Monday, October 29, 2012

Watch Grass Grow

I have blogged a number of times about my painting lessons that I am taking with a very talented local artist by the name of Lily Adamczyk.  If you have followed any of my former blog posts you know that I have been painting only for the past 2 years and have been using acrylics up to this point.  Taking lessons from an accomplished artist and learning a new medium like oils can open one up to a new level of critiquing that facebook friends or family dare not provide.  In their defense 1. they probably don't want to hurt my feelings and 2. even with all my bad habits I demonstrate a level of skill they may not have themselves.  

I chose for the subject of my first solo oil painting a field with three longhorns.  Well, actually two longhorns and a calf.  We took this photo somewhere along the road while traveling in Nebraska.  I loved the look these bovine gave us as we forced my 14 year old niece to stand in a field of corn so that we could take her picture. You don't come across too many fields of corn in the Nevada desert so we made her pose all across the countries bread basket states.  Actually, now that I think about it, I haven't seen too many longhorns in Las Vegas either.  Regardless of what crazy things we were doing to make them stare at us like this, I loved this photo and knew immediately that I wanted to try and paint it.

So as I began painting out my scene on the blank canvas, I couldn't really get around the fact that my subject was surrounded by a great deal of green grass.  I decided to split that up with a small stream running across and to have a distant barn on the horizon.  As I posted this painting on facebook, I received a number of compliments about the way I painted my grass.  So, I proudly carried my partially completed work to my most recent painting lesson so that Lily could get a close up look at my masterpiece.  I was sure the she would like the way I handled the long grass in this composition because I tried to follow her instructions on the painting I had done previously that I call "Memories of the Road Home".  Boy was I WRONG!!! 

Lily's first comment to me was that she see me making this mistake all the time and she is going to break me of my bad habits, especially when it comes to painting grass and having things springing up from the edges of my canvas.  I guess that meant that she didn't like the tree I added in the corner.

The first correction she had me do was to add more contrast to the grass areas by adding brown squiggly lines in different directions. After these are completed, I'm going to come back in with a light ochre to simulate the grass that has gone to seed in my photo.

With this close up, you can see that I have started adding the contrast to the grass and have worked to DEFINE the BOVINE by darkening the shadows and highlighting the areas that are being impacted by the sunlight.  I can honestly say that this action has resulted in a marked improvement.  Lily is always right.

This is close up of an area that I have not yet added the contrast and I can see what a difference this makes in the overall feeling of the grass.  

I was thinking about the fact that for so many year I have not viewed nature with "ARTIST EYES" and now I am trying to interrupt what my memory remembers it to look like.  The randomness and imprefections that exists in nature is missing from my pieces because I'm trying to interrupt it and not really obeserve it.  What I really need to do to improve my paintings, is get outside and literally "WATCH GRASS GROW".

Nosey Girls- 18 x 24 (Oil)

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