Aurora Borealis

Last year (which is not that long ago) I made this little painting of the northern light – and tried it with a much looser brush than I’ve done in my paintings so far; they’ve been more detailed. But this was a well-received present, and I’ve been told it has got many nice comments.

Northern light – the Aurora Borealis – over a winter landscape

It’s also a bit nice to hear about the little “wow” added when the light is turned off, and the glow in the dark effect is visible …

Glow-in-the-dark

It’s fun to experiment like this. Other ideas are forming in my head, too 😉

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A particular tree

Once upon a time, I was walking up towards a local mountain top. Honest. Despite the beginning, it’s not a fairy tale! Didn’t walk alone, I had good company. But the point is: On the way, we were walking past a tree that I thought looked quite photogenic. So I snapped a photo.

Time came for me to find a new motive for me to paint. Well – why not use one of my photos? Like, the one of a particular tree? So I did.

Yeah. No plein air for me. I need much more experience and paint quicker for that to be a viable alternative for me. Maybe some day, but for now I’m happy when I can paint inside.

So, with the photo next to me, I started to block in the colours.

In the beginning there were bright colours …

The colours weren’t exactly accurate, comepared to the photo, but at least I had got the main shapes in place. And this process went fairly quick. For me. But this was only the beginning. I needed to do more!

Colour changing nature

The colours couldn’t be that bright. While the original photo is quite saturated, I’ve learned that more realistic paintings need to be more moderate to be believable. So to perform the necessary adjustments, colours were changed, and some details added.

I must admit, it looked a lot more “boring” after this, but it’s not always the right thing to go wild and saturated!

So I continued.

Leave the leaves

Some more colour adjusting helped immensely, and the tree shouldn’t be bare. It was autumn. It should be full of green leaves. So I added them.

Ah! This was starting to look like something. While not as saturated scene as I might have wished for, I was happy with what I saw at this point.

Finished!

The last details were added. The painting was finished. The artist was happy. That is, me.

Is it identical to the photo?

Oh no!

But I think it’s a nice representation of what I saw, if simplified. And I’m ready to try a new motive, with new challenges.

What about the original?

OK, some may be interested in seeing how close to the photo the painting is. And I can help you there. I’ll show you:

The photo itself

This is how the original scene is. As you can see, I’ve taken some liberties, and there are definitely some differences. Not only in colours. But it was a very nice inspiration for me, and I’m happy with the result. Which is more important than have it identical. At least this time.

The eagle eyed among you have noticed the square pattern over the picture. This is so that it will be easier to keep the proportions correct when transferring the image to canvas. You may also notice that I don’t have the correct proportions in my painting, compared to the photo.

Yeah. Well. I originally drew it nicely – but painted over the lines when I blocked in the colours – and didn’t bother to draw it in exactly as it was afterwards. I did it quick and dirty after memory.

Still, the lines are there, and if anyone wants to try to paint it themselves, feel free. It would be fun to see the results!

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Optical Illusions

I guess we all have seen various optical illusions; drawings that can be seen as two different things at the same time, images where the shapes also seem to hide or form other figures, geometrical constructs where the angles seem to be OK, but at the same time are completely impossible.

M.C.Escer: Waterfall
Waterfall by M.C.Escher

One well-known artist of the impossible geometry is the Dutch Maurits Cornelis Escher. Way more can be said of him and his art than I will do, other than that he serves as the inspiration for one of my paintings in progress.

The image I’m thinking of is “Waterfall” – impossible geometry where the water flows down in an aqueduct all the way, and ends up in a water all down into the beginning of the same aqueduct. All the action takes place in a limited space, and it’s easy to see how it’s done. But in my mind, I was playing with the idea of taking the same principle and transfer it into nature, making a believable picture, despite the water flowing downwards all the time, in a circuit with several waterfalls. Would it be possible?

I had a rough idea, sketched it on paper, just as rough, and decided that yes, it would be possible. Then I had to decide if I should make a more detailed sketch, using photos and stitch together something in Photoshop, or just start painting, with that rough sketch as my starting point. I went for the latter option, as the rest would have me spend way too long time before I could start painting at all.

It started out nice and quick. I blocked in the colours for the first shapes; sky, mountains, water, ground. Added some more details after I decided where the light should come from. Made the river flow from the lake in the distance towards a lake in the foreground, with some waterfalls on the way to make it obvious. Then the time came for me to make the river flow back, down from the current low point to the starting high point …

OK. It’s easy enough to make the river flow downwards, but it should also look natural. I spent some time thinking of this. It started getting hard …

Work in progress of my "impossible nature painting"
Work in progress. I’m getting there, but lots of work left.

As it is still a work in progress, I’m not finished. By far.I’ve blocked in the main colours, so I see the shapes and things are getting clearer. There’s still a lot of details that need to be painted though, but there is one thing that’s getting very clear to me: I was overly optimistic about the time I would use on it. There’s more thinking to do than expected, to make it look convincing. So much that it has been hard to sit down and do some actual painting. There are other pictures I want to try, too, so maybe I’ll just start that before I finish this one. Luckily, that’s very much allowed. Getting my spirits high on painting something that doesn’t require this much thought can only be of the positive, and it’ll make it easier to start on this one again. I hope.

Sounds like I’m trying to convince myself here, but in any case, I’ll have to get some painting done again, and show it.

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