Color Harmonies

“Casino Dawn”
oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″
Today’s piece was a serious one. Not just practice, but one that I hope will be accepted into a museum show honoring the 100th anniversary of the “Boardwalk” . . .an amusement park here that boasts an old wooden rollercoaster . . . .and the site of several movies in the past.
I have been ‘working on’ this piece for over a ten days without ever lifting a brush. I mean it! Really! I looked at and sketched several points of view. Went to the site several times, but never in this lighting conditions. Then photographs were taken because there was no way I could paint from this angle without being squashed by a car or truck. It just wasn’t possible. So I had to use a photo . . .something I almost NEVER do. (I shall save that commentary for another post.) Once the drawing was done, color harmony and value emphasis had to be reasoned through before I painted it. I wanted the feeling of dawn with golden light, while the streets are empty and I wanted the emphasis to be on the building with the dome . . .the casino, as it is called. . . . .or the Coconut Grove. Reasoning wasn’t enough . . .I had to resort to a very abbreviated palette and force myself to stay in it so I could establish relationships between every single color in the piece. Cad Orange, Cad Yellow Medium, Violet, Cad Red Lite and Green and, of course white. Every brush load was a mix of at least two of these colors and most often of three to insure it would all relate. Frankly, as I worked through the painting, I was amazed at how many different colors I was able to arouse on my palette. Again, it seems I am gaining some ground in this new medium.

They All Count!

“Strawberries”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
This weekend, while doing everything else, I went to a quickie workshop . . .just 3 hours . . .and made this fast piece with just a few intentions: focus on technique, paint quality and color. If I can pick up some of that stuff, the rest (design) will fall into place from my other painting and art experience . . . . . .well, at least, I’ll have a start on it. I am not sure anyone ever truly masters that stuff. We just get better than last year. In order to become better, we must build experience . . . . from that viewpoint, every painting we do as painters, good or bad, counts! That’s right. They all count. Even if they never see the light of day ever again. Even if they end up in a dumpster. Every painting counts toward getting better.
So this little guy was a ‘hurry up’ painting. I wasn’t concerned about making a great piece. Just deliver the paint, work on strokes, improve color.
Stay tuned. They will, eventually, get better. I just have to do many, many more. Life is great, isn’t it?!!!!

Last Day of Event

“From The Stairs”
oil on canvas on panel, 12″ x 16″
This is my last painting for the plein air event here in town.
Having never tackled urban subjects much, I figgered (yes, I know how to spell it) I’d give it a shot. The cool thing about this piece is that it is a very unusual point of view of the town center. As paintings go, it is hardly a prize winner, but the light and the subject will have great local appeal.
As you might guess by now, I don’t care to paint comfortably. It just isn’t my style to crank out paintings without challenge . . .even when the painting is going to a show. I’d rather put it all on the line in favor of forcing myself to overcome the next painting challenge. I learned a bunch with this piece and will paint it again and agin. Next time, I intend to exaggerate sizes more and add some lively activity to the intersection. Meanwhile, I will prolly fix the windows and clean up the center of interest on this one before Monday afternoon.

South County . . .

“Thompson Road”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
This was one of those days that when we drove round the corner, the voice in my head screamed YES!! Right here!!! We had the glorious shade of a biiiig oak tree, a pull out on the road and perrrrfect light. We could **smell** the mist lifting off the hills!!

Yesterday . . .

Fixed it!! “Don’t Back Up!”

oil on canvas on panel, 12″ x 16″
It is a crummy feeling to go to bed with a feeling gnawing at you that the painting just posted was a huge mistake. I dreamt all night about it. My painting Buddy, Bill, and I discussed and disected the piece in the morning to no avail . . . . .until I turned it upside down and saw it out of the corner of my eye . . . .Values were wrong and the shape of the dark chasm was wrong and blah blah blah!
So, instead of posting yesterday, I took the painting of “Don’t Back Up” back to the studio . . .(yes, to go backwards!! 😉 ) to fix it. But, before that, Bill and I scrambled to our morning painting location 25 miles south of here. Upon returning, I painted some more . . . .I fixed the ‘back up’ piece, punched up the piece I had just painted with Bill and did a 20 minute study for a bigger painting I have in mind. No post yesterday, but there was a flurry of painting activity.
Feel free to comment and critique. I have been painting for a long time . . .not oils . . .and can sort out the wheat from the chaff, so go ahead and scald me if it is needed. I can see something that still irritates me a little bit in this painting, but am not sure how I should correct it . . .or if I should at all. Go ahead. Say it. I am asking for it.

Nearly Wet Feet

“Pelican Truck Stop”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
Yesterday afternoon, my old friend Bill and I painted on the rocks while the surf was busting at our feet pushing the tide inward. I know of no greater pleasure than to be out there in the fresh, salty air and watching the light fly about as it reflects off every wave and every ripple. The white foam can be mezmorizing. . . to the extent that the waves surprise you. Wet feet on the rocks can be a big problem.
I have a question about pthalo blue . . . .if you know the answer, please comment . . .and, yes, only for oil paint. Last evening before bed I looked at the painting once more. I thought it was my imagination, but the white appeared to be tinting bluer in the foreground and loosing value. When I awakened this morning, only the thickest white showed up! I was shocked. I used Pthalo blue in the water. Does it creep into the white and stain it progressively? Or could it be the quality of Titanium White I am using (Utrecht)?
In watercolor, Pthalo blue is evil! Extremely high tinting strength and a vicious staining power that will ruin all the other paints in their wells if they are contaminated with this blue. Gotta be very careful with it!

Stubborn

“The Edge of Morning”
oil on linen on panel, 12″ x 16″
Sometimes, to make a painting behave, you don’t have to be talented. You just have to be stubborn.
After finishing this piece, I found (by surprise ) that I had divided the picture plane exactly in half and had two different paintings. Arrrrgggggghh!! I had painted this en plein air and never saw the division until I put a frame on it to critique the piece. I had a problem that had to be fixed before the paint dried. In between weddings, out of town visitors, plein air affair meetings and household stuff, I was being squeezed. But it got done. I had to be stubborn!

No time today!

Yes, I did paint today. In the early morning, in the beautiful, bright sunlight outdoors I painted. I am participating in week long plein air event . . .my first ever . . . .and it seems this one is a strange one because it stretches out over 5 weeks to a finale sale and gala for the museum that is staging the event.

I didn’t finish the piece, though I am close. Real Estate business, family business, social engagements and plein air painting all came together at once! Crazy! I have nearly finished the third pinapple, too. So, while I will have to wait a day or so to finish today’s painting (making very necessary corrections) (and not show that here) I will, at least give you an idea of the beginnings of the pinapple piece and ask you to wait until Saturday to see it . . .and maybe the plein air piece.
Believe me, it doesn’t show you much!

Can you wait? 😉

Testing the Limits

“Persimmon Tree”
oil on canvas, 12″ x 16″
I have been looking back at my paintings over the last month and find them to be lacking in some ways. By setting little challenges or goals of some experiment, instead of just painting another picture of something, I find that each painting can be a profitable learning excursion.

I have been seeking thicker paint and a more buttery look to my pieces. So, I tried two things: coating the gessoed canvas with diluted acrylic mat medium to retard or stop the absorbance of the gesso and canvas. Secondly, using a big one inch flat brush with tons of paint . . .shovel loading the brush sometimes. As I attacked this painting, it was clear I could not opt for detail, so by creating internal shapes in the leaves, weaving deep darks through the composition and working with color contrasts, I put this one together. I used a photo, taken over two years ago, to get a general idea of the proportions and shapes of the leaves and persimmons. The photo was useless beyond that.

A little scraping had to be done here and there in order to keep clean color . . .and to make the darks come to life with warms and cools. The end result was a buttery painting with some eye grabbing color contrasts. In a frame it sings! Sealing the canvas seemed to be a big help. Testing the limits of the big brush (and my courage) made for some romping good fun!

The Pinapple Attempt

“Dual Shadows”
oil on stretched canvas, 20″ x 16″

Okay. Here it is. I am sticking my neck out with this one. I have been painting realistic, traditional stuff till now. After 13 or 14 sketches on Saturday last, I came up with this composition. To place the attention on the shadows instead of the pinapple, I used intense colors and a little bit of texture. To repeat those colors, I put them into the light on the table top, slighty reducing intensity and creating shifts of cool / warm. Overall, the object and the shadows (which really did appear in double because of my studio lighting) form a single shape that connects three edges of the canvas. Also, there is a repetition of the triangle shapes in the negative spaces, which helps the unity.

I had fun with this piece. I must admit, though, while I don’t mind stretching reality or abstraction, sometimes I am not anxious to put them out in public right away. So, I am going for it . . . .(yes, I signed it!) I’ll be very interested in your comments.