Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Monday, April 18, 2011

Taxes Are Done!

China Cove, 9 x12 inches, oil on linen

Greetings art lovers! I emerge (finally) from the throes of filing my taxes. I can't say unscathed, (for the government took an arm and a leg) but I'm still standing, which is good. Anyway, the stress of it is behind me and I'm looking forward to getting back into the groove o' things.

I worked on some cityscapes last night, but didn't make too much progress. The allergy meds were making my head all cloudy and try as I might, I could not focus. It's like painting under the influence of alcohol. If my brain isn't functioning on all cylinders, it really shows on my painting and I end up scraping it the next day. 

I wondered, too, whether the relief of finishing tax returns added to the less-than-optimal acuity of mind. When I was a rookie on the plein air painting competition circuit, I always got sick on the last day of the event. All the nervousness and concentration during the three or five days of painting accumulated with in me as stress, and on the last day–after the hard part was all done– the release of tension would come suddenly and I'd feel like throwing up or get a migraine. It was like that every time I did one of these events until I got better at it. Now I don't stress about it so much, and I have an easier time.  

Finishing the taxes might have had a similar effect on me last night. I say this not to make excuses, but because I want to understand how environments and situations affect my ability to paint. I have an analytical mind and I can't help but look for logic and reason in everything. If I have a clear reason why something didn't work, I know what to do to solve that problem, see? If I can't figure it out, I flounder.

The painting above is a demo I did for my Landscape II class. It's a 9 x 12 sketch, painted from a reference photo I took some years ago in Point Lobos / Big Sur area. The main point of this demo was this; These rocks have a pretty big local value range, but the separation of values between light and shadow takes priority. In other words, don't let the variegated surface confuse the structure of the rocks. In accomplishing this, I made the local values less contrasty and simplified the shadow patterns.  Warm light / cool shadow relationship, while subtle, helps to delineate the lit areas from the shadow areas, despite the sometimes confusing local values. 

If you compared the foreground rocks with the background, you can see the systematically diminishing value range (shadows become lighter as we go back in space) , as well decreasing amount of detail. (variegated surface hardly registers on the farthest rocks).  The simplicity of the distant rocks tell us that it's the light and shadow pattern that's important, more so than the light and dark surface coloring of the rocks.

'Hope your tax day wasn't too paintful.


  1. Re allergy meds: Anything with an antihistamine will make you stupid (unable to focus). If you can get by on just decongestants, they won't being mild stimulants. Otherwise, I try to take antihistamines only before bed and hope to wake up functional allergy and focus-wise.

  2. I totally agree. I don't like taking any kind of meds if I can help it. But sometimes, it's be stupid or suffer – good thing I don't have a deadline looming anytime soon!

  3. Very helpful explanation about the value ranges-thanks!
    I used to be a bad allergy sufferer too-wheezy and everything;
    have you tried Allegra? It used to be prescription, but I hear now they are making it over the counter. It's like I'm a normal person again, no drowsiness, with good deep breaths.

  4. Thanks for the nice tip. Even after going through such stress you were kind enough to share such valuable information.
    I have a dust allergy and the sneezes invariably begin at around 10 in the morning. So I have to take one of those anti-allergics when I am at work. And whats worse I think is that I become drowsy and cant even complain about my health to my boss, because the sneezes are already gone by the time the sleepy feeling gets going. ;-)

  5. Thanks Judy~ I haven't tried Allegra. I'll probably give it a try sooner or later. Claritin *kinda* works for now, but it seems every time something new starts blooming outside, I have to switch. Just a minor annoyance.

  6. Vinayak, you're welcome. Sneezes would be most annoying when I'm teaching a class! Everyone would be jumpy. LOL