It’s been a busy winter….I’ve been in the studio working on commissions and preparing for several upcoming shows. But now that the warm weather is here – I’m making time to get outside and take in the inspiration. I’m instantly drawn to all the trees that are blooming, and it’s so nice to see the warm spring colors back at the beach as well. I’m thrilled to be back exploring landscapes and shorelines with my camera to take reference pictures for future paintings.
Aside from creating paintings for shows and to supply galleries with work, I also regularly work on commissions. I welcome commissions because it’s such a wonderful process where the client can be involved in the creation of the artwork as much as they want to be. Some clients choose to be involved from start to finish, while others just give the dimensions and full artistic license – both ways to approach it are welcomed. Below are two commissions that I recently completed. With these commissions, both of the clients liked a painting of mine that was sold and wanted something similar in look and feel but different in size. One of the clients wanted a panoramic look and so we brook up the piece into a triptych – which gives the painting a nice contemporary graphic quality to it, yet has the feel as if you’re looking at a panoramic view.
Because we’re still in winter (I think we’re at T-minus 20 days left of this season? But who’s counting?), I’ve been digging through my photos of warmer days past. I took this photograph right at the end of summer in Bristol, Rhode Island at Colt State Park. One of my favorite parts of my painting process is to get outside and do ‘fieldwork’ – sketch and shoot whatever inspires me in nature. As a follow-up from my previous post I thought that I would include another example of how I use my photographs for reference. And because I also use my drawings to create a painting… I’ll be sure to make a point to photograph my sketches and post those soon.
I loved the way that these trees are all lined up next to each other, and I wanted to emphasize that by taking away the ground so that the viewer focuses on the composition of the trees. I also decided that I wanted to give the painting more warmth than the photograph had, so I went with colors like burnt sienna, raw umber, and various orange hues and reds. My goal here was to create a sense of an early summer morning. I applied a textural paste made out of marble to give the surface more dimension. This piece was painted in oil, and unlike most of my paintings where I use gold leaf, I did not use it in this painting.
A lot of people ask where the trees that I paint are from? Or, which beach is that seascape painting from? Or, are all the images that you paint imaginary? The answer is….I paint both real and imaginary subject matter.
My painting process begins outside where I take photographs to use back in the studio as references for my paintings. I am constantly shooting all year round so that I have a large pool of photographs to work from. So, to answer the “real or imaginary” question – I do work directly from my photographs of trees and seascapes, but I don’t strive to replicate the photo exactly. Instead, I’m more interested in taking the tree out of context. It is the tree itself that I’m interested in versus the actual landscape that it stands in. Same goes for my interpretation of the sea – I like to focus on a close-up abstract part of the ocean versus the whole location of the seascape. Because I place the subject matter out of its context and into a background that is abstract and loose with many layers of transparent paint, it gives my paintings a surreal quality – and a sense that it could be anywhere you wonder it to be.
This fall I have been busy working on creating new paintings within my tree-scape series. My painting process includes building depth and texture by painting many transparent layers of oil paint. The result is a surface that has an almost jewel-like finish. When you view the paintings up close, you can see all the various textures and hues that shine through from the first layer of paint up to the last.