May 31, 2012

Mare and Foal Painting Color Concepts

Whoa, two blog posts from me in one day! That's a first!

I have not done a horse painting in years. Since it's spring I was thinking it would be fun to do a mare and foal in a field of flowers. (Yes, cutesy, I know! But what's wrong with cute?) I did some quick color concepts in Photoshop to try to determine what color palette I should go with. But I'm having a hard time deciding.
Which colors do you like best and why?




Blood bay:

Blood bay with green background:

I could also mix them up I suppose. Maybe a bay foal with a buckskin mare, for example?

Chickadee Painting Revision

Another "finished" painting I decided to go back revise, a painting of the chickadee. This was not so dramatic a revision as the previous one, the impala painting. But I think it still had a significant impact. Here's the original:

The background was a little too barren in the original version. The idea behind the orange colors was to convey the feeling of autumn. But, without an clear indication, it could just as easily be a forest fire! Haha! It needed a little detail to bring out the fact that it's autumn in the scene. The addition of a few vine maple leaves helped convey this as well as add some visual interest to the upper corner that was pretty plain and uninteresting before. I think it also helped balance the "weight" of the painting. What do you think?

May 27, 2012

Wildlife Galleries Of My Past

While digging through some old photos looking for reference for my next painting, I came across some photos of me and my paintings in art galleries that I thought might be interesting to share.

The first gallery I was with was the Parkhurst Art Galleries in San Pedro, CA, representing the wonderful seascapes of Violet Parkhurst, now sadly deceased. She was a wonderful lady giving a young unknown artist like myself a chance by sharing a corner of her gallery with me.

It was a good first step and I'm grateful she gave me that opportunity. I did sell a few paintings through her gallery. However, since the gallery focused mainly on clientele interested in seascapes, it was not the ideal gallery for my wildlife art. A better opportunity soon came along. Artworks, Etc. in Fountain Valley focused exclusively on wildlife and western art. It was the perfect place for my art. The gallery owner and staff did a great job of promoting my art and my paintings sold very well there. I had a hard time keeping up supplying them with new paintings. What more could a new artist ask for!?

I worked with Artworks, Etc. for several years. It was a great gallery to work with. Unfortunately for me, the gallery owner retired and the gallery closed. Ah well, we had a great run! Time to move on.

So now, here I am, seeking a new gallery, hoping I can find one as wonderful to work with as the previous galleries. If you know of any galleries looking for another wildlife artist send them my way! :)

May 21, 2012

Revising Finished Paintings

Before now I don't think I've ever gone back and significantly revised any of my wildlife paintings that I had previously considered finished. Usually, if I am later not satisfied with a painting I try to just learn from its mistakes and move on, applying what I learned to the next painting. This time, however, I decided to go ahead and change a painting and see if changing what I thought was wrong with it really made it a stronger piece or not. In this case, it is my painting of African antelope, a male and female impala.

First, let's look at the original version:

Now, let me explain why I felt this painting needed some significant changes. First, it was never clear to viewers what the upper murky lavender background was. My idea was that it was the side of a big mountain, like Kilimanjaro, too big to see the whole mountain within the image. But I didn't pull that off well and no one ever got that. Most viewers seemed to think I had just painted some weird purplish storm clouds. It doesn't do any good if I'm the only one who understands my painting. I shouldn't have to explain to someone, "No, that's a mountain, not clouds." Yikes! So that needed to be changed.

The next thing that made this painting a little weak was the lack of balance. All the weight of the image was on the left. I put a little gnarly branch on the ground to try to help balance it, but the branch was just too small and light to balance the larger dark area of the male impala. The whole thing felt lopsided. I needed more "weight" on the right side.

So, what do I do to fix these two issues? I needed to either make the background mountain look more like a mountain, as originally intended, or make it look more like sky, as viewers thought it was. I decided to go for sky because I could more easily use the sky elements to help balance the painting at the same time. Since the animals were obviously in bright sunshine it made more sense to have a sunny sky than a stormy one. I changed the sky to mostly clear blue with some wispy white clouds. I kept the white clouds to the left to help lighten the weight on the side. The darker blue on the right helps add weight there for balance.

To fix the balance issue even more, I added some trees to the right. Having more objects on that side, along with some darker green colors, added some weight and helped balance the painting. The curving branches and angles also help lead the viewer's eye back into the painting whereas before, with nothing to stop it, the eye could easily follow the horizon line right off and out of the image.

While I was at it, I added bluish tones to the hills to better tie them with the sky color and push them farther back.

Here is the revised painting:

I think in this case the revision was worth the effort and made it a stronger painting overall. Actually making the changes helped me see why things did or didn't work more clearly than if I had just imagined the changes and tried to learn from that. So, not only do I feel I have a stronger piece now, I learned more from it as well.

What do you think? Which version do you like better and why?

Did you ever revise your "finished" painting later? When you did, did you feel it was worth it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.

May 15, 2012

Who Painted That?

While setting up my new art studio on our new house I spent some time sorting through the boxes of stuff I brought over from my old art studio. It was interesting to look through my old sketchbooks. I'm surprised that some of these drawings and paintings still exist since much of it was created way back in my teen years. Most of it I recognized quite well and could still relate to. But with some, I had to ponder, who was I when I created this? Below is such an image. It is so different from anything I ever did before or since that I have to wonder, who was that younger me, the artist of many years ago who created this? What was I thinking when I painted it? I wish I could go back into my head that day and hear my thoughts. Why would I choose such a style? Was I inspired by another's work? Or did I just come up with that on my own? Where did it come from? Why a unicorn? Why a volcano? And, as my friends said when I showed them this, why a unicorn with a volcano? Volcanoes go with dinosaurs. Unicorns belong with rainbows!
Well, I suppose I was imagining what the world was like for the prehistoric unicorn. There were unicorns back then, weren't there? :)

May 12, 2012

FAA "Mother's Love" Contest Winners

In honor of Mother's Day I hosted a FAA (Fine Art America) contest showcasing artwork expressing love between mother and baby in the animal world. Here are the winners of that contest.
First Place: 'Giraffe Family' by Xueling Zou.
Second Place: 'Some Bunny Loves You' by Linda Simmon.
The rest of the entries can be viewed here.
Check back next week for the results of the next contest called "Songbird Art" celebrating the sounds of spring time!

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