Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Painting on a Trip

A few weeks ago I heard about a show that will be juried and hung in Eugene's Shelton-McMurphey-Johnson House this summer. I decided it would be fun to paint something to enter and time is running out on the project. The painting has to be framed, ready to hang to be juried on May 8. I went to the house to take some photos and do some sketching. It was the sketching that made me realize what a task it is to paint a Victorian home--what a lot of details and so many curly-cues!

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As you know from viewing my work, this house is not my preferred subject matter, nor do I like to work in a tight manner. All the same, I decided to take it on. I spent a good deal of time drawing the house, first on 9 x 12 paper, then using a grid method, placing the drawing on an 18 x 22 piece of watercolor paper. To get a good finished painting, even loosely painted, you need a very accurate drawing to begin with.

In the meantime, Mike and I planned a trip to Lake Tahoe to meet up with Mike's cousin who has a cabin on Fallen Leaf Lake. The plan was for the two of them to chop brush and fall trees, which would leave me time to paint. So I packed up and was ready to paint the SMJ House.

On our trip down, we spent a night at Klamath Falls and spent the next morning sightseeing which included these great petroglyphs.

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We drove most of the day and met up with Mike's cousin before dark. I realized that the cabin was quite small, and setting up to paint would be a bit challenging, but there was always outdoors! It was warm when we arrived, around 75 degrees, so it seemed painting outside would be lovely.

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As you can see, the weather changed overnight. So the next couple of days I set up my paint gear and painted some, but found it frustrating. Although the painting wasn't too successful, we had great meals out, spectacular scenery and some great burnpiles.

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So this morning, back home, I headed to my studio with a weak start to a painting. I'd done enough detail of the house to know that there was a lot of line making ahead of me.

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I just had to bite the bullet today and start making the house look like it really is with lots of detail. I plugged away, and started making decisions about what to lose and what would be the most detailed focal point. Pretty soon, I found I could start the more fun stuff for me--mark and pattern making. I took the tight parts and loosened them up with juicier brushwork. Finally, I realized I was pretty close to done. I did need to work on the surroundings, so I put more color in the foreground, patterns on the mid-ground tree, and added some layers to the evergreen trees in the background. My last step was adding the ironwork the the roof.

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What I see now is that I have to either warm up the house or cool down the foreground. Doing either will just require a wash over one part or the other.

What's your vote? Warm it up or cool it down.


Judy Taylor said...

Hi Margaret. It's looking good so far. My vote is to warm it up. Victorian houses have a certain mellowness from age that would be complemented by softer, warmer colors.

Ruth Armitage said...

Hi Margaret,
I agree with Judy. You have inspired me to give the abstract exercise from the Salminen class another go. I'm still in process but will post when I'm done :)

Glenn Johnson said...

Margaret - Yes, I vote for warmer. A cold, bluish looking Victorian always looks rather scary. reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's film, " Psycho."
This is so cool, getting to art direct on line.

Anonymous said...

I know and love that house and I love what you have done with it. Victorian houses are very romantic and should be warm if mysterious to lure us into the mystery. Beautiful.