Monday, June 25, 2012

Plein Air Set Up and Touch Up

It has been hot and humid so we have been searching for shade on our out door excursions.  We found a nice stretch of east-west trees along the shore of the Credit River.

In the Shade

It was a bright day so looking at the scene in that light shut down the old eyes, and looking at the panel in the studio told that story.

From the River

The light and dark shapes were not well differentiated.  I knew that as soon as I looked at it. So I used my memory to go back into the painting and restate the light and dark families.  For your reference this photo shows what I saw - well, not really, but you get the idea.

Photo Reference

I started by restating the darks.  You want to maintain the darks.  Using my memory and thinking about the whole painting I started like this.

Background Darks

And progressing.....

Darks and Lights Separated

From here I can take the painting to any desired level of completion.  Normally I like to get the painting to this level on site so the real painting can begin.  A bit of a detour this time.  Part of the concept for this painting was to reduce the proportion of the greens.  From here some edge work and some light versus colour work can be done.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Strategies for Green

The Green Machine has arrived early this year.  I know quite a few artists who have packed it in to avoid going green.  Me, I paint on through all the seasons, but I don't make many all - greens.  I have developed coping mechanisms for dealing with Green.  Here they are;

  • Mix variety in the greens - use reds, violets, oranges, yellows, earths, and white in them.
  • Lay down different greens with most brush strokes, use different strokes and textures.
  • Make structure the focus.  Old buildings, rock formations, water.
  • Paint on a coast or lakeshore.
  • Paint still life or from the model.

Climb It, 12x16, Oil on Canvas

On the Rocks, 8x10, Oil on Linen

These are from the coast near Bar Harbor.

Closer to home in the greenery in the Escarpment area in Southern Ontario, I have been painting in the Towns.

Court Room and Patio, 16x20, Oil on Linen

And in the countryside I choose a subject and concept to give me this, 

Think About It, 11x14, Oil on Linen

From this.

For Sale in the Hockley

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Going Light en Plein Air

Much of my plein air painting is done with only small hikes.  For longer excursions on foot I find I am looking more and more for ways to lighten the load.  Recently I have returned to painting on loose canvas.  I used this approach successfully when travelling further afield by airplane.  For smaller pieces I use oil primed linen canvas pads.

10 Pieces per Pad

Take a sheet off the pad and mount it on a board with clips.  Ready to go.

Common Sizes

These are the size of common frames so they must be mounted on panel.  A straight forward process when you get the hang of it.

If you want to go larger or mount on stretcher bars, cut a piece from primed canvas approximately 2 inches larger than the stretcher frame.

18x24 Stretchers

Then mount the loose canvas taping or marking the size to be painted on a backer board.

18x24 Taped on Backer Board

And you are ready to go.  If you choose to mount the finished painting it can be stretched on the stretcher bars.  The oil paint (or acrylic) is flexible enough in thin layers should you wrap a painted section around the edge of the stretchers, so it won't crack.  You can also mount on a board.  This is my preferred treatment.  I use acrylic medium and a book press to flatten the painting on the surface of the board.  I seal the edge and back of the board to minimize warping.

The loose canvas approach is not only lighter, but requires much less storage space.  As you can see I also paint on loose canvas in the studio some of the time.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Toning a Canvas

I probably tone my canvas 75%- 85% of the time.  You don't have to do this.  So why do I tone?  First, it takes away the stark white canvas.  That is an easy start to a painting.  I find it makes my colour mixing and value judgement easier (I mix on a warm grey palette).  It eliminates little white spots in the passages of thin paint.  Important when I have a limited time in plein air.  And finally, it helps give me a colour key that I want.  You can tone your canvases, let them dry and take them out to paint.  I sometimes do this, but more often I find the colour I want for the undertone depends on the light, the composition, and the concept for the painting at hand.  So, I put on a wash on site and paint into it wet in wet.  That facilitates easy strokes and paint manipulation.

In Cobalt Blue

I have read all sorts of "you can't tone with blue or yellow, or tone with a warm like burn sienna etc."  If it fits your concept do it.  There are no rights or wrongs.  There might be some advantages to some approaches.  But I find these become personal.  So experiment.  I also like a non absorbent ground to aid paint manipulation and keep the colours fresh without sinking in and losing lustre.  This is important when painting direct or alla prima.

Just minutes ago I toned a larger canvas in hot orange.  A little hard on the eyes at first but as I progress that goes away and the concept comes into play.  I use oil paint to tone on an oil primed canvas or linen.

In the past I had an interesting situation.  Took a small painting to a show.  Put it on the floor against the wall.  Ready to hang.  As I stood up to talk to a friend I knocked the painting a bit.  Nothing much.  After my discussion I bent down to straighten up the painting.  To my surprise a largish chunk of the painting was laying flat on the floor!  It looked like a ragged piece of paper.  Everyone gathered round in surprise.  This painting was done in oil on top of an acrylic coloured ground.  I got separation.

I talked to a well known paint maker in Toronto.  He assured me that you "should be alright" with this practice.  After I told him my story, he admitted that the oil to acrylic bond could only be expected to be a mechanical bond.  It there is nothing to hang on to, the bond won't be so strong, so scuff it up.  After more investigation I learned that oil to oil provides a chemical bond.  More consistent and stronger.  Then I read about the practice on the Gamblin web site.  They do not recommend the practice.  So there you have it!