This is a painting that I began yesterday as a demonstration for a three day workshop that I’m giving in Rockville. I’ve also included the underpainting and the painting as it was completed during the demo. Interestingly, I used something different for the underpainting. All of my really light hard pastels are down to nothing! One of the participants mentioned pan pastels, which just happened to be on my cart. So I opened them up, and chose a yellow of the right value and sponged it on. It worked great, as you can see in the image of the underpainting. I may use these more often–a revelation!!! When I began the painting, I talked about the challenges of the photo, the main one being the large corn field. However, it turned out to be a lot easier than we thought. I used violets in the underpainting and when I brushed several Blue Earth greens on over it, the surface left little pockets of the violet showing. The class was amazed at the result and how little time it took! However, I wasn’t completely satisfied. I wished I’d put some darker color in the lower right corner, above the dark border of the field. I ended up adding some dark pieces of color into it, and I used more greens and varied strokes to give it interest. I’m happy with it now. When the photo was taken, it was an overcast day with white and gray clouds. I chose to give it a more cheery blue sky. But then I had to think about the trees and bushes. Today, I added more darks and lights to the poplars and the bushes in front of it, as well as some lighter yellow green on top of the corn. Another change from the photo was the positioning of the poppies. In the forefront, I had them spill to the left out of the bottom. This gave a more interesting progression to my eye. This picture was really fun to do and it was a lovely remembrance of the walk John and I took on our last day in this beautiful part of France.
This week has been an exciting week for me and I want to share it with you. I am going to become a member artist at ArtBlend Gallery in Fort Lauderdale, FL and next summer I hope to be showing at the Art Hamptons Art Fair!!! I received a message from one of the staff while in France and told her I’d have to get back to her. Then I forgot all about it! She wrote me back and I finally took the time to look into it, and realized that this could really be something–not another vanity gallery in New York. They are looking for a variety of artists and somehow found me and love my work. How nice. And they are in a place where people might actually buy art!!! They have a very large, beautiful gallery, plus do a magazine called ArtBlend and they participate in some of the major art fairs. This is all pretty new for me, having just left the co-op gallery in Bethesda that I’ve been a part of for 11 years. However, I’m also in a very nice commercial gallery in McLean, VA, so I have a little experience with showing in this environment and it’s where I want to be. I do not want to try to sell my work, other than in my studio, and am very happy to pay commissions so others will do it! This isn’t cheap. There is upfront cost, plus shipping, but their model is somewhat unique and they pay 75% commission on sales, which is great. So I’m taking the plunge. I’ll be shipping 6 paintings to them in the coming weeks, one of which is Marsh Walk, which I just revised. I thought I’d include it in this post. (Yesterday I ended up brushing off the path and redoing it, then did more work this morning. It’s at the framer’s now so it is done!) I’ll also be sending the second poplar painting, and several from the west. I’ll be focusing on the New England pictures for the Hamptons (if indeed I am actually there!). So wish me luck!
Today I finished my fourth painting from France. This is from our morning climb to the castle at Beynac, high above the Dordogne River. We climbed endlessly, it seemed. What is beautiful though, are the views from the walls, as well as the old stones that people have walked on for hundreds of years. This painting is all about texture. I did a compositional sketch in order to change the shape of the river. It was leading off to the right and I wanted to turn it back into the picture. I also wanted to make more of the stone path leading down into the picture. I used a 16 x 20 sheet of mounted Pastel Premiere white 400. I thought it would have more texture than the UART that I’ve also got mounted. I did the underpainting with hard pastels and added alcohol. It was very dark and looked fine.
However, once I added soft pastel into the sky, it was completely flat! I knew this wasn’t going to work for the buildings and wall. So I brushed off the sky and added two coats of Colourfix liquid primer over the entire underpainting. This gave me a great surface to work on (but I wouldn’t do this on a regular basis with purchased papers!). Now when I laid in color in the sky, I got a more irregular layer of color which works better with the texture in the rest of the painting.
I worked from the color photo this time around as I wanted to see the nuanced colors in the buildings and wall, and I liked the colors overall, particularly the cool greens of the distance. The color scheme is a double complement–blue greens and oranges, yellow ochres and violets. I enjoyed putting small pieces of brighter orange into the chim
I spent a very enjoyable day in the studio today playing! My friend and fellow resident artist, Julie Smith, joined me and we referred to Debora Stewart’s new book on Abstract Painting. Before Julie arrived, I did a number of drawing exercises on newsprint using charcoal. First I drew with my left hand, then did some drawings that were based on photos with strong shapes. Nothing appealed to me. So I decided to just jump in. I used 8-ply mat board given to me by my framer (holes!) cut to 12 x 12. It’s a great size and shape to work on and it’s nice having inexpensive surfaces on which to work.
For the first painting, I used purple, gold, and black liquid acrylic and painted it on the board with brush and water. Once dry, I layered two coats of clear Art Spectrum liquid primer over the top. I began with Holbein pastels in violets, oranges, and cool greens, laying in color, paying some attention to the acrylic underpainting. Then moved on to softer pastels, using a lot of the Blue Earth and Schminckes. I had fun with this piece, but it came out rather dark and it isn’t particularly good, I don’t think.
For the second painting, I decided to use Debora’s method of putting down color with charcoal and adding the gel on over it. This wasn’t sand paper, however, and the plain mat board doesn’t take much pastel. However, I wanted a light palette. I decided to do flowers based on a bouquet I have at home (but not at the studio). I laid in color with the Holbeins, then put the liquid primer on over it. It spread the color a little, but not a lot. I dried it, added some more color and another layer of liquid primer, then painted over it. Was quite happy with the results. (I have no patience for detailed flower pictures!)
For my third and final painting of the day, I used the same technique but went with a non-objective cruciform shape. I wanted to use blue greens with oranges, a favorite color palette that I don’t often get to use for my landscapes. I think this was the most satisfying of the three!
Julie will be back tomorrow. She is a marvelous acrylic and collage artist and is working on a diptych inspired by a painting in Debora’s book. I think tomorrow I’ll be painting a picture from France, but I might try using one of these techniques. July is a great time for trying something new!
I completed my second 18 x 24 painting today. I used the second black and white photo and decided to use a color scheme of violets, reds, and oranges. Went with a cooler sky, using a blue violet at top, turquoise in the middle, and a light pink at the base of the sky. I’m including the underpainting with and without alcohol so you can see what it looks like. I began with a violet in the field to right, then added a brown over it which basically turned it to a muddy color in the underpainting. But it worked fine once I added the reds on top. My plan was to use oranges in the sunlit areas of the tree and bushes, but the red field killed that! So I used yellow greens, which really popped out. I wanted this to have a summery feel and the green does that. I really worked on the shapes, particularly of the bushes. I ended up with a huge bush in the lower right, so I made up a small one in front, then lowered the reds in to separate the bushes. Also brought a small piece of the distant field to the left of the tree and I think this is important to the balance of the painting. I like the way the real darks in the tree work (Terry Ludwig eggplant, of course!). The value is more striking in this picture than in the first. The red field is a combination of warm orangy and cool pinkish reds that I like a lot (Schminckes). I used a dark reddish brown in the tree and bushes to bring the red into other areas of the picture. The last thing I did was to add a few pieces of turquoise into the bushes and grasses to bring the sky color down.
Here is the 18 x 24 painting based on my favorite of the studies. This was done on Wallis museum grade mounted white paper. I have one sheet left! I did the under painting with hard pastel and used alcohol on it, forgetting about the potential problems of alcohol on Wallis. It did change the surface a bit, I think, but it was OK. I used my Blue Earth pastels to lay in the colors and the Giraults to soften them and fill in more of the background. I kept to the colors in the study (or at least tried to!). Given the differences in the surface, the pastel didn’t go on the same way. I resorted to using a lot more strokes, rather than relying on the texture of the surface. But then, this is France and it should probably have a lot of impressionist strokes anyway!
I began the painting with a charcoal and water sketch on the paper to lay out the composition. I didn’t want a lot of charcoal, just wanted to be sure about the composition. Somehow, I forgot to film the underpainting but I used combinations of reds and greens in varying values that provided enough rich color to work over. My main concern was in the flow of shapes, particularly the reds in the foreground, the green shape on the right, and the shape of the mountain in the background, which I later changed.
I’ve included the original color photo so you can see what it looked like in France. I worked from a black and white and found it much more inspiring! Hope to do the second one tomorrow and see where that one takes me!
The weather is abysmal here in the DC area and I’m planning to spend as much time as possible painting, experimenting, and playing in my studio! Today I decided to print out three black and white photos of poplar trees that I took in France. I began by doing a number of drawings. The last three are on the same page and I’m including them. The major issue is the placement of the tree. In all of them, I’ve added a mountain in the background to give a little added interest. I’ve decided that the one with the road is my least favorite, and you’ll see the results in the color studies.
For the color studies, I used 6 5″x 7″ sheets of white Richeson paper that I acquired some time ago. They were perfect! I was afraid they’d buckle with an underpainting, but they were fine with alcohol. I used a variety of hard pastels and Holbein sticks to do the underpaintings, primarily looking for different darks. Got tired after awhile and just used the same colors to establish the shapes (blues and violets), then played with different colors on top.
My favorite set is the first. I began with a dark red violet and used browns and oranges in the first study. This is a fairly typical palette. I liked the darks and the composition but wanted to get beyond violet. The second of these is my favorite. I used my Blue Earth pastels: cool greens (turquoise), cool reds (quindo), and green. Also used some oranges. The texture of the Richeson paper was great for layering (unfortunately, I won’t be using it for the large paintings). I loved the way the warm and cool greens combined on the tree and the color of the red in the foreground. Mixed complements for the mountain and used light values of the greens for the sky. This was fun!
Moved to the next composition and played with more real colors in the first one. I used a very dark blue for the basis of the trees, then other blues and greens on top, as well as oranges. The field was very light in the photo, so kept it light in this one. For the second, I made the field darker and completely unreal. Also changed the composition (like the first one better). I really wanted to used reds and oranges and play with shapes of different values, so I liked all four of these studies.
When I got to the last photo, I was tired. I ran out of inspiration and by the sixth study, I’d had it! My plan, at the moment, is to do 18 x 24 paintings of the first two compositions, using mounted Wallace (the last of my stock). I’m hoping that the lack of texture won’t be a problem. I’m not sure where I’ll go with the color, probably use the second study of the first set, and the first study of the second, but who knows! It will be a different day!
I’ve just completed my first painting from France. I decided to begin with a relatively easy one, for which I made only smalle compositional changes. Felt like I needed to just get back to painting again. I began with a pencil drawing on 400 mounted UART. I worked from the color photo as I wanted to retain the feel of the place. But I decided to start the underpainting with all warm colors: pinks, oranges, reds, with aqua in the areas that would be hit with light. I used a pale pink and orange for the sky. I didn’t have my camera yesterday. Took pictures with my cell phone but they came out with very exaggerated color. However, I think there is enough of the underpainting showing to give you an idea of the colors used. For the painting, I used my new box of Blue Earth greens that I bought at IAPS. A great set! Can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get them! I guess it’s because I like the green Giraults, which I also used. I decided to give more emphasis to the oranges in the roof and door. Many of the roofs in the Perigord are orange and are quite beautiful when the light hits them. I did the field last and used a combination of duller greens, yellow green, dull reds and oranges.
The warmth of the field and the shapes of the buildings were what drew me to this scene. This was a small village north of Sarlat that was having an art fair when we arrived on a Sunday morning. Everyone seemed to be having a good time but we were disappointed in the quality of the work shown. The “art” for me was in the scenery, which I’m sure they are very used to!
(Note: I decided to add the text first and then the images and I’ve succeeded in getting them at the top!!!)
We are back from a truly wonderful two week trip to the Dordogne and Lot Valleys in France. The highlight of the trip came early on when John and I went to St. Aulaye to meet my new friend “Pastel Philippe”! Last year he invited me to participate in their international show of pastels. I sent three paintings and sold one and decided that this is the international show that I would like to continue participating in, primarily because Philippe is such a wonderful person to work with. He is also a truly great painter, particularly of cats! You can see his picture above him. He is the local pharmacist in a small, lovely town in the northern part of the Perigord region of France. From the outside, the Musee du Pastel is a garage! But once inside, one sees truly magnificent paintings from all over the world, including the Spanish painter Romero, whose work (I think) is featured in the poster. What is amazing is that the town of St. Aulaye has purchased the paintings in the Musee. Such dedication to art is rarely seen in this country, sorry to say. In addition to the tour of the Musee, they took us out to lunch at a lovely restaurant in the country and then we visited a church carved into the stone mountainside. The Pastel en Perigord show is held biennially now (it used to be annual but was too much). It is run completely by Michel and Philippe. They work very hard and their standards are very high. They want to represent the best of pastel in the world! I asked about attendance at the show and Philippe said they come from all over and it draws a huge crowd. I can see that I’m going to have to attend one of these days! It’s held in late July. I plan to assist by suggesting further US artists who have been recognized with IAPS master circle and/or PSA recognition. I was very happy to be able to play a part in such a special endeavor. I have over 700 photos of France! Expect to see a painting or two sometime soon, I hope!!!