It must be an escape mechanism in my personality that rears its head at this time of year. When I need most to focus on completing these daunting tasks, my mind is racing about possible paintings. I awaken from sound sleep dreaming about it. It seems the more I am around the framing and puttering in the studio to clean up and get ready, the more I want to paint!! It literally becomes a feeling of imprisonment! Eventually, I must cave in and dance with my easel.
Today, I awoke at 5 AM thinking about a certain sketch I had done last week . . .what color here? What value there? How should I handle the backdrop? Dry into wet or wet into dry? Calligraphy? Where? How shall I combine the light valued shapes? And what about making stimulating shapes? And on and on and on. Finally, I threw off the blankets and headed directly to the studio at 5:20AM. I was painting by 5:45 AM and finished around 7:30 AM.
After my playful easel shenanigans last week, I couldn’t get the method out of my head. So, I went after it again: dry into wet paper and building layers wet into wet. The painting always lacks something till the very end when the calligraphy is put in (line work). The trick with line is not to let it become to tight. Just lay it down with one stroke. If it is a little off, so be it. It really adds excitement to the piece . . . .oh! I forgot the birds!! That’ll bring more life to it also. I’ll have to put those in after I post.
As a last comment . . .my sense of humor carried me away this morning. I just couldn’t help making the title a little bit tongue in cheek.
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 !!
Myrna Wacknov has a delightful new blog which is very instructive for all artists, no matter the medium. She happens to be an expert watermedia painter and is extraordinary in portrait work and figures. She issued a “November Challenge” which called for a contour drawing cut up with a grid of odd derivation then to paint it. I took the challenge and expect to have my painting completed toward month end (No point in rushing things . . . since I have plenty to do!)
So here is the drawing with the grid outlined in blue line (watercolor pencil that will disappear as it is painted). After hours of development of the drawing, the grid and getting it onto a piece of hot pressed watercolor paper, I stopped dead. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure how to go about painting it. I was stuck!
As you may know, there is much much more freedom to make errors with opaque media, such as oil or acrylic or gouache. Watercolor doesn’t provide such liberty. One needs to plan a lot in order to complete complex paintings such as this one. The best device I have found to work out of such a planning puzzle is to do value trials . . .sketches. And do more than one! I will complete nearly 20 before I make my choice of which plan to follow . . . .it’s called exhausting one’s alternatives and picking the best one for composition, mood and content. (Yes, it is much more than just a picture that looks like a photo!! Much, much more!)
So, here is all I could get done this morning before heading out of town for the day. I think there are 8 or 9 different ideas here. I used Tombo pens in three different values on a big sheet of tracing paper. I made a single quick sketch on paper, then traced it enough times until the big sheet was full. Then it is just a matter of concentrating on how and where the lights, darks and mediums will be placed to achieve different emphasis.
Click on the photos to get a closer look.
I have terrible difficulty seeing the colors on the palette in bright sunlight. So, with the wind, I couldn’t put up an umbrella in the wind. It was a struggle. Then, I got caught in the details . . .and I know better!!! So, an hour in the studio this morning, tweaking values and reducing the details helped immensely. Not that a night’s sleep and rest from the wind had anything to do with it!!
This piece might be a little too illustrative, but what the heck! It’s a workshop piece. One thing I did notice is that I hit the right values and colors early in painting then, stupid me, I painted right through it! Serves me right for not stopping soon enough.