Sunday, December 13, 2009

Western Art - Barrel Riding

As in other Forums in WetCanvas, In the Southwestern Art Forum has a monthly challenge.  For December, it's a rodeo theme.  I've always liked so-called Western Art, even though some of the work that falls under this genre can be romanticized pablum.  However, once you get by that, there's no doubt that there are some astonishing artists working in Western Art.  My friend Howard Rees was pretty successful at it at one time as well.  I've always been strongly drawn to the southwest, and the best of Western Art captures that timeless vastness that makes it so appealling. 

I decided to try the rodeo challenge.  The orginal photograph is nicely done, and taken at such a high shutter speed that the movement is totally frozen.  In fact, I think the main challenge will be to put bac in some of the energy and movement that the camera has stripped away.  I'm not quite sure how to do that, though. 

Here's my initial block-in.  It's done on a 16 x 20 linen panel in oil.  The source photo was 8x10, so I gridded it off and copied it to a 16x20 sheet of tracing paper.  I then used conte crayon softened with OMS to make a "carbon" paper which I then taped to the panel and traced.  Next I blocked in the general shapes and values with very thin oil.  I'll let that set up for a couple of days.  Then I can begin restating lights and darks, adding and refining details. 
A second short session.  Some of the forms are beginning to emerge.  Stronger contrasts in the horses body help.  The background eludes me and I've avoided working on it.  I may leave it just as is....

Never one to leave well enough alone, I worked on the painting for a couple more short sessions.  I tried to get some feeling of mass and of the violent motion of the subject.  I'm not sure I did, but I'm not unhappy with the painting.  In the end, I did decide to leave the background alone.  I actually liked the watercolor look of it. 

Sacramento Fine Arts Center is having an "Animal House" juried show for animal themed works.  Since this is the only painting I have that fits that description, I decided at the last minute to find a frame and enter.  Just got word (2/3/10) that the painting was accepted into the show.  No awards, but accepted.

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