This is the first painting from our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. We came across this farm just after getting through the coastal mountains on a little-used road. I loved the green door and the reddish roof. Changed the foliage in foreground to lead the eye into the picture using a dirt path. This was done with a hard pastel underpainting and alcohol, my preferred method of working these days. I love painting subjects things like this! Beautiful, but not sentimental (I hope!).
On Tuesday, I emailed the picture of the painting to the person who bought it and I realized that we had had a misconception of ideas. She really wanted to have one of her white pond lilies showing in the picture. I was much more interested in the orange day lilies! But I realized that filling her wish would not be difficult. I brushed out the bright yellow that was there and put in one bright lily with a few pads, and another not so bright behind the reeds to the right. Then I redid the foliage in front of it to make it fit in. I added a little bright yellow there and also further left to highten the sense of light coming through. I also lightened and softened the shadow on the grass going off the left, as I thought it was too strong and not a good shape. When you do commissions, you have to expect some changes–hopefully minor, like this one. Of course, I”m not getting paid for this, so I wouldn’t make too many changes! (This is why I don’t do portraits!!!). She seemed very happy with the picture otherwise, and hopefully now, will be completely satisfied.
Now to play with some black and white photos in advance of next week’s abstracting the landscape workshop. It’s a follow up from the one done in April and this time, I’m going to make it a little more difficult! Stay tuned.
I also want to extend an invitation to you–my readers–to contribute to this blog! If you have a picture that worked for a particular reason or created an “aha” moment that you’d like to share with the others, please send a good jpg image (s) to me along with a brief writeup in Word. It can be about the combination of materials, color usage, or whatever you think would be of interest. Send as attachments in an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org I hope you’ll take advantage of this as I think we would all benefit! Your name will be in the title of the post. You can remain anonymous if you want, but I hope you will feel comfortable sharing your work with others. I don’t plan to give a critique but others should feel free to make comments. My guidelines are to be kind, positive, honest and constructive! The comments on Facebook are worthless–but still nice to get!
Here is the picture that I mentioned yesterday. This is a house in Mattapoisett that I drove by almost every day and finally stopped to film the last day I was there. The front of the house was more complicated with multiple sides and gables and I simplified it. Otherwise, it’s pretty much what was in the photo. I used a mix of violets, grayed browns, and some grayed green Giraults in the house and roof. Worked really well. Actually, much of the picture, other than the sky and light highlights are Girault. I started with a hard pastel underpainting with a fairly dark brown in the house. I didn’t think I was going to like working on the sanded surface, but it really worked and I was happy with it. ( This image looks a little dark to me right now; hopefully will look better in the post.) The composition is all about triangles, including the shape of the sweet peas massing about the fence.
For the past three years, I have donated a painting from a “photo of your choice” to our church’s spring auction. On Sunday I saw the woman who bid this year and we looked at her garden and photos. I chose one that had a great composition and yesterday I spent most of the day painting it. I took pictures at various stages and thought I would share them with you. You can see how abstract the initial hard pastel layers are. (I guess if I wanted to be an abstract painting, I’d stop there!) I next work with nothing but Giraults, adding the greens and some violets. Then moved to softer pastels for the highlights on the trees and the flowers. I told my studio neighbor, Cathy Abramson, that years ago I would have had no idea how to start a painting like this. But by learning to see shapes, it’s made complex subject matter much more doable. In the final picture, the structure in the background is a tree house that her husband built for the kids. I was happy to get as much into the picture as I could. When I saw the garden on Sunday it was all green and all the same value and temperature!!! Today I did another painting in the studio that isn’t finished yet, but I’m liking it a lot. Will share when it’s done.
I’m back from two wonderful weeks in Oregon and Washington State. We were in Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast for 5 nights in a house that accommodated 16 members of John’s family, from ages 1 to 89! It was predictably very cold, windy, and sometimes foggy. But I did get some great beach photos one calm morning that I will be using in upcoming paintings. A highlight was a day spent painting with Margaret Bradburn, who lives in Medford, OR. She and her husband Larry came up and we painted all day. I found a place on the Salmon River that was more protected, but even so, there was a lot of wind, blowing over easels and making life difficult! I’m sharing these 3 plein air paintings with you, untouched since I did them and unsigned. I brought 2 small plastic boxes of pastels with me. Since I was working on Belgian mist, I began with a dry underpainting using hard pastels in blues, red violets, orangey browns and aquas. I had some Blue Earth blues for the sky and a whole box of Giraults for everything else. By starting out what was a pretty green landscape with no greens, I found I was able to focus on shapes and values and forget the color. Then I tried to be a little more realistic with the softer pastels. The second, horizontal painting has nothing but hard pastel in the sky and background. I rather liked the abstract shape and colors and decided to leave it. I began each painting with a dark blue hard pastel, identifying the darks and the flow of shapes and worked very quickly. Even so, our husbands showed up before I’d really had time to finish the second one and the third one was a challenge due to the increasing afternoon wind. In the third one, the upper right represents fog on a mountain and a white cloud; not sure this is very clear. After Oregon, we were in Washington State on our own, exploring the Olympic Penninsula along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then spending 1.5 days in Seattle–one of my favorite cities. Chihuly Museum, Panama Hotel, and Smith tower were highlights. Now home in Maryland where it is remarkably cool and pleasant! Hope you are all enjoying your summer.