16'x 20" mixed medium on panel # 109

I got the original idea for this painting from the photo above ,taken by Meagan Rice, my daughter in law.  I decided to do it as a Christmas gift and gave it to her this year.

This is the unframed finished  painting below.

I will now give a brief description of my painting  process in this piece , my thoughts behind this paintings symbolism and some general observations regarding the whole experience.

 In the original photo I loved the position of the figures , the older child Marley is leading the younger Haddie down what appears to be an unknown path . At this age , four and two, they are entering the unknown path of life, they are on their own individual journey, not knowing the destination. It was then that I got the idea using light in the form of the sun rays to symbolize the light of life . Light is one of the most universal and fundamental symbols. It is the spiritual and the divine, it is illumination, intelligence and guidance. Light is the source of goodness, hope and the ultimate reality.

So, the full title which I wrote on the back of this painting is  ...
"Haddie and Marley, on the path, into the light." 

I did a couple drawings, sketches to get the idea right first .

I gessoed a 16" x 20" cradled panel in several layers in a blue grey tint.. The last drawing above is a drawing I did directly on the panel before I started painting, using an ebony pencil.

Here I have applied my first coats of acrylic . Using a mix of titanium white, a hint of cobalt blue and acrylic glazing liquid I am starting to develop a radiating effect with paint strokes coming from a center of where the sun will eventually peek through the leaves above. The paint strokes are radiating downward in all directions from that center.

On the bottom I have established a base coat of acrylic  burnt umber mixed with pumice medium gel. The paint strokes are  radiating upward toward the center and also tapering off toward the center where the path  will curve. This helps, early on, to create a sense of depth of field by just using texture to your advantage. The pumice gritty texture is mostly at the bottom with very little texture toward the center. The road texture toward the center will have no pumice , just paint stroke texture curving slightly left where the path will bend.  

In the photo above notice that in order to get even more texture in the  road and give the appearance of uneven  sized pebbles I washed out and used  beach sand. I simply applied it by mixing glazing liquid medium with the sand. This was applied in the bottom of the painting only, in such a way as to not get the pebbles onto the area where the figures are, and not going too far up past the figures. Then after it dried I painted over that with a mix of burnt umber , cobalt blue, titanium white and glazing liquid . (see below)

The next step was to block in the base, raw, colors for the trees and grasses. I used a mix of mars black, cad yellow med , titanium white, cobalt blue  and glazing liquid. For the grasses in the foreground I used a very coarse welders brush to get the grass texture . I also used very coarse bristle brushes. ( below) 

Then below I refined the tree colors , branches, grasses and road . Also at this point I am again working on the sky with different glazes , reds, blues and yellows, and at the same time developing the sun rays peaking through the branches above .

I then needed to create an haze effect to give the background a sense of depth , added some flowers , refined the colors in the branches and leaves , put smaller branches in and then worked on the first coats of paint for the figures.

I was almost done I just needed to work on the figures more get the road colors right with different glazes, create a little shading, work on the shadow areas, etc .

I want to add a little note here on detail. When I first started painting I was a slave to detail. I actually thought I wanted to be a photo realist. But as time went on and through much study on what the art of painting really is compared to the art of photography, I naturally loosened up in my approach. I wanted to use texture more and more . I also wanted to keep my paintings simple and so I only concentrate on detail where it is absolutely needed. I use photographs as a starting point only in developing an idea . I will not put a lot of effort in getting something photo realistic because  photography is the best art form for that.

Most of my paintings have a hidden symbolic message . In this one it is all about our inner journey down "the path" of uncertainty, toward all that which "light" symbolises. As children we may start out holding another's hand but eventually we are all on our own, each following an unknown path, towards finding truth and  meaning in life. At the end of the road maybe we will all find what is that ultimate reality which we all seek.

The two figures in this painting represent my two grandchildren. May this generation of children  find great Love, Joy, Peace, Hope and  ultimate meaning in their lives.   

I haven't posted to this blog since Dec 2008 . I am in the process of getting back to painting again and I will begin posting soon. I lost interest in painting about six years ago  and I took an interest in studying and learning other subjects for the past five years. I have developed a different outlook on life and this may reflect in my painting, if and when I get started. The break has been good . I have not painted but I feel I have grown in my understanding of life in general. I am going to do a painting as a gift to a family member and I have already started with preliminary drawings . I will post soon .  June 17, 2007

Untitled - a work in progress

Photography has become a great tool for many painters. Its hard to do a painting like I am considering here on location or as artists say "plenie aire" . These waters are rarely calm. I fish for cod in this area of the north Atlantic every fall . It is near one of the areas many "fishing grounds" . The sun is setting in the opposite direction of this shot. This was taken at sunset but looking east. There are some interesting colors in that sky. I am not sure what I will do with this yet.

I cropped a piece of the original photo and chose a format that I thought would work for my painting. I want to emphasize the sky but at this point I am not sure if I will have a cloudless sky or not.

I sealed an 11" x 14" piece of hardboard panel with acrylic matte medium. Then I put a cerelium blue tinted gesso layer on and let dry. I sanded it and then put a crimson-pinkish color gesso on but allowing some of that cerelium blue color uncovered. To the left over gesso I added thalo blue and Payne's grey . I sketched in where the horizon line would be at aprox the 1/4 length of the panel. I laid this dark blue gesso layer along the bottom portion below the horizon line. Then while the dark gesso was still wet, I laid plastic wrap on the area and lifted it off pulling downward. It left these wave like ripples in the gesso. I had to refine it a bit with a palette knife but I liked the result. It was experimental, but it gave what was the beginning of a wave like texture in this water area of the painting.

I made an orange gesso mixed with glaze medium and spread it over the entire panel.

I put my first acrylic paint layer on using cobalt blue, Payne's grey, white and pthalo green for the water. For the sky I used cobalt blue, crimson, naples yellow and white blending in such a way as to get a transition from blue at the top to that orange color at the bottom.

I painted in the distant land and islands and then glazed the entire panel with a mixture of yellow ochre and cad yellow light. It looks a little too green on the water at this point but that's OK . I will follow it with a crimson glaze.

Update : I have moved on to other projects and I will finish this at another date.

The Woodsman

A work in progress at the final stages . Follow the blog below to see how I did it.

The composition starts with an idea . I use reference photos as memory joggers.

If an idea sticks with me long enough I will at some point take the painting idea a little farther. I do some hunting, most years, in October when I spend a lot of time with my dad . He is a true woodsman . He lives off the land , hunts wild game and also cuts his own firewood . I first called this painting " The Hunter " but the title "The Woodsman" suits it best. I had a few photos that sparked an interest.

The cropped section in the top photo created the greatest potential for a painting. The photo section below taken from that original photo has a composition that I believe may work as a painting .

I sealed a 14" x 18" hardboard panel with acrylic matte medium and when it was dry I added a layer of white gesso , let dry . Then a second layer of gesso with paint pigment in it was applied. I got a color that I thought would be a good base using raw umber, ultramarine blue, , yellow, and a dab of crimson . I applied brush strokes in a way to form grass texture in the foreground. In the background area I used diagonal strokes from the top right corner down to the middle of the panel. I intend to have light rays beaming down from that direction later and the diagonal stroke will help with that. I wanted a color that if it bleeds through a bit it would be an enhancement to the top colors not a hindrance.

Then I added my background color in acrylic . I used raw umber, burnt umber ,ultramarine blue, naples yellow and yellow ochre combined to get the colors in the background. This gives a much better tonal effect then if I had tried to use some black pigment mixed with yellow for example. The grasses were done with a pizza cutting wheel . The paint has to be diluted enough to flow easily without dripping off the wheel.

I rubbed the background color a little before it was completely dry to expose the under painting gesso color. I didn't want to lose that yet. I should note here that the green grasses under the lines I created with the pizza wheel was scrubbed in with a course wide brush before the top lighter yellow grasses was applied.

I added the orange dot at the location where the head would be. This gives me an idea as I proceed , where the figure will be in relation to the background.

I wanted the dark area to have a kind of shadowed evergreen tree color. So I made a glaze with ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, and raw sienna in it. There is still a little of the underpainting color bleeding through and that's what I want.

I made a glaze mixture with ultramarine blue , a dab of white and a micro amount of pthalo green . ( pthalo green is a very powerful pigmented color , too much and it overpowers the other colors) I uses a mid size round brush and painted this glaze on in diagonal lines moving down from the top right. I was trying to get sunlight rays peeking through the trees and crossing the dark background. It seemed to work but it needs another application yet. I put in the fluffy grass top highlights with a small round brush using naples yellow.

I worked on those grasses some more. I wanted to deepen the foreground and put some variation in the grass colors. First I used combinations of raw and burnt umber's and a little burnt sienna in the bottom area and rubbed it into the texture . Then I wiped off some of the excess dark's . On top of this I painted grass blades using a green made from hookers green and cad yellow light . I used the same glaze as before on the dark area using those diagonal strokes from the right top downward.

I added a burnt sienna glaze over the entire panel . I was very surprised at how it unified the whole thing and brought a warmth that I was very pleased with. Next, I etched markings in the top left corner with a sharp tool to simulate grass or twigs . The etching exposed the base gesso grey-green color under the acrylic paint layer. It may be hard to see this on this small format. I will be putting other glazes over this yet so it will cover the gesso color a bit.

I added a little more grass stubble into the background and rubbed in a little yellow-brownish color into the shadow area . I then added the figure and refined the grass more . I still need to work on the figure a bit more yet.

I scratched the shaded area up a bit, to expose the under painting to make it look like twigs or grasses .

Then I made a glaze with pthalo blue and cad red and covered the entire panel
I highlighted the off white grass tops in the foreground only to give a greater depth of field . This made the figure seem to move farther away in picture space. The color I used for the grass tops in the foreground was naples yellow , raw umber and raw sienna.

I put another glaze over the entire panel using raw sienna.

I can still see the underpainting color bleeding through in the shadow area coming through all those glaze colors. That worked well and it was a success . This is where it is now.

Detail 1

Detail 2

Partridge Berries 8"x 10" on canvas

This was an experiment in working with texture using acrylic gel medium. It is acrylic on a small stretched canvas.

Great-Grandfather's Well House

A well house built by my great-grandfather sits below a cliff in a wild grassy field . It was built about 60 years ago when his family lived in their isolated cove in north east Newfoundland. This remnant of decomposing wood is all that remains standing of their simple buildings . I wanted to do a painting of it before it is forgotten. It is slowly falling to the ground and the boards of the roof are collapsing. It has been said that we are forgotten after the third generation who follow us. I believe this is true because my children will not know who Sydney Rice was. This painting will be for my family, a symbolic reminder of their roots . It also symbolizes the end of an era. Our founding fathers and mothers were a hard working people who lived off the land and sea. They were exposed to the elements daily and it was in many ways a harsh and simple life.

In The Fog -a work in progress

This is a limited palette painting with mostly yellows and raw umber. Its 20" x 24" acrylic on a muslin covered panel