I spent today in the studio completing a painting I began working on last Saturday. I took a long time on the drawing and getting it right on the paper. Yesterday I did the underpainting and lost some of it! But it was OK, I could still see the lines. Painting something like this is complicated because it’s hard to know where to begin. I decided that I needed to rough in the tree branch before doing the sky. But I needed to do the chimney and roof before the tree! I worked back and forth for awhile. In the second image, you can see the initial work on the house. I used light red violets in the trim and several soft yellows for the house. I was happy when I had covered up all of the blue! The hydrangeas were fun to do, as they were the only things catching any light. I decided to keep the sky in the grayed violet spectrum, to give the sense of an overcast day or fog (this is another Mattapoisett house).
The photo has a large tree/bush going up the entire right side of the picture. I didn’t want that. Instead, I added another, smaller and duller hydrangea, then a bit of lawn and some background trees. I struggled with the background a bit, but when I added violet over the cool greens and some very dull orange, it came together. I may work on the leaves some more, but for now I’m happy with it and thought I’d share it with you.
Hard pastel underpainting
Partial completion of house
House with Purple Hydrangea, 20 x 16, UART 500
I began teaching my regular classes this week at Washington ArtWorks and started out with a demo of trees. I wanted to cover both green and fall trees and found a photo with both. I did an underpainting with hard pastel. Under the greens, I used violets; and under the warm colors, I used greens. This worked out pretty well and I mixed both violet and green pastel into the painting as I progressed with it. I began with Giraults and added soft pastels only at the end, and in the sky. This was a one hour demo that was not completed until the afternoon. I had a lot of fun doing this painting. Now I have to find another photo to use for tomorrow’s class.
Autumnal Awakening, 12 x 19, UART 400
Just finished this painting today and will be taking it to my framer tomorrow for the gallery in McLean. It was done from an old 4 x 6 color photo that I painted from some years ago. Unfortunately, I never was able to get good pictures of all that snow we had last year–so I was relegated to looking into old references. The photo was narrower and didn’t have as many shadows at the bottom. I wanted to increase the shadows to lead the eye into the picture. Used grayed blues, a few violets, browns, and peaches for the light. Also used a light gray from my new turquoise Blue Earth set, which turned out to be quite nice. I prefer to paint more seasonally, but gallery requests are hard to turn down! The painting was begun with a charcoal wash and hard pastel underpainting.
Winter Light, 20 x 24, UART 400
I’m not usually one to paint light houses, but I couldn’t resist this one form Newport, Oregon. It was REALLY cold and blowing like crazy, but I loved the buildings and knew I’d want to paint them. I particularly like the way the sun is hitting the small building, despite the fog. I started this out with watercolor for a change. It was not good! I then took 4 blue and aqua hard pastels and covered up the sky completely, smoothing it with my fingers. Then lightly brushed soft pastels over–Blue Earth and some Ludwigs, mainly. I put the color over the top of the lighthouse as well. What I loved was the light coming through in the middle of the sky. I used with my new set of “turquoise” Blue Earth (which I would describe more as cool green or jade). I just remembered that there was a seagull flying to the right of the upper part and I might add him. Would give a bit more interest.
Newport Light in Fog, 24 x 18, Wallis Museum grade
In case you aren’t on one of my many email lists, I now have a brand new website, but at the same URL: www.jeanhirons.com. I created it using FASO–Fine Art Studios Online, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It took less than a week and it wasn’t difficult. When I ran into a snag, I was able to ask for tech support and received timely, easy to follow responses. It costs me $28 a month. Being able to quickly and easily update it any time I want is such a plus. My original site was developed for me in 2001 and my husband took it over some years later. He took classes in html and Dreamweaver in order to do it. You no longer need any of this knowledge. So, if you have been thinking about creating your own site, do it!
One of the pluses of the site is the ability to create an email newsletter with images. I will put in this what used to be in the What’s New section of my old site–upcoming shows, awards, and other events. If you’d like to receive it, go to the site and add your email in the lower right corner box.
Over the past weekend, I sold 3 paintings and had an expression of interest for a 4th. (Part of this, I think, was due to the announcement of the new website.) This got me thinking about the ups and downs of being an artist. I can’t tell you the hours I’ve lain awake worrying about the huge number of paintings that have taken over what used to be a spacious guest room. Or the cost of framing and wishing I could do it myself. But now that I’m in one commercial gallery and thinking about trying to get into others, I fear I don’t have enough paintings! Of course, what I know is that I don’t have enough really GOOD paintings.
However, for the moment, I want to basque in the joy of knowing that people want my paintings. The money is nice, but it’s quickly spent on more frames and supplies. And getting them out of the guest room is another big plus. But the real joy in selling is that it validates us as artists. I was recently told that Gauguin never sold a single painting and Van Gogh sold only one (to Theo). I don’t think I could exist with this sales rate! When people tell me they love my work, I paint better. I assume it is the same with you too? We all need positive feedback from time to time.
There haven’t been any comments on the site lately, and I hope it isn’t because it’s too difficult to get past the spam blocker. Would love to hear how you deal with all of this! I know that I’m happiest when I’m painting well–regardless of the fact that I’ll have more to frame and store–and I look forward to getting back in the studio tomorrow to work on my latest painting.
Hope you like my website! Cheers!!!
I spent several days last week working on this painting from my recent trip to Mattapoisett. I decided on the 20 x 24 format because it’s a grand subject and needs a lot of space! I took the picture on the first day I was there, driving my mother through town. We went to Crescent Beach and got this beautiful view of the harbor in late afternoon. It wasn’t sunset, but the light was quite special.
I began with a charcoal drawing and wash. I did the bottom half as an underpainting, thinking I’d work directly on the top without any color. But I couldn’t do it! So I took three values of a pinkish red and created shapes of color. This made it much easier for me to begin laying in the color (which you can see at top left–almost forgot to film it first!).
I had issues with the color in the grasses. In the underpainting, I added some reds that I liked a lot. But when I started adding the pastel, I used siennas and other more orangey colors. Didn’t like it at all! So I got rid of it and used magentas and pinks, along with a variety of greens, keeping it all fairly dark. Really liked it as it picked up the reddish violet tones in the sky (a lot of the pink underpainting shows through). In the path, I used a variety of violets and browns, to pick up the color of the sky.
The sky (except for the lightest parts) is all Girault and Roche. The flat part of the sky at top is a combination of an aqua and a light warm grayed green Roche. They combined beautifully. The light is a lemon yellow Art Spectrum tinted white and a little Schmincke yellow. I used the lemon yellow pastel alone for the light on the water. I find it very hard to find a yellow that is light enough for the sky and clouds and this one is really good.
I really enjoyed working on this. So many of my pictures are taken on bright sunny days. Would like to do more atmospheric work, if I can get the right shots. I work from both a black and white photo (that was taken closer up and used for the composition) and a color photo (that gave the color but a poor composition). Neither was perfect and that was just fine. I changed the bottom left completely and changed what was a wider road to more of a path. Am happy with this now.
Hard pastel underpainting
Harbor Light, 20 x 24, UART 400
I found time to paint in my studio on Sunday and Monday and decided to work on a picture from Mattapoisett, after just returning from a visit to my mother. My friend Sarah Brown Miquelle and I painted “this” scene last Wednesday. It’s in quotes, because it didn’t look like this! It was all green and the resulting photograph was really boring. The trees were all a uniform dark, dull green, and the marshes all the same lighter green. I really liked the composition and I need fall pictures for my galleries, so I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to work from a black and white photo. The underpainting was all warm colors. I used warm pinky-reds in the sky and let a little of it show through. There are pieces of red in the foreground bushes, which represent the red poisin ivy that was actually there! And I followed Sarah’s lead and made the sail red, instead of blue. It was fun to explore fall colors again, even though now, the temperature is hotter than it’s been all summer!
For my friends on the Cape and that area, I’ve been invited to give a one day “winter blahs” workshop in early April for the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod. It’s going to be a workshop on working from black and white photos. It will be a good opportunity to test out the one day workshop I’ll be giving at IAPS. (I did one before on the Cape using B&W, but that time I supplied the same photo to everyone. This time it will be up to the participants to chose a good photo.) I’ve added the color photo so you an see the difference.
Color photo, Town Landing, Mattapoisett
Quiet Cove, 16 x 20 Pastelbord