Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On a retreat to Prince Edward County I ran into Petre's Point.  This was a result of talking to The Bald Photographer in his studio.  A very interesting fellow from Wales now living in Cherry Valley.  He had some wonderful black and white shots of the area.  He also applauded my working from life as opposed to photographs.  "Train the eye" he said.  How true.

Petre's Point, 16x20, Oil on Canvas

This is a great little cove facing the full brunt of a Lake Ontario storm.  On this day it was calm and just right for black flies.  here we have the problem of a back lit subject showing the cliff's colours in shadow.  What colours were on display?  Well, the full spectrum as usual, if you can relax and scan to see them, then represent them from mixing on your palette.

Here I used the usual #12 bristle filbert and the base palette of Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow Light, Alizarin, and Titanium white.

Back in the studio I sometimes add pigments to the standard palette.  Recently these have included, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Red Middle, either Cobalt or Cerulean Blue, and Mineral violet.  I might add one or more of these at any one time.  Although I use some earth tones from time to time - Transparent Red Oxide or Naples Yellow, I prefer to mix these for more robust colours.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

3 Months Later

Here we are at the Credit River Branch at the north end of Mississauga Road.  The river here first provided an image during the first week of spring in March.  The following week provided an opportunity to paint a blanket of snow for the last time in the season.  Then this week on the first day of summer the original scene was totally grown over.  So here are three stages in the development of this image.

First Day In, 10x12, Oil on Board - Stage One

The first stage was a DIRECT painting lay in of the first pass on the colour temperature hues viewed.  There is no underpainting.  The same brushes were used throughout as was the same palette.  Stepping back to view the painting revealed that numerous adjustments were required - colour, value shape.
First Day In, 10x12, Oil on Board - Stage Two

In the second pass the colours were adjusted and the various colours in the spectrum were added to each of the shapes developed in stage one.  Edges were changed as required.  Texture continued to be added.

First Day In, 10x12, Oil on Board

Finally additional spectrum colours were added and final touches and hi-lites and accents added.

Two #8 filbert bristle brushes were used.  One for darks and one for lights.  The palette was Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cad Yellow Light, Cad Yellow Deep, Alizarine, and Titanium White.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rain Rain

How might you go painting in the rain and over cast?  Apparently this is presenting a problem since only one other showed on Saturday.  The forecast was 90% rain and drizzle to last all day.  As it turned out, the forecast was right.  You never know.  So we found some shelter and enjoyed it anyway.  The French easel tipped over the canvas and palette along with overhead shrubery provided enough protection.  A little mist in the oils was overcome with thicker paint.

Against the Odds, 10x12, Oil on board

The light is quite different tahn that on a sunny day, never mind a sunny day during the golden hours.  So this fact alone presents an opportunity to train your eye to pick up the cooler light key.  So the light key is cool and the colours in the near ground are saturated.  This occurs with the help of the rain and the absence of the bleaching power of the sun.  People often mix up the difference between saturated and light colours.  Saturated has to do with intensity whereas light is a value condition.  You will also find there is a lack of form defining shadows and the values are close together.  So for representational artists it is more challenging to paint in these conditions.  But it is your job to make a painting out of it.  The full colour spectrum is still present in all value/colour masses but it is more difficult to see and capture.

For this painting I used two brushes - a #12 bristle filbert, and a #8 bristle filbert - for the lighter values.  From the base palette (Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cad Yellow Light, Cad Yellow Deep, Alizarin and Titanium White) I mixed a blue gray and a warm gray - I did not have a tube of these with me.  I used these colours in the sky, and painted various warms and cools into them.  I also used these pools of colours in the other mixtures throughout the painting to take the edge off and add harmony.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fast Before Dark

OK, here is the second image from the last outing to the cemetery.  It looked better in the day light, so no changes in the studio.   It was done in 15 minutes and at the end the reference had changed completely.   The comments from the last post apply.

Evening's Second, 6x8, Oil on Board

More Speed Work

Here we are at the Glen Williams lookout again.  Christy, Monica and I set up at 7:30 and the evening sky did not disappoint.  As usual it changed rapidly.  The cloud patterns changed in seconds, the colours were a little more patient waiting for a few minutes before presenting a new set.  The sun was falling relentlessly, decreasing the light while increasing the drama.  it is key not to chase the changes because all elements affect all others.  So if the colour sucks you in to chasing it you will have to change the light levels and the value and colour of the cloud patterns.  It forces you to speed work.

Evening's First, 10x12, Oil on Board

Working quickly can be frustrating but it presents opportunity.  The real beauty of it is that you cannot think about all the principles of painting.  You just paint and rely on your subconscious to present solutions to the problem solving process.  A strategy can assist the process.  First of all accept the fact that the subject will change quickly.  Settle down and observe the subject.  Watch how it changes, look at the edges, consider your composition.  Visualize your painting.  Select a limited set of colours for your palette to aid in the colour mixing you feel will be  presented.  Here the painting is about the sky.  So leave the foreground alone (perhaps indicate the value of the mass), memorize the cloud pattern that attracted you and quickly indicate it in one tone on the canvas.  That fixes it in place so you can concentrate on the sky colours.  Put them in quickly memorizing the colour array.  Stop watching the subject - it has changed dramatically now so don't chase it.  When I paint this way I do not clean my brush - just wipe out the paint on a rag.  Wait till the sketch is done and do the next one.  The second one will present even faster changes.  So, why not paint from a picture so you can paint (copy) at your leisure?  First of all you will not capture the immediacy of the essence of the moment.  Second, the camera will not come close to capturing the colours and the depth created by them.  Third, you will miss the training opportunity for developing your ability to "see", your opportunity to create your impression - to be an artist as opposed to a painter.

The sketch was done with a #12 bristle filbert.  The palette was ( the paint left over from the last painting session - not good strategy) Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green, Cadmium Yellow light, Cadmium Orange, Alizarin, and Titanium White.  The second sketch (not shown) was done on a smaller board (faster) 6x8 with the big bristle filbert plus a number 6 filbert and the same palette.  The light was much more dim.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Style Spectrum

Just put the right colours in the right place.  That's all there is to it.  When I am teaching I ask students to consider how they are going to paint in terms of "style".  When added to a few other factors it is a great aid when helping a person get to where they want to go.

The spectrum might be broken into 10 segments starting with super realism (a copy from the live model/still life/landscape.  The second segment might be photo realism (a copy from the reduced truth of a photo), third, as the eye sees shapes, values, colours and edges.  Number four as in three with the addition of impressionism (your impression).  Add colour abstraction and composition additions and deletions and you have segment 5.  For segment 6 add distortion and simplification.  For segment 7 add imagination and added simplification.  Reduce the simplified objects and further distort them and you have segment 8.  For segment 9 just imply objects and for segment 10 eliminate the objects.

Credit at Hi Noon, 11x14, Oil on Canvas

So, what segment number might you apply to this image of the Credit River done at noon?

The image was done with a #12 bristle filbert and a number 6 bristle filbert.  The palette was Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow middle, Cadmium Orange, Alizarine Crimson and Titanium White.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Golden Hour from atop the Glen

After being told to remove vehicles from the cemetery we set up to paint.  Time always accelerates in the golden hour.  Big brush, don't think.  Just record.  Don't even try to chase the fading light.  Memories from the last time will surface.  Facing west we ohed and awed the developing sky.  Gesture drawing experience helps catch the scene.  Look up again and it changes.  What am I trying to say?

Fast at 8 pm, 6x8, Oil on Canvas patch

A bit humbling catching the movement.  All those colours.  The same palette in the same place.  Lots of paint.  No drawing, just quick massing in.  Sun still high, the valley below going to sleep.  How can I get .......... never mind, move on, stop chasing.  We are only using pigment, no light bulbs allowed.  In order to have light you must have.......

Quick Change, 10x12, Oil on Canvas patch

The second scene at 8:30+ was a very quick sketch.  The second heat is faster than the first.  A third should be possible.  Good intro to the series for Wide Open Spaces.

The morning session of the golden hour is in reverse.  It starts off very quickly but slows a bitin each heat then yields to mid day painting in the washed out colours.

Paintings done with a #12 bristle filbert - no time for cleaning.  The palette was the usual Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow middle, Alizarin Crimson, and Titanium White.  Gel medium was also used along with half a roll of paper towels.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sunshine Super Painter

Last weekend we ran a plein air class.  The weather was near perfect.  Sunny, a little breeze (anti black fly and mosquito tactic), a little cool, and lots of GREEN.  Most of the participants did not try to avoid the greens.  They also didn't try to avoid the sun.

Going Green in Mono

That blazing sun just shuts your eyes down, especially when using a white canvas.  It is then difficult to just "put the right colour in the right place".  The class was painting in the mid day time frame which helps keep the shadows in one place a little longer that morning or evening time slots.  At mid day though, the compositions tend to be least interesting and the colours are most bleached out under the sunny sky.  One must develop the ability to see that nature provides an infinite array of greens and none of them are the hue that comes directly out of the tube.  So, mix you must.  Basic greens are modified by adding various hues of blue, yellow, orange, red, and violet.  One basic set of primaries that works well for this application consists of Pthalo Blue, Cadmium Yellow middle, and Alizarin Crimson.  Titanium white can also be included in careful quantity.  Try mixing a colour pool of green with these paints in a variety of values and intensities.  Learn how to mix out any garishness that evolves.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Credit River Series

The Glen Williams Parkette is near my home.  It is a convenient place to visit and to paint a series.  The learning from a series cannot be over-estimated.  I have painted this view at least a dozen times in the last 12 months.  That means I am quite familiar with the composition.  That results in improved ability to see what is really there.  Since I paint at different times of day in different weather conditions and different times of year I see things that become apparent as Mother Nature changes the landscape.

Credit April Runoff, 11x14, Oil on canvas

In this case the spring runoff was at full force.  The river banks were submerged for the third time this year and no rocks reared their heads on this occasion.  I realized I was doing an historical painting - again.  The painting was done in early morning light with the undergrowth sporting all sorts of new growth colours before the leaf season.

I am currently painting another view of the area and have yet a third view in mind.

The painting was done on site with a #10 bristle filbert.  The brush was not cleaned during the session, just wiped on a paper towel.  The palette consisted of titanium white, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light, and alizarin.