Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Dragonfly

The Dragonfly  14x18 oil on linen

I have been having some fun adding the element of "little critters" to my recent paintings.  I've added a hummingbird to one, some butterflies to another and now a dragonfly...  It is like bringing a bit more of nature into the mix.  I really like it and will continue to work more on this path. 
 I know I'm a bit inexperienced at painting these things but I hope it will get a bit easier as I continue to do more of it. 
I hope you like the inclusion of these little bits of life!

While researching the dragonfly I learned some very interesting facts about them....did you know a Dragonfly can fly up to 35 mph?  They can hover for up to a minute and fly in any direction including backwards?  The government is studying the dragonfly because they believe them to be the best example for creating a flying drone!  Oh, and they also eat mosquitos!!  Certainly a creature worth admiring!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spilling Strawberries -The process steps

Spilling Strawberries   16x20  oil on linen

This composition is loosely based on a painting I have admired.  I rarely use another artists work for my concept but this is one I've wanted to do for a long time.  The artist of the painting I gained inspiration from is Clara Von Sievers.  My interpretation is quite different but, the greatest similarity is the flow of the flowers and spilling fruit.
"Clara Von Sievers,  Cherries"

I took some progress shots as I was working on this and I know some of you have asked to see the steps.  I might have gotten lost in the work and forgotten to take some photos toward the end stages :(  oops....but I'll share what I have! 
 Hope you enjoy them!!

Let's start first with the set up.  It is important to get your set up as close to your "vision" as you can.  With something as unruly as flowers can be, it may be impossible to get them all turned in just the right direction, just the right placement...etc.  AND they like to move around after you start painting anyway!
However, the better my set up the less "thinking" I will have to do once I actually start painting.  That being said, once I start painting I will make whatever adjustments I feel I must to create the right flow, design, and harmony.  Your painting is what matters, not the group of objects sitting on the table.  The more you paint, the better you will get at creating the set up and the better you will get at "winging it", when the set up isn't working quite right in your painting.  The visual aid of your set up is just as important as working from life in the landscape, so do spend some time in trying to get it what you want from the start.

Step 1
I do not approach any two paintings in exactly the same way although there are certain things that I will always try to get down as soon as I can.  The most important thing to me in this painting was the wonderful "flow" of the design.  I wanted movement.  So I started with a gestural sketch using thinned ultramarine blue and transparent oxide red, getting the placement of my objects, but more importantly, establishing the movement of my eye throughout the canvas.  I also established where my darkest values would be and worked to create a path that I could follow through and around the painting.

Step 2
In this second stage I have started introducing my colors.  I like to create a level of value study with my colors, typically working dark to light.....I will wipe out areas of paint to lighten my value and leave the areas where I want my purest color with the white of the linen.  Because I work a lot with transparent pigments, the brightness of the linen is critical to getting the clean intense colors at my focal point.  I use very little (maybe none) white at this point because that adds opacity and immediately starts to dull the intensity of the pure pigment.  I want these transparent background and shadow areas to show interest and depth...I don't want them to appear flat or dull.

Step 3
I continue to build my color...going somewhat from background and moving forward.  I still work the same technique as in step 2 but I have started pushing the brighter colors and lighter values of my foreground and point of interest.  As I start to model and shape the flowers and objects I gradually introduce some more opaque pigments as well as adding white to create opacity in lighter areas.  While the painting is a long way from finished at this point the process is really just a continuation of more of the same.  Adding opaque passages, wiping away areas of transparency.  Keeping control of my values, and my intensity of color.  Those are the greatest tools you have in your pocket to create depth and interest in your painting.  Practice them...push them.  

I wish I had a step 4.  I would like to spend a little more time showing the build up in the opaque areas....alas, not this time as the camera was forgotten and the painting became my reality for a while....:)  
Hope you enjoyed this and I hope that it may have given you some instruction that you can use!
Happy painting!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon   12x24"  oil on linen

Who knew the Rose of Sharon flower was shy about being painted?  I hardly was an hour into the painting when all the blossoms started closing up!!  So while I did work from life, I had no choice but to use my experience with flower painting to complete this painting.  Working from memory and knowledge.  It was more challenging than I had planned when I picked the flowers this morning!  Oh well, chalk up another learning experience!
I hadn't painted grapes in a while..that was fun. 
I used a bit of painting knife toward the end to create some texture.

Thanks for stopping by to visit my blog!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Irises and Nectarines

Irises and Nectarines  18x24  oil on linen

These huge magenta purple irises deserve to be expressed with drama and impact!  They are stars...no quiet little wallflowers here.  The orangish/peach shade of the nectarines juxtaposed next to the magenta sings with impact.  This whole painting is bold from the color palette, to the strong brushwork, to the activated composition.  But, then sitting quietly just a bit back of the flowers is that surprising little creamer...delicate and subdued.  
I feel that it is a dynamic painting but then I love the irises and I love the color purple.  I guess I might be a little biased.   :)
Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Star Gazers

Star Gazers  8x12  oil on linen en plein air

This is another plein air painting from this past saturday's wet paint event in Douglas.  This was such a treat to paint because while I was standing at my easel the wonderful scent of these beautiful lilies was filling the air.  It was early in the morning.  The dew was still on the grass, I had my cup of coffee and the robins were searching for breakfast all around me.  How delightful!
I love the way these lilies arch so gracefully and their stamens reach for the ground or sometimes look like they want to find the sun, curving up so delicately!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Potted Geraniums

Potted Geraniums
Potted Geraniums   9x12  oil on linen en plein air

What a beautiful day it was to be outdoors!  Yesterday was a Wet paint event in Douglas, Mi.  Artists came out to paint the local sites and then in the evening the public was invited to come in and purchase the wet paintings.  It was a picture perfect day and great fun!  Here is one of the three I did for the day.
Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Trumpets and Hummers

Trumpets and Hummers  oil on linen   14x24

I love birds and have been wanting to put one in my still life for a long time.  I just never seemed to do it.  Today I did!  Hummingbirds are the sweetest little things, but they are territorial and can be quite aggressive.  Spunky little critters.  :)
I had so much fun painting this painting.  I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Favorite Pitcher

A Favorite Pitcher
 A Favorite Pitcher 18x22  oil on linen

I tried a little different color palette with this one.  I usually use Ultramarine blue and transparent oxide red to create my "blacks", but I wanted to get away from the reddish hue with this painting so I used Pthalo Green and Alizarin Crimson with a touch of Transparent red for the darks.  It was a nice color for the darks but I need to get a green that isn't quite so intense.  Once you start laying down the Pthalo it doesn't take much for everything in the canvas to start becoming contaminated with the color.  A little more experimentation is in order!  Well, there's my excuse for doing another painting!  :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Phlox Bouquet

Phlox Bouquet   18x26"  oil on linen
I've had many of you ask for a record of a work in progress so today I took several shots at different stages of this painting.....I hope you enjoy seeing the steps!  :)

  1. The Block in....I do not always use exactly the same approach for every painting but on this one I decided to block it in using vine charcoal.  It gives me a little more control over the composition and drawing before I begin laying on the paint. 

2. Laying in some of the background areas and masses of darkest value. 

3.  Continuing the block in with some color of the objects working from the darks and working with transparent colors to keep shadow areas "full of subtle variety".

4.  Starting to create volume in the forms by adding middle value and beginning to layer with more opaque color.

5.  Most of the canvas is covered now.  I have to start making judgements on where to soften and where to add more detail.  Sharp edges, soft edges.  Looking for the areas of detail that will lead the viewer's eye where I want them to go.   

6.  Here you see as the details are being played with.  I like to give enough information to describe the flowers, but not too much or the painting loses its vibrancy. It is a continual add and subtract, harden and soften process until I feel satisfied with what the painting has said.

Hope you find this interesting and perhaps educational.  No two paintings require exactly the same steps.....each painting needs to be looked at as it's own individual work.  You must allow yourself the freedom to let instinct flow.  Listen to that inner voice, and don't be afraid to be bold!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Apricot Daylilies

Apricot Daylilies
18x24  oil on linen
I blocked this one in using the negative space around the objects.  By doing this I helped to avoid that idea we have in our minds eye about how a flower is supposed to look.  Instead I closely watched the shapes and created much more interesting flowers.  This set up was predominately dark so I also found that I could cover most of the canvas by blocking in the larger masses and leaving the lighter objects for later in the process.
I really loved the flowing composition and wanted to keep the brushwork loose to keep that sense of casualness.  Like the flowers were just kind of falling all over the place in a sort of "controlled" abandon!
  Thanks for taking time to view my painting!