Monday, August 31, 2009

Bonsai Tree and Shapes: Concept sketches

In all of my paintings, I always work from concept sketches. These are small thumbnail sketches that contain the center of interest and ideas on how I want to create the world around it. For the bonsai tree painting, here are some of the better sketches:

As you can see, the sketches are extremely crude, small and kind of messy. However, the purpose of the sketch is to decide the layout. There is no reason to put the detail in there. That will happen when the actual painting starts.

Once I was done with the sketches, I decided which one would be the most interesting. In this case, the bottom image was my favorite. Every time I went to do a new concept sketch, I kept referring back to that one. Therefore, that is the one that will be painted.

In addition to doing the concept sketches for the painting, these sketches are also a great way to practice my compositional skills and my drawing skills. They are quick, throw-away drawings that are used to fuel the creativity path.

Next on the list, selecting a canvas.

Bonsai Tree and Shapes: Finding a representative image

Over this weekend, I started working on my latest painting. The first step of any painting, for me, is to decide what I want to paint. In this situation, I was looking at the bonsai tree on my office desk and thought... Hey! That would be an interesting object in a painting.

The first step was to find a representative image of a bonsai tree. Google is the absolute perfect tool for such a search. The image that I was looking for needed to be semi-curved and have an interesting leaf structure. I didn't want anything that looked like a tiny tree that you would see outside of your house. I wanted something that anyone would immediately recognize as a bonsai (there are a couple of representative curving limbs and pine leave patterns that evoke such a thought).

Once I have a representative image, it is important to note that you should try to have a realistic object in which to paint from. In this case, I am using the picture to decide how I want to shape the tree, but using my actual bonsai tree to do the painting. The shadows are better when you are working from life. Now, this is not to say that I don't use photographs.... I do. However, if I can get away from it, I do like to paint from the actual object.


As an artist, I'm constantly asked about where I get my ideas and how I approach my paintings. My usual answer is... I don't know. They just come to me. I see a tree, a mountain or some sort of landscape feature and visions start dancing in my head about how I can set it in its own reality.

Over the course of this blog, as it stands right now, I'll be giving detailed explanation on the overall development of a painting and how I present it in shows.