an end in mind, I mixed color and applied paint without thought and as though I had never done either before.  I wiped down both paintings that day.   That’s a lousy feeling and something I HATE to do.  Giving up is the wrong decision always.  I know that, and yet I could not get past it.  The next day found me with the same listless feeling and I thought for a while that I would crash and burn again, but the day was beautiful and I worked my way through the funk.  Thanks go to Howard too…he’s been there done that…and he wasn’t going to let me chicken out again.  “No wiping,” he said. “ Finish what you start and bring it to critique tonight.”   Well, I had to have something to show up with, so the die was cast.  I painted a two simple landscapes on a smaller panel…which was a good choice.  It sure was a nicer feeling to complete something.   Here’s the first of the two:

Mendocino Memories  Oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel

 To PURCHASE or BUY "Mendocino Memories", please click HERE.

The second was almost the same view, but much closer to the tree and the cliff.  However, other than the lighting, it looks virtually the same as the first.  Crazy as it seems, I didn't even realize how similar they were until I was home.  It probably reflects that I was not all there even on the third day! 
Mendocino Afternoon   Oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel
Our last day was back in the harbor again, but this time a little farther up the river to ‘Dolphin Cove”.   We only painted in the morning, then enjoyed a terrific lunch at a diner in the Cove…and then it was head for home time.  In the morning, the sun was blocked for several hours by the hills and forest above the cove, but finally it reach the boats at dock and I painted this 12 x 16 of one called “BBBeezy Bill”.   I think it was my most success painting of the trip.
Dolphin Cove Morning   Oil on 12 x 16 canvas panel 

It was another fantastic outing with good friends and talented artists.  My thanks to Howard and Janey Rees for patient mentoring and making sure the trip was a success.  And a sincere thanks for the painting memories to Ted, Norm (and Dianna), Ruth, Julie, Vickie (and Jack), Andy (and Cindy), Renee (and Noni) Brian, Judy (and Larry) and Bob Engle, who drove from Texas (I'm serious) to be with us again. 

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art