Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Dust and Thunder" Completed

Dust and Thunder
18" x 24"
Color Pencil on Uart 600

Upon completion of Dust and Thunder yesterday, I couldn't help but think about how much I have learned from this drawing.  Much of it's process has been an exercise in managing discomfort -- a frequent and nagging sensation that what I was attempting to do each step of the way may not get the result I was going for.  In retrospect, this feeling was probably born primarily from approaching a subject in ways quite foreign to me..........the dreaded unknown.  

During a previous blog post I discussed how controlling contrast can impact composition.  Effective handling of contrast can help to lead a viewer's eye through a painting or drawing, and ideally the focal point should have the strongest contrast of edges.  With Dust and Thunder, I attempted to impact the contrast through color and edge control.  My previous assertion that my goal would be to make the appaloosa horse the focal point, may have been unrealistic -- given the prominence of the two largest dark horses.  However, I attempted to draw attention to the appaloosa in a couple of ways.  First, in my reference photographs the brightly lit area behind the horses did not extend as far left as it does in my drawing: I extended the brightness behind the appaloosa, to create contrast through both the use of values and color.  Secondly, I attempted to keep the edges of this horse's neck and head fairly sharp, as hard edges also increase contrast thereby drawing the onlooker's eye.  For similar reasons, I had to work very hard to keep most of the foreground foliage very loose and soft: too much detail there (hard edges) would have distracted from where the areas of interest needed to be.  As it is my tendency to feel as if I must place every little detail (okay....yes....I have control issues), this was quite an undertaking for me.  Finally, because colors of high contrast or intensity at the margins can pull a viewer's eye out of the image, I attempted to slightly darken the values of the sunlit dust on both the left and right-hand margins.

I have the distinct feeling that the process of this piece and the many things I have learned, of which the above is just a sampling, will change my future artwork: how and to what degree, I do not know.  Clearly in both life, and art, there is a lot to be said for pushing oneself beyond one's comfort level.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just when we thought it was over.......

I certainly don't need to tell any of you from the midwest or the east coast (or the plains, west, and parts of the south for that matter) what a difficult winter it has been.  Here in southern Michigan our longing for spring has been encouraged by a couple of days with temperatures in the sixties.  I even felt compelled to turn my horses out onto their summer pasture for the first time this season, which was cause for much kicking up of heels.  And always a sure sign of spring, my lovely neighbors returned from their annual five-month stay in Florida.  Add to this factors such as the sudden appearance of the sandhill cranes for their migratory stop-over, and you'd think that milder weather is a shoe-in......right?  But alas; it is not to be, at least not in the immediate future.  True to Michigan in March form, we are under a winter weather (what?) watch, and slightly further north is expected to get up to eight inches of snow and up to a quarter inch of ice.  I'm. So. Excited.

But enough weather-whining, and on to art-related matters.  I'm considering making some changes to the lighting in my drawing room.  Currently I have natural light from both a north-facing and east-facing window, and am flanked by true-color lamps with an incandescent overhead -- but I often find that by early to mid-afternoon, depending on the sky conditions outside, I begin to have trouble seeing colors correctly.  Upon the recommendation of a friend I've considered investing in one of the lamps that contains both florescent and incandescent bulbs, thereby providing both cool and warm light simultaneously, and am interested in knowing what others may think of that type of lamp.  Any comments you could provide about what forms of lighting work best for you and why would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, I have been asked by a couple of artists and friends about the status of Dust and Thunder.  Following its most recent update, I promised myself I would not write a post regarding it again until it was completed.  Over the next couple of days I am doing little more than the tweaking, and making some value adjustments -- so it is very close.  (Phew!)

Thanks for reading, and wherever you are.......I hope it is spring.