Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Magpie 70 - Artificial Life

Courtesy of Tess Kincaid

Artificial Life

Just one of many purchases
Picked up for cheap at the antique store
A relative for a new life
Pictures of an unknown
To deck the walls.

The oh so sterile walls
With no memories
Beginning anew
Living without a past
Not made up.

She had stood but briefly
At the edge of devastation
Saw the freedom of the total loss
From the horrendous storm
And simply walked away.

Picking up what wasn't true
From here to there
As she moved homeless
Without a past she wished to revisit.

New identity in St. Louis
New name in Cleveland
New job in Pulaski
An apartment with rented furniture
New relatives from the antique store.

Total investment $1.99
For a new aunt
No investment in emotion
For a life
A nameless tornado could take away.

J. Binford-Bell
June 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Snowy Solitude

Snowy Solitude 12 x 12 on diagonal cradled panel
I saw this watercolor painting a couple weeks ago that was of a snowy canyon. I studied it every time I passed it. In oil it would be easy. Just splatter white paint over the painting when done. But in watercolor what is to remain white has to be decided in advance of any paint being applied. A number of methods can be used to leave an area white - masking paper, masking compound, a resist or something like soap that repels paint from an area.

The artist had to have used masking compound. And he had to have scattered it on like the oil painter but first. If I were to spatter white oil paint I would use a tooth brush and run my thumb down it. Generally the oil paint would be thinned but not too much.  One wouldn't want to thin the masking compound because it would not peel off the canvas easily. Time to play and experiment. And I did using some scrap panel and canvas I had about. There are control issues. The painting that had inspired me was a full sheet of watercolor paper. It could be years before I had that much control. But I decided to give it a try on a 12 x 12 panel. Now for a subject.

The back of the Ranchos de Taos church seemed perfect because it is so plain; no complex details to confuse the subject which is clearly the snow. I was really quite happy with my results but I also see it as just the beginning. Currently sketching out a high county ranch complex which is slowly melting into the land. I think it will be perfect for my next attempt at snow on a larger format.

Artists should always look at the art of others. Otherwise our world gets too confining.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grand River Passage

Grand River Passage 2' x 3'
I thought on this particular painting rather than doing a step by step analysis of the process I would focus on some of the details in this painting. I began work on this large painting after completing a 19 x 13 inch study.

Water Passage
One of the biggest differences between a study and a full size subsequent painting is the amount of canvas that has to be covered. You cannot be as picky about details in some degree just because of scale. And yet because of the size some aspects of the painting have to be different. I find I can seldom do the same painting only larger. In Grand River Passage there is more sky than in Water Passage. And I found it necessary to carry some of the colors of the cliff into the water.

Water detail on Grand River Passage
On Water Passage this area of the painting is merely shades of green, gray and blue but on the larger painting, partly through a happy accident, I have brought in the purple and yellow and pinks of the canyon walls. And I opted out of using any of the metallic colors I used in the smaller work.

Upper Canyon Detail
I, of course, used my signature ravens in both paintings but chose to make them more numerous in the larger painting. Also I cast some gray shadows on the far walls. The upper canyon is also glazed with a white wash to give it a sense of distance and detail in the upper canyon is minimal.

Middle Canyon
This detail shows the line and granulation used in the middle canyon to focus the attention of the viewer. The delicate lines added with a pen and ink to me give the rocks more reality and substance. And it has always rather amazed me just how few lines this takes. Most of the "texture of the rocks" has been achieved with floating color with a granulation medium that causes a separation of the colors that appears as grain or texture. I then take a nib and India ink of various colors and define color "blocks." I did less of this in the smaller painting because to do too much would make it too busy.

The result of the subtle differences in the two works is that they are two different paintings even if inspired by the same photograph. I often think that the process of painting from sketch to study to full size work is a grand passage in and of itself.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Magpie 69 - Tiny Treasures

Image from Tess Kincaid Magpie Tales

Tiny Treasures

A seashell smaller than a fingernail
Overlooked by so many others
Combing the smooth sands
Deserted by the departing tide.

Missed looking for larger beach treasures
Scotch bonnets, lightning Welks, conch shells
Found among the baby ears and jingle shells
Wrapped in a piece of kelp.

And then it seemed
They were everywhere
A window opened upon their presence
Dotting the beach.

Thousands of tiny treasures
Awaiting collection
Washed and saved
In an neglected brandy sniffer.

Tiny treasures
Given pride of place
Because like a magic charm
They opened an unseen world.

J. Binford-Bell
June 2011