Monday, December 25, 2017

Combining References to fit a concept!

 As the fall semester was ending, our last model session in my RCAD afternoon figure class was a costumed situation with a great character model, Michael.  We finished the session and semester….and, fortunately I had taken a few shots of him that day.  It sparked an idea for a painting of one of my favorite painting subjects, maritime, coastal Maine, fishing, etc.  I have a wealth of reference material of this subject!  My idea was to combine shots of Michael with an appropriate scene from my files!

 I did a couple of small studies, first as graphite thumbnail ,and then oil sketches for an intended larger work.  I don’t always do these with every painting.  Most of the time I just go for it….but, sometimes it is useful to workout design, color harmonies, by solving some of the potential issues that might be problems.  In this case, I’m combining two references and trying to make it fit my concept!  These aren’t necessarily what the bigger work will look like.  There might be additional adjustments and changes.  The danger of doing preliminary studies, in my opinion, is that one might just use up all of the juice on the study!  I speak from experience….that has happened to me many times.  The result is losing interest in the project!  Always a possibility for me!

     The goal is to keep the larger work fresh and spontaneous as the study, whether it be an on location study or a studio sketch.  I was reasonably happy with these sketches, so I will forge ahead and see what the larger work brings!  Thanks for listening to my Cajun ramblings.

Hodges Soileau OPA

Thursday, July 6, 2017

My First Florida On Location Painting!

An artist friend of mine….well known Plein Air painter, Bill Farnsworth started painting the Florida landscape on location about fifteen years ago.  We rented a couple of canoes at well known place in Venice called, Snook Haven on several occasions.  We spent the day paddling upstream and downstream on the Myakka River looking for places to pull up and paint.  We would pull up at a clearing on the river and haul our canoes up on land, and proceed looking for the spot.  We didn’t have to walk far from the river to find something worth painting.

These trips were fun and absolutely valuable learning experiences for me…and I’m sure for Bill.  The wild untouched terrain on the Myakka, along with the alligators that surpassed our canoes in girth made for interesting and fun days J stroking up current and drifting down stream. 

We subsequently had a two man show based on the works we produced.  Over the years I only have one of those paintings remaining.  It is the very first on location painting I executed in Florida.  I don’t know why I kept it in my purgatory pile for so long… hind site, even though it isn’t a great painting or the best painting I have painted, it has a sentimental and benchmark value to me.  I think I will keep it a while longer….unless I get an offer I can’t refuse….just saying.

Thanks for listening to my Cajun ramblings!

Hodges Soileau OPA 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Field Study to Studio

    I have had conversations of late on the topic of painting in the field to the studio.  Every time the topic comes up, I am struck by the mind set of some who paint on location, or have recently started that practice.  With the exception of a few, including myself, most have this notion that it is somehow different from the studio process.  To my way of thinking, it is not that different….or, it should not be thought of as different!   Painting on location, or (Plein air), is not a style of painting as many seem to think.  It is in fact the act of painting outdoors in the open air.  

    I see a lot of so called (Plein air) paintings that have a similar look….almost as if it were taught!  I personally don’t like the term loose….painterly is a much more appropriate term, in my opinion.  Loose has a negative connotation…..sloppy!  I am a big fan of painterly paintings and subjects suggested in a broad fashion within reason…..I certainly strive to have my paintings be painterly.  If the imagery suggested is not of distinguishable good shapes, then in my opinion, they are weak paintings!  I am not suggesting for one minute that abstract paintings can’t be strong paintings…..I love good abstract paintings…..but, that is a different genre of painting! 

 "Bulow Sugar Plantation Ruins", 11x14, oil, (field study)

 "Bulow Plantation Ruins", 24x30, oil, (Studio painting)

    The point I’m trying to make is that I personally don’t want my studies or field studies to look that much different that my studio work.  The most noticeable thing should be the contrast in size.  Generally one does smaller field studies…..but, finished paintings can be done in larger formats requiring multiple visits to the site to finish the larger compositions.  Generally, most artists do the studio pieces from a sketch and photo reference taken.  If one is using a location study alone, more reason to have a study that has the feeling desired and the information needed for the larger piece!
The two paintings here are a perfect example of what I mean!  The 11x14 field on location study and the 24x30 studio piece are very similar.  If one didn’t know the size of each, it might be difficult to determine which one was the (Plein Air) painting….and, which was the studio painting. 
Thanks for listening to my ramblings!
Hodge Soileau OPA

Thursday, April 27, 2017

“Fresh off the Easel” (first post for 2017)

“Quiet morning at the dock” 24 x 36 oil on linen
     We visit Maine each summer because of its beauty and to escape the heat of the south!  I spend time checking out and painting old weathered docks and buildings in parts of Maine, like Old Port….a section of Portland, Me.  The coast is a big attraction to me for subjects to paint.  If not for the winters, we would probably be there year round.
     The inspiration for this “Untitled Dock Painting” was not just one thing in particular.  It was several things.  I was trying to capture that sort of grey day atmospheric feel, (most of my landscapes are sunny day paintings).  The variety of textures on the dock…from the smooth, large and small, buoys hanging on the rail of the weathered dock and the suggested reflection opportunities in the water.  I also liked, in this particular case, the seeming lack of life presence…no birds, human or other!   That is not usually the case….I certainly would not want to paint this scenario each time.  But, in this case it was a nice change of pace for me and a nice challenge!  The viewer could certainly insert their own narrative to any meaning this painting might have! 
“Ignore her, maybe she’ll go away”, 24x36, oil
     I spent an enjoyable cold morning at Sandy Acres Ranch recently doing a mini workshop with the Peace River Painters.  We were not painting the animals on this particular day…..but, I got a ton of great photo reference of the corralled farm animals!  This goat seemed to be running the show/showing off, etc.  I was struck by the expression on the donkey’s faces… if they were thinking to themselves, “stop it”….trying to ignore her by not looking directly at her.  That probably was not it at all…. but, it was the narrative I went with!
“Fog Rolling in on the Cliff Walk”, 16x20, oil on linen
     This is a common scene on the coast of Maine….fog rolling into rocky cliffs or beaches!  This is another painting from a favorite spot I visit each summer….Fort Williams, near the light house! 
“The Garden Groomers”, 18x24, oil on linen
    This composition is loosely based on a bed and breakfast we stayed in a few years back.  We were there for a class reunion in my home town.  It wasn’t a painting trip, but, I took photo reference around the property and ended up doing a couple of paintings.  The chickens and rooster are added….I wasn’t sure whether or not that would work!  It was an excuse to introduce a splash of color to all that green vegetation!  The title was a suggestion from a friend on face book that I was given permission to use….and, I like it a lot!  I would never have thought of that!
“View from the Cliff Walk” 15x26 oil on linen
      This is a studio painting inspired by a location study of a place I particularly like to visit and paint each summer in Maine.  I actually painted this a couple of years ago and recently reworked an touched it up a bit.  Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth near South Portland has a wealth of interesting coastal material to paint.  It keeps me coming back each year….and, each year it is the same…. but, somehow different.  This view is high up on the Cliff overlooking the cold Atlantic!  I have walked this many times…and, to my mind, this speaks volumes about the rocky coastal terrain that is so much fun to try and interpret in paint!

I will try to do better about posting on this blog.....I get busy and forget sometimes....hope you forgive me.....and thanks again for listening to my Ramblings!