Wednesday, December 25, 2019

end of year review

Well Its that time of year to look back over the past 12 months and reflect on how I did. I finished 6 paintings and now have 10 car paintings finished all together which was a goal for this year. I really felt that I needed to work on building up my portfolio so I would have something to shop around. I feel that I am now ready to get out there now that I have a decent portfolio. I advertised in Hyperrealism magazine #9 so we will see what comes of that venture. I was in a show at the Blue Line Arts Gallery in  Roseville, Ca. called "the Car Show". That was fun to get juried into a show outside my geographical area.  All in all I would say that this past year was a building year. As far as 2020 is looking I am laying out my plan fore the year now I would like to try and finish 6-8 paintings.  I joined Oil Painters of America. I thought it was time to join the big leagues and participate on a national level. I'm going to get away form these small-town groups and try to find some peers amongst professional painters.I am setting up a show in July in Hollister coinciding with a car show they have in town and I will have a booth in the September Classic car show in Orinda. I have still some things to get together to be ready for that one. I have a market tent already but there are still somethings that I will need to get like display walls. This would be my first time in a booth so I'm not sure what that's going to be like. I am debating on having prints made but that is again an investment and I am still unsure if my work lends itself to posters and such. We will see. I think I am ready to approach some galleries to see if I fit in that market. I think I really need to find out whether or not my stuff relates to people the way I think it does. I guess that comes with sales and being in shows and getting good feedback from outside people not anyone who knows me that is. SO yeah, I'm looking forward to what 2020 has to bring.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A. Mann's Truck

I came across this truck, a 1951 F1 Ford at the Goodguys Rod and Custom show in Pleasanton, Ca. As per usual I took a couple of pictures and moved on. It's not until I get home and download my pictures that I can see what I treasures I might have got that day. Luckily I was smart enough to have taken a picture of the owners tag too so I knew who this car belonged to. A year later I came across it again in Reno at the Hot August Nights car show and got a chance to meet the owner Allen Mann from Blue Lake, Ca.  I was excited to see it again and to finally meet Allen because I was using it as the subject of this painting which will be in an upcoming show at the Blue Line Arts Gallery in Roseville, Ca.

"Mann 51" oil on canvas, 24" x 24"
Allen says his wife bought him the truck a few years back. Since then he's been driving it to shows all around the west coast. He was a winner at the Hot August Nights in 2018 . He had some funny stories to tell about owning an old truck and driving it around to do errands. Allen says he would come out of a store and see some guy under his truck checking out the suspension. People are always stopping him to ask about his truck and what he's done to it. He says you just have to factor that in when going out for milk which may take an hour longer than expected.

I like these old trucks. I like the shapes of the body panels. They look fun and friendly and they seem to bring a smile to everyone who sees them. 

The composition I chose for this one is one of my favorite views of looking straight on and low at the headlight level as if you are looking into the eyes of a face. The background adds to a sense of something fun happening. It says this truck goes places and does things.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Firsts Cars

This is my first car painting. It will always be special to me because it was my first.
"49 Buick Roadmaster" oil on canvas, 24"x 36"
 Everyone has memories of their cars especially the magic of the  first one regardless of how great or how shitty the car actually was. And like first kisses or first dates you just don't forget them. My first car at age 16 or 17 wasn't anything too amazing. It was an early 80's Mazda pick-up truck. I think we paid $2400.00 at a used car lot. My dad helped me pick it out and paid for some of it as well. It had a lot of Bondo repair under the paint cause it was Pennsylvania and I don't think rust proofing was fully established back then. The bumpers almost fell off when I took it in for an inspection. It was mine and that's all that mattered. I had a lot of good times in that truck. It got me to Boston from Pennsylvania  albeit slowly because for some reason it just couldn't do more than 55 mph. 

 My dad was able to buy his first car after being in America for only a couple of years which was a game changer for him because buying a car in his home country of East Germany would have taken nearly 15 years. That 1958 Plymouth made all the hard work of farming worthwhile. He was able to live the American dream and so he stayed. 

Painting cars has also given me the chance to talk to people about their cars especially their first ones and there is usually a good story told with lots of nostalgia. I don't think cars back in the day were as reliable as they are now so it was a mystery whether or not your car would even start or it would only run if you did some ritual prayer before turning the key and you never had enough money for gas even though it was less than 25 cents per gallon! Part of why I like painting the old cars is that they had character and personality and that's what I try to capture when I paint cars.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Special Deluxe, the making of a painting

The Hunt

I go to a lot of car shows looking for new subjects to paint. I find that every show has something unique to offer. The collection of cars and the setting varies from show to show so I have to be open minded and willing to be flexible to see the possibilities at each venue. 

I was out at a local car show recently where I was taking pictures. I took a few pictures of this 49 Chevrolet Special Deluxe and then moved on to look around at some more cars. Its not until I got home and downloaded the files into my laptop that I can look closer at what are the results of my day's outing. I it's like going out collecting bugs or rocks or any kind of specimen hunting. Sometimes you come away with something special and sometimes not. Typical of my process I didn't see the gem I had until after going through my collection a few times. My photographic skills are not spectacular and it wasn't until I started playing with the image file, adjusting the lighting that I saw what was initially hidden in the black bodywork. It went form just a car to an exciting car with all kinds of reflections telling a story about this car. It's a show car. It's on display, the hood is ajar and ready to show show off the engine, its in pristine condition, the chrome is shiny the black bodywork and paint are perfect. The reflections show off the surrounding environment of other cars and people. The car itself tells a little about the owner of the car. They care enough to keep it in such good condition and they've added the extras features like the visor and the spotlight and the extra bumper pieces. All of it is finished to perfection. On the dash is a small American flag and a small state of the Virgin Mary. It's all these little details that make this painting more than just a car painting it's a story of that particular car owned by an individual with particular tastes that maybe cultural or regional or just personal. All together the picture had everything I like to use for a painting subject. I want to present a portrait of a car that speaks to its uniqueness and  its connection with its owner.

the process

So to tackle this piece I started with a 30" x 40" canvas. I used a medium weight primed Fredrix canvas stretched over Gatorboard which is glued to stretcher bars. I use the Gatorboard to give the canvas a rigid support because I don't like the wobble of free floating canvas. I've tried painting on wood panel but I don't like the feel of how the paint lays down on the wood. With the Gatorboard backing it is easier to draw on especially if you are doing a lot of fine detail.   
the drawing all laid out and ready to paint.

the rough coat is laid down for the back ground and some of the trees are laid in.
I still paint like I was taught in my beginning art classes. I lay down the foundation colors starting with the background and move to the foreground.

beginning to tackle some of the bodywork

These early layers are really just to set the overall tone of the painting. Firstly, I want to get rid of all the white canvas and then go back and refine refine refine and refine some more. I want to maintain a hierarchy of focal areas. To achieve this I use color intensity, color temperature, value contrast, and details to push some areas into the background like the trees while other areas get pulled forward like the front corner of the car. The end results gives the viewer a sense of dimensionality and a sense of spaciousness in the picture. I want the the viewer to feel both the mass of the car coming toward you and the depth of the reflections going way deep into the car.
"Special Deluxe", oil on canvas, 30" x 40"

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dissection of a Painting: "Hi Dive"

"Hi Dive"(oil on canvas 24" x 30") is one of my new paintings that will be on display at Valley Art Gallery as part of their new show "Art Pop"running from April 2, 2016 - thru May 14th 2016.

I chose this subject for its compositional elements, which is typical for me. My paintings tend to be driven by compositional elements rather than subject or color. What I liked about this one in particular was how the viewer can enter from several points but will eventually circle around the central elements of the buildings in the foreground and mid ground.
in this drawing I used arrows and dark blocks to highlight the directions of flow. I made this sketch on my iPad mini using the ART SET app. it works pretty well for drawing but I haven't got the hang of it for painting. I think I'm still an old school painting who likes the feel of the brush and the paints. All in all a handy tool for dissecting a potential painting. 

The other tool I used on my iPad is Value Viewer. It will transform your picture into a grayscale image of two or more values which is helpful for me to see what kind of patterns do the darks and lights make. seeing these patterns allows me to make some adjustments that can help improve the flow of the piece. In the final piece I lightened the background sky under the bridge deck which allowed the lamp post to stand out more which would bring the viewers along the street and the roof line and up the post to the bridge deck and back towards the center. I kept the white cleat in the foreground bright to work as a starting point followed by the Bar door which is very dark. At this point the viewer can go along the perspective lines of the street or up to the clock and bridge then over along the cables, down to the lamp post and along the shadows to the buildings.

Details, details, details
Bridges can be a real challenge to paint or draw. Because of their size they tend to dominate a landscape. Bridges also have a lot of visual interest with the repeating shapes and repetition of patterns. The challenge comes in how to put it into a composition so it works with or works into the flow of the other parts of the picture. If an artist wants to use the bridge as the focal point then its easy to emphasize all those features. If you only want it to stay in the background then one needs to deemphasize all the details. I have done several paintings with the bridge and have left off the cables because I felt they were distracting to the flow of the composition. In Hi Dive I chose to put some of the details in but down played them so they were not overwhelming to the composition.

The cables on the bridge were a challenge. As a cluster they show up pretty light but I didn't want them to be so distracting at the same time. There was also a pattern to their arraignment. I felt that I couldn't paint the cables properly with a brush without making them bulky and distracting. I wanted them expressed as very thin lines so I used an oil based color pencil to achieve that effect.

The underside of the bridge deck was another challenge. In the Value image it shows up like a dark mass across the sky which would throw off the composition.  Bridges in general have lots of patterns and repetition of shapes. That can be cool and interesting but it can also dominate a picture because we tend to focus on patterns. I chose to express the girders but downplay the value contrast. Doing so adds interest to the shadow side of the bridge deck by making the shadows interesting without being a distraction or scene stealer as well as fitting into the composition.

"Hi Dive" will be on display and available for purchase at Valley Art Gallery until May14th, 2016

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fence posts

I was looking over some of my artwork recently and noticed that besides my better known subject matter of cityscapes I have a fancy for fence posts. Well whats not to love about something old and weathered sitting out a field usually with some old rusty barbed wire nailed into it and maybe my favorite thing is how ranchers and farmers never seem to take out the old nails and just tack on some new ones so the posts can become littered with old nail and bits of old barbed wire. If the post has been there for a while then it is often times leaning to one side or another due to the ground giving way under it. Perhaps I'm a romantic but I look at  them the way other people may view and old tractor or farm equipment sitting off to the side slowly rusting away having done its job long ago and is now just there for better or worse. I don't know if farmers are  being nostalgic for leaving the old tractor sit there unwilling to let go of a beloved piece of equipment or are they being artistic knowing how other people love to see old farm equipment rusting in a field. Regardless of why farmers do what they do I enjoy finding fence posts doing or trying to do what they where put there for to do and that is to hold a line, to mark a boundary, to keep animals in an area. Here in the Mt. Diablo foot hills area where I do my walking there are areas for cattle to graze and since the area has hills and the rain can be heavy the ground can move or gets washed away which requires ranchers to go out and do fence maintenance. It brings me back to my childhood farm in central Pennsylvania. Fence maintenance was something that had to be done regularly. Back there it would usually be a branch falling on the fence that would nock it down and then the cows would escape and we would have to go find them and bring them back in and fix the fence. My walks here in the Mt. Diablo hills along the fences brings me back to those days on the farm.
Fence Post,#5, charcoal on paper, 25x 20

Fence Post, #6,charcoal on paper, 28 x 22

Fence post #3,color pencil on paper, 19 x 12

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Here I go!

well here we go!
 I got the idea to write this blog from listening to Antrese Wood's podcast "The Savvy Painter" where she interviewed Artist Karin Jurrick. In the interview Karin says that blogging really helped her connect with an audience of collectors. Thinking on this I can see that what adds value for potential collectors is knowing something more about the artist and the artwork. I think a painting's enjoyment can be enriched with some back story of the artist or of the circumstances regarding the art itself. Perhaps in this age of digital living being more open as an artist can be a good thing for the potential buyer. So hey here we go pulling back the veil of the artist the process and the final  product.