Thursday, September 1, 2011


Phlox, oil on canvas board, 6"x6"
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I love how the objects melt into the back ground in low-key paintings. Low-key paintings are those using the bottom half (more or less) of the value range. The light bathes the objects producing a soft glow. It can produce a peaceful scene with a feeling of mystery about it. Other appropriate terms might be "moody" or "atmospheric". I have attempted to create some of these effects in this 6" x 6" study.

Each type of painting style has a set of problems (lets call them challenges) and creating the effects I spoke of above are some we face when painting in this style. Any painting can be thought of in this way. It is a set of problems and the artist's job is to solve those problems. It is an equation (or probably a set of equations) to be solved. This is true whether the artist is a beginner or a seasoned professional.

If you paint in a representational style, it is useful to analyze a prospective painting in this way before you begin. That is one of the reasons that doing a preliminary small sketch of a larger painting is so useful. You are able to address (and hopefully solve) many of the challenges such as composition, use of values, etc. before you begin your large painting. If you do not make a preliminary sketch, you should at least take the time to think through the painting you are beginning so you can plan your strategy. The combination of good technique and being purposeful in planning your attack will deliver much better results than blindly painting away will little thought to the problems you will face.

This is part of my thought process and procedure whether I am doing a small still life or a large landscape. I find when I take the time and do a good job on preplanning, my job becomes much easier, more enjoyable, and the end results are so much better.

thanks so much for your visit!