Sunday, June 10, 2012

Art from Michigan

I did manage to do a few pieces while I was in Michigan. One of them is a work in progress...and I do hope that I can get some paintings out of the many photos I took (all of which can be found here), but here they are nevertheless...

Red Lighthouse

After a few (failed) attempts at trying to sketch the lighthouse and then paint it, I just decided to go for it and paint without sketching at all. Just painting on paper was something I had been itching to do for a while, but I just hadn't the time or the inspiration to do so. It felt really good finally getting to do that. This piece was the first painting I did on the trip and I did it on-location at Holland State Park (aka Ottawa Beach) whilst sitting out on a pier across from the red lighthouse. I was looking around to see if the lighthouse actually had a name, but I think that the only name it has is the one affectionately given by the locals, "Big Red". This piece was kind of a "warm up" painting, of sorts. I like how it turned out, though. I was very loose with detail. I wanted to be. I knew this wasn't going to be a detailed highly rendered illustration with varying micron pen lines and such. I just wanted it to be splashy and just defined enough that we know what it is. I painted this piece around Noon-2 pm so the light was very direct and unfortunately, I think the composition suffered for it. There weren't as many lights and darks on the lighthouse. It was just kind of one tone.

Clouds Over Holland

This was my favorite piece I did on the trip. I sketched it out while on location at the pier on Holland Beach (the exact same location of the previous piece) and then painted it back at the house. I sat there mesmerized by the cloud formations over my head. There were puffy cumulus clouds and wispy stratus clouds, clouds that may or may not have been airplane exhaust...they were just beautiful, and then add to that the Michigan coastline that just seemed to stretch on forever going from light green, to dark green, to teal, to blue and to purple as it stretched towards the horizon--absolutely gorgeous. That is why I prefer to draw natural things to man-made structural things, I just find them more aesthetically pleasing. I tried doing this piece in a similar style to my Rocky Pemaquid illustration. While I was sketching the coastline and water and sky, a sailboat passed by so I thought I would include that as well...though I just kind of roughly sketched it and followed up with a reference photo later. I hope to frame this piece. I really like it. 


We did a figure drawing session on the last day of the trip. It was very quick, only 15 minutes and I think we had planned to do more, but for some reason, that never happened. I think we got carried away watching covers of Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know on YouTube. These things do happen. It was good to see that I still had it, though. I haven't done a lot of figure sketching in a while. I think this sketch of Bob turned out nice...although everyone said I made him look younger. Not necessarily a bad thing!

Red Lighthouse II (WIP)

The last evening of the trip, a few of us headed back to Holland Beach State Park. I had a much better experience that time...aside from the bugs. The lighting was much more dramatic in the evening as the sun began to set. The lighthouse actually reflected had off the warm-toned waters of Lake Michigan. I was going to do a simple color-blocking technique, but since the paint was drying veeeerrrrry slooooooowwwly (because the air was so full of moisture from the lake) and everything was running together (AND the bugs would not leave me alone), I vowed to finish the painting at a later date. I wanted to try adding some detail into the lighthouse with micron pens, over the paint which is not something I usually do. We shall see how that turns out. I'll keep you all posted.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Michigan State of Mind

I just got home yesterday from a four-day trip to Saugatuck/the Michigan Coast with the Sons of Turner. You all that read my blog probably didn't know I was going on such a trip because I don't believe that I mentioned it on here, but it was a lot of fun. I wish I could have had a couple more days just to spend time with people and paint a little more. The trip was on a much smaller scale than the trips the Sons usually take, like for instance the one we took last year to Maine, so there wasn't as much to see and do in the time we were allotted, but I think if we had more days, we could have traveled around more and found more things.

I did have a lot of fun, though. I was more productive than I have been in months in terms of my art, so that alone was great! It was really nice getting to see people that I haven't seen in a while too.

While I was there, I felt very relaxed and just being there by the lake, surrounded by friends, it dawned on me that life shouldn't be rushed--or rather, my friend Dani just kept telling me not to rush my paintings. I would sit there staring at the lake, or the rocks, or the beach thinking "What do I paint?" and she would tell me "Just don't force it". An idea for a piece of art comes naturally. You shouldn't have to force yourself to paint something just because it's sitting there in front of you. You have to really think about what you want to capture and "feel" the composition coming together. You have to be excited by it. I kept going back to how I felt after the Maine trip with all my photos but very few "good" (in my opinion) paintings and looking at the photos and thinking Wow, that would make an awesome painting! I want to paint that! But instead of a photo, I was still right there looking at the lighthouse or the sail boat. It made me more excited to be there in the moment, and in turn gave me a bit of inspiration. I hope that makes sense. It made sense in my head.

So I will do my best to scan those paintings and sketches I did. I do have a few pictures I'd like to share, though, of course...

I should mention that the weather was absolutely GORGEOUS the entire time we were there. Like it wasn't too hot and the sky was exceptionally clear. Unfortunately, I got a little sunburned.