Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Field to Studio

Here's a shot at what's on my easel in the studio. To the left, resting against my computer monitor is one of the paintings I did during the Sonoma Plein Air event. I am using it as a starting point to work up a larger (12 x 24) piece in the studio.

The new painting is on loose canvas (Claessens No.66) taped to a board - if the painting turns out satisfactory, I will mount it on panel. If not, into the garbage bin it goes with the rest of the losers.

In doing a larger studio version, there were a few things I wanted to try. First was cropping. I eliminated the top third (?) of the painting, as my concept had nothing to do with the sky and the trees, and excluding them made for a stronger, more focused statement. Simplifying your statement is often the best thing you can do to improve a picture, and that's the case here.

Secondly, I wanted a more tonal structure. Especially because it's essentially a backlit view, the structure is revealed by the light and dark patterns, not local colors or rendered forms. We recognize most of the visual elements in this picture due to their shapes. Silhouettes are particularly good tools to exploit, because if you can recognize the "thing" by its silhouette, any more information (color, for example) isn't going to make it more recognizable. So the additional elements - color, value variations within the shape - have to contribute something other than recognizability, or their just pointless fluff. In my case, the color is used as accents to make the painting appear not too tonal. If you hide the colors in the foreground elements, you'll see that the painting is pretty much monochromatic.

Manipulating values within a recognizable shape helps to make them not look too flat and cut out, adds to a sense of atmosphere and movement, which in turn contributes to abstraction.

I think it's coming along pretty well, but now I have to let it rest for a while so I can come back to it with a fresh eye. In the meantime, I'll be working on some other paintings, exploring the same issues to see if I can't come up with more studio pieces for my solo show in the fall. (info to come)


  1. I think both are amazing paintings. You have said that you are trying for a more tonal structure. Does it mean that the emphasis is more on the values (or faithfulness to values) than on colour?
    Thanks for sharing. You have a lovely studio.
    Best wishes

  2. Thanks Vinayak~!

    Yes, the emphasis is more on values than on color. But "faithfulness" is irrelevant, if you mean faithful to the original view.

    Hmm.. it's not so much that the emphasis is on values, but more like deemphasizing local color, and light's affect on color. I thought that the mood I wanted to communicate would be done more effectively without lots of colors to dilute the statement.

  3. nice mood in this painting, I hope it doesn't go in the garbage, it is coming very good

  4. Thanks Terry for the insight!

  5. Nice studio. What does it like to be painting in this studio?