artwork > Natural Beauty: The Los Angeles Paintings

Grey Building, Blue Sky
Grey Building, Blue Sky
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
2010

Living in Southern California, one quickly becomes acclimated to the agreeable climate. We do have weather, and our fair share of air quality issues, but some days are so gorgeous that it literally stuns me when I walk outside. There are often no clouds, the sun is shining, and the sky is blue, so blue that it is hard to describe.

My paintings are inspired by what is around me every day, and this image is no exception. I walk by this building on my way home from work, and I am often struck at how beautiful the grey building looks against the blue, blue sky.

Describing that sky became one of the major problems with this painting. While the composition is admittedly simple, painting this image wasn’t easy – the colors had to be perfect. In the early stages, the colors I mixed were solid, opaque, flat. While this is a common way for me to deal with architecture and solid areas of color, it wasn’t working in this painting. I soon realized that a more complex color palette was necessary to balance the simple composition.

The final colors are built up of thin, transparent layers, using a technique called glazing, which is nearly as old as oil paint itself. Through optical blending, thin transparent layers merge to create a solid color, but a color that has more depth and richness than a flat mixed color. The blue sky was created with several different shades of blue layered over each other until the right brightness and color was reached. The grey building was built up using several colors of grey, and finished with a thin wash of orange, to give the building warmth and to bring it forward from the receding, cool sky.

I am happy with the end result. This painting is my most recent exploration into the "natural beauty" of Los Angeles. While more abstract than most of my work, I love the image and hope it has the same freshness that I feel when I see this building on my way home from work.