Sunday, February 08, 2009

From The Desk: Things I Saw While Walking To Work

I'm officially in a slump. I'm still getting some painting done, but very little. The usual suspects are to blame: work, personal events, house projects. There's definitely some lack of motivation in there as well. I've got Borka, the Keg Carrier, and the Stone Scribe all started on my desk (the Key Carrier is practically finished actually). However at this rate, I won't finish them until the end of February.

As part of a house-wide experiment, my wife has designated February as "no unnecessary purchases" month. It's a good exercise for many reasons, but particularly because it will keep me focused on the unpainted miniatures I have rather than picking up anything new. I figure if I can finish my remaining trolls and be down to two factions with unpainted models, I'll be feeling better about getting new models.

So, now to the main reason for this post. Despite my lack of time and motivation to paint, I've still been thinking about painting. The other day I was able to walk to work and opted to take my camera. Now, I'm not photographer. Not by any stretch of the imagination do I fancy myself as good with a camera. However, I've been trying to train my artist's eye to be more conscious of color in the real world. So I snapped these pictures while I was walking because they got me thinking.

Bark fascinates me. The many types, the varied textures, the variety of color... It's amazing. I took this picture because I particularly liked the "scaly hard skin" look of this bark.
I have always held a motto of "Life Erupts", and this is an example of it. In the midst of bleached gravel are these clumps of grass and weeds. They sprout up in irregular spots. This picture was more about the pattern of the grass than the color, although the greens make an interesting counter to the mainly gray-scale rocks. The lighter yellow-ish greens tend to hide themselves as a result.
Colored from exposure, this rock was an interesting study in hue. The rock itself sports light blues and faded reds and oranges in addition to its natural gray tones. This particularly interested me because the colors shift dramatically in a small space, but due to the irregularity and dispersion of color, I didn't notice it immediately. I somewhat liken the effect to stippling.
Lance introduced me to a term from the computer effects industry: read. The use of this term is in regards to the eyes being able to see and understand what it is looking at. Images that are complex, lack contrast, or the visual information is irregular, can make it difficult for the eyes to identify what they are looking at quickly. This picture is an example. When I walked by, this pipe-valve assembly confused my eyes and I actually stopped to look more closely. Upon doing so, I recognized it quickly since I've seen these many times before. However this particular one was even more chaotic than usual with insulation partially pulled away and so much exposure to the elements over the years. Sometimes I encounter this same problem when painting a miniature. Grim Angus was an example where I was trying to balance creating contrast for the many items on his person, and not create an overly complex mosaic of color. In the end I failed in a couple ways, but learned much, and this picture reminded me of those lessons.
This was a mark on a concrete barrier. You might not realize it to look at it, but it was apparently due to something inside the concrete. These spots occurred at regular intervals along the barrier. I took this picture because it was curious to me how the cracks formed.
Now this was an interesting subject to look at. The dirty water lines are an intriguing study. On the top portion, dirt has been washed off by rain, runs over he edge, and the down the concave surface. The edges of the water marks are very hard and abrupt. However, further down there is a rougher stucco-like surface where the water does not form those hard lines. In this case, the surface texture naturally prevents those lines from forming apparently. Instead, any abrupt lines are formed to the higher textured parts of the surface. Well, at least that's my guess as to why it looks that way.
I just loved the color of these. Nothing more.
Wood grain is something I've been struggling with lately as a painter. These crates gave me yet another opportunity to study it.

Well, that's it for now. Time to tackle a couple more projects to get myself unburied and hopefully free up more time for painting.

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