I’ve just spent several hours in my studio completing this painting that I began on Monday. It’s from my photo shoot at Great Falls on the 17th. I loved the position of the tavern and the tire tracks and shadows leading to the building. But the photograph was really dull: blue sky and gray snow. So I decided to work from the black and white photo. My original thinking was to make it be later in the day with yellow in the sky, playing against the violets in the snow. I wasn’t sure where to go with the underpainting, so I decided to begin by toning the board with burnt sienna watercolor. It faded very quickly! You can see it in the building in the underpainting. I decided I couldn’t proceed without an underpainting, so I used hard pastels and alcohol. I went warm under the trees, and used three values of blue greens under the sky. My thinking for the color scheme was that it would be blue violet, blue green, and yellow orange. I wanted the center of interest to be the wall of the tavern where the light is hitting it. I quickly realized that if the light was behind the building, there was no way that it could be hitting the front of it, nor would the shadows work. After observing several sunsets out of my dining room window, I saw a lot of green in the sky further from the sun and and also noted that the snow was still relatively light. So I decided to use various greens in the sky and use warm yellow oranges in the trees to indicate the light hitting them from the left. I made several changes to the composition–increasing the size of the building, removing a number of trees, and the benches and light posts. I did include several people walking on the path, in between the two central trees. I tried to integrate color by adding some cool blues in the shadows of the building and some warm brown in the shadows in the tire tracks. I used a combination of blue violet and blue green for the snow. The only yellows are in the edge of the track and in the building. I used one of the Art Spectrum tinted whites to do the paw prints in the lower right. I worked a lot on this picture, continually tweaking it until I finally decided it was OK.
Very cold and windy today and spent the entire day in my home studio working on this painting, that I plan to enter into the IAPS Master Circle show. I did the preparation yesterday, including charcoal lines added lightly and then hard pastels. I decided to try something different and used Turpenoid to melt the pastel. I loved the way it spread the pigment, particularly in the background where I had used multiple colors. Couldn’t wait to begin painting it. HOWEVER, I soon discovered that what I had created was a fairly slick surface. I lost the tooth of the Pastelbord and had a really hard time with anything other than really soft pastels. I tried to start with Giraults, and did the entire background with them, but found that they felt like hard pastels. I ended up using primarily Schminckes, Great Americans, and Senneliers. Even the Ludwigs were too hard! Various people have mentioned using Turpenoid (I thought) so I was really surprised at this. The dark blue was the worst area and I’m wondering if it wasn’t a pastel! (I have only a small box of hard pastels here at home now.) Anyway, I was able to complete the painting and just hope that the pastel won’t fall off!!! I really enjoyed the process, but next time I’ll do a test run!!! Hope you are all staying warm.
This is my final painting in the series of canal paintings. I used two different photos for this one. One was horizontal and closer up, featuring the light on the water, but also a whole lot of wall on the left that had little interest. The second was vertical with the building on right. I did two charcoal studies, horizontal and vertical and decided quickly on the vertical, but used the horizontal photo for the area of light on the water. The composition in this painting is unlike anything I’ve ever done, I must say! The color was another challenge. The photos were very dark and spoke to me of red violet. But I really liked the varying colors in the windows from blue, to yellow green, to orange. I did an underpainting using primarily greens with some red violets. It looked awful! But it proved to be fine. When I started putting in the buildings, I began with a light magenta, but found it to be too bright. So I used red and blue violets on over it and it was much better. I used the complementary warm greens in the grass strip of the two path, and in the light on the water. I also added dark greens into the wall on the right.
Yesterday I gave a discussion on choosing a color palette to my Wednesday class in the studio. The unfinished painting was on the easel. We looked at the standard color wheel and the red violet/yellow green complementary palette. But there is more color here. Then we looked at the Analogous Color Wheel. Choosing purple as the primary color, I had a palette of red and blue violets, with a complement of green, and discords of yellow orange (windows and path) and blue green (sky, water, windows)! Very interesting. It proves once again the usefulness of this color wheel.
This series has been a real challenge and it’s been fun. I’ve been creating unusual compositions and painting more industrial scenes. I’ve always liked this kind of subject matter but until now hadn’t found something I really wanted to paint. I have to say that at this point I’m ready to return to a “pretty” landscape! But I look forward to exploring more areas of DC and painting them.
I completed my 5th painting of the canal on Friday night and have done drawings for the 6th. I’ve really enjoyed working on this series. To begin with I thought I’d do 4 pictures. Then I found two more. The lines and shapes in this one are so strong, I don’t know how I could have missed it! What’s so interesting is the way various places show up in the paintings, highlighted in some, as distant features in others. The bridges are fascination and most of the paintings have 2-3 of them. I also love the pieces of light reflecting off the walls. The windows and their reflections are completely different! I just have to trust the photo to be right. I liked working on the white Pastel Premiere. I used a fairly dark underpainting and found that lightly brushing Giraults on top left little pieces of the dark showing through that was effective in the wall and building on right, as well as the bridge. I used a variety of blues-blue violets and blue greens, along with deep red violet in the underside of the bridge, and a progression of oranges that goes the length of the canal. I was happy to be able to put another small figure in this one to break up the expanse of the towpath.