Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Back to Basics


Garden Bounty

A garden harvest!

Summer is flying past and it's shaping up to be a busy fall with upcoming art shows. I'm excited! But sometimes I can get a little overwhelmed with all of the things that I need to do. When I start to feel lost, I reel myself back in through a couple of means. 

The first is my garden. Thanks to my parents, I've always had a garden of some sort since childhood. Sometimes it was a modest set up, such as pots on my apartment balcony in Wisconsin or a shared community garden plot in Maryland. Now, I'm pleased to have a wonderful backyard oasis in Knoxville, Tennessee. The photo above shows a recent harvest. We have massive fig trees and all of the flowers you see pictured I started from seed in our basement back in March. 

The other way I marshal myself during busy times is by getting "back to basics" with my work. Nothing grounds me and calms me more than picking up a stick of charcoal and working out my ideas with some inexpensive newsprint paper. It's very freeing and I find that it makes it easier for me to tackle more complicated ideas, such as this recent cityscape, "Focus!"

30 x 40 inch oil on canvas

I had this idea from an outing to New York City for quite a while, but I needed to mull it over before I dove into it because of the subtleties of light and shadow. The best way for me to "break the glass" on this motif was to begin with vine charcoal sketches. Shown here are a couple of the initial sketches I made to map out this idea in my mind before taking up a paintbrush. 

I also like to use color maps to envision the overall values before I start mixing up paint. Shown below is the small map that I used to guide me throughout the creation of this painting. 

Color Map

Once I have these details set in my mind's eye, I'm ready to jump into the actual painting. And a great representational painting always has an abstract foundation, as you can see here in this video clip: The Initial Block-In

Thanks to my garden and some sticks of charcoal, I'm able to juggle quite a bit during a busy time. Sometimes, getting back to basics is a good thing!