Greens and Greens and Blues

shadows

“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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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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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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A Quick Look at Painting with a Knife

Look quickly. This video will take you through a painting from start to finish in three minutes. I only wish I could paint that fast! I wanted to show you how I paint several of my images using a palette knife and shop towel, and I wanted to show that process from start to finish.

I painted the background an all over red-orange to begin, thinking the color would glow through in the final product. It doesn’t, but I learned long ago not to fall in love with any particular color or shape in the painting process. It’s all subject to change.

The video shows how I work back and forth between foreground and background and how I soften some of the sharp edges using a shop towel (with a little water if I’ve left the paint too long and it starts to set up before I can manipulate the color).

I mostly work from light values to dark values. I mix the color value with the knife then just kiss the surface of the painting with the knife to apply the paint. I work wet in wet when I want the colors to blend on the surface but I’ll let the colors dry when I want crisp, clear color changes.

The painting is an 8″ x 8″ acrylic painted on cradle board that was sealed and gessoed.
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What’s Left on the Plate

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Monoprinting is offset printing. You apply paint to a substrate (in this case, a gel plate) then lay some paper on top of the substrate, apply a little pressure, and transfer the paint to the paper. Repeat this step many times and you have a layered, multi-colored original print.

Some residual paint is almost always left behind on the plate after printing a layer of color. And I like to use that residual paint to my advantage. What’s left on the plate becomes a guide for subsequent color layers. I’ve broken out some of the steps for this 3″ x 5″ print (above) to show you how I can start, with just one overall color and no plan for a final image, and allow some of the residual paint to guide my design.
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The image above shows what’s left after I printed a layer of Quinacridone Magenta. By the way, I use Golden Open Acrylics, both for my monoprints and my acrylic paintings. The paints are slow drying – so they won’t dry on the surface while I’m slowly thinking of what the next step should be.  The paints also give me the freedom to mix colors directly on the plate (and often on the paper as well). I try to use lighter, brighter, transparent colors for the first layer.step1

 

The photo above shows the sky left on the plate after printing. I brush mixed a few colors to make the sky and those colors mixed with the magenta on the plate to create a violet cast to the sky.
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With a small, flat brush and some Transparent Red Oxide I created the mid ground – and this is what was left after printing.  With the remnants of the sky paint still on the plate, I could see where to place the Oxide to let some of the magenta show through at the top of the mid ground.

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With an old bristle brush and a little Sap Green, I added the foreground. The image above is what’s left after printing the first layer of the foreground. I used this color to register subsequent foreground color layers without having to guess about placement.

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Drive-by Pix

Out from the Dark

Bits and pieces of quick photo grabs were combined to make this composition.

My wife and I share driving along Hwy 401 into Toronto. When I'm the passenger, I have my smart phone or ipad at the ready to capture any drive-by scenes that might have possibilities. Sometimes the photos are blurry; sometimes I question why I even took the photo, but other times I'm delighted with an image or piece of an image that I can use in a painting.

This painting, called "Out From the Dark", 18" x 24" and painted in oils, has several sections from several photographs. I cropped elements from various photos, added them to a page in Photoshop and manipulated until I found something I liked. My Photoshop cropping is pretty rough so once I'm happy with a composition I do a small sketch either in a paper sketchbook or a digital sketchbook. And that becomes my composition.

Next step was to decide on concept and color. The foreground of a couple of the original images I used as resource was filled with construction equipment. I wanted something a little more pastoral and I discovered a photo I took of a large shadow on grass – just a shadow; just some grass. Weird, but the pic was in my files. Turns out that shadow became the reason for the painting.

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Three Colors; Two Looks; Many Values

Red Green

Here's a little exercise I did using one limited color palette, the same design and a complementary color scheme to create two different looks.

 I used an acrylic palette of Hansa Yellow Medium, Napthol Red Medium and Phthalo Blue (green shade) along with Mars Black and Titanium White to create these two paintings.

 The top painting is a red/green color scheme, the bottom painting is red-orange/blue-green and I created both using various mixes of the yellow, red and blue palette mentioned above. This is a great exercise in value control. Since the palette is limited, the focus needs to be on creating a range of values and a range of color temperatures that will adequately create the illusion of space and tell the story. Values that are close tend to flatten the area (see the sky and lower foreground in the top painting) and values that offer greater contrast separate the shapes and make some of them stand out (see the tree line in the above painting). 

 While I used white to create lighter values, I only used a little of the black to create darker values. Black tends to deaden the color  Instead of always using black, I prefer to mix the two complementary colors to create some darker neutrals that are much richer than they would be if I used black.

Red Orange Blue Green

And finally – well, this actually should be an early decision in the process – I decided on overall color temperature of the painting. Should the painting be cool or warm? The top painting has a dominant red appearance making it a warm painting; the bottom painting is obviously much cooler with only a little of the red-orange used in the mid-ground.

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Warm Water

Warm waterThis is a recent painting based on a visit to Presqu’ile Provincial Park this past spring.

The subject seems to be a strong one for me since I’ve used this image in several paintings. The almost central image of a group of trees, for me, is iconic. It signifies a focused sense of community. But I called this painting “Warm Water” because of the foreground colors.

The painting was done on a cradle board. Several acrylic colors and values were poured onto the board using Liquitex pouring medium and left to dry overnight. I sanded the acrylic lightly to create some tooth then completed the painting with casein. I love using casein. Even after it dries to the touch it remains malleable allowing me to spritz, spray and scrape to create the design.

The acrylic area in this painting is the orange in the sky background and the warm oranges and yellows inn the foreground water.

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