I’m sharing with you the painting demonstration I did for my Monday class at Capitol Arts Network. This is a picture from Salisbury, England. One person was quite surprised that I had chosen this subject to paint. But I knew as soon as I filmed it that I would paint it. It’s a classic Richard McKinley subject! My original thought was to do something more like Richard does, by using watercolor and lighter applications of pastel. So I did a watercolor underpainting, but then (of course) proceeded to cover it all up! I thought about doing a hard pastel underpainting in the lower part to provide the dark background, but instead added dark violet pastel. When I added the greens into it, it blended in very nicely and created a lovely effect. So I was happy enough with my approach. I made a number of changes as I went along, particularly in the background trees–lightening and reforming them. I also decided that having a certain amount of detail in the foreground really helped. I liked the few pieces of light on grasses in the lower left corner, feeling that they grabbed my eye and led it into the picture. I added a few small white flowers in the mid right. The center of interest, of course, is the light on the water. The stream leads the eye back to the trees. My original shape was ugly! So I made sure that this was a shape that I liked. As I was doing the picture, I really wondered if it would be any good. But when I finally finished, I was happy with it. Another demo tomorrow–this one will be a hard pastel block-in.
Here is my latest experiment using Rives paper, broken color, and morning light. The picture is from Dartmoor in Devon, England. I went for an early morning walk down the street from our B&B before breakfast. This is an area we had walked in the day before. I took the picture looking into the sun and everything was light-infused. I had to paint it from my Samsung tablet and it was pretty hard to see any colors other than brown! (I’m not sure the background colors and sky are coming through in my photo.) The background is blue greens with some violet on the left and warm colors brushed over on the right. The foreground was pretty dark in the picture. I used a combination of dark cool greens and dark warm reddish browns. The excitement for me was the spot of light to the right of the round bush and the light infusing the background hill. The color of the gel was a fairly dark sienna, on the reddish side. Not sure I’d use it again. I am enjoying working on this new surface and particularly using it to try to obtain the effects of diffused light. I’ve thought about doing the same picture again on UART just to see how different it might be. Working on this piece was interesting because most of the time I was working without a reference. I used it to begin with to get the composition in, then to try to figure out the coloring. But after the initial go at it, I just added color to the painting as I thought it needed it. The sky was a challenge. I began it with a light aqua in the dip at right, and progressed to cooler colors on the left. Yesterday while in my studio, I realized that it needed warm color brushed over. So I used a pale orange on the right, progressing to warm yellow green, and red violet on the left. It definitely gave me more of the effect that I was aiming for. Still not sure about the picture and would love comments or suggestions. With my show up and no plans for another any time soon, I feel free to experiment and try out new techniques and subject matter. Having the blog to share this on is so much fun!
I had a great time at the gallery last Saturday doing my demonstration. Attending were former, current and future pastel students, gallery colleagues and two friends from the Library of Congress. It was great! The only downside was that the light wasn’t good and I was glad that I had done the study and had a preselected box of pastels with me. One thing I decided to change from the color study was the sky. My original was orange water color with a grayed green over it. For the demonstration I did a study with four colors of water color and light but not grayed colors on top. I asked which I should use and the yellow was suggested. So I used that and was very pleased with the glow. It shows up better in the initial photo than in the second (taken in different lighting). Over this I lightly brushed greens, a little blue, and some very light red violet. With the yellow behind, it vibrates! I worked REALLY quickly and this resulted in a fresh-looking but sometimes very unfinished painting (note the tree trunks at left in first photo.) A major change made in the final is that I cut off the roof at far left and ended the building, rather than continuing it off the edge. I much prefer this. Today I also worked on the right side of the picture–the front of the building, light fixture, and the road. I decided to keep the colors of the painting in the road, not wanting to add a blued color that wouldn’t work. I realized that what I had almost looked like a wet surface after rain. Given the color of the sky it was possible (even though there probably hasn’t been any rain there for a long time!) Still don’t have a title for it. I like the suggestions but haven’t had time to focus on it. Thanks to those who came. It was a great opportunity to share and discuss the flexibile nature and beauty of pastel.
OK–I’ve been painting and listening to Bach and now I’m feeling much better! The photograph, as you can see is rather dull. Why would I want to paint that? For me, it’s about the shapes–the shape the building, which extends to the far left of the photo, and the shape of the roof on the right. Also like the shapes of the trees and the pattern of lighter grasses close to the bushes. The telephone poles and sign are an added attraction! My original thought was to change this into a sunny day and use blue water color in the sky. But I changed my mind and decided to keep it all in shades of warm, grayed greens, with orange, pink, and magenta. I started with orange watercolor in the sky. Then used a Great American “cad green” in its lightest value. Using white Pastelbord, I did a dual underpainting, using water color in the sky and hard pastels for the land objects. These are all in the box at right: majentas, purple, sienna browns, and pinky reds. Alcohol was used for the wash. The top layers of pastel are all soft: primarily Ludwigs and Great Americans. Unusual grayed greens were found for the bushes. I used additional warm color in the trees to keep them from being all green. I changed the composition to allow more of the house to show, adding windows and completely changing it’s makeup to stucco (or something more interesting than what it is!) I used similar colors in the road to those in the sky. The sky should probably be lighter and the final painting may well be. But I like the uniformity of color in this little painting and I’ll try to keep it so. Will bring these boxes of pastel with me to the demo, along with my travel box for additional color, if needed. I have no idea what to call this picture. Any ideas???
I’ve just wasted time trying to put an album on Facebook and gave up! I’ll post pictures here instead. I had a good reception on Friday night, despite the nor’easter and pouring rain, the government shut down, and the fear of default. Everyone around here is a little depressed, I think, and I am too. I had hoped that this fall would be a good time for a show with the economy picking up and so much beautiful weather. Now, I have no idea what is going to happen and I feel for so many people who have lost their jobs and income, who have travelled to the US to see national parks and been shut out, or who aren’t getting the care they need at NIH. I hope this craziness will end soon and our moods will pick up and people will want to buy art again. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I gave it all up and just played the piano! But don’t worry, I’m not that good at the piano!!! I’m skipping church this morning to spend a quiet day in my studio preparing for next Saturday’s demonstration. I’ll be playing with color and that is always cheering! The first picture is mysteriously lacking a caption! It’s of three of my dear friends from the library community. Frieda Rosenberg (in the middle) drove all day in pouring rain from North Carolina, just to see my show! Then drove back the next day. I feel truly grateful that someone would take so much time and effort to come. Regina Reynolds (left) was my “partner in crime” at the Library of Congress–we worked together on many projects. And Hien Nguyen, is now the assistant CONSER Coordinator, carrying on much of the work that I began there. Hien has also been a faithful collector and follower of my work and I love hearing what she has to say about it. I was really heartened by the comments from people about the art. And I’m really happy with the way the frames look. This week the focus will be on teaching and the sun will come out. All will be well. Thanks for “listening”!
My show opened this afternoon at the Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, MD (www.waverlystreetgallery.com). Not all the lighting had been completed when I was there, but I took a few pictures anyway to show some of the framed pieces and layout. There are 42 paintings in the show from 18 x 24 down to 6″ square. I have 4 20″ x 20″ paintings, framed in 4″ wide gold frames from Mountains Edge Frames. I was afraid they might be too bright, but they look really beautiful and I am very happy with them. For many ot the 16″ x 20″‘s, 12″ x 16″ and 11″ x 14″ paintings I’m using Hassam silver frames from Hartford Frames. This is actually a very soft gold or champagne color that I love. None are shown in these photos. The gallery gives a lot of flexibility. I have 3 1/2 movable panels as well as a long blue wall on which to hang paintings. There is a lot of window area to allow passersby to see the work and come in to check it out. Putting on a show like this is always stressful. The framing, publicity, hanging, and reception amount to a lot of work. But once I’m there discussing the work with those who come in, it’s a lot more fun. I look forward to the reception on Friday night, gallery sitting on Saturday, and a demonstration next Saturday (Oct. 19). Wish you could all come!