I’ve just shipped this painting to Kira Maas, the daughter of an old friend of mine for her wedding present from her mother. Sharon and I worked together in our very first library jobs in Massachusetts. They now live in Maine and Kira wanted a picture of their camp house with the lake in snow. There was too much at Thanksgiving and not enough at Christmas, but the reference photos gave me something to work from. As you will see, I had to make some serious adjustments! First, I decided to place the cabin closer to the lake and took out the large evergreen that is blocking the view. Then I changed the time of day and lighting so as to provide more interest and drama. The building is a light gray, not a color I use! So, by changing it to late afternoon light, I could use darker gray violets, and warm orange browns on the front. I also made up the shadows of the trees and added more snow! Making up shadows isn’t easy! I wanted it to look like the trees are below the ridge of a hill, rather than at ground level, as in the photo, since the cabin appears to be perched above the lake. The shadows are somewhat stylized, being made up, but I like the effect. The last addition was the signs on the left side of the house, with three names (one of which isn’t even there yet!). What really pleased me was that the sign for “Maas” has a yellow background, so I was able to carry some of the same color from the sunlit side of the house to the shadowed side! A small detail, but it keeps the color from being isolated. Best wishes to Kira and her husband and to all of you for a healthy and productive new years!
I”m home from our brief trip to Massachusetts. Never even saw Mattapoisett center! We had a nor’easter on Christmas Eve and it was miserable. But a beautiful day on the Cape at my sister’s on Christmas. And a good time visiting with my mother. We stayed overnight on the way home near Milford, PA, at the top of the Delaware Water Gap. While eating breakfast, the sun started coming up over the frosted trees and it was beautiful. The camera wasn’t handy so I just looked at it and tried to remember the shapes of the orange and colors and values of the surrounding sky and trees. This morning I decided to play with my new Pastel Premiere paper and do a painting from memory. I like doing this every now and then — it’s a great exercise in color usage. I knew I wanted to stick to blues–no purples! I used only soft pastels and Giraults for this and didn’t do any drawing on the paper. Just laid in shapes with the side of a blue Girault. I played with cool blue violets and warmer blue greens in the bushes in foreground, and I used some of the same blue green in the sky. I also introduced some warm browns in the foreground to relate to the orange at top. I think it adds balance to the picture. The orange is from my box of Blue Earth oranges. I also used a few of the new Mt. Vision storm grays that I got for Christmas. They are more for clouds and I look forward to using them more. I enjoyed building up layers on the paper, putting down rough pieces of Unison and smoothing them with Girault. This is a great paper for doing this kind of abstracted work.
Happy New Year to you all. I hope that 2015 will be a healthy and productive year for all of us!
I had a little free time this afternoon, so decided to work more on this picture that is in the last post. (Got to listen to the Marriage of Figaro from the Met and think about Venice–devine!) The colors in this photo surprise me a bit–like the dark purple at the bottom right that looked very blue to me! And the wall in the middle is definitely too pink! But it’s not signed, so I’ll do more to it. But thought I’d send this to you before we leave for the week. The water was quite easy to do on this paper. Interestingly, the color of the paper is very similar to that of the brown Pastelmat, but the two papers are completely different. Where Pastelmat resists smudging, this paper makes it extremely easy–too easy sometimes! But if you want really soft edges and the ability to blend, it’s great. I really want to try this next on something a little more abstracted and less detailed to see how I like it. I wanted to take the offer from Dakota and purchase a package of the larger paper, but I can’t decide between the Italian clay and the white! Wish I could get 5 of each! Happy holidays!
Canal Boat (Venice), 16 x 12, Pastel Premiere “Italian clay”
It’s that time of year again and I have very little time for painting. But last week I received the 12 x 16 packet of Pastel Premiere in the gray-brown “Italian clay” (I think that’s the name). I’ve been dying to try it out. Today, in between getting ready for a dinner party, raking leaves, and editing the Christmas letter, I actually found an hour to paint! Thought I’d share my initial reactions with you.
I’ve always loved Wallis Belgian mist and this is the closest anyone has come to it. It might be even better, given how uncertain the color was in the Wallis. The grit is 320, the white comes in 400, closer to the UART I’ve been using. But I like this rougher grit and there is no pattern in it, like the UART. (I know some people really dislike that.) It’s the perfect color and value for working directly on the paper without an underpainting. I decided to skip using hard pastels and go directly to the soft pastels and Giraults. Not having any problem. I don’t want to get too picky with this, but there is a certain amount of detail needed and I’m finding I can achieve it with the Giraults.
I began this painting last Friday during an opening at my studio. Spent most of the time drawing, but when I went for the color, it all ended up purple! And I REALLY didn’t want purple in this picture! It’s red and green. So today, I brushed down as much of the purple (in building on right) as possible and painted over it. No problem. (For some reason, I’m working from right to left with this picture, which probably isn’t a great idea!)
This is Venice, of course, and the buildings have lots of age, dirt and complexity. I’m finding it easy to lightly layer colors over each other. (The middle building is just getting going, but the buildings in the back are close to complete.) I think you could use any kind of pastels very successfully with this paper.
It’s not cheap. $5 a sheet on sale. But I think it’s worth it. The 12 x 16 size is great to try out–$30 a package. I will purchase larger sheets later and have my framer dry mount them for me. I’ll definitely try the white and probably get more of this lovely brown. It’s amazing what’s available to us these days!
They are promising another bad winter, but it hasn’t hit here yet (we won’t mention Buffalo!). Whatever the weather, I hope to be painting a lot, either in the studio or here at home. Look forward to sharing with you. Happy holidays to you all and a creative New Year!