I went to my studio today with a black and white version of a picture I took on the way home in June. This is the same farm I painted three times last winter. I decided I wanted to do it again with summer foliage. And there is a lot of it! This painting has a completely different feel from the winter scene that I did. And it’s on UART, not the BFK Rives, so the look of it is quite different as well. Working with B&W allowed me to create a red and green composition, that I often find very pleasing. I think it worked with this. One challenge was the lightness of the roofs and the dark underneath. I tried to soften the edges of the buildings on the left, to keep the eye going up to the right where the silos and barn (for me) are the focal point. The tree in the middle was a challenge as it splits the picture in two. I changed the shape of it, adding the dip in it, which I think makes it more interesting. Then I added bushes with pink flowers in front of it, which helps tie the two groupings of buildings together. I’ve just uploaded the original color photo, so you can see the difference! I got brave (or foolish) and entered this and 4 other images to the Pastel 100. I fully expect to be rejected yet again! But, it’s Doug Dawson, and one never knows!
I just completed my three day July workshop. I’ve been doing this every year as a chance to get together with the people I normally work with during the year. I do a demo then work with people for the rest of the time. My demo was of a familiar scene–the two little cedar trees in Mattapoisett that I’ve painted many times. On this recent trip, I saw them for the first time with high tide and reflections, which I loved. So the demo gave me a chance to talk about a lot of things. I had 12 people, with 3 brand new, so I discussed trees, backgrounds, water and reflections, and grasses. I did a hard pastel underpainting using oranges in the sky and water and other warm colors under the trees and grass. Used aqua under the sand and the warm stuff on the water. (I told them I was becoming an expert in scum!!!) I loved the graduation of colors in the water, particularly the aqua to the left. This morning before filming it, I added darker blues to the bottom to help balance the dark of the trees. I kept the grasses pretty gestural and was happy with that. It was great to see people again, including some who work and can’t regularly attend classes. Next Friday I head to Oregon and Washington and hope to do some plein air paintings on the Oregon coast. Hope you are enjoying your summer and surviving droughts and thunderstorms.
Beach Trees in Summer, 14 x 11, UART 400
I was not completely happy with the first painting I did of the bog. So I decided to do it again, this time on the Rives with liquid primer. I felt that the texture of the Rives would give a better impression of the bog, and I wasn’t happy with the first composition. This time I practiced what I preached and did a sketch first. Then I went to my studio and worked only from my sketch and memory. Looking at the two of them, I am not sure that the second is an improvement! But I’d like your opinion. The sky is darker in the second and made to look more like dusk. I did more with the clouds as well. One big difference is the dark edge of the bog, which I brought down to the bottom in the second. This time, I also kept the background lighter and less detailed, brushing soft color over it to push it back. I added a dip in the trees to keep it from being straight across and to let more sky show. I don’t really like the stuff growing on the bog, but in both cases, it’s a lot of space to fill in. There were small trees, which I left out of the first, but decided to put in the second. Perhaps it would be better to just play with color in this area? There are significant differences in the two pictures. Would love to hear which you like best, or what aspect of each you prefer. It was interesting working from just a sketch and memory. I could play with the composition and colors much more freely (whether or not for the good!).
Evening Light on the Bog #1, UART
Evening Light on the Bog #2, Rives
Yesterday I went to my studio and spent the afternoon doing this painting. I grew up with cranberry bogs down the street. We used to pick wild blueberries in summer and skate on them in winter when they were flooded. Now they are no longer farmed and belong to the Mattapoisett Land Trust. It’s a great area for walking and I took many pictures in early morning and evening. I thought about painting there but was concerned for ticks and other annoying insects! But I loved this scene that I filmed early on. What I love is the hint of red still in the bogs that I enhanced. I did the entire underpainting in deep reds and browns, except the sky. Worked with both soft pastels and Giraults. I rather like putting on swatches of soft pastel and working them into the surface with the Giraults. I expanded the flowers in the foreground and added another clump in the distance. I’m not sure what they are! They aren’t roses, as I originally thought as the flower heads are too large.
I will be working on sanded surfaces for some time, I think. I have a sad story to tell you! After 10+ years of using Art Spectrum liquid primer and washing the brushes in my sink, the pipes to the studio sink and guest shower are completely clogged. We will be having a very expensive and disruptive plumbing job to replace the pipes and the shower! Oh dear.
But I also think that people like the look of the sanded surfaces better. It seems to be what I sell anyway. I really love the feel of the homemade surfaces and may go back to them, using a bucket of water to clean my brushes, but will stick to UART and Pastelbord for the time being.
Evening Light on the Bog, 20 x 16, UART 500
On our second day in Little Compton, Sarah, Lindsay and I ventured down a long road, over sea shells, and through a cow gate, to a spot near the water, with a herd of cattle near by. Also near by was this funny little building, which I assume to be a boat house. The windows are uncovered and on both sides. When looking straight on, you can see the lovely church across the water near Newport. As I walked around the building, I found a sign on the front that read “The Watusi Hotel”! This must date from the 60’s!!! I couldn’t believe it. Had to include it in my painting. I used more contrast in the colors in this painting–more color in the sky and deep blues for the water, which truly was a very deep blue. Also used a lot of dark blue for the shadows of the rose bushes. I was going to soften them, but decided not to. I loved the pattern and flow of the bushes and the comparison with the light green grasses. You can see what a heavenly place this was to paint! On the drive down the dirt road, we passed a flock of glossy ibis, the first I’ve seen in New England. Now for summer in Washington and time in my studio with almost 400 photos. Then a trip to the Oregon Coast at the end of the month. More climate and scenery changes for sure! Happy July 4th to you all.
The Watusi Hotel, 11 x 14, UART 400
These two paintings are from my time painting in Little Compton and Tiverton, RI. I was supposed to give a workshop, but cancelled it due to my mother’s condition. However, a friend came from Maryland and I got to paint with other friends in Mass. and was very happy for their company. With so much beautiful weather, not painting would have been a sin! In the first painting, I used my light Blue Earth pastels in the sky and I find it to be a little too light and washed out. Both were done over hard pastel underpaintings. The white roses were amazing and the air was filled with their fragrance. I particularly liked the fence in this painting as it added form and structure to the mass of plants. The second painting was done in Little Compton on a private farm, where we painted with a local plein air group for two days. (Will share another painting from that area). I got to work with a weather-beaten house and was in my element! Made some serious changes, however. The window at right was not like this at all. The gas tank was around the corner. And there was no yarrow in the yard–just an old wire fence! I also added a hint of water to the right. I was really using my artistic license in this one!
June Roses, Sepowet Marsh
12 x 16, UART
Summer Cottage, 11 x 14, UART
Hello Friends–I’m back in Maryland where it is hot and humid after two of the most remarkable weeks that I can remember in Massachusetts in June. Everyone said “this is the way we always remember June being.” Cool, clear, 70’s, gorgeous! Not every day, but almost. I spent many of the mornings outside painting, filming, walking, and the afternoons at the hospital, then rehab center, visiting my mother. Yesterday she was moved to her new apartment in a very nice assisted living facility and I’m hoping that her cat will be joining her today! It was a remarkable visit. My mother is a very strong woman and is making remarkable progress. But she can’t read nor tell time and has a ways to go.
I’m sharing 4 paintings with you, the first two in this post. None of the these are great paintings, but I wanted to share them anyway. These first two have personal significance to me. The one with the garage is my mother’s yard. I began a painting of the yard in the morning but hated it. So later in the day I brushed off as much pastel as I could and did a completely different painting over it! I had to use soft pastels to make it work and really liked the effect. The second, Shining Tides, is unusual for me as I did it with no underpainting, using nothing but local color. It was the second of two paintings done in a morning. I sold the first one off the easel to a former neighbor! This house was the manor house for the 300 year old farm house that we rented when we first moved to Mattapoisett. When we moved there it was red and it was always called The Shining Tides. It was a Y camp for some years, but now seems to be a rental facility for weddings. As you can see, it’s been added to over time, creating a mass of small planes! I couldn’t resist painting it–done in about an hour with a little more work in the studio.
Garden with Late Day Shadows, 12 x 12, Fisher
Shining Tides, 12 x 12, Fisher