Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Next Step ... Plus Addendum

Greetings Dear Readers-

The laundry is done, I've put in a couple of miles, and it's too early to plant tomatoes so I'm back in the studio to work on the piece I shared with you last week. 

I've put in another couple of hours, alot of it spent just looking. 

Over my shoulder.  In a mirror.  Upside down.  In a different room.

I want to come at it with a fresh eye, and an attitude of detachment. 

Looking at my work in this way removes my delicate ego from the equation. After all, how can someone as fabulous as I paint anything but loveliness? ( I heard your eyes roll from clear over here. )

Detaching from the excitement of the original inspiration helps me see the painting not as my dear sweet baby, to be defended at all cost, but perhaps as my wayward teenager, to be guided and shown some tough love. ( Not that my teenagers...oh well.)

version from 4-12-10

It was a fruitful session.  I corrected some of the movement of the limbs,  and developed shadows and sunlit areas a bit more accurately. I'm actually really pleased with the painting as it is, but am considering adding a figure to the lower area. If I can drum up the courage. At this point I'm willing practice making just the right marks on a separate bit of canvas to see if what's in my head is workable.

4-20-10 version

Time for more laundry, more walks.  Still too early to plant tomatoes.

A few hours later . . .

Aha!  After playing with a variety of figures in a variety of postures ( sitting, laying, sitting in the tree, male, female, short, tall, dwarf...) HH asked about a simple suggestion of what might have been ... like a picnic.  For the record, HH does not have an artistic bone in his well-defined body, but he's usually right about what needs to happen in a painting I'm struggling with.

I added the suggestion of a blanket, and some marks that might read "basket". 

(I left out the wrappers and chicken bones.)  It works perfectly.  Not too romantic, not too specific.  In perfect haromony with the rest of the painting.  I'm really pleased.

And to top it off, the laundry is done and folded.  Life is good.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Step by Step

It's spring at last, and a real pleasure to see the world in new clean colors once again.

I've been working on a fresh new painting and thought you might like to come along.  To celebrate clear blue skies and trees budding I started a 30 x 40" painting of my favorite tree, the River Willow.  At least that's what I call them. 
This type of tree is a bit gangly, with willowy branches that grow outward like the fingers from a hand.  Small leaves shimmer with each small breeze.

I've stained the canvas with a thin orange mix of cad orange and yellow ochre. This serves two purposes: 1) it gives a warm glow to the subsequent layers of paint, and 2) gets the canvas dirty so I'm not faced with a blank white stare.  That clean canvas is too  much like starting a term paper in my senior year of highschool.  Yike.
The tree form is painted very loosely in a thin mix of cerulean blue and cad red.  I'm trying to imagine that these marks will remind me of the cooler parts of the tree, the shadow side of leaf clusters and branches.  Or maybe I just like the color.

I spend quite awhile working back an forth with greens and blues to create
the feeling of the fullness of fresh leaves.  After awhile I find that I'm a bit lost and go back to reinforce the limbs.  At this point each mark I make is a discovery rather than a preconceived plan.  Probably not the smartest way to work.

Every now and then it's not a bad idea to check a painting in progress in a mirror.  Seeing a fresh image helps circumvent the brain's propensity to "know" what the marks are communicating, especially when there isn't a definite plan in place.  One of these days I gotta make a plan.

This is a closeup of the middle tree area.  I'm really enjoying the dashes of paint that read tree/foliage/sky when I step back.  Touches of rich blue speak of shadows and orange slashes tell the story of sunlight - at least in my book.

I'm probably 6 hours into this painting, and there's alot I like.  Alot I'm wondering about, too. It's a good time to set it aside, go do some laundry, plant a few tomatoes, go for a walk.  I need a fresh perspective, no pun intended.  I'll lean it against the wall in my studio, upside down (side-stepping the old brain again) and see what I see when I look at it with a fresh eye next week. 

My plan is to share with you a fabulous, fresh, exciting oil painting in my next post.  Or a cautionary tale.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Sorry folks, I'm having computer problems.  That little mouse seems to have gotten his tiny feet all tangled up and the darn thing keeps stalling. 
Rather than re-write my incredibly fascinating post one more time, I'm calling a short recess. 
Hopefully I'll be back up and running smoothly in a day or so.

Until then, go out and get some of that fabulous sunshine!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring and Jammies

Greetings Dahlings,
It's been a lovely Easter weekend full of family, babies, movies and sweetness.  The sky was as blue as it gets and the grass (and more than a few weeds) are greening up. 
And I'm worn out. 
So I leave you with the first - and second - crocus of the year.

That's it for me.  I'm ready for my jammies even though the sun hasn't gone down yet.  I think too much blue sky all at once has simply worn me to a nub.
Happy Spring!