Monday, September 17, 2012


As I think back to my very first art experience I remember sitting with my dad and watching him sketch, paint or carve various art projects.  In the short 8 years I had with him one of my fondest memories is of him teaching me how to draw a tree.  I think that is why to this day I enjoy working up my ideas in pencil first. When working from a photo I like to make a black & white copy of it.  This helps me see the subtle transitions between the lights and darks and their shapes.  Black and white photos flatten out the image more to show us the shapes of the shadows and spaces around and on the subject.


My daughter Katie is Program Director for Fenner Nature Center in Lansing so I have access to great nature photos of plants and wildlife.  This piece was painted for the silent auction last year at the Fenner Apple Butter Fest.  In the spirit of this I created this painting of a cardinal on an apple branch.  This is my own composition.  When I sat down to compose this I thought about my negative space and creating a path for the viewer to follow through the piece.  If a branch catches your eye and leads you off the canvas then there should be something to pull your eye back onto the piece and help your eye travel through and around the composition.  I did this with the position of the branches, leaves and even the shadow apples.

I used an analogous color scheme on the painting.  I wanted it to feel warm and vibrant like a fall afternoon.  Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel.  I used the Cardinal and the apples as my main color and then built my scheme around that. I always have my color wheel close at hand.

Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions or just want to share.  Have a great painting experience!

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