Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Plein air painting with Donald Jurney

Anytime Donald Jurney calls you to go plein air painting, you grab your gear and make it happen...even if it means ankle deep snow and sub zero temps.  Donald Jurney is American landscape painting my opinion, one of the best practitioners of the craft today.  Just awesome in so many ways.  

Donald is a friend and incredibly generous mentor.  In the few years I've known Donald, I've observed him share so much to so many aspiring artist.  Five things about Donald Jurney you might like to know;  
1) He makes them up!!!...Yes!...that's right, his landscape paintings come out of his head.  No reference.  2) He starts with burnt umber and ultramarine blue and completes an underpainting with these two colors only.  3) He uses a small bristle round brush for most of the painting process...even the really large canvases.  He scribbled, calligraphs, scrubs and marks.  4) The only other brush I've seen him use is a wide, inexpensive house chip brush.  5) He spent a large part of his early career filling sketchbooks with landscape sketches drawn from life while living in the French and English countryside.  I believe it was these valuable years, massing hundreds of drawings that he built his outdoor visual vocabulary that enables him to make them up with convincing results and with such virtuosity.  Amazing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bosc progress

This is the current state of an oil on linen monochromatic underpainting of a Bosc Pear. I will add color this week.  It is (11x14") and is a commission for a client who saw an old study of mine posted years ago and requested a larger version of it.  You never know what the web Gods of yesterday will yield, I was so pleased to have this request and the opportunity to visit this old friend of a painting.  I usually will do a small study before going up in size, in this case, it simply took five years to do will be fun to see how the painter I am today differs from the result of this same image from five years ago.  Anyhoot, here below is the first steps in how I created this underpainting to this point.  

 This is the first step, shown above...after I do the drawing in charcoal, I go over the lines with an India ink pen and let that dry for a few minutes.  I then cover the entire surface with a whisper thin coat of refined linseed oil...this is super thin, if you run your fingers over it, it will leave a thin residue.  This oil step is simply to seal the surface and combat subsequent layers of oil from being absorbed into the canvas....It also serves to enable the coming layer of oil paint to glide on smoothly and evenly.  I then cover the entire canvas with a thin, what amounts to a transparent layer of raw umber oil paint.  You can still see the drawing through the umber.  Observe above, the layer of umber all around the pear is what I laid in, I then used a paper towel to wipe away the light areas, (The pear).  I wrapped a paper towel around my finger to get to those small areas.  Note that I have not wiped away anything but the light family, (the pear) and have resisted the temptation to wipe away any foreground.  Intellectually, I can discern the clear difference between the foreground and background but I am not going to wipe away any more paint to establish that contrast.  Instead, I will add another layer of umber to the background to darken it, therby making the distinction between the back and foreground planes.  See below...
 Here it is clear once you see the additional layer of raw umber that I added to the back ground and cast shadow of the pear...pow, the foreground now pops from the background and we can begin to clearly see the two planes and also begin to feel the weight of the pear on that surface by way of the newly established cast shadow.  A key element to note here is the decision to distinguish the foreground from the background by adding paint and not wiping away.  By understanding before I begin that I will have three value families; A light (the pear), A dark (The background and cast shadow) and a mid-tone (the ground plane the pear is sitting on), I now have a simple and bold design plan based on the strength of clearly defined value families.  Paintings pass or fail based largely on the success of a well thought out and realized value plan...a distinguishable contrast between light and dark.  Squint your eyes and look at the image above and see for yourself the three families, light, mid-tone and dark.  From here I will further enhance these families and eventually begin to glaze thin, transparent layers of color over this under painting.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Happy New Year to you!!!....I'm pleased to officially announce the opening of the Todd Bonita Art Gallery in Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine this coming spring (Late May / early June)...Official date forthcoming.  I could not be more excited about this and busy with preparations.  This blog will serve as the Galleries blog, so please feel free to check back here for happenings, events, openings, new artwork and announcements.  I have also put together a new web site for the Gallery here;

There is a permanent web link in the upper left hand corner of this blog over to glimpse humble beginnings of my first brick and mortar gallery space.  I'm beyond thrilled and fired up to paint the best work of my life.

More info coming soon....