In The Presence of Breakthrough!

“South of Carmel”
Oil on wood panel, 12″ x 16″
Another challenge to which I need to rise . . . . . .

My paintings are too dark. This is not something that is new for me. Looking over 50 or 60 paintings, done in the last six months, I realize I need to slide my value scale to a higher key. That doesn’t mean to paint in entirely a high key, but to keep the RELATIVE value differences in a slightly higher key. The recent paintings of the cypress trees is a good example of being too dark.

I see this because these paintings aren’t answering my purpose. I have been looking hard at them and decided I didn’t like the shapes either. They are not what I set out to do.

So, today I went to the studio only after sketching for an hour and meditating about what I would do today. Then I ran to the studio and hastily painted this piece. Even though it is a practice piece, Today is breakthrough day!!!!!

Yup! I definitely feel the presence of a breakthrough!

I painted on wood panel . . .no canvas, no linen . . .just gessoed, sealed wood. I also began mixing my paint with a palette knife . . .I am too stingy with paint when I mix with a brush. This way I can shovel load the brush and lather on the paint. This was FUNNNN!!!! Using the knife to mix, I put it to work on the painting, too. And I am very happy with the result. (I know, a year from now it won’t look so hot, but for now, I am excited.) With just sketches and general ideas in my head, the tree was all I began with. The rest . . . .well, you could say I winged it and it was rushed. All I was interested in was the tree, the values and color and working the knife, too. So, I got what I was after . . . but much more . . .

The combo of brush and knife opens soooo many doors to variety! Yesssssssss !!

11 thoughts on “In The Presence of Breakthrough!”

  1. Congratulations on your breakthrough.

    I agree with you about mixing with the knife. I find that when I mix with the brush, too much of the paint goes into the brush instead of on it. But I’m lazy and continue to do it.

  2. My experience parallels yours….almost spooky..Lol! Been having trouble with paintings ending up too dark. I believe I was sidetracked, influenced, by other art blogs. Am fighting now to lighten areas.Used to not have that problem almost a year ago. Then I mixed larger amounts of paint with painting knife…and applied it thickly with both knife and brush. I am gonna return to my old ways.
    Thanks, Dean

  3. Yeah, Bill! There is such a big difference when mixing with a knife. The strokes come out looking like I want them to look with one swipe! Thanks for coming by.

  4. Dean, I am always looking for the right amount of contrast between values. As a watercolor painter for years, the axiom is to paint light to dark. So, to reach for better contrast, my habit is to go darker while I should be working the lighter values instead. I even notice part way through a painting that my darks have heavily built up paint from over working the darks . . . .and I don’t even see what’s happening until the painting is nearly done! Sheeesh!! But I am gradually getting it. (It takes me a while, sometimes!)

  5. Lots of good stuff going on in this one Mike.
    I try and mix up a bunch of piles before I start most paintings. It helps me with my value range and keeps my colors cleaner.
    Today I mixed my piles and then did a lot of brush mixing. I’ve got to remember to keep cleaning my brush if I’m doing brush mixing though or I get into trouble fast.

  6. Woohoo! Congratulations! I know exactly what you’re talking about with the darkness, the frugality with the paint, the slippery surface, the inspiration and determination and the breakthrough! I’ve been workingon all those same things. Thanks for sharing the experience!

  7. Hi Mike, This is the first time I’ve visited your blog. I’ve enjoyed myself. You’re so open with your thoughts. You’re a wonderful painter, very nice work. I’ll be back. Barb

  8. Ya, Frank! I get it! I don’t *think* brush cleaning is a problem for me . . .at least I don’t think so . . . us watercolorists are constantly swooshing our brushes in the solvent to keep them clean. I have had to throttle that waaaay back and just wipe the brushes while in the same color range. Still too much yet to learn!

  9. Hi Barb! Glad you found me! Thanks so much for the kind thoughts. Part of the reason I do this blog is for other painters at every level know that the struggle they experience is just part of the game. In fact, it IS the game! Keep painting, no matter what happens!

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