Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek, 12 x 16, oil on linen

When I did my half-day workshop last month in Knights Landing, I painted an old tractor as a demo. I took a bunch of reference photos at that time, and this here is a painting I did recently from one of those photos. 

The tractor, I found later, was a 1950's model Oliver (correct me if I'm wrong) and had a lot of character. It was parked not in grass, as I've shown here, but just on a flat dirt surface. The environment is entirely out of my head - not so difficult in this case because it's just a field of grass with a few fence posts sticking out of it.

I placed the tractor high on the canvas so that I may have a big foreground. I also wanted the tall grass to obscure the bottom part of the tractor; an idea which sprang from my cow demo from a few posts ago. 

Obscurity is something I'm really interested in, you see. How much information is absolutely necessary in order to communicate the fact that it's a tractor? Can I show less than the whole silhouette? How much less? Which part or parts of the tractor are most effective as visual clues? 

These are questions I asked myself as I experimented with different amounts of obscurity. Untidy grass field like this is an ideal tool to explore the issue, as it could be as tall or short as necessary; a very flexible device. 

This is my third Oliver painting, and I'm starting to see the old tractor as something of a character in a story. Not that I'm going to write a story and illustrate it, as I'm not really interested in the narrative aspect of such a series, but I do have other compositional ideas that I want to try.  Fortunately I have a bunch of photos from different angles, so I should be able to do a variety. 

And who knows, it may end up becoming an interesting series.


  1. I love the composition. Just enough revealed to generate interest and recognize the tractor. beautifully rendered.

  2. Thanks Kimberly!
    Thanks Maria!

  3. Fantastic painting, i like it so much. Thanks a lot for sharing !!

  4. I was thrilled to be at Knight's Landing and I look forward to watching your Abstraction of Oliver Series evolve.

  5. Dear Terry,
    Thanks your interrogative and useful information, I like your blog.