Saturday, November 23, 2013

More equine painting progress …
plus Jo, International Cat of Danger

Sophie WORK IN PROGRESS • 18 x 24 • oil on cradled GessobordTM

Hey everybody! I made a sharp left turn on this one today after putting it aside for a few days. 

Okay, 18 days. 

While I was working on the garden painting commission, this one was leaning against the wall up on the mantel, and whenever I would come into the room to work I would stand there studying it for a few minutes before going on to whatever task was at hand, trying to decide what about the composition was bugging me. I still hadn’t quite figured it out when I transferred it to the easel this morning. 

I stood there looking at it, and I let my gaze drift past the easel to the window looking out on the pasture beyond.

And then it hit me! I wanted her not to be so hemmed in by the woodsy background (even though I loved all the interesting, mysterious shapes and colors in them there woods -- I’ll save those for another painting). 

I wanted her to be out in a windswept vista like our pasture! Only not the vista of today. A SUNNY windswept vista. So I rifled through my pasture reference photos (and by “rifling” I mean I scrolled down through the Pasture comma Sunny folder in my iPhoto) until I found one that I liked -- well, several really, which I stuck together without hiding the lines because it’s just a reference so it doesn’t matter that it’s obviously a bunch of photos stuck together to make one sweeping vista.

And then I started in on the transformation. The background I had already started in oils was dry by this time, so it was easy to just paint over it.

I began by defining where the new horizon line would be (the green strokes right behind Sophie’s head). High on the painting so it would appear way off in the distance.

Then I started defining some of the distant trees by painting in the negative space of the sky around them. It was a really interesting brain exercise to concentrate on painting the new trees while intensely trying to ignore the old, already established shapes which also happened to be trees.

More painting of the landscape on the left side, including adding a few subtle suggestions of reflections and pinpoints of light in the shadowy pond area.

Now defining the horizon line on the right side of Sophie’s head, and adding in the strips of sunny grass made by the low winter sun.

Interesting that with the dark areas in between it almost looks like terraced landscaping on that side.

If you squint.

And use your imagination.

Now defining the nearer pecan trees by painting in the negative spaces between the branches and trunks.

And then a little more refining and lightening of the pond area right above Sophie’s back, and more definition of shadowy strips of grass on the right. Also, “sunnying up” Sophie’s mane to fit in with the sunny light in the pasture, adding more pinpoints of light, especially in the area between her nearer ear and eye, and softening her muzzle and nostrils.

Here’s where I had to stop, because we’re going to a joyous wedding tonight and I have to get ready.

But before I go, as promised, here’s a picture of Jo, International Cat of Danger, shortening my life just a little bit by her daredevil attitude:

“So?” you may ask, “What’s so dangerous about that?”

Well ...

Right in front of her is about a twenty-foot drop to the floor below.

I know, I know, she’s a cat.

But still.

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