No Surrender!

“Containing the Dunes”
oil on canvas panel, 8″ x 10″

Today I wrestled. As in physical struggle with another being, larger than I. The other being was this little 8″ x 10″ canvas and my attempt to show aerial perspective at work along a hazy beach. He won. Yup! Beat me fair and square. Not just in ten rounds either. I put up a galiant fight (I think I did) which took much of yesterday and a good part of today. I am sure he will be back to take me on again and again. But I am not giving up! No surrender here!

This was a particularly difficult subject because the aerial perspective on the beach was throwing off the feeling of closeness of the foreground sand pit. Back and forth, scraping and brushing and wiping and trying I went. All said and done, I blended too much and spoiled the effect I once had with strokes.

Richard Schmidt has been ringing in my ears, of late, while I paint. Edges! Transitions! Values! Today his lesson (from the book) was this: Given two shapes, one large and one small, same color and value . . . .in the distance, the smaller one will appear to be lighter than the large one and have softer edges . . . .all due to the effects of the atmosphere and light. (This is a simplification) . . . .I can see why now.

This entire painting was about those lessons of aerial perspective and edge management. Slowly, I am beginning to make my strokes more deliberately and less often. When I do that, I find the painting to be much more fresh and the colors crisper. (Another lesson to be applied in future paintings . . . .!! Gotta put a sign on the wall!)

Anyway, the work we do alone or together always pays off in solid lessons learned and practiced. From that perspective, it was a very successful day.

Sunday Morning Corrections

Corrected “Copper Hook”

oil on linen panel, 12″ x 16″
Sunday, after breakfast, I found myself looking again and again at Friday’s painting “Copper Hook.” The reason I kept after it, was that I realized it had become waaaaay too dark. There needed to be a much lighter hand in this piece because of the big dominating shape of the hill and cliff. It is just toooo much!
So, instead of darker, I went cooler in places of deep shadow. Also, I completely shifted the value scale of everything in the painting two or three value steps lighter. The sand on the beach in this photo doesn’t play well, for some reason. It is much lighter and brighter in the painting. Perhaps I should start waiting until the paintings are dry before I photo them. Am just not happy with the results I am getting.
I suspect, and you can confirm it if it is true, that mixes of Thalo Blue become progressively darker and more blue as they dry. The first photo of the painting on Friday is NOTHING LIKE it looked this morning. Thalo blue stains everything. But I am beginnging to suspect that it creeps into neighboring colors and ‘has at them.’
This was my first real try at glazing and scumbling on top of a dried painting. Using lots of alkyd to coat the painting first really helps to integrate everything. My wife and I are still rubbing our chins over the mood of this painting. We just have to wait and see if it grows on us.