Sunday, November 10, 2013

Saturday on Max: Accepting the challenge.

Saturday on Max   14" X18" Acrylic on Canvas Panel
The story behind this painting began last Wednesday.  I sold the Downtown at Daybreak  painting last week.  This left a spot to fill at the B2 (Squared) wine Bar.  I was encouraged to do another cityscape so... 

I spent the better part of my Wednesday attempting another cityscape.  It did not go well.  However, as with most paintings I learned a few things along the way.  I was also reminded of a couple of things.  The most important being that you can never compromise on the composition.  I thought I could compose the painting without precisely measuring the angles.  I was wrong.  No matter what I tried the painting was just a little off.  I had to scrap the entire painting and choose a new subject.  So Saturday I chose this  challenging scene of a Max train going up the downtown transit mall.  I had shied away from this because I wasn't sure how the  Max train would end up looking.  But I really liked the scene.
  I thought I would start by painting some of the train to get some practice with the values and angles.  So I began to paint over the last painting.  As it progressed I realized that it was going well enough that I should continue.  By Sunday morning I had committed to this version.  So what had started as an exercise painting over the last panel  ended up being a finished painting.
On a side note, I took photos of the process.  At one point I washed the entire top of the painting with white to get rid of the painting beneath. This created a very interesting fog like effect with the buildings in the background of the old painting creating ghostly images and the train emerging into the foreground.  I liked it so much I almost left it as it was, but I was determined to try to finish the scene.  And I thought I could always go back later, wash it out and achieve the same effect.  Later as I was putting in the trees, I decided to try and go back to the wash.  This didn't work because the trees were now part of the painting and the effect was not believable enough.
Unfortunately the photos I took of this effect have been lost forever.   When I shut off my old camera, the lense refused to retract into the body.  Long story short,  the camera was in my pocket, and when I went to change clothes today, I stepped on the lense and effectively killed the thing.  The photos are in the camera's internal memory (another result of the dying camera) and it will not power up.  So new painting, and new camera today.  Both were long overdue.


  1. Hi Kevin,
    I must say, you're really nailing these urban scenes. I feel like I'm "home" again! I sure know what you're talking about with respect to the perspective issue. Funny how some artists can leave it to chance, or intentionally make it "wrong" and still make a painting work. Exaggerated perspective or expressionist paintings certainly can work, too, but when a piece is obviously meant to look real, the slightest error in perspective can be ruinous.
    Congratulations on the sale, too! :) Nothing quite like it to bolster the confidence and refill the energy bank. I didn't comment on your last post, simply because I was waiting to see if you'd add some words about the process or whether or not you like it. Since silence was your plan and I now get it, let me say I really like it.
    You seem to be developing quite a knack for making sense out of the extremely complex urban environment. I salute you on this truly significant achievement, Kevin, and hope someday to put out a work even half as good as these.
    Have a good week.

    1. I now know the reason the failed painting was just a little off. It was from a perspective of looking up, and the lower half of the scene had been inadvertently cut off. (The digital frame I use cropped it). So there was little foreground to see as reference. The buildings were too tall (pun intended) a task for me and they didn't look quite right.
      I haven't had much time to do anything, much less paint lately, so I just posted the previous small painting so I wouldn't have to look at the older post anymore.
      Thanks for the encouragement. I've had positive feedback from the previous Urban Landscapes. I still feel there are more scenes I would enjoy painting of downtown.

  2. I really like this, Kevin. You seem to paint urban scenes that have a welcoming aspect - a warmth in the colors of the lights that tell you people live and work here. Without putting people in your scenes, you make us present. You are definitely onto something good with these paintings.

  3. Thank you RH. Leaving people out of the scenes was not entirely intentional. I wanted late night or early morning scenes of downtown, so my references were taken at daybreak on a Saturday, when few people were around. And I want to include people in my scenes more now that I've done a few. But for now I will agree, this seems to work in it's own way

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Celeste. Im glad I decided to paint over the last one. I might have spent too much time trying to fix it and gotten frustrated. Sometimes moving on is a very good thing.