Today I want to talk to you about How I Do What I Do.
Wait. That sounds too grandiose.
Today, I want to show you How I Make The Sausage That Is My Art.
Which is illustrating, and which I do from photos.
Yes, I paint from photos. There. I’ve said it. n answer to that age-old question, “Where do you get your ideas from?”, my answer is: “I get them from the photographs I take.” (And yes, I carry a real camera around with me so I can take photos of passing scenes that interest me.)
This is a picture of something I saw on a morning walk in my Long Island neighborhood one day:
Oh, my…I was entranced by [with?] the way the morning light was streaming through the branches of this small stand of young trees. I took the photo, thinking that if I could study it long enough, I might be able to paint such a scene…back-lit foliage on a June day:
Please note that I am taking photos of photos, which look like crap when you post them on your blog, to show you the alongside the watercolor studies I did. Sorry about that.
Sometimes I would snap a photo and not know that it would make for a lousy study until after I’d painted it — like this “beach” scene below, taken on a North Shore of Long Island cove, which even with artistic license did not make for a compelling picture (but note: I never throw anything away — even the duds are worth keeping, because nothing that you try to paint ever goes to waste):
One year I went out walking with my camera on Dec. 26 specifically in search of subjects. As soon as I spied this heap of apres-Xmas trash, I knew I had a “scene”:
Same as when I walked past this bike-and-basketball scene:
This is hard to see, in the photo below, but I zoomed in on a backyard fence on which were poised a line of plastic pink flamingos with an American flag accoutrement that I couldn’t resist (which I also edited [moved the flag] when I painted the scene):
Who wouldn’t have found this little vignette adorable?:
Once I have done my studies, I gather them together on scotch tape them on a page and stick them in my sketchbook, for future ref:
So I repeat: Never throw away your studies! If nothing else, they bring back fond memories of stomping through snow fall on the day after Christmas of a year you can’t even remember…good times).
I confess that I do not put away my garden hose so it suffers in Winter because I am a bad, bad people — and I am so glad! Because this was such a pleasure to paint:
I loved the elegant loops of the hose, and the variations in the color of it — yellow-green, bright green, brownish-green, olive — I had such a fun time painting this, even though I knew I would never find anything useful (publishable) in it:
Another Winter blizzard, another walk around the neighborhood, another fabulous view — you can’t see it very well on the photo, but that little red bow tied around the post was the whole reason that I wanted to paint this very wacky and cool and dilapidated fence:
Old fences in the snow make for wonderful painting subjects:
The challenge here was to paint a white fence IN THE SNOW!!! What fun!!!:
Another fence (see below) — by the way, all you have to do to get a better view of both these photos and the resultant paintings is to move your mouse onto the photo (as, below, or above) and click onto it…the gremlins of the internets will blow up the image so you can gander at it better (and, in the case below, see what happens when you use yellow-winted masking fluid where you want white snow to be):
GREAT tree house, and a fun way to practice painting a Winter tree:
Could YOU pass by this bit of snow-dusted topiary and NOT want to paint it???:
Or this Adarondak chair???:
The only reason I took this snapshot (below) was because of the candy cane decorations in the lawn — aren’t they adorable?:
Sometimes, when you least expect it, like, say, when you are wandering through a hardware store, you come across a still life that tickles your fancy and lucky you! You have a camera handy!:
A few years ago I went to my local Whole Foods:
And then I got on a whole pumpkin thing:
As you can see, I was too timid when I painted in the shadows, made them too pale, and lost the whole POINT of the pic! Those two tiny baby pumpkins on the bottom step just disappear! But that’s why you have to do these studies: to teach yourself to not wimp out! Use that black paint! Black paint is OK!! So are exclamation points!!!!
Now, I took a LOT of artistic licsence when I did the next pic:
The thing that tickled my fancy about this scene was the three small tomatoes sitting on the back step. Why? Why would someone put tomatoes (and a green pepper) on the back step? Why? Were they in the middle of harvesting their vegetable patch and got called away by — what? The bends? An emergency salad-making convention? The desire to compose a sonnet?
I LOVED those three little tomatoes on the back step:
I also loved the rake — which was a weird, really small rake, which I could never have painted AS IS because it would not have made any sense. Now, earlier that week I had seen a big pumpkin on a front porch, and a squirrel was perched atop it, but I didn’t have my camera and did not record the scene, but I used the memory of that to “jzuush” up my little picture (as seen above).
“Jzuush” is an artistic and fashionista tecnical term for “spiffen up”.
When I saw these Autumn leaves scattered on this sidewalk (below), I wondered if I could make a painting out of it:
Nope. It was obviously above my pay grade. But I give myself props for trying.
I also wondered the same thing — could I make a painting of this? — when I came across this delightful scene, which I call Picket Fence With Wonky Brick Sidewalk and Autumn Leaves:
I bet that if I hadn’t shown you actual photographs of this…
…you would never believe that my Squint illustration was based on actual fact! Right?
Yes, sometimes sun set on the Long Island Sound is just too pinky/lavender/silver to be true:
This is where I stopped blogging for a few hours because I suddenly realized that it was a fine, fine Fall evening and I gasped at the folly of me sitting at my computer when sun set on the Long Island Sound was a mere 25 minutes away!!! And I jumped up and dashed out the door and got in my car and fought my way through traffic-jam traffic through the Village of Roslyn on the north shore of Long Island and jumped out of my car and ran — yes, I RAN — to the cliff above Hempstead Harbor and began snapping away at the fleeting, all too fleeting display of light of this day, the one and only day of October 8, 2015:
And if I make a painting of this once-in-a-lifetime sun set of Oct. 8, 2015, you can rest assured that I will show it to you all, my Dear Readers, right here.
Oh? That embedded video below? That fantastic dance song that makes you feel twenty years younger just by listening to it? With the armies that fight by glitter that makes you wish the whole world was run by cardboard-weilding pop stars from Brisbane? That’s just my latest reason Why I Am Ever So Glad That There Are Australians To Make This World a Better Place:
All I want to know is: Why do Australians say “Geronimo”? It’s not like the average American yells Ned Kelly …so why do Aussies know about Geronimo in the Land of Oz? Aussies: Please explain.
Meantime, hit repeat and everybody get up and dance!!! It’s the week-end!!!