Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Arcangelo 2

Arcangelo 2, oil on linen, 40 x 30 inches

I have been working on this painting for a few months now but I think it's finally finished. It is a larger, more expressive version of an earlier canvas, which was 24 x 20.  

I say I have been working on it for a few months, but 90% of it was done in the first week. I would let dry, find something else I want to fix, work on it, and let that dry. Every few days I'd see some little thing that I want to change and it and each time it would take a few minutes to a few hours of work, then another few days to dry. In this way, the last 10% of the painting took 90% of the time though most of that time was just waiting for it to dry.

Some marks had to be made wet into wet, while others had to be done on a dried surface, so it was a slow process even though the brushwork looks speedy and expressive. 

The palette I used is, as you can plainly see, very limited; Black, White, Transparent Earth Red, and Yellow Ochre. I used a lot of Liquin and Gamsol. I also did a lot of glazing, wiping, scraping and generally abusing the canvas in different ways.

I love how this turned out. Archangel Michael is a superhero of sorts, so the larger scale was very appropriate. In fact, I've started another, even larger version. I can't wait to see how that turns out!

The sculpture is by Peter Van Verschaffeldt, a Flemish (?) architect and sculptor, and this particular piece was created around the middle of the 18th Century.  It stands in Rome today. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

By Land Or Sea

Group exhibition, By Land or Sea opened last night at the Sloane Merrill Gallery in Boston. I have several pieces in this show and and though I can't be there to see it in person, it looks like a fantastic show!

This one is 24 x 30. The rest are small (9x 12  - 12 x 16)

I have a few more pieces but I don't have jpegs of them on this computer I'm using right now so I'll add them later. 

If you're in the Boston area, please go check out the show~

If you are interested in adding any of these to your collection, please contact Sloane Merrill Gallery directly. Ali and Meghan will take good care of you and they're not even scary like some gallery owners! (For the record, none of the galleries that represent me are scary. Just sayin')

Sloane Merrill Gallery
75 Charles Street, Boston
(617) 227-1775

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tahoe Sketches

School's out for Presidents' Week, so we spent a few days up in Lake Tahoe with friends and family. Everyone went skiing but I opted to go painting instead. 

This first one was done on the side of the highway,  around 2:30 - 4:30pm. It was fairly warm (50F) until the shadows reached me. Then the temperature plunged. But I had most of it done by then so I didn't suffer too much. 

The foreground is actually a golf course. Boring to look at in the summer, but right now it's pristine and gorgeous. Gotta love those bright blue cast shadows! 

Next morning, I drove around the East side of the Lake, into Nevada. I'd forgotten the difficulty in finding painting spots around Lake Tahoe; There are plenty of views, but parking is a big problem. To find a spot which offers both view and parking is a real chore. 

I was getting more and more frustrated as I drove around. It got to a point where I just told myself to find any place I can park, and I'll paint whatever's there. If it's a bunch of thick pine trunks or a garbage can, so be it. 

I was faced with this view of the town below - not the easiest thing to paint - in fact it was kind of intimidating. But I had promised myself I'd paint it, so I did. There's no trick to painting these types of views. You just have to take your time to get your drawing right, and make sure to pick out a few elements which are recognizable. Easier said than done, but there's no way around it!

I'm glad I tackled it, though. To watch a picture emerge from a bunch of fuzzy blobs was very satisfying.

After the last sketch, which was pretty complex, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction and I painted this view. The simplest statements often has the most impact, and this is a good example, I think. 

I was actually trying to get to Fallen Leaf Lake, but I found the road closed for the season. I parked the car on the side of the road, contemplating what to do. I looked over my shoulder, and I saw this dark creek running through the meadow. I thought, well, that's kinda zen...

Later that afternoon, I headed over to Emerald Bay. This is a view of the rocks above the Bay, seen from one of the turnouts along the highway. The afternoon sun gave me a great pattern on the boulders but it was getting cold quickly so I rushed through the sketch. I really like parts of it, but I'll have to work on it some more to bring it to a satisfactory finish. 

All in all, I was pretty happy with the set of sketches I got done during these few days. I was really feeling the need to paint outside after my last sketching trip with da guys. Guilt often drives me where inspiration is lacking. But in Tahoe, there was no shortage of either, and I had a good time painting away on my own while my family skied away~

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sketching With The Guys

Me, Paul Kratter, Tim Horn, and Kevin Courter

I just returned from  a fun little sketching trip with a few talented friends of mine - Paul Kratter, Tim Horn, and Kevin Courter. We were up in the Colusa area, which is a small farming community surrounded by vast rice fields and orchards. It's also close to some fantastic nature preserves where migrating birds find sanctuary.

This is my first and best sketch. Truth be told, I hadn't been out painting en plein air since Sonoma Plein Air Festival –early October!? So I was a little unsure what would come out of my brush. Not nervous or anything since I didn't feel the need to perform but it was pretty clear that the only reason I hadn't been out for so long was that I lacked the discipline. 

That's no excuse if one claims to be a serious landscape painter so while I was excited to be painting outside again (and with such great painters, too) I also felt a little guilt.

Luckily, my first sketch came out pretty good so I relaxed a bit after that.

This is my second sketch. Not quite there, but considering the difficult subject matter (moving horses) I think I did OK.

We were out there for two days and I did three more paintings, but none of those were good, so I'm going to let them dry and do a little experimenting when I have some time.  

The other guys did some nice work and it was inspiring to see them in action. One of the great joys of being an artist is the connections I've made with painters like these guys who speak my language–my tribe, if you will. I always come away with new ideas when I paint with them, and it doesn't hurt that they're fun to hang out with even when we're not painting.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Few More Examples of Limited Palette

Here are a few more examples of the extreme limited palette; Ivory Black, Titanium White, and Transparent Oxide Red.

At the top is a sketch I did this morning. I wanted to show a little more range in the cooler tones that you can get out of this palette. 

The coolest notes are made by mixing black and white, and keeping the brown out of the mix. Well almost, I don't think I have any notes on my painting where I used only black and white - but essentially, cooler means less brown and warmer means less black.

How I put this to use is by assigning functions for different mixes as follows - keep in mind, I'm not presenting a recipe. Just starting points.

The lit side of the flesh is mostly brown and white only.  I modulate the value by using varying amounts of white. Highlights (on the cheekbone, etc) approach pure white, but I didn't actually use pure  white by itself.

Still in the lit side, I added a tiny amount of black to cool it down toward the jawline. And of course, the beard has more black in it to differentiate it from the warmth of the flesh. Other than that, I didn't use black in the lit side of the flesh.

In the shadow side of the flesh, I mixed more black and less white. Except for the darkest darks, all three colors are mixed in every note. Where it gets a little cooler (shadow plane along the cheekbone) less brown is mixed in. This is a comparatively cool reflected light (ambient light might be a more precise term, but it does the same thing) and as such, I lay it on top of the slightly darker and warmer general block-in color that I have underneath. The idea is that I am illuminating a darker area with a cool ambient light, so it needs to come later in the sequence (you can't illuminate something that's not dark). 

Also, there's more black in the shadow side of the beard, again to differentiate it from the flesh not only in value but in temperature as well.

The darkest darks are just black+brown. This keeps these notes not only very dark, but transparent, which is essential for making them not pop forward. After all, the darkest notes are where neither primary nor secondary light reaches. I am careful to keep these darkest notes on the warm side.

On the same paper (these sketches were done on Arches paper) I have a couple of smaller heads to the right, executed quickly. The top shows my start where the shadow areas are blocked in with a wash (a mixture of black+brown+Gamsol. No white, because I want this to be transparent at this stage.)

Then I go to opaque mixes to block in with the general, simplified values of the main areas. Here my aim is to establish the main construct of the head, and get a direction going for the colors (however limited we are in this area with our palette).

From there, I can start adding smaller shapes, shifts in values and temperatures, etc. But even without   little details, you can see that it's a pretty representational head.

This was a class demo this past week, and I used the exact same palette. I didn't use a whole lot of the cooler tones, but there's a little bit visible in the left hip area and along the left shoulder and the left arm in the shadow side.

 Again, these ambient light planes are laid down after the main block-in. And again, I'm illuminating darker areas (expressed by the original block in), so it needs to be lighter in value than what's underneath. Seems like a simple concept, but you'd be surprised how easily this is forgotten when students revert back to just trying to copy the values that they see.

The whole idea is that the value structure - and now the temperature variations - must be organized, and executed logically. The organization is imposed on the figure, and it can't be done if you're just copying the values.

Hey, that sounds just like the rules in plein air landscape painting!? Have we discovered a golden postulate of representational painting?  Probably not. But it does help make sense of the complicated visual reality in front of us.