Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Approach

Even with the tired mud in play I had to get out to sharpen up.  THEY fooled us again.  Wind, damp, cool, and going overcast.  So I picked a scene and based the approach on the block study learnings.  At the beginning the sun was creating some shadows.  So I blocked in the three masses cool or warm depending on which type of light dominated.  Get the values right.  Then correct the colour as they become visible.  Next put in colour variations bringing the colours of the masses closer still to what is seen.  Go through a second round of this.  Remember, every plane change is a colour change.  By this time I was dead into the zone and forgetting the image I had in my minds eye.  My eye knew better.

Fences to Mend, 14x18, Oil on Canvas

As time passed, the light became more diffuse.  Try not to follow or chase it.  Start another canvas if necessary.  Makes a great series.  Here I tried to capture the light about early to mid painting - still warm but going yellow-violet grey.  Every colour in the spectrum is in every mass.

The painting was done with #14 and #8 bristle filberts.  Learn to infer detail using the brush and paint.

The palette consisted of Mineral Violet, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian (weak compared to pthalo), Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Alizarin, and Titanium White.  Note again the absence of earth tones.  These can be mixed from the primaries.  In this case I did much of the mixing on the canvas as I worked through the stages mentioned.

Friday, March 26, 2010

No Tired Mud Here

We are officially in Spring (Late March).  However, the transition from dead mud to new growth is bearing upon us.  For many weeks new colourful growth in the trees has been evolving.  The dogwoods have been bursting with reds and oranges.  However, the fields overwhelm those colours now that the snow has all but disappeared.

Scotsdale Farm, Overcast and .......

Although this overcast condition is a challenge (to make interesting) I prefer to avoid that situation when outside.  Now tomorrow, it will be a sun situation.  The local colours will be that same dreary mud, but one can work with the light effects of the sun on those local colours given the seeing lessons learned from block studies.  I'll do that in the morning.  This is very different from tonal painting which most people do.  In the mean time, I recently avoided the mud by using reference from the Fall and working in the studio.

Searching for Trout, 42x42, Oil on Canvas

Last November a group of us painted on a sun lit day in the Hockley.  The land owner took us through a stand of bush to his pet trout pond.  You would never know it is there.  I did a small (12x12) of this painting and I also had the painting done of the valley in front of the pond for colour and time reference.  This larger version was done from those references.  The challenge was to catch the light effects on the local colour while not fussing over the detail of the ground cover.  The detail is inferred as opposed to rendered.

The painting was done with #14 and #20 bristle filbert, and a #16 bristle flat.  The six sides of the brush were used for the thin lines as well as negative carving.  I use the biggest tools for the job in most situations.

The palette consisted of Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Mineral Violet, Alizarin, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Deep, and Titanium White.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Transitioning the Season of Mud

Last years growth is still in its death throes.  Some new growth is showing in the tree tips, the dogwoods, and such.  For those who revel in painting their impression of what they see it is rewarding to subordinate the dirty browns and greys.  This is fairly straight forward in a sun filled composition where you capture the light and not the local colour (see block studies for approach).  Another strategy is to choose something like a water based composition.

Here the water rushed below, around the dominant Pine, over some short falls,  swirling into the valley below winding its way through all sorts of debris.  The afternoon sun picked its spots.  The cars were brushing my arm.

Deciding what to eliminate was the challenge along with perspective.  I wanted to subordinate most of the tangle.

Another Angle, 10x12, Oil on Board

I took learnings from block studies to help me "see" the cools and warms.  There is no old growth mud in the composition so the colours are quite vivid.

This painting was done with an old number 4 bristle flat.  The palette was Ultramarine, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Deep, and Alizarin along with Titanium white.  The paint was applied thickly to create texture.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Fading Memory

The studio has been holding me captive, preparing for a solo show in Mid April.  The sharpness gained in each plein air outing is fading.  Have to get out there to regenerate those senses soon - Monday or Tuesday.

In the mean time I reviewed the last snow scene done on site.  That helps sharpen the senses (colour especially), but the real thing is far superior.  Another aid to sharpen is to work indoors from life.  This can take several forms - block studies, still life, and life.  For those who have a large book of excuses these options are controlled and comfortable (not such a good thing for immediacy).  Working by looking outside while basking in the comfort of the studio just isn't the same.  One cannot see the whole picture for comparison purposes and the glass just doesn't do it.  Then again, I am a bit touched!

This is the last snow scene.  It was done on a brilliant day looking into the shadows below the dam on Scotsdale farm.

Round Two, 10x12, Oil on Board

You will see a gradation in the cool shadow colours in the snow.  From this one can tell it was a clear "blue" sky day.  Looking closely one sees considerable green under the trees where the sky cannot send its reflections.  Every colour on my palette is in the cool shadows.

The painting was done with two bristle filbert brushes - #14 and #8.

On the palette was Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow Light. Cadmium Yellow Deep, and Alizarin.

Monday, March 15, 2010


The snow has pretty much disappeared around Glen Williams.  The Credit River looked like this recently.

February 27, 2010, Credit in the Glen

Now this was a snowy grey day.  Subtle, moody, and quite colourful if you were to look through your own eyes.  Nonetheless, Winter with its special painting conditions (simplification enforced) has been pushed aside.

Just as in painting the light side to the shadow side there is a transition season.  This is now upon us.

March 28, 8 am, 2009, Credit in the Glen - frost, no snow

Here the runoff is in full swing.  This photo is in early morning sunlight.  The trees, river, grass, weeds are all mud.  So, if you like to paint muddy, this is your chance.  But hurry, you have about three weeks for this transition. Then it hits you.  So get prepared for the monster (Dianne's favourite).

Early May 2009, Credit in the Glen, just green, thousands of 'em

Just when you were getting on to Winter painting, you go through greys right smack into green, slime green to start.  Green everywhere.  Many artists pack up their bags to wait for Fall.  You can prepare for this by mixing on your palette.  I use Viridian Green as my palette green if I use one green.  It can be bent to all sorts of warm and cool greens by adding Cadmium yellows (lemon, pale, middle, deep) or orange, red, violet and of course white.  The possibilities are endless - that is the problem.  But what you see is never what comes directly out of the tube.  You can get garish very easily with green.  The green season is quite long, moving from the delicate early spring greens to robust greens.  Then they begin to tire in early summer going deeper yellow and greying in a progression toward Fall.  So get ready, study, practice and get your eyes revved up.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tambourine Solo

I had never seen an electric tambourine, never mind an incredible 10 minute solo.  Friday night Jesse Cook presented still another twist in his eclectic and innovative musical journey.  Massey Hall rocked to a Rumba Party ending.  Then the subway stalled and I remembered that I had an early hour journey painting in the remnants of snow in the morning that was fast approaching.

You can never tell what painting will be like after a late night.  Vic and Randi sought out a tree to hide behind to escape the wind on a beautiful Spring day in Hockley.  Yes, Spring, the Turkey Buzzards spoke three weeks ago.  I set up in a ditch and decided to paint the snow drift that protected me.  Ha!  A short picture box challenge.

Tambourine Solo, 11x14, Oil on Canvas

Creating depth is the issue in the short box (like a figure study or a still life).  Second to that there is the illusion of bright light.  After all, we have but pigment to light with.  Primary tools used here; gradation, colour, temperature and value contrast, edge work.

The painting was done with bristle brushes - #16, #8, #6, all bristle, a palette knife (generously used) and Gel Medium.

The paint on the palette - tada!  Old Holland Cobalt Blue, Old Holland Viridian, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Middle, Cadmium Red Middle and Alizarin.  Painting with Old Holland is a real treat, but it makes you nervous.  I usually just look at the few tubes I have.  What if I screw up with THAT paint?