I’ve been watching lots of heavy storms lately, and though the grey skies can become tiresome, the water’s turbulence is fascinating. These studies from Gloucester were fun to paint. I mixed Liquin Impasto medium into the paint to get a frosting-like consistency that would emulate the foamy water. Applying the paint with a knife kept it loose, and reminded me of decorating birthday cakes with my mom when I was young. More to come…….
The disarray of late summer at the garden’s edge – a great excuse to let loose with some expressionistic brush and roller work. These coneflowers (and a few Queen Ann’s Lace) provided the inspiration. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a number of soft rubber rollers to apply the paint – 4 inch and 2 inch Speedballs, and a Takech extra narrow.
For years I’ve enjoyed tall stands of bright yellow flowers in the Fenway Victory Gardens. They’re lush, a little scrappy, and toss in the wind. They also tie in with two goals I set for myself this year – understanding how to paint with yellow, and revisiting the garden theme I embraced when I was transitioning from printmaker to painter. So….coreopsis it is. This first painting of them is a get-acquainted piece. I experimented with mixing many yellows, tried supporting muted greens and reds, and figured out ways to manipulate brush and roller to describe both their form and the feel of movement that surrounds them. Oh happy day…it worked! Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: Working with yellow is difficult because it doesn’t provide a range of values. Being a high value in itself, it can only go slightly higher with the addition of white, and lowering the value means adulterating the hue. I used raw sienna, yellow ochre, Indian yellow, and Naples yellow for the warmer notes, sometimes adding burnt sienna. For the lighter, cooler tones I used zinc yellow. A touch of violet helped to create shadows on the petals. To integrate blossoms and leaves, I glazed in shadows with blue violet transparencies and warmed other areas with glazes of Indian yellow. Layering rolled patches with brushwork kept the painting from feeling too controlled, although I believe I need to work that angle more in the next painting.
The lilies are in bloom, and this particular stand of lilies filled the entire neighborhood with their fragrance. My close-cropped view emphasizes the thrust of the lilies in all directions, and perhaps implies the way their scent spreads. The small pink flowers nestled close-by offer a contrast of scale and color, but they also symbolize, for me, the way we all have our roles to play, and every role is equally important for a well-balanced and successful outcome. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller extensively, building the image with sweeps of the roller – sometimes using the end, sometimes dabbing, often rolling. Liquin Impasto medium added to the oil paint works well for achieving a good viscosity, controlling transparency, and speeding the dry time. I used a brush as sparingly as possible – the marks from the roller seemed to suggest movement and air, which are key to capturing the feeling of a subject outdoors.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to paint a still life – no movement! I need to see plants that are alive and following the sun or dancing with a breeze. These camellias at the greenhouse were begging me to paint their portrait. It was a pleasure to say yes. Details below. Enjoy.
One of my earliest memories is from the day I started wearing eyeglasses. I was in the back seat of my parent’s car, looking up through the window and seeing TREES WITH LEAVES. It was a staggering sight – I only knew trees as blurs. Maybe that’s why I’m still so fascinated by the sight and experience of trees. Their movements mesmerize me – all that overlapping color and shape, and the contrast of blurry with sharp detail (STEMS! WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!). Every time I start painting the view up, into, or through trees I feel like a little kid again, experiencing the joy of sight for the first time. Thank you, trees, for the wonder and the breeze. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: After painting many oil on paper studies, my arboreal series is beginning to take shape. Ode to an Autumn Afternoon is certainly about warmth and the movement of air through trees. It also uses a range of techniques to explore ways of seeing leaves – as blurred and moving shapes and as outlines scraped into wet paint or applied with a brush. The close harmonies of tone and color are soothing. Using semi-transparent color applied thinly with a roller contributes to the nuanced color. Liquin Impasto medium was mixed into the paint to provide transparency and speed drying.Sometimes, Sometimes I used the edge of the roller to draw lines, sometimes a narrow roller, and of course occasionally a narrow flat brush.
I usually do preliminary investigations of a subject – small studies on prepared paper – as a way to try out colors, techniques, and to figure out my response to what I’m seeing. These arboreal studies told me that it was the wind, more than the actual tree, that wanted to be my subject. The colors inform my emotional response, but moving air, especially on a hot summer day, well, that’s what I crave. So these studies are about the blue, cloud-strewn sky and wind as seen through the trembling leaves. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: All the studies were painted on prepared rag paper, usually primed with clear shellac front and back. I used the palette knife almost exclusively. I suspect that translating these studies to a larger scale will mean abandoning the knife in favor of a roller to accommodate the change in scale.