A paintings is rather like rocket ship – different stages as it takes off.
I did this in yesterday afternoon’s class, trying to focus on both light and dark, warm and cool. Acrylics seem like a rather unforgiving medium insofar as they dry quickly and can have very hard edges. That makes it a bit of a challenge for someone like me who prefers blending and mushing painting. It took me a bit to figure out how to do it.
The fun thing about an art class is the class members and seeing how they paint. Perceptions and styles are all so individualistic. Naturally you prefer this to that, but admiration for an individual’s work doesn’t mean you have to copy them. Add to this, people are so full of information and stories, and this adds to the value of their art – you get to know them.
So, this may be put off for a few days as I have some other things I need to do – and it never hurts to take a break. I hope I don’t start more than one painting at a time, though, as then I will fall into my habit of UFOs lying around, sobbing for attention.
Back to “Tanglewood” – done already in gouache and watercolor and pastels. Now it is time to do it in acrylic! (If you want to see these, and the photo, click on the tag “Tanglewood”.)
Here I decided to work on setting up values – light and dark, warm and cool. I thought it might be fun to set up areas in complementary colors, but who knows. The whole thing could end up very odd looking, certainly for me and my boring outlook and driveness to reality. I am seeing this as an adventure. The photograph itself is rather dark and murky.
Colors used on Fredrix canvas pad are cobalt blue, Naples yellow, quinacridone magenta, and zinc white. These are applied atop 2 layers of gesso and then a substrate of yellow ochre mixed with Marigold (Holbein’s cadmium orange).
Today I followed along with a YouTube video by Will Kemp. I rather like his online presence and instructions – what I have done so far. He’s low key, explains, demos. What more could you ask for?
Kemp’s apple is much nicer than mine. He paints his apple over a series of 2 short videos, beginning with laying in a background, upon the gessoed canvas, of yellow ochre and cadmium yellow light. From there, the painting begins, with the colors in the study being raw umber, ultramarine blue, white, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow light, and cadmium red light at the very end.
Here is my study, following along with Will. I think the yellow ochre – cadmium yellow underpainting adds a nice warmth to the painting. Two brushes, a filbert and a small round, were used to create this painting. Only water was used to thin the paint.
After doing Will’s study, I decided to do it again, but without using the underpainting colors.
No underpainting made for a different sense of color. By accident, I pickedup some of the cadmium red when mixing the upper background, so I just kept it. The lower part, upon which the apple rests, is burnt umber, white, and ultramarine. I made this apple more green than yellow, and applied the paint heavily, mixing it with matte medium. At the end, I used my finger tip to mush the colors together as the brush kept picking up the colors beneath, even though I had dried it.
My hair dryer may or may not be the best thing to use for acrylics, but these are studies, so not important! Both of these are painted on Arteza primed 8×10 canvas panels.
I deliberately chose to use only water, as Kemp did, in the first painting, and then only matte medium in the second. Both had their plus and minus points. Making a glaze out of the paint with either media is not easy – the colors are not really easy to blend well before applying. That is why I mushed things together with my finger on the second painting. I will need to study glazing a bit – read up on it to learn more.
Simple but effective studies to learn more about paint, as well as various techniques, such as underpainting, glazing, and so on. Of course, just doing and not setting out with the goal of a masterpiece, to have fun, makes it all worth while.
This past spring in California has been one of the most stunning I can recall. A long period of rain, extending deep into May, produced a situation in which flowers bloomed, and bloomed, and bloomed. There are still traces of colors – golds and yellows mostly – on the hills when normally the color is beige and dead. The richness of the wildflowers made the landscape, whether on the hills or under the trees, in the meadows or alongside the freeway, a wonderland of color. I am still sorting out photos and memories as sources for paintings.
This is an underpainting for the gouache painting I did today. Wildflowers under the oak trees along a local trial – lupines, wild cucumber, white and yellow flowers of known and unknown species. Here, a la James Gurney, I decided to do an underpainting using casein paints. He suggests casein as the underpainting as it cannot be picked up, as can an underpainting of gouache, once it dries. It primes the paper, too. While the smell is rather gross, the substrate it creates is stable and I rather liked using it, not just for what it did for the paper, but to lay in some values as well.
From there, I moved into remembering – thin layers to thick in gouache, building to lighter colors and thicker layers as you move along. I’ve watched a number of videos on YouTube to get a sense of the process. In particular, I have enjoyed the videos on gouache by Sarah Burns. It’s rather strange to me, but it worked out. Below is a painting of blue-eyed grass and white flowers under the oak trees in this stunning California spring.
This is by far the painting which took the most time to produce. There was – gasp! – actual forethought and planning done. Can you believe it? Does that mean I’m progressing or something?!?
Anyway, what I did was consider what I wanted to see. I also thought about some things I have observed other watercolorists do, namely underpainting. I also have been reading and seeing many painters lay out light colors, in a general way, move into medium washes with perhaps more detail, darker areas, and finally the details. This is what I did, but, before painting, I put down a lot of frisket in the shape of dots. Then, the first pale layer of wash. Between the third and fourth photos, I did more frisket. Dots again, but I also used a toothbrush for splatter, and drew lines over the green washes, to retain colors. Then the fourth layer. At that point I stopped for the night.
This morning, I rather knew what I wanted to do. I laid down a pale wash over the grassy areas of quinacridone gold and sap green. It was necessary to pull the grasses together. Finally, I removed the frisket and did a bunch of details complete the painting. Total time – about 5 hours! All of it was fun, and not a lot of frustration. I think because I took time, and because I am less “serious” about my stuff (knowing it won’t be what I envision) really helps.
Below, a gallery of the steps I took in the painting, if you are interested in the process.