For Leslie . . . .

This is an idea from a journal I wrote while in Provence ten years ago. Sitting in an olive orchard, I sketched the old, twisted olive trees while realizing that I was in St. Remy . . . . Van Gogh’s last ‘address.’ It was here that he trecked about and painted many versions of olive trees. At the time, I remember a chill going up my spine as I realized I could be in one of the very places he had painted. Today, ten years later, I was haunted by that moment and ran to my journal to see if I could come up with a painting about that moment.

These are two quick sketches to get the feel of the idea first . . .and to sort of decide what I was going to do. I have always loved the energy of the scribbally line in sketches and wished I could do the same in a watercolor painting. So, I decided to make line a very visible element in the painting.

After ‘drawing’ the layout with rigger brush and a light blue pigment, I blocked in some washes where my shadows would lie . . .and ‘sort of’ defined the tree shapes and the beginnings of the shadow shapes.

In this part of the painting I had decided to use Van Gogh’s yellow sky as the dominant color in the piece.

And now, the sky color is Yelling out of the painting, the trees are defined and shadows are setting the diagonal direction through the painting. In particular, the white ‘line’ which lies at the horizon holds the feeling of looking UNDER the trees.

“Vincent’s Sky”
Watercolor, 22″ x 30″

This is the final piece. Many glazes define the colors that bounce around in the painting . . .and all the calligraphy with riggers and other small brushes set sort of a Van Gogh feel of the piece. I have never used this element (line) quite like this. I like the energy that it gives off. Sort of like a sketch. Click on the image for a closer view to see the calligraphic work.

A lady who attended my last workshop commented recently that she liked the posts that show the progress and development of a painting. So, here ya go, Leslie . . . .

7 thoughts on “For Leslie . . . .”

  1. Mike this is a beautiful progression from thought process to fine finished work. thanks for sharing the journey on this one. I think Vincent is giving you a thumbs up on the olive trees and so am I!

    Your recent work looks great! Your back at it full bore now and I’m slackin…..I gotta get goin. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Leslie had it right: the progression from concept to completion is fascinating. Wonder if you use any opaque watercolor pigment…?

  3. Dear Anon . . . .It would be nicer if you left a first name . . .

    As for opaque pigments, some of the cadmiums are opaque. Nothing as dense as gouache, though. While I have used more opaques in experimental work, such as non objective abstract work, it is not something I play with routinely in watermedia. Oils, on the other hand, is a different story.

  4. Robin and Silvi . . .it is good to have you guys come around, as always!

    In some ways, this sort of ‘experimental’ work is about my thinking process and building a deeper understanding of what other artists do (did) and how some of the design elements work. This stuff will never see a gallery, that is for sure!

  5. Mike…
    I really enjoyed the development of these last few posts. Nice to see the early sketches, and your comments about your thought process. The final result is wonderful, and represents new directions/techniques for you. I think it was Van Gogh who said: “There is no Blue without Yellow”. Right?

  6. Thanks for your comments, Hank! It is good to see you coming in and looking around.

    This isn’t some new style . . .just an experiment and the beginnings of some lesson support for “Beyond The Obvious” in January. Gotta stay ahead of the pack and do the unexpected, y’know.

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