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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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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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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Deciding What To Do With The Skins

Tree line

This painting started with a little texture and whole bunch of random blue acrylic skins. I liked the skins so much that I filled the canvas. That turned the painting ugly.

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So I opened a jar of light molding paste and, with a palette knife, spread the paste over most of the canvas leaving only a couple of inches of the blue skins near the top.

Tree line 3

Then, over a period of several days, I used a dry housepainting brush and some analogous color to fill the top and bottom of the canvas. I held the brush almost flat to the surface and lightly scumbled in color to make the most of the textured patterns created in the molding paste.

I switched to a smaller brush to create some of the highlights on the cliff top edge and the background blues and I darkened some the blue areas to create contrast.

Then, after a final toning of the violet, I was done…five days later but happy with the effort.

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Keeping It Old

Bridgewater school

The school photograph is from 1890 so the challenge was to make the rest of the painting look old as well.

But first, I needed to create a photo transfer of the original picture. I photocopied the picture and applied a coat a day of Golden Soft Gel medium for about four or five days. I brushed the gel medium right over the image. Once the gel was set on the last day I wet the back of the image and started rubbing to remove the paper.  After two or three attempts at removing the paper I was left with a transparent image which I glued to the canvas with polymer medium.  You can paint the canvas first, and the colors you brush onto the canvas will show through the photo transfer. But I left my background white.

Next came Golden’s Crackle Paste. I applied this with a palette knife and made it thick enough that the cracks would develop. A thin application won’t show cracks. The product recommendation is that crackle paste be applied to a solid background such as Masonite or cradle board, rather than canvas. But I’ve found that if I don’t apply the paste too thickly and I varnish the completed painting to hold everything in place, then I seem to be able to use the paste on stretched canvas.

When the crackle paste dried (after a couple of days), I again used a palette knife and applied Golden’s Light Molding Paste. I applied the paste roughly to get some ridges and valleys.

When all the mediums were dry, I took sandpaper and sanded back any spots that were too thick or too rough. I paid particular attention around the edge of the transfer.

Next, I brushed Payne’s Grey acrylic over the entire piece and immediately wiped the color back using a damp shop towel. The objective was to leave a darker value in the valleys and cracks.

I brushed a glaze of Transparent Red Oxide over the photo transfer then added some stamped, stencilled and collaged elements to complete the piece.

This painting “Bridgewater School” is to be part of a group exhibition at a local gallery featuring many of the old schools of the area. The Bridgewater building still exists and is used as a community center but most of the others have disappeared.

 

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Picking Up and a New Start

A Letter HomeWow, March flew by. My solo show at the Parrott Gallery ran through the month of March and today it’s down and I’m picking up the unsold pieces, some to be displayed elsewhere, others to be stored for future shows. And I’m well underway with a new series of paintings, a little looser, a little different in color palette. Should be a lot of fun.

This painting “A Letter Home”; acrylic; graphite, charcoal; 40″ x 30″ sold at the show opening. The opening was enjoyable – lots of people, much conversation, people I hadn’t seen in years – and a couple of people cried when they looked at my paintings. Amazing how art can appeal on such an emotional level. And, by the way, they were sad tears, but good tears.

Couple of new directions for me in the next months. More later.

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