Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some notes on transforming a gray day image

Here is a picture of a barn that was behind me when I painted the picture I showed you yesterday. I was thinking as I looked at it that Willard Metcalf might have seen it too. It is old enough to have been present in his day about a hundred years ago. It is also in the general Cornish area. The fences in front of the barn are a good illustration of the paper doll idea I put at you the other day. What I mean by that is that in a snow scape the snow is like a big sheet of white paper and everything else can be imagined in front of it like a string of paper dolls cut out of black paper. The barn and the trees are silhouetted in front of the snow. Below is a version of this I have photoshopped a little to give you the idea of how I might have brightened it up. There is nothing wrong with gray day paintings but some times, and I think this is one of those times, it is nice to shoot a little light in there. This painting with its gray barn and sky just felt too gray.

I didn't really alter it very much but here's what I did. I would do about the same thing in paint. I ran some blue into the sky, that got rid of a big swath of gray and then I ran a few transparent streaky clouds across that. I also removed a wire there in the process. Then I threw that same blue onto the snow that was flat on the ground that might reflect the sky note.

I added some yellow and white highlit areas into the snow, where planes were turned towards a source of light that I invented coming into the painting from the left. I only used a little bit of this because I didn't want to relight the whole barn. So I am representing a watery sort of light. The lights, I made warm.

I picked up the saturation of the color around the house and the barn. Again I am trying to lose some of the grayness. Had this been a painting this is one of the ways I might have handled it in the studio, but not the only one. I don't mean to say that the response to every gray day picture is to make it into a sunny one. But sometimes it works. Tomorrow, I will put a different spin on it.


Anonymous said...

Great post Stape. I really like how you've transformed the picture to have a 'happy' feel to it. Gray days can be depressing and yet we as artists have the ability to change a scene to uplift our mood. We are so blessed. And again, to be in the online presence of a instructor who knows just how to explain to those of us in need of guidance. :)

willek said...

This was a terrific post, Stape. Once again the photoshop is very informative and the whole thing lets us partake of your thought process. Would you throw some cast shadows in there?

Deb said...

You paint good with gummy worms.

billspaintingmn said...

There definately is a mood change
by doing this.
You cannot observe design into a painting..Aaa!
Thick me, now I'm begining to "see"
what your saying.

barbara b. land of boz said...

I am the master of my brush! If I say this enough.........."oh yeah"
moments will happen. Thank you Stapleton. Can't wait for tonights post.
barbara b.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks; any day I am outside painting in the snow is a good one, gray or bright.Thank you for your comment, the encouragement is appreciated.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I could throw in cast shadows and I thought about it, but I decided that I only wanted to light it up a little not make it into a sunny day picture entirely.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I think the central idea of this blog is the importance of design.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That's a good mantra, did I mention putting butter in your shoes?