Brian Bailey, Rock Creek, Oil on Canvas, 9″ x 12″ © 2016
I visited my parents in Montana about a month ago and spent some time trying to sort through the boxes and bins of things that I’ve been intending to take with me over the last 10 years or so. I came across this painting of Rock Creek near Red Lodge, Montana that I believe I started painting in 1998. My uncle, Jim Poulson, took me on a painting trip to help me figure out how to use my newly acquired easel and oil paints. Jim is an amazing landscape artist and definitely one of my biggest art influences. I remember him helping me figure out the composition and how to start with shades of red under the trees to give them life and keep the green from becoming too dominant. It’s amazing how early lessons in life can come back to you and have renewed meaning.
When I found the painting, it was mostly as you see it above. But, the lower-left corner, in front of the tree, was a flat patch of permanent green that had been scraped off and left unfinished, until now. I spent some time over the course of an afternoon in my studio to finally finish Rock Creek. It’s amazing to me how connected I feel to this painting. It was from a time before I knew many of the conventions of art and composition but it feels like a very honest representation of what I really know about painting. Jim was a great teacher and I’m glad to have found this, to remind me of our painting trip. Maybe I’ll get the rest of my stuff from my parents house next time…
Brian Bailey, The Way, Oil on Canvas, 7″ x 7″, © 2016
It feels like Spring has fully arrived in San Francisco. I am very much enjoying the 60 to 70 degree temperatures with clear skies and have been trying to get outside whenever possible. I painted this small canvas after a walk to the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park. I’ve been very interested in square format compositions and the effect of light and shadow on different colors. It reminds me of my limited training in darkroom photography where one of the challenges was to capture highlights and shadows without losing all of the information behind them. Similarly, I’ve been trying to neutralize colors by mixing compliments to create shadows that are delicate and still show the colors underneath.
Brian Bailey, High Tide and the Fog, Oil on Masonite, 14″ x 11″, © 2016
I’ve also been experimenting with brushwork. Specifically, I’ve been working towards letting go and finding a way between tight and loose. Brushwork, it seems to me, is like the rhythm of a song. It can vary greatly and change the feeling of a painting from controlled and orderly to chaotic to lyrical and rhythmic. In the painting above, I experimented with using different sized brushes to capture some of the movement of the waves near Land’s End by the entrance to the bay. A light fog was coming in and obscuring the hills in the distance and, in the end, I found this to be the most interesting part of the painting. I’m definitely going to explore the idea of using fog or haze in future paintings.
Again, thank you for reading and your comments are always appreciated!
Brian Bailey, A Path to the Trees, Acrylic, 8″ x 8″ © 2015
I’ve been drawn out of the city this week, north of the Golden Gate Bridge. My mind is consumed with all of the possibilities of landscape. I’ve been really trying to increase my knowledge of composition and am experimenting with a number of different landscape paintings. I feel like the arrangement of elements can tell a story more than I ever have in the past. It feels empowering to read about art and try to plug in to what other painters were thinking. I’m sure I’ll have more to share next Friday. As always, thank you for reading.