Monday, February 14, 2011

Harmac Mill Reworked

Here is my latest work on on my Harmac Mill painting. I spent about 5 hours working on it today. I thought it might be a good idea to put some smoke stacks and other buildings into the painting to make it clear where the plume is coming from. I was happy to find a photo that I had taken that really helped. Although the photo also had the red container loader on Duke Point and a yellow ship in it - I only needed two stacks and some large vat-like things to suggest the mill. So I put them in.

The next thing was expand the funny little balloons and pipes at the base of the plume. I enlarged them and gave them some shape. Then I worked on the sky to the right of the plume. I mixed up various combinations of cobalt blue, cerulean blue, yellow and white and dabbed away to keep the strokes coming inward toward the mill buildings - but darker and stronger than they were - to be equal with the plume. I did a lot of brush work on the low cloud on the horizon and some more darkening of the main plume itself. The horizon cloud is a common feature of our landscape and I wanted to keep it as a repeat of the horizonal shoreline.

Mike suggested that I make a reflection or a shadow of the plume on the water. I thought a shadow would give me the opportlunity to make a triangle coming up from the bottom of the painting to meet the point of the big plume triangle. I made a separate shadow for the small side plume. Then I made several attempts at adding a cloud on the right side of the sky - based on the high clouds in my original photo and in the same style as the clouds in my red buoy painting - pointy. I couldn't think of anything else to do - but still wasn't completely happy. Then it struck me that I could weave the plumes together. This allows the plume to open at the bottom like a flower and then come back together in a satisfying, almost architectural way. I didn't change the two shadows on the water. The bright space between can now be read as the reflection of the plume or the space between the shadows. I think it is nice to be a bit ambivalent.

To get inspiration for fixing this painting I had a look at some of the paintings by Van Gogh. What a fabulous artist he was. He didn't paint much water as far as as I can see but his paintings are absolutely stunning. Of course I knew about his sunflowers, starry skies, irises and self portraits but there is so much more. Here is a link

As far as other artistic efforts recently: On the weekend we went to Vancouver to the Opera - The Clemency of Titus which had great sets. We also went to the Vancouver Art Gallery to look at We:Vancouver and Ken Lum's work. All this art had some social value. Here is a link to the exhibitions:

As result of visiting the Art Gallery, I had an interesting thought. It seems to me that celebrating the beauty of Nanaimo is a good aim for my painting - but maybe I should also put in a tiny bit of social comment. Although I did not want my mill painting to be an environmental protest, I am quite concerned about all the plastic bottles that float around in the ocean and I thought I could paint a tiny plastic bottle somewhere in my paintings - floating in the beautiful water, lying on the glorious forest floor, hidden in other shapes. I'm not sure. I don't want it to be gimmicky and spoil each individual painting - but it would tie the pictures together and I think it might give a bit more meaning to what I am trying to do. Before I try it, I need to paint a picture of a whole bunch of bottles. So I will leave it for now - while I work on my tree paintings.

If you are interested in looking at my paintings on my website got to

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