Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Lights Of Noyo Harbor Oil on Linen (UPDATED)

This painting was a learning experience, start to finish.  Unlike my first night scene of Noyo harbor, which had some fairly well lit boats and water-front buildings that could be painted with color and a little detail, this scene is from a greater distance.  As a result, all of the structures are shrouded in darkness and can only be suggested with subtle value changes. There's little or no opportunity for color notes except for a few places where the lights reflect on nearby buildings and other surfaces.  I've never painted anything with those restrictions.  It was fun learning my way around the concept.

I started with a small color study.  I am finding this a very important step when contemplating a lager studio painting that will require a lot of  time commitment.  The study not only helps to visualize the final painting, but it quickly reveals obvious problems and gives you an opportunity to think about them and eventually correct them.  The final painting is done on stretched oil-primed linen.  It was a very smooth weave.  I would probably opt for a little more texture if I had it to do over.  A lot of glazing went on in the areas of the water and more importantly in the hills.  It helped bring the values of the textures in the hills together to reinforce the lack of light, while at the same time allowing enough change to be able to keep the hills from being black slabs.  The final painting is 18" x 36".

This was easily the most difficult painting to photograph that I have encountered.  The surface is very smooth linen and it has a glossy varnish on top.  The hills do have value changes to suggest shapes and trees, but because they are still very dark, the camera wants to average them into the overall value.  Finding a way to capture the darkness of the painting yet also reveal the subtle value changes which give definition to the structures and the hills was a real challenge.  This photo comes as close to the actual painting as any I have taken.  I finally quit trying to put light on the painting and went in exactly the opposite direction.  I took this in a room with no lights on at all and with the blinds on the windows closed a tightly as possible.  I used shutter control and finally found the ideal at about a 1/4 second exposure, f/4.8, iso 400.  No 'adjustments' in photoshop were needed.  

The Lights of Noyo Harbor  Oil on linen   36" x 18"

Color Study Noyo Harbor 9 x 12
And this is the color study.  As you can see, I choose a more horizontal format for the final painting, which I believe captures the actual scene much more accurately.  I've mentioned many times before that a canvas size ration of 2 (W) to 1 (H) is ideal for painting almost any landscape.  It just seems true to the way we see such scenes. 

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Monday, June 22, 2015

Carny (Revisited)

Last year my friends and I visited the Amador County Fair, a trip that is coming up again in a few weeks.  It is a great little Fair...a page from the past when going to the Fair was a pleasant family experience. 4-H kids showing their beautiful steers and sheep and calves, art exhibits, a parade of antique tractors down 'main street', lots of shade trees for sitting under while having a corn dog and beer....well it just doesn't get much better than that.  And of course there is a 'midway' with all the rides and coin tosses and cheap prizes.

And there along the midway, I spotted this Country Fair Carny seeking shade under an umbrella while waiting for the next muscle man to come along and want to show off to his girl. On the very warm July day, the suckers were few and far between.

I painted this version of The Carny shortly after that visit....


Recently I was looking at the painting - one which I have always liked - and thinking about composition, focus and the challenge of the background.  As much as I felt this painting turned out pretty well, I also had never quite figured out the background. The Carny seemed a little lost in the  'confusion'.   In particular however, I wanted to play with how I might have made it a better composition...something with more impact from across a room.

I pulled the painting off the wall began to sketch a larger Carny right over the original, emphasizing the diagonal relationship of his body to the canvas.  I also played with how to suggest a background without allowing it to be a major part of the painting.  I wanted something to 'frame' the Carny, not compete with him.
Carny    Oil on stretched canvas  11 x 14 inches

The Carny is a much different painting now.  This is how I remembered him.  Although he was surrounded by midway "stuff" and by people walking by, he was quite alone.  His boredom was palpable in the heat of the summer day.  This is what I saw when I snapped the photograph.

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art