30 days/30 paintings

Seriously, I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I signed up for Leslie Saeta’s 30 paintings in 30 days. I’ll get into the study early every morning during September and paint a small image to upload. And I’ll upload a week’s worth of images only once a week.

I’ve been working on a large series of landscapes for an upcoming solo exhibition and thought I’d use this daily challenge to create some smaller, micro landscapes and still lifes where only one object appears in the painting.

The emphasis will be on values, color contrast and texture. You can check out the paintings on the 30/30 page at the top of the website.

 

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Paint and Charcoal

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Played in the studio yesterday to create this acrylic and charcoal landscape painting. I used charcoal, matte medium, white and black paint.

Starting with a 12 x 12 canvas, I applied some gel medium with a palette knife to create texture. After the medium dried, I painted the canvas white. I used the matte medium to create tooth on the surface to hold the charcoal and I started working the charcoal into the surface while the matte medium was wet which caused the charcoal to soften and smear. Once the medium was dry, I applied more charcoal and then, with a small bristle brush loaded with matte medium I worked the charcoal to create the image. To clean the brush, I simply wiped it on the mid and foreground of the painting to create the soft grays you see in the photo.  The process required several layers of medium and charcoal and once I was satisfied, I used a small bristle brush to add some gray snow to the mid ground  using the black and white acrylic then used a shop towel to wipe some pure white over the foreground.

The painting is ready for any additional coats of paint or for a final varnishing without fear of smearing the charcoal and losing the tree pattern.

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Lovin’ The Paste

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I love Golden’s light molding paste. I wipe it on, spread it on with a palette knife or used credit card, brush it on…no matter, the goal is texture. And I want a fine, subtle texture that allows layers of chunky color to show through on the finished artwork.

For this painting, called “Walk With Me” (18” x 18”), I started by spreading the molding paste in the lower half of the canvas. The image was inspired by the farm across the road so I knew I only wanted texture in the lower half. I let the paste dry overnight then started adding color mixed with matte medium over the entire canvas.

This time, I used a very limited palette of Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Cerulean Blue, Ivory Black and Titanium White.  I mixed a pale red/orange and covered the sky; I mixed a darker red/orange and scrubbed the color into the molding paste on the bottom half of the painting. That was it for the first day. I applied some gloss gel medium to the sky area to protect the orange and to create a textured surface for the next color. And I let this dry overnight.

Next day, I painted the sky using a shop towel and mixtures of white and blue with a little black. Then I wiped back the color to let mostly red/orange show through. Using the palette knife and a shop towel, I spread green and orange over the bottom half. The greens were mixes of black and yellow and white with a little blue here and there and the orange was yellow and red and black and sometimes white. By applying the green color over the molding paste with a palette knife, the green hit the high points of the molding paste letting some of the red/orange basecoat show through. And where I didn’t want too much texture, I simply wipe the paint with a shop towel.

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Greens and Greens and Blues

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“Shadows”; acrylic; 20 x 20″

Once again my backyard acted as model. But it wasn’t the landscape that captured my attention. Instead, it was the shadow in the lower right; a shadow cast by my studio. The shadow seemed to be leading the viewer in a specific direction and that direction was back into the woods, into the forest with its strong mix of shadows punctuated by brights spots of light.

Rather than being faithful to nature, I used my own color scheme – an analogous scheme which, to me, seems to create a quiet, peaceful mood. And I moved a couple of trees around to suit the composition!

Color palette for this painting was Nickel Azo Yellow, Raw Sienna, Napthol Red Medium; Transparent Red Oxide, Phthalo Blue (green shade), and Titanium White.  And the paint was applied with a brush, painting knife, credit card and shop towel. The challenge was to make a simple color scheme work by using a range of values and temperature shifts with the warmer colors in the background to draw attention to that area. The shadows seem to be on the outside of the forest; the woods appear more inviting.

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It’s All About the Scale

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Some days you can be bang on; other days you miss the mark completely.

This is a 20″ x 16″ oil.

Below is how I started. I painted a background then started applying poppy shapes with no indication of scale or even composition.

I wasn’t happy. So I stopped.

I switched to the canvas size above and focused on painting the poppy sizes in relation, in scale, to the size of the canvas and concentrated on a cruciform composition.

I’m happy now.blognewpic1

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Painting in the Driveway

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My studio is small. Chemical smells can fill the air quickly. I can ventilate for acrylic fumes, but scents from oils and their related thinners take control of my studio environment.

So when I paint with oils, I paint outdoors, or almost outdoors. On pleasant days, you can find me with my pochade box in the middle of the driveway. On less pleasant days, I’ll be in the garage but with both garage doors wide open so it feels like I’m outdoors.  And I sometimes take my pochade box on the road, but I’ve discovered I’m much more comfortable painting near home.

My studio is filled with shelves and drawers of painting supplies. And for years, I believed I would feel insecure not being around all those supplies as I painted. But spending the warm months painting in oils outside my studio has forced me to think and paint compactly. Minimal supplies can be creatively freeing!

The painting above is a small 12″ x 12″ oil on canvas that I completed while standing in the driveway. I took some liberties with my neighbor’s acreage – I left out the barn and I left out the cows but I added some water in the foreground that wasn’t there that day, but often is.  Completed with a few paints, three brushes, a palette knife and shop towels.

My oil supplies are few. All contained in a portable box attached to a camera tripod. I reduced to an eight-color palette which tends to remain the same but sometimes I’ll switch colors. I use only four or five brushes (with sawed off handles so they fit into the pochade box) and a small container to hold turps or thinner. A roll of shop towels is by my side and I always wear nitrile gloves to keep paint (and thus, paint thinner for clean-up) from my skin.

Click here to see a one minute video of my outdoor setup. And yes, it was shot in my driveway.

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Make it Hot

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It’s always a bit of a challenge for me, working with warm colors. I prefer the soothing cooler colors of blue, blue/green with perhaps a touch of color from the warm side of the color wheel. But these hot humid days in the studio have inspired me to try warming up my palette. I want to create a series of landscapes using predominantly warm colors to reflect the current weather patterns.

This is the first in the series. So far it’s an untitled painting and it’s 12″ x 12″ painted with acrylics. I used my current standard palette of Hansa Yellow Medium, Napthol Red Medium, Phtalo Blue (green shade), Titanium White, and I added Transparent Red Iron Oxide to the palette to create some deeper warm tones.

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Here’s the first step to the painting. I randomly brushed the surface with some cool colors…just to get rid of the white…then I used a painting knife to apply light molding paste. The molding paste has a bit of tooth and would allow me to use drawing media like graphite or colored pencil on the surface at any stage. But as it turns out, I chose not to add calligraphy. The texture you see in the final painting is actually the molding paste.

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I covered the surface with a golden yellow then used an old, rough stain brush to apply the oranges.3

I think the hot colors gave me a headache! I toned down the surface here by drybrushing mostly white over the sky area and adding a blue path.

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Here I defined the path a bit more then brought some of that blue color up into the sky. To complete the image I added a few more lights, a few more darks and glazed the orange area in the front of the painting with several layers of Transparent Red Iron Oxide to tone and deepen the color.

 

 

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My Favorite Things – applicators!

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Raindrops on roses and whispers on kittens might be some of your favorite things. But some of my favorites are applicators! You know – those tools you use to apply paint to a surface. I’d call them brushes, but I only use a few brushes, the rest are, well, applicators.

Many of these allow me to work loosely and quickly, establishing shapes and patterns, working from large shapes to small shapes until applying the last few touches of paint with a brush.

The photo above shows my hard rubber roller. I use this to apply random vertical, horizontal or diagonal shapes to a canvas near the beginning of the process. The hard brayer skims over the surface applying color to the raised bits on the canvas. I’ll also often use a soft rubber brayer to apply more paint more evenly and/or a sponge roller which gives me a more opaque and smoother layer of color.

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Ahhh, my most favorite applicators. My painting knives (and I have many in a great assortment of shapes and sizes) are used to mix color on the palette, and to apply that color onto the surface. They give a textured application of color.

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Blue shop towels, grouting sponges, bamboo skewers and popsicle sticks can all work magic with a design. I can blend and smooth, and erase, with a dampened shop towel; wipe color or pounce color with the sponge and I use the wooden utensils to apply small dots and strokes of color.

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I use the drywall and wallpaper tools to apply large sections of broken color to a surface. Great to use over a gelled surface. The applicators just skim the tops of the gel peaks laying down thin, random spots of color.

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Catalyst tools are used to add color, move color and remove color.

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Old credit cards and room keys serve the same purpose as the drywall applicators, but I use them for smaller spaces. I often use the edge for tree trunks or field highlights in a landscape.

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And finally, my bristle brushes. I use these for small shapes where I want some control and for adding any final details to the painting.

 

 

 

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A Painting Facelift

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Funny how paintings can change over time. One gets completed; you live with it for a while and seem to enjoy what you created. Then, some time down the road, you realize a few nips, tucks and tweaks can make a stronger image.

The painting above is the current result of an image I’ve changed a few times. The image below shows the former look. The orange tree poking up through the forest just became annoying.

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I knew I had to do something with that tree, and the photo below shows what I did – I got rid of it! With acrylics, that’s easy to do.

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I mixed the sky color which was Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and a touch of Indian Yellow and brushed into the sky, over the offending tree and down into the tree line a bit.  I didn’t adjust anything in the bottom half of the painting but did soften the tree line, made the highlight on the grass a little thinner and less intense and move the tree into the front of the forest.

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I built the tree with layers of ultramarine blue and yellow creating values of yellow-green. Then I just kept adding color and switched the hue, and the tree, to blue-green, which I liked better. I added a few more touches of the blue-green throughout the image and I’m calling this painting done!

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Watercolor Sketches

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My morning start. If I work small, if I work quickly and loosely, I can stir up whatever creative genes I possess to pump up the excitement, pump up the skill set for a day of painting.

This is my current sketchbook. It’s filled with watermedia sketches created in a matter of minutes once I turn on the lights in my studio each day.  I start with watercolor and often add casein. The watercolor is transparent; the casein helps me resolve the image with some opaque color.

I use a coil bound Field Series Watercolor Journal with 140 watercolor paper. Although I haven’t tried this Iexpect the journal would also work well with mixed media technique. The size I use is 6″ x 6″ but it comes in a variety of sizes and different cover colors. Here’s mine:

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I use Qor watercolor paints from Golden Artists Colors and Shiva casein available from Richeson Art. And today, I seemed to be extra enthusiastic so here a couple more sketches from this morning’s start up session.

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