Monday, February 16, 2009

Scottsdale Farm, Valentine's Spring

Valentines day is a sensitive time to go painting.  So we started early and went directly to Scottsdale Farm.  The light was filtered with quickly changing colour.  The view to the south was very soft and almost monochromatic at one point.  The abstract patterns of the fence lines coupled with the unmaintained tangle of the fields is enough for a good series.  Another view is already on the studio easel.

Going Back to Nature, 10x12, Oil on birch board

It sure felt like Spring.  A few small patches of snow, birds chirping.  Here I chose one of many fence line pieces and painted quickly - a short day was planned.  The light changed to a less monochromatic set of colours so I painted an impression of that.  The first layer still shows through.  The piece in process in the studio features analogous colours and a much larger vista.  
I used a shortened palette.  Ultramarine Blue and Alizerin Crimson(for violet and red), cadmium yellow light (greens, oranges, grays when mixed) and Transparent earth Oxide (more grays, warm darks, orange, general modifier) along with white.  In my out door kit I have low viscosity Graham paint that is a little easier to work with in the cold.  Two brushes were used.  A number 10 flat hogs bristle, and a #4 round hogs bristle.  I had not used a round for years and found it suddenly in my hand.  It is always refreshing to make a change.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Last September Vic Sullivan and I went to Killarney Park for a week of painting.   Up at dawn and to bed at dusk seems a bit much for many.  However, we had a great time, lots of laughter, great weather (second time), and quite a lot of painting.  Oh, and did I mention getting lost, hiking, and fish and chips from the world's best fish and chip shop?  The end result for me was 14 oil paintings, 25 sketches and 176 photos.

Recently I have been working on these paintings in the studio.  Many of the 14 paintings done on site painted themselves since being put aside.  The following painting was worked  up in the studio from a pencil sketch done on site and a reference photo.  It was chosen because it was sketched on AY Jackson Lake and it was the only low land entering the lake, probably the water source.  In addition, I liked the colours and composition.

A Little Bit of Emily, 16x20, Oil on Canvas

Those who know me are aware of how much I dislike painting from a photo.  Photos are not too bad (distortion) for compositional reference.  They are relatively poor for colour.  Reliance on them starves the artist from training the eye to see and develop an understanding of how Mother Nature works.  This is valuable for realists, impressionists, and abstractionists. 

The challenge for this painting was to avoid tightening up by trying to copy the photo.  To do this I used a number 14 hogs bristle brush, and I worked from the old pencil sketch after referring to the photo for a composition check.  The pencil sketch shows the value masses and the rough composition (about 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches).  The colours come from memory and notes made on the field sketch.

My palette for this painting was Ultramarine Blue deep, Viridian, Cadmium Lemon Yellow,Cadmium Orange,  Cadmium Red Middle, Alizarin, Mineral Violet.  The paint was applied with a #14 hogs bristle and a palette knife.  Notice how much larger this palette is compared to my out door palette

Tomorrow we are back outside painting snow patterns after this February thaw.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Snow Covered on Scottsdale Farm

We were warned not to go outside just the week before but that turned out to be both comfortable and beautiful.   So we ventured out after a fresh snow.  Scottsdale Farm just north of Glen Williams offers many painting opportunities and limited shelter.  We positioned ourselves for an afternoon painting.  The morning had been full of surprises but we thought maybe that would pass after lunch.

         French Easel being pasted with snow.

The Day was cold clear and comfortable.  However, just a hint of a breeze and the puffy stuff floated down seeking a spot on the canvas and palette.  How does it work?  Oil paint and snow feel like sand and grease.  A tad difficult to move paint around the canvas.  The opportunity that evolved was to stop painting more that 5 steps before intended.  Here is the moody result.

Add Image       Certified, Oil on Board (Doorskin), 10x12

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The palette used was the remains from the previous out door session  (Should squeeze out fresh paint but it was cold).  It consisted of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarine Crimson, Lemon Yellow, Viridian, and Titanium White.  The Lemon Yellow was pretty much as hard as nails.  I used one brush, a #12 flat.  Edge management was hit and miss.  Eventually the ice crystals in the paint evaporated.

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