Thursday, March 31, 2011

Touching up Some Carnton Paintings

I took a couple of paintings I did on site at Carnton Plantation, and touched up using photo reference. Click here if you want to compare the original works. These scenes are from a reenactment of the Battle of Franklin.

click either painting for detail

The painting below now has steam and smoke, and the soldier is looking at the viewer. I also added a little more detail overall.

Plainclothes Soldier - 6x8

The proportions of the horse are a little closer to the actual horse at the scene. This horse, by the way, is named Wimpy, which may explain why he wasn't included in the military drill! The colors are overall brighter, and the background foliage now has the appearance of early spring growth.

A Battle Horse Left Behind - 6x8

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two Familiar Trees

I love these two old trees. They're like pillars to an enchanted doorway, especially in the early spring, when they're surrounded by frilly ground cover and encroached by violets and grape hyacinths. (Fortunately, I don't live at a place that requires a homogenous, manicured lawn!) 

The sad thing about the two trees is, I think they're dead. I don't recall seeing leaves on them last year. I'll check again this spring to see if blossoms or leaves sprout. If they are dead, I've been warned that they might decay and topple onto the house. I should probably check with a few tree cutters. I really will hate to see them go.

There are other trees of this species in my back yard. I've never seen a flowering tree like this. Most flowering trees are small, like dogwoods or pear trees, or bushy, like magnolias. But these tower up straight and tall, like a forest tree. In mid spring, they blossom into white flowers that look like large clusters of grapes. It's so odd to see the white blooms hanging high overhead in the craggy, somber branches.

There's an old fence gate leaning against the fence, in the upper right. My ex boyfriend had found it in the woods, and brought it to the house in case we ever wanted to complete the fence enclosure and add another gate. I should probably get rid of the gate, but it's actually an interesting visual element to break up the verticals of the trees and the fence. Albeit, the trees aren't really all that vertical, which is probably further evidence that they are dying! I better paint them while I can.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Views from the Front Yard

This is the third year in a row I have painted the sun setting through the neighbor's spring foilage and ivy-covered hackberry. This scene looks especially magical in the evening, when the setting sun blazes through the red and white blossoms and stains the grass gold. It's fun adding in the white autos, which add some hard edges to the scene and balance out the white cherry tree. This year the dog, a little chow mix, happened to pose while I was painting.

Spring Evening - 8x10

I took a break from "Spring Evening" to paint "Paddington" from life. He was a 13-year-old chow mix with partial paralysis of his limbs and organs, and a small extension on life. He was supposed to be put to sleep a week prior to the painting, but a last-minute second opinion bought him new meds and more time. He briefly improved, but soon he appeared to be having pain and anxiety. He was peacefully put to sleep about a week after I painted this study. I'm giving it to the neighbor in memory of the little furball.

Paddington - 6x8

On another evening I did a very rapid study of the sun burning a triangle of light through the neighbor's yard. I think I got the values more accurate on this one, so I used it as a reference and deepened some of the values on the first painting. It pays to paint multiple paintings of the same scene!

Triangle of Light - 6x8

It's good that I painted the spring scenes while I could. Shortly after "Triangle of Light," the weather became steadily overcast and drizzly. It's possible that the blossoms will be gone once the sunny weather returns ... such is the impermanence of spring, and really of all life. Plein air painting keeps the essence of those moments alive.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Cornucopia of Scenes at Carnton Plantation

Yesterday I went to Carnton Plantation to see what paintings I could get out of the Civil War reenactment. This plantation was the home of the McGavocks, a family who just happened to live at a strategic location during the Civil War. Their plantation became the site of the Battle of Franklin, where 10,000 soldiers were either killed, taken prisoner, or went missing. The large manor home of the McGavocks served as a field hospital for the thousands needing emergency care. Mr. and Mrs. McGavock tended to the wounded, and at dawn each day Mrs. McGavock was up cooking breakfast for the soldiers, with the hem of her dress awash in blood. This was a well-to-do family that might well have turned their backs on the needs of the "lower classes," but their duty to aid humanity overcame social norms.

When I arrived at the plantation, I found myself immersed in a sea of paintable scenes. Men in quaint attire were lounging about on blankets, forming living 19th-century Impressionist vignettes. Only instead of a park or a beach, they were on a dusty campground, surrounded by campfires, bubbling pots of stew, and crates of carrots and potatoes. At the end of the field the sun glinted off the chestnut and black backs of the tethered horses. The air was sunny and tinged with woodsmoke, boiling onions, and sweet pipe tobacco.

Fueled by the wealth of paintable scenes and the beautiful spring weather, I got started on my plein air sketches. I started more paintings than I actually finished, because as subjects moved, sometimes I would completely lose the painting. But then I would just start another. I loved the freedom to paint quickly and not mull over details.

A Patient Battle Horse - 6x8

A Battle Horse Left Behind - 6x8

Plainclothes Soldier - 6x8

Evening Meal - 5x7

End of Day - 6x8

In addition to quick studies, I got lots of photos to potentially use as studio paintings. Here are a few:

Click to enlarge

I'll also include a painting from last week, when I painted the manor house. I'm always intimidated by architecture, and this one was especially difficult, because of the shadow breaking across the right. There were a lot of different colors to juggle on that side, and forget about lines and angles. At times I wondered if I should call this one "Psychedelic Carnton." Once I got the whole thing blocked in, I felt a little better about it. 

The Manor House - 6x8

Painting the house was a learning experience, but I think my real "rush" comes from painting those unpredictable animals and people. I really should do those sort of studies more often so that my draftsmanship and value/temperature accuracy improves. Plus, it's just plain fun.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Opportunity to Help Save a Waterfall

The paintings below are for sale–because in June 2011, Cummins Falls will also be up for sale. The waterfall will be for sale to real estate developers unless the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation can raise the money to purchase this property. The roaring falls tumble into a 40 foot deep gorge, located on 186 acres of untouched woodland. To help keep it that way, donate to the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, or purchase one of the 7 oil paintings below, and I will donate 50% to this cause. 

Click image to enlarge

Snowy Falls - 8x10 - $325
For the full adventure behind this painting, click here!

Stillness and Motion I - 8x10 - $375

Stillness and Motion II - 6x8 - $225

The Donkey Field - 8x10 - $325
Location: Leiper's Fork, TN
For backstory on this painting, click here 

A Cow Named Squirm - 6x8 - $225
Location: Hunter's Hill Farm, Hermitage, TN
Squirm is a runt cow who is so petite she has
trouble giving birth. So now she is a full-fledged pet!

 Two Hour Parking - 5x7 - $190
Location: The Gulch, Nashville

 Upward Journey - 5x7 - $190
Location: Radnor Lake, Nashville

If you are up to an hour driving distance from me, I will deliver, or if it's more than that, we can either meet up or discuss shipping options. Contact information:  615-517-1992

About the frames: 
If you like these frames, you can thank Lyle Teague Moulding in Hendersonville, TN. Lyle and Stan were excellent to work with, once again.