Bittersweet, 16" x 20", UART 320

Bittersweet, 16″ x 20″, UART 320

Toned board

Toned board

Painting before adding the branches

Painting before adding the branches

Having spent yesterday cleaning out closets and getting the guest room presentable for visitors coming for the Women’s March, today I felt that I could spend the day in my studio. I printed out a picture I took of Mattapoisett harbor last Thursday just after the rain had stopped. It was quite dramatic and I had a great time doing it. Got to use one of my new True Grit UART 320 16 x 20 panels and really liked it for something other than rocks!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about an underpainting and decided to tone the surface with watercolor. I used a cobalt magenta, two coats that gave a nice color to the surface.  I had hoped to leave more showing through but I think there is some in the clouds. This painting had so little drawing in it, I found it easier, to just tone the paper, then lightly draw on the horizon, clouds and land forms with graphite.  I made one compositional change, leaving out a large rock on the right hand side. I wasn’t sure that it added anything.

I found that the 320 surface worked very nicely for the clouds and the water. The added texture was quite lovely. I started the sky with blues and blue greens on the top, then went to a violet Girault for the area below the clouds. Over this I added one of the very grayed “turquoise” Blue Earth pastels, which helped approximate the colors I was seeing–a really greenish violet. I used the same colors in the water. I used a darker violet and green under the clouds in the middle to right, then went over them with the lighter violet. I wanted to give a subtle sense of the darkness not being all the same.

For the sand at bottom (dark, wet sand), I started with a darker violet, then went over it with three values of a very grayed Schmincke brownish green.

My biggest challenge was with the color of the clouds. In the photo, they were darker with more orange-yellow in them but I didn’t like this when I tried it, so I decided to stay with the lighter yellows. I used a combination of light violet and cool greens in the shadow areas.

The bushes were added after the water and sand had been completed. I used two different reds for the berries with highlights or orange. Picking bittersweet for the house is something I remember from my early days of living on Mattapoisett Neck, so its has a special significance to me.

It was nice to do the lighthouse as just a tiny big of yellow white with a long reflection. Because of the gray around it, it really stands out, even though tiny.

So this is my last painting for 2016. I am not particularly looking forward to 2017, given the state of affairs. However, I hope that we can continue to paint and that the economy won’t tank anytime too soon!!!  My best to you all for the new year, whatever it brings us.

Rock Study in Orange and Violet

Rock Study in Orange and Violet, 14" x 11", UART 320

Rock Study in Orange and Violet, 14″ x 11″, UART 320

A very cold and windy day today so I chose to spend in the studio. I revised one picture and completed another.  This one is on the 320 UART and I really wanted to do it, but have been distracted with December events!   I had drawn in the composition with graphite and decided to just work directly on the picture with no underpainting. I used a combination of light violet, green and brownish green hard pastels, along with some Giraults. I intended to just start with these, but I realized that this was the painting!  I really didn’t want to use softer pastels on the rocks, but I used Schminckes in the orange bush to make it come alive.  In the photo there was an orange tuft of grass to the left of the little bush. I put it in, then took it out and moved it to the upper right. It was a real distraction next to the bush. What I loveded about the composition was the way all of the dark crevices in the rocks lead to the bush! And the shadow of the branch at righ is also leading to it. AND–the bush is not right in the middle!

I worked quite slowly and detailed on on the top, but the darker bottom water reflections went fairly quickly. I started with the grayed violets that I saw in the photo, then brushed a more colorful violet over it and the painting came alive!

I began the painting with a hard dark blue NuPastel, putting in all of the dark lines/crevices. It gave me a sense of the flow of the picture. Not sure about the serpentine shape at right but I didn’t want to make too many changes because of the reflections.

I was really happy with this picture, in its color, the balance of dark and light, and the positioning of the bush and the way it stands out.

That’s it for rocks for awhile!  Now on to snow or rain or something different!

Happy holidays to all of you. We will be driving to Mass. on Wed. and returning a week later. It’s nice that Christmas and Channukah coincide this year.  If you are in the DC area, I strongly recommend visiting the newly re-opened East Wing of the National Gallery. Went there yesterday and saw the wonderful blue rooster on the roof terrace between the two new towers. It’s really great, as are the two galleries on the first floor.

Abandoned Mill, Springfield, VT

Abandoned Mill, Springfield, VT, 20" x 24", pastelmat

Abandoned Mill, Springfield, VT, 20″ x 24″, pastelmat

Today I finished working on a painting that I began some weeks ago. It’s from our Sept. trip to Vermont and I loved the photo and spent a lot of time on the drawing. However, I decided to do it on brown Pastelmat, which I hadn’t worked on in some time, and I found it kind of frustrating.  I got back to it this week and realized that I could do a good job with it and just did it!  It was not having an underpainting that bothered me, as I love to do buildings over underpaintings. By working straight from the drawing to the painting, I felt a little like I was coloring in the lines!

The picture was taken the same dreary day that I took the picture of the fog on Mt. Ascutney. Got the best pictures that day!  At this point, it was gray with no sun, but not raining. I took a lot of pictures of this mill complex from various points of view and chose this one. I like the way the green foliage and its reflection in the water kind of nestles the buildings.

I used dark violet and some green to begin with under the two red buildings to keep the reds from being too bright. (The digital photography of this is always a problem and i had to adjust the photo as the orange and red were really jumping off the page!Now it appears a little too dark.) I saw this as a red/green complementary painting and used a pale green and pink in the sky.

My first problem, and the reason I stopped working on it, was that the metal roof in the middle was way too bright when I first did it (copying the photo too closely). I tried to brush off as much as possible, which isn’t easy on Pastelmat, and gradually added slightly darker greens and violets into it, until I was happier with it. Adding the same color of light green into the top of the dam (at right) helped bring the color around. I also used similar colors in the roof at left and the hidden house at right. I omitted a large building behind the red building at right that looks like a school. But most other things are pretty much as I saw them. I adjusted the large tree on the right to go off the top of the page, and brought some oranges around it to bring that color into other parts of the painting.

I wanted to come up with a really great title for this but couldn’t think of anything. It reminds me of the great days of manufacturing in the 19th and early 20th century in New England (not that I was around).  So it’s rather a poignant and timely reminder of what we have lost. I hope that these buildings are or will be used for something else.  Meanwhile, perhaps I’ll start a series of old mill paintings! There are plenty of them in my home area around New Bedford and Fall River. Beautiful old stone and brick buildings that were hell to work in!