Saturday, July 24, 2010

Going to Canvas

Now I am working in the studio from the smalls done on my Road Trip across the western half of Canada. These canvases, along with the smalls on board, will be featured in my show at the RedEye Gallery in Toronto beginning August 17.

Some of the canvases will be taken from the smalls, but most will be from reference sketches, photos, and memory.  It will be interesting to see the differences between these three approaches.

This painting was done from reference sketches and photos of Lake O'Hara.  I spent a few days there and my memories are quite vivid.  It is an incredible place.  My paintings were all done from the shores of O'Hara.  The weather was sunny and bright (after two weeks of overcast and rain), but the upper hikes were pretty much snowed in.  I was so excited by the beauty I had trouble settling down when painting on site.

East on O'Hara, 11x14, Oil on Canvas

The base colours were greens with a bit of greyed red.  Close to a split complement strategy.  To mix the greens I used Viridian as my base.  It is a great mixing colour and can be made cool, warm, or grey to any level desired by adding combinations of Alizarin, Cad Red Light, Cad Yellow Deep, Cad Yellow Light, Mineral Violet, and Ultramarine.  The sky has Viridian and Alizarin in it.  You can see these colours by changing the angle at which you view your monitor.  My setup shows them well when I look straight on, but when I look down the image bleaches out in the lights.

The painting was done with a #8 bristle filbert brush.  No cleaning, just wiping the excess paint from the bristles.  I also used a palette knife and alkyd gel medium.  The white was Flake White replacement by Gamblin.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On the River

Six of us painted on the Credit near the Forks.  A hot and humid day.

The composition called for a green red colour strategy.  It was started with a transparent wash of red oxide. The darks were established with a mixture of Alizarin and Viridian.  The darks varied between red and green greys.  This dark set was used throughout the painting.  Subsequent painting was done around and over the darks.  The foreground water was subordinated in order to keep the eye on the subject and to provide a resting place.  The foreground was made darker and warmer.  The brush strokes were made with soft edges and little detail.  There is basically two masses in the painting.  There are a few transparent passages, and a few translucent passages.  Most of this painting is painted opaque with attention to edges.

At the Forks, 10x12, Oil on Board

The painting was done with two #8 filbert bristle brushes - one for the cools and one for the warms.  For this painting I experimented with Flake White Replacement by Gamblin.  This white is a beautiful warm white that is somewhat unpredictable as it is laid down in thick strings.  The rest of the palette was Viridian, Alizarin, Cad Yellow Light and Dark.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home Again

After weeks on the road, in hurry up painting mode, it has been a welcome relief to be home.

On the first plein air painting session we hit a relatively cool morning with a pleasant breeze.  The set up was in the shade and stayed that way.  The subject matter was not particularly inspiring after the mountains and other spaces explored on the road trip.  I heard Gary Spearin's voice "It's your job to make a painting of it".  Good advice for my Road Trip Series, especially for the big sky of the prairies.

For this painting there were but 3 basic shapes.  The dominant colour was green.  I decided to start with a cool transparent red wash.  That would set off the green dominance and provide a bit of warmth in the sky if I applied the blueish sky in a translucent manner - let some of the wash show through.  The foreground was the diagonal of the upside of a roadside ditch covered in grass and weeds.  It was to be subordinated (careful with the edges).  The tree patterns were underpainted in Alizarin and mineral violet in a loose fashion to indicate tree trunks and branches.  Viridian was added (greys the alizarin darkening at the same time) in places for depth and variety.  Then dark greens were applied around the indicated trunks and branches.  The green was warmed and lightened as I moved away from the darks in layers.  The lone fence post was indicated in shadow and light.  The lone echoing birch was added in a dark grey and flushed out with a warm off white.  A few sky holes were added.

Mixed Company, 10 x12, Oil on Board

It is interesting to note that some people read red and green as the same colour.  This is how the eye works and is a good reason to scan your subject when painting.  You will see brighter colours that way as opposed to greyed down tones.

The painting was done with a number 12 and a number 8 bristle filbert with a few palette knife marks.

The palette was Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Light (for greens and warm off whites), Viridian (greens and darks with Alizarin), Ultramarine Blue, Mineral Violet (greens and darks), and Titanium White.  The whole painting was done wet in wet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Third Ninety

Lake Ohara is so enchanting that I had difficulty staying focused on the scene being painted. This is the third painting done from the same spot just turning 90 degrees. When you do this the light effect changes. So you hav to shift mindset quickly, especially when painting fast.

I used the same palette and dirty brushes for all three images. The image shown is brighter than the painting. No transparent passages were used.

The next post will be from home base. Glad to have the driving behind me.

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Location:Lake Ohara

Friday, July 9, 2010

Another Geography

The Canadian desert is alive and well in the Okanagan valley. After the mountains in the Rockies, the change is difficult to digest. This is especially true after dealing with the north shore of Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods, and the Canadian Prairies. This painting was done from the hotel balcony looking north over the lake.

The painting is 10x12 on board and was done in late afternoon with the desert hills going blue in the late light. All the studies done on the Road Trip have been done in limited time. Speed work has been the essence. After a visit in Vancouver we will head for home via Oregon and the USA.

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