Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Simplifying - It's Not Just For Cityscapes!

We talked about simplification in the cityscape posts, right? There's nothing inherently unique about the genre, when we're talking about simplifying the myriad of visual information in front of us. The same thing can be said about any subject matter, including figures and portraiture.

I'm not into painting likenesses – it's just not as fun to focus on the physical likeness of a person as, say, just pushing paint around – but once in a while I find myself compelled to paint a model so that it actually looks like him/her.

Fortunately (or not), achieving likeness is not about painting tedious detail or smoothing out all the brushstrokes in an effort render a slick surface. It's more in the structure of skull, and the gestural quality of the various parts of the face and the figure as a whole. You can recognize a loved one walking toward you a hundred feet away, can't you? It's certainly not because you can see the individual facial features clearly. You can pick him out in a fuzzy group photo, even if you can't tell where the eye ends and the eyelashes begin.

But I digress. I just wanted to talk about the simplification ideas I used in the cityscapes applied to this painting.

First, it's designed in simple light / dark pattern. In-between values are just small variations within a larger shape.

I also linked shapes by losing edges, so I have fewer shapes. Hair against the shadow part of the skin, and the dress into the hair, etc. There are actually very few isolated shapes. Most of the dark shapes connect with one another, and most of the light shapes connect with one another too.

My colors too are very limited and simple. They are tonally structured, meaning I am primarily just modulating value, and there's very little hue shifts between light and shadow. I kept local color shifts too a minimum as well. This is not one of those figure paintings where I looked for, and accentuated, all the warms and cools and greens and oranges found in the skintones.  Just like I kept local colors to a minimum in the cityscapes, I tried to simplify by using a very narrow color range.

Background clutter. I didn't paint any. Not because there weren't any (there were), but because they weren't a part of my concept. The environment in which the model sat really didn't have anything to do with what I wanted to say about her attitude.

I'll post more "likeness sketches" (I wouldn't call them "portraits" because I was aiming for something else) soon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

California Art Club's Gold Medal Exhibition

City Dwellers, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen

I'm headed down to L.A. this weekend for the gala opening of the California Art Club's 101st Gold Medal Exhibition. 

I must admit I haven't been very active (OK, not active at all) in various clubs and associations in the past, and I've been told that I need to step it up. So I decided to get off my butt and start entering some juried shows. 

I'm actually very excited about being in this one not only because the prestige associated with the California Art Club, but I get to go and meet a lot of great artists whose work I've admired for a long time, but never have had the chance to meet. Plus I get to see their wonderful paintings all in one place, up close and personal. I'll be sure to come away inspired and with new ideas, too. 

On Sunday, I'm planning to watch Steve Huston's demo, which is going to be a real treat. Steve was my first teacher at Art Center way back in the eighties, before he was a famous fine artist. I had just been rejected from the degree program at Art Center, and decided to take some night classes there to tighten up my admissions portfolio. Steve was the instructor for the first class I took, which was either rendering or a portfolio workshop. (I can't remember)  

Back then he was doing a lot illustration work, and he would bring in his work sometimes to show us students. I remember my jaw dropping when he brought in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 video cover art. It was just so freakin' cool and really defined for me the difference between a wannabe (me) and a professional.  

A year later I got accepted into the full time program, and I had him again for a head drawing class. I wasn't even close to being ready to absorb all that he taught, but still I learned a ton and was constantly inspired.

Anyway, I am looking forward to watching him do his thing again. 

If any of you are attending the big opening, I'll see ya there!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Is Here~

Big Cloud Country, 9 x 12, oil

It's still cold but it seems Spring is finally here. At least the allergy season has officially started this past weekend, and I'm eating Claritin. 

I expect a little more color creeping into my landscape painting now, and I hope to get outside and do a little plein air before the workshops next month. 

But wait, I must do my taxes before I go and have fun. *sigh*

Friday, March 23, 2012


I haven't painted outside very much in months. I must be a studio painter! Painting en plein air is a lot of fun and I like doing it (and I firmly believe it's a necessary discipline in order to become a competent landscape painter) but I'm not one of those hardcore plein air guys (and gals) who go out no matter what the weather is like. My hat's off to you guys. Except I don't wear a hat since I'm indoors.

Funny thing, even if I'm painting in my studio, from memory, my paintings reflect the weather and mood of the season. These tonal paintings happen in the winter, and in the summer time my paintings generally are more sunny and colorful (comparatively speaking, that is).

I can only do foggy delta wetland paintings in the winter, and the dry, golden hills in the summer time. No, that's not strictly true, but it is a lot harder to paint "out of season" as it were.

Which makes sense, since moods in the paintings are dependent on color, which is greatly influenced by my visual memory, which is constantly getting fed by what I see around me. Perhaps it's just such an obvious connection that it's not worth pondering.

In the meantime, I'll just shrug and paint more moody landscapes.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Moving Right Along...

When I do a really tonal landscape like this, the process is fairly similar to that of my cityscapes you just saw in the last few posts; I start with a transparent underpainting and start putting on opaque colors on top.

Well, sorta. with an organic subject matter, I don't actually see the transparent stage as an underpainting. I don't separate the two stages in my mind because I'm much less reliant on precise drawing in this case. The brush work is freer from the get-go, and I'm not worried about perspective or whether the scaling is accurate. So I start transparently, go as far as I need to establish the design and the "feel" of the mood, and start adding opaque colors relatively quickly.

The color strategy, as it were, is also similar to the tonal cityscapes. I ignore local colors for the most part, and go with an overall color "theme", trying to keep it more or less monochromatic or analogous. At least in the beginning. I only start sneaking in local colors like the slight greens in the foliage, the reddish earth on the shoreline, and the yellow in the sun, in the last 10 or 20 % of the process.  Even then I try to keep it subtle.  If my colors start deviating from the close color and tonal harmonies, I lose the mood very quickly. I can make a painting work with more bright colors in it, but since this mood is the primary concept, it would be a bad thing to lose it.

I try very hard to maintain freshness in the brushstrokes, so I have to always be alert so as to not overwork it. However, sometimes it takes hours of going back and forth between the tree and the background sky in order to arrive at a satisfactory shape, and for that (hours of back and forth) to not look overworked is a tall order. So what do I do about it? Once I get the tree shaped, (might take 20 minutes or 20 hours) I may go back and scrape everything off with a knife, and reapply the paint over the ghosted shape,  being very careful to do it in as few, expressive strokes as possible.

Rendering the light and shadow isn't an issue here, because I'm just working with silhouettes, so I try to impose interest in the form of expressive strokes.

I don't glaze very often, but sometimes I'll use that technique if an area looks too flat and opaque, or too light, or lacks harmony. I'm not a big fan of the "glazed look" in my painting, however, so I always try to disguise it by more opaque brushwork on top.

This painting, along with a bunch of other tonalist landscapes (and a few, more colorful ones) are headed to Anne Irwin Gallery in Atlanta. If you're in that area, please check 'em out in person. It's an entirely different visual experience from seeing them on your screen~

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

While We're At It...

Slowpoke, 12 x 16, oil on panel

While we are still on the cityscape challenge buzz,  (what? you've moved on long ago? humor me.)  Here is another sequence of the process. Similar type of painting, but this time I painted it in black and white. 

Taking the color out of the equation makes it much easier - not to say that it's anywhere near "easy", but you can't deny the fact that you have less to worry about. 

On the other hand, if you're the type that relies on color to differentiate one thing from another, painting monochromatically means you've lost a major tool in your arsenal. You may find it a lot more challenging.

I for one love painting in monochrome. I think in values anyway, and I really like moods created by absence of color, much like a black and white or sepia photograph has a certain timeless mood that you don't find in full color photographs. 

Of course if the painting isn't executed well, we have more to worry about than getting all misty eyed about nostalgic moods, no?

OK, so here is the sequence; it's exactly the same as the challenge painting I did;

Gridded and drawn with a pencil. The toned surface is from wiping off a failed painting. I like to work on a toned surface if I'm doing a tonalist painting. And a monochromatic painting is basically an extreme tonal painting.

Transparent underpainting, using Ivory Black and Liquin. No white yet, because I want to keep it transparent. I am working towards simplified design, with a structure defined in just a few values.

Here I have started painting opaquely, meaning I'm using white paint in addition to black. Just mixing greys and more or less matching the values I established in the underpainting.

Refining edges, integrating shapes, adding detail, taking out unnecessary detail, checking this, pushing that, blah blah blah.  On this particular painting, I ended up using the knife to scrape a lot, to get rid of detail and create interesting edges.

And that's basically it. The most difficult part was massing the numerous cars behind the streetcar, so that they're almost a textural jumble and yet with a little bit of selective detail, they read correctly. The balance of abstraction and literal detail is tricky.

Compositionally speaking, making decisions about tweaking values of different elements in the picture was easy because it has a really obvious focal point - the streetcar.  I just made everything else support my "star" element.

I think this came out rather nice. I'm pretty happy with it. At some point I'd like to do a larger version of it. May be in color.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cityscape Challenge - Mine

High Noon, 12 x 16 inches, oil on panel

Well! It has been an interesting and fun experiment to see all the different interpretations from the same photo. Thanks to all of you who participated! I was really surprised by how many responses I received. When I posted the challenge, I seriously thought, "meh, I'll probably get five or six responses."  Boy was I wrong.  If we were to do this sort of thing again, I'll have to think about how to do it more efficiently. More thoughts on that in a future post. 

But for now, here's my own contribution, with a couple of thoughts on the process;

First thing, I cropped. The patterns of dark/light created by the back lit traffic was what interested me, how the shapes could be linked to make abstract patterns and yet with a little bit of visual cues you can tell exactly what's going on.  with this in mind, I determined that the sky was not part of my concept, so I cropped that out.

The farthest left car and buildings didn't have much to offer in way of dark /light pattern, so I took those out, too. I also needed it to be a rectangle of 3 : 4 proportion, since I already had a 12 x 16 panel ready to go.  

Next I converted the reference photo to black and white. When I do cityscapes, I usually like to work from a b/w reference so as to not be dictated and distracted by predetermined colors. If I really need local color information, I can always go back to the original photo, but I rarely do that. Actual local color isn't relevant in the way I work.

I made a grid on my reference photo in order to transfer the drawing onto my panel.

...like this.  By "transfer the drawing" I just mean using the grid as a guide to draw. As mentioned above, the panel is 12 x 16 inches, and I'm using a gessoed surface on this one. I seem to have an easier time controlling values in underpaintings, on a gessoed panel surface than on oil primed linen.

Next I establish my simplified design using two or three values. This is the underpainting. I do rely on underpaintings when doing cityscapes, because drawing is so critical. I want to make sure the design reads at this stage, and the drawing is more or less accurate.

The underpainting is done with just one dark color (in this case, Ivory Black) and a medium like Liquin. It's painted entirely transparently, and I try to keep the value structure as simple as possible.

I then start painting opaquely, keeping very close to the simple value structure established in the underpainting. Where I start to move away from the crude 2 value design (separating the distant areas from the closer areas, for example) , I do so slowly, and carefully,  making sure I'm not fragmenting the overall structure.

As the painting develops, I start sneaking in color variations. In doing so, I make sure the value of the added color stays very close to what's underneath, unless I have a very good reason to do otherwise. 

I also start integrating adjacent shapes and manipulating edges, sometimes sharpening, sometimes softening or losing entirely. I try to make variety of different types of soft edges, so that they have interesting qualities on their own, in a purely abstract way. Sometimes I do that with the painting upside down so that I don't think about the "thingness" of the shape I'm painting.

And that's it~ 

I really enjoyed seeing all your interpretations on this little challenge. And I hope you did, too!

Cityscape Challenge! That's All, Folks~!!

This is it! The last of the Challenge paintings.  Thank you all so much for participating in this little project. It was great to see so much enthusiasm (60+ submissions!). 

All of the pieces can be seen here;  but it's more fun to go through them on the blog and read the artists' thoughts and observations, no?

Anyway, thanks again, I hope you had fun doing it and seeing how others solve the same problems.

I kept this as strict and simple as possible- it's homework!:a) one large brush, 3 colors Ultra Blue, Alizarin, Yellow Ochreb) timed for an hour and a half , ended up being 1:40. That's super fast for me!c) pure abstraction- don't get fancy!Observations:a) it was hard keeping track of the scale, even abstracted cars have to make sense going into the distance.b) for abstraction, every stroke shape and direction counts! I see I could have made more edges sharper.c) Next time 2 colors, I see I didn't need three.d) being one of the last is awful when you see the nice work rolling in before you- but I had to stick to my rules.I learned a lot - thanks Terry! 
Judy Palermowww.judypalermo.com 

This is 5x7, graphite on Stonehenge paper.  it's good to see so many variations of the same scene.
Samira Humaid http://samirahumaid.blogspot.com/

I told myself I would do Terry Miura's cityscape challenge. The deadline was today so I waited until the last minute to start painting.  I kept the composition simple, kept my paint time to 60 minutes and used a 5X7 canvas. It was fun piece to paint. 
Eva Klaas http://evamarietannerklaas.blogspot.com/

I can't help it, I was compelled to try this.  It's a lovely photograph with so much to see.  Although those stoplights were beckoning, I couldn't keep my eyes off of the shapes of the car shadows on the street.  So this is what I came up with.  I'll be posting it on my blog very late tonight.
Noon Traffic, 8"x10", oil on panel,
Tracy Wall  http://www.tracywall.wordpress.com 

 I decided to go out on a limb and try the challenge using an iPad and an app for drawing/painting -- ArtRage.  I used a pale blue-gray 'paper' and the chalk tool in various widths and opacities.  I spent about 2 hours on this -- could have gone further but decided to keep it relatively loose and hopefully not too detailed, in keeping with your suggestions.  It was fun, but daunting given all the beautiful ones you have created -- including my painter sister Cecilia Neustrom, who submitted a painting a couple of days ago. 
Maureen Ward

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cityscape Challenge! - It's the Home Stretch!!

Hey artists~ Well this is the last day you can do this and send me the images to be posted on Studio Notes. You still have time to do it!  Here are the submissions I received yesterday. I expect there'll be a bunch of last minute entries (you know who you are, haha~) which will have to be posted tomorrow morning since I don't stay up that late. 

I'll post mine immediately following the final post.    See all the submissions thus far HERE.

Here's a tip; when you look at other people's work, try to get into their minds. Think about how you made your simplification decisions, and compare what you did to what others did. What's different? and more importantly, why? Try to be very specific in your analyses, and you'll come away with a lot of ideas about how you might handle this painting if you were to do it again.  That, in a nutshell, is how I learn and how I try to improve with each painting I do. Makes sense, doesn't it? If you try to do a little better than your last painting, you'll steadily improve. In order to do that, you have analyze how to do it better. Comparison of your efforts with other solutions (that you, or other artists, come up with),  is one of the best way to do that,
I think.

Anyway, here are the latest. Enjoy~

This was a tough challenge for me - tougher than I thought it would be.  So much so that when I finished, after staring at my picture for an embarrassingly considerable amount of time, I decided to crop it a second time!  And it was much improved.
I have been struck by the parallel of your approach to cityscapes and street scenes, and that of Frank Eber, the watercolorist.  For both of you less is more - and "simplify" is the mantra.  It is a good rule, I think.  And since I was working in watercolor, I kept Frank Eber's admonitions in mind when painting the cars, with partial success.
Thanks so much for this challenge!  I could feel the growing pains as I worked.. 
Dan Kenthttp://danscanvas.blogspot.com

Thanks so much for hosting this challenge..it was great fun participating.
What do you do when your best artist friend says "We should do this"?

Well, first you say "What is this?" (I've learned from past experiences with her)

Turns out, its a Painting Challenge posted by Terry Miura.

"OK...I can do this"
"San Francisco" is a 6" x 6" watercolor on Arches 140lb rough.My approach was ....SQUINTING...seeing where the light was, and simplifying everything else.
Oh! and having fun with the colors. 

Cityscapes are one of my favorites!
Annie Salness 

Enjoyed participating in the cityscape challenge by Terry Miura. I simplified this painting by staying under 45 minutes to restrict the amount of details.  Using a limited palette with a few warm and cool colors, I worked from large to small shapes. Terry's pointers of keeping the cars in two values to start with and adding another one later if needed and consolidating similar values were beneficial in simplifying the scene. 
Mike Beeman      http://pastelsbeeman.blogspot.com/  

With the photo as a reference, I splashed watercolour paint onto a 140lb watercolour paper, let it dry, then did a contour drawing on it with a Faber-Castell Pitt artist waterproof pen. The end result is a 5"x7" painting ready for an 8"x10" frame! 

Nora MacPhail   http://noramacphail.blogspot.com

I hope this meets your standards for inclusion in the Cityscape challenge. I read your blog occasionally, and stumbled across your challenge yesterday, thus sneaking in under your deadline (just like a regular assignment). Anyway, it's watercolor on Crescent board, number 6 and number 10 brushes wielded by an amateur. Gotta work on losing more edges.
Mark Wummer 

I love painting cityscapes but do struggle with sometimes trying to simplify all that happens on a busy city street.  This challenge I also roped my friend, Julie Hill, into doing with me at 4 o'clock yesterday. Lucky her, she lives on the west coast & had a few more of hours of light.  Happy painting! 
Kelley Sanford http://kelleysanford.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cityscape Challenge - Deadline is Tomorrow!

Here is the latest. The deadline for this challenge is tomorrow, so you still have time to do it! On Monday, I will be going back to my usual self-indulgent babble, so get your pieces in before then, OK? If you're late, I'm sorry, but it won't be posted here. 

You still have a day to do it~ I'll be finishing mine up today and share my efforts. See them all indexed, here

I really had fun painting this oil and now I want to paint more city scenes.  I tried to keep it simple but this is always hard for me.  Thanks Terry for sending this challenge out and I hope you send another one out soon.  So much fun to see everyone's take on this. 
Chris Springer

2 years ago I never would have thought of doing this i am new to art period having just started after retiring. i have been a great fan of wet canvas and I have learned so much from the artists on the site. It was via W.C. that I heard about the challenge  I had posted my 2 first every cityscapes of my home city saint john new brunswick, And Chris Di mauro convinced me to sign up. So here is my entry it is soft pastel mostly great americans some mount visions. 20" x 14"on pastemat.  I tried to keep the biuldings just shapes of squares and oblongs working back and forth between the actual and negative shapes. distant hills I kept very cool and simple. the trees on the right I also kept simple  the foreground cars however were a different matter I could only do them the way I always do. I put in a warm burnt Renolds in the foreground road and desaturated as it recedes.  

I knew I would find it difficult and you can see I got in a muddle in the middle. I maybe took the simplify thing too far! I'm glad I persevered, though, because I like it and the lessons learned. Not only about simplifying but about perspective too. I have thoroughly enjoyed this so maybe I shall take up more challenges 
Sharon Wright  http://sharonwrightartist.blogspot.com/

I like to work from large shapes to smaller ones building detail as I go. Usually, little detail goes a long way. In this painting for instance, I didn't perfectly render each and every car. I added critical details to the cars in the foreground and let the rest be rectangular shapes. Because the foreground cars have taillights, are shaped like cars and are on a road your mind tells you they must be cars, the ones further down the road are shaped similarly so your mind fills in the rest and says that they must also be cars. In reality, the distant cars are rectangles with a line on the right and left and a shadow underneath and some are even more oddly shaped.  Read the rest of her post here; http://vanderhoekart.blogspot.com/2012/03/one-way-original-oil-painting-of-city.html 
Kim VanDerHoek http://vanderhoekart.blogspot.com

I’ve never done a cityscape or even thought it would be interesting. While I’ve taken many pictures while on the road, I’ve never been able to find one that jumped out at me but this challenge made me see that there is something worth painting wherever I look. I don’t have to wait for the perfect setting, sunlight and objects to miraculously form the perfect composition.I chose the road disappearing in the distance. I decided to make it a sunday, late afternoon, with fewer cars on the road. I was also drawn to the tower on the left and noticed two more in the distance which added a bit more interest.The second challenge were the cars which I don’t particularly care for so I painted less and also didn’t take their shapes too seriously, some look clunky but it seems to work.The third challenge was color harmony, which I just decided to ignore. I now see I’ve used both blue/orange and red/green and many colors in between.The fourth and maybe the most important challenge was to simplify and I don’t think I succeeded at that.
But all in all I’m not unhappy with the result.
In the red car, a mother is talking to her child about their museum visit earlier that day. The tower on the left could be that museum. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cityscape Challenge - Thursday's Batch

Here's the latest. if you have been wanting to do it but still hadn't got around to it, you still have time! Are you waiting till the last minute so as to set yourself up for failure and cushion your fall with the excuse, "I just ran out of time..." ? Uh huh. Been there. Done that. Too many times.

Haha~ I don't mean to guilt trip you into doing this. I'm just self-therapying, as procrastination is all to familiar to me. 

Well, I'd better get off MY butt and finish my painting then, huh?

I have been a huge fan of your work for a long time and what better way could there be to learn than to put your tips and advice to work on a project of yours.  The painting is a 14 x 11 in watercolour, made on handmade paper. I think I could have done a better job of using aerial perspective by making the cars paler as they went farther away. Besides this, the one car closest to the divider seems to be a little smaller than it should be ;)Anyways I enjoyed the painting process and your tips are extremely valuable. 
Vinayak Deshmukh  http://deshmukh-art.blogspot.in/

Well, here is my contribution in oil paint. I painted it on a red gessoed ground. I really enjoyed this challenge and I plan to do many more. I just never thought of a city as an interesting "landscape" even tho I am from Chicago. I especially liked the cars being included. I always thought of the cars as an annoyance to try and figure out how to not include because they weren't pretty. Taken as a whole the cars become like giant beads floating into the vortex. I especially liked the shadows that they cast. This is my first stab at this and I plan to get myself downtown with camera and brushes. Plein aire is my new favorite was to go...your paintings are an inspiration.
Carlye Crisler                facebook.com/carlyecrislerart 

This is a small pastel on strathmore 400. I did a few thumbnails and then this quick pastel intending it as a warm-up. I liked it's liveliness and sent it along.  I have just begun to explore cityscapes and enjoyed the challenge, thanks.
Rich Panico

12 x 22 cm, oil on canvas panel
Here's my tiny contribution to the cityscape challenge. It was nice to tackle a landscape for a change. Winter is too cold for plein aire so I'm normally occupied with other sorts of paintings at this time of year. Here I tried to follow the basic rules you posted: the cool colour scheme is chose stays pretty harmonius throughout, but the two-values-per-object-rule got broken at some points. My idea for this was to use the bright reflections off of the cars along the middle as my main focus. 
-Juha, Finland

At the moment I have become very interested in the light effects created by and within cities (day and night). So it has been a very timely and valuable exercise in making me keep working on simplification. The "rules' that I discovered are summarised below.
1. Use a photo (or a scene) rather than copy it.
2. Underpaint a base colour to complement the planned main color.
3. Crop and draw first to solve design problems before committing to paint.
4. Leave quiet places for the viewer.
5. Vary edges. 
I did a step by step on my blog here  http://fredjmarsh.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/simplify-painting-cityscape.html I love the variety of interpretations & methods that people are posting. Are you abe to advise where the reference photograph was shot.  
Fred Marsh

Fred, the reference was shot in San Francisco. I don't know exactly where, as I was just driving around aimlessly with my camera on the dashboard.

What I liked in the picture was the perspective and the tower in the background. I didn't like the cars and they gave me trouble until the end, I try to forget these shapes were cars, but still I didn't like these shapes! .... I try to follow the instructions you gave and it helped me a lot to organize my work Thank you so much, your advice  are so helpful, I follow your blog attentively and it's always a pleasure to read and look.  My painting was done in acrylic on paper. There are a few pictures on   http://sketchbookfolio.blogspot.com/  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Passing Hours, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen

This is another Inness-inspired landscape. Along with a couple other ongoing series projects, I've been doing these tonal landscapes lately.

I don't know why I'm attracted to tonal paintings as opposed to those with a lot of color (yes, yes, I know tonal paintings are all color, too. You know what I mean.)  Perhaps it's the mood. They have more of an 'old' look to them.  A friend of mine once described tonal vs. colorist approaches as "timeless" vs. "a moment in time".

It kind of makes sense. I'm not all that interested in capturing fleeting effects of light on color, which is one of the main goals of a plein air painter. I'm not compelled to paint something just because the colors are unusually beautiful. For example, the fall colors of deciduous trees, or blooming flowers in the spring, while making me go Ooh aah~ , doesn't make me want to paint them.  When I realized that I'm in the minority among my artist friends in that I'm not moved to paint by the colors I see, I thought, "huh, this must be a piece of my identity puzzle."

And it is. To be sure, I do sometimes paint more colorful paintings if only to keep my chops up. But I can't sustain that practice for more than a few paintings at a time. I inevitably return to my tonal "comfort zone".

When I'm in need of tonalist inspiration, I turn to Inness, Corot, NC Wyeth, Whistler, Streeton, along with many, many others. Too bad they're long gone; I wish I coulda seen them work!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cityscape Challenge! Lots Today!!

Hello artists! Got a bunch of new ones for you today. Check 'em out. Be sure to visit the artists' own blogs, as there's more to read and insights and inspiration to be had.  

You haven't done yours yet? Get to it!!

Thanks for the invite! It got me off the sofa and out of the doldrums. As others have said, the painting is easier said than done! For my support, I used Strathmore Multi Medium Paper, Series 400; I first applied an acrylic medium-value orange underpainting, then came over it with direct oil painting. While it was still wet, I etched-out some of the orange areas. I spent about 3 hrs on it...may still tweak with a couple touches of more pronounced value changes. Had a blast; thanks so much!
Cecilia Neustrom

What a wonderful challenge! I don’t usually paint cars or buildings…ever! So it’s really been quite a challenge for me, but I wanted to give it a go.  I’ve spent a week working  on this challenge, and these are the only two quick watercolour studies that have not ended up in the trash. They almost did, but I thought I would send them to you anyhow. I am working on another watercolour, but am finding all aspects challenging…. Working from a photo, perspective, shapes of vehicles, what to leave out, what to put in, lost and found edges…yikes!If my latest attempt turns out Ok I will post it to you. Thanks for running this challenge…I have added admiration and respect for your work and subject matter, and it's so interesting to see how others interpret the scene. 

Enjoyed the exercise and really liked the road climbing the hill in the background. I love the turn toward abstraction that your work has taken in the last year. Hope you stress that in your workshop in Atlanta in Sept.
Daly Smith

I tried to keep the white of the paper in this watercolor.  I struggled with large shape simplification and keeping objects in 2 values as you suggested.  Your suggestions are right on when doing city scenes so I hope to do many more urban paintings.  Thanks. 
Donna Johnson

Fantastic idea. Thank you, thank you for setting this up! I've been reading through your various posts for several months now. I had 4 years at a high ranking art school but there is so much about painting I wasn't taught. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, progress, tips and demos on your blog. I'm eating it up.
Here are the guidelines I used to simplify the scene:1. More negative space. (lower horizon, expand space between cars)
2. Move the eye through the painting quickly. (clear path for the eye to follow the path of the road, narrow cropping)3. Emphasis on on subject. (increase the contrast between the road & rest of the painting)
4. Keep one dominant color (easy, just like the photo)

I posted my progress on my blog: http://amyhroberts.blogspot.com/ and attached is a photo of my final.
 I'm looking forward to seeing your solution to the simplify challenge.Thanks,
Amy Donahue 

Some tough decisions had to be made and finding the right solutions was a lot harder than expected.Thinking about composition, values, color, edge and brushwork when painting such complex subject matter is extremely challenging.This has made me appreciate cityscape paintings a lot more over night!Looking forward to see the rest of the entries (including yours). I’ve put a small step by step on my blog www.johanderycke.blogspot.com 
Johan Derycke

Saturday, March 3, 2012

More! ...And a quick note.

Here are two more. We are not done yet! (You still have a week to do this. Come on! You can do it!!)

OK, so it has come to my attention that some of you tried to send your images to me by way of "replying" to an emailed version of this blog post. (Same thing as "subscription"? I don't know)  But I am not getting those! The email updates of the posts are generated by the Blogger/Blogspot/Google automatically, and are not really coming from ME, so replying to them doesn't work. Please send your image(s) along with your comments/thoughts to me directly. The address is terry@terrymiura.com

Here is my entry for the challenge. I had a heck of a time this week, trying to get a piece worthy of sending on to you. This is the FIFTH attempt. My first medium of choice is usually pastel, but I was trying to use a new type of paper for this challenge, and was never happy with the results. This final painting is done in oils with a palette knife. I posted this on my blog and there is an additional photo showing my first pass.

nartizt.blogspot.com (click to see the full post on her blog!)

I found the challenge really enjoyable and rewarding.  I'm a relative beginner, and did this piece with my teacher in 3 hours.  I learned that your street scenes look simple to do but are anything but.  I struggled with mine, yet walked away with many thoughts on how I might improve upon things next time.  I look forward to seeing your version, and in particular your composition, colors and highlights.  Many thanks for your blog and your challenge.
Dave Licht

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cityscape Challenge - Two More~

I enjoyed it very much.  Here is my version of your cityscape photo.  It is a pastel, done on Uart sanded paper, 400 grit using Ludwig pastels.  I found this challenge to be very enlightening.  You were right, I learned quite a lot!  I'd never done a cityscape before because I knew I had to simplify, but had no idea where to start.  Your tips were extremely helpful, they gave me an approach I could relate to.
Christine Di Mauro                                                            http://dimaurodustyeasel.blogspot.com/ (See Christine's process on her blog!)

This was a liberating experience.  I'm the type who tends to spend a lot of time thinking about what to paint and not getting much done.  This challenge of using a photo helped set goals that I believe should serve me well for more paintings.  I think the most difficult part of this painting, for me, was finding the right 'interesting" colors to maintain 3 tones. 

See them all HERE!