Saturday, April 20, 2013

Painters of the Night

Ok, ok, so maybe "painters of the night" gives the wrong impression here but a friend and I went out and painted a nocturne plein air.  We drove to our "old town" area at dusk, donned our backpacks and set out to find something we had a shot of painting in the dark.  It was chilly out so we had our heavy, paint-smeared coats on, grungy pants, etc...honestly, we looked like a couple of homeless guys.

Photo courtesy of Will Spear
We found a nice window display at the florist and set up to paint.  My friend, Will, has painted a few nocturnes before so I followed his lead.  I wasn't really sure where to start but turns out it's like any other painting; you start putting down shapes of the right value and color.  The hardest part was discerning the color/temp of dark mixtures on my palette when my main light source was an LED head lamp.

Paul Wood Florist
6"x6" Oil on linen - Not for sale
 This painting took me twice as long as it should have but once I got in the groove there was no way I was leaving until it was done.  I had a blast and now I'm hooked.

Got any tips for painting nocturnes?  Leave a comment!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Just a Little Place in the Country

Stately pines surround this nice little homestead nestled along the foothills.  The sun is setting as the sky clears after the spring rain.  The birds are chirping and all is well.

"Just a Little Place in the Country"
8"x10" |  Oil on linen mounted to board

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Making of Hallett Peak

The craft of making a picture, or dare I say art, usually involves more than putting the paint on canvas.  I'm always interested to learn how other artists approach their craft and so I thought I would share the steps I went through to create the 20"x16" painting below.  

It started with me standing awestruck before Hallett Peak while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I grabbed my sketchpad and drew this thumbnail sketch:

Later, at home I worked out the value design: 


The line drawing below shows where I wanted the energy and focus to be - darker, heavier lines are where the highest contrasts and focal point will be:

Next, I painted this 14"x11" to see if the colors and design worked together to communicate my concept:

I then put the first painting away for a few weeks.  With a fresh eye, I pulled the painting out again and did some critical thinking about what I would need to adjust to make a successful larger version.  The notes below show the key changes I wanted to make:

I had to have a plan for value, color, line, and composition that would come together to communicate the grandeur of the place and my response to it.  Once the elements were resolved I began work on the 20"x16" canvas.

Step 1: blocking in the main shapes

Step 2: first pass of sky and mountain.  Accurate value and color.

Comparing concept piece with the larger painting

Step 4: painting middle ground and main tree

Step 5: first pass on foreground.  Orchestrating shapes and colors in foreground
is critical for visual flow and interest.

Step 6: Refined the shapes within the mountain, scumbled warm highlights on middle ground trees,
refined the large trees between foreground and middleground (on left), adjusted the rock shapes and
added final details to the foreground plants.

Step 7: Frame!
This frame was hand made for this painting by Mike Otteman
of Otteman Arts in Loveland Colorado 

I also sign and title the back of the painting along with the date, medium and varnish used. 

Use the comment box below to let me know your thoughts about my painting or process.  I love hearing from you!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

National Exhibition Opens April 5th

The 22nd annual Artists Association of Northern Colorado National Exhibition opens tomorrow night in Fort Collins, Colorado.  

I'm pleased to announce that my painting "Hallett Peak" has been juried into the show and will be on display from April 5th through April 26th, 2013.

For those of you in the area, by all means, come by and see all the wonderful paintings from artists across the USA.

Hallett Peak by Scott Ruthven
20"x16"   Oil on Canvas

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