Changing in Milan (14 x 21 watercolor) Reserved
In our month long odyssey to Europe last year we had only one really long travel day, but it was a dozy. We left London in morning to take the train to Paris. We boarded the train without a hitch and ate lunch as we emerged from the channel tunnel in France. We walked the streets and had dinner in Paris. Then we boarded the night train Milan.
I’ve heard mixed reviews of the night train, but it did well for us. Our cabin mate was a gorgeous young Frenchmen who man managed to be both chivalrous and bashful at the same time. The cabin was spacious and the bunks comfortable. We agreed to an early bedtime and all fell asleep easily. Which is surprising because the trip was tinged with worry because Italy was scheduled for a railway strike, and we intended to go on from Milan to Rome.
So it was with some relief that we arrived in Milan in the wee hours to discover our connection to Rome was still on the board. Relief and time to enjoy the beauty of the modern railway station with the morning sun lighting up the tracks’ exit to the greater world.
Alley Shortcut (10 x 14 watercolor) SOLD
I drove into Corvallis a little early a couple mornings ago and spent the extra time before opening the gallery taking pictures of downtown. The sun was out, but it had just recently rained and the streets were still wet. The light was gorgeous. This little alley is just a couple blocks from Art in the Valley. The reflected light running up the damp pavement caught my eye.
I used a limited palate, but not as limited as my last cityscape: cobalt blue, phthalo blue, raw sienna and quinacridone brown madder. The vast bulk of the painting is brown madder and phthalo blue.
[This painting sold February 23rd 2012, but you may still purchase a print from Fine Art America.]
Foggy Morning on the Columbia (watercolor on paper 12 x 16) $175.00
These are two paintings I did at the gallery in late September in preparation for a workshop with Karen Vernon. Karen, best known for her huge floral paintings on clayboard. My primary goal for the workshop was to learn to paint on clayboard. So the week prior to the workshop I painted the same scene twice, once on cold pressed paper and once on Ampersand’s Aquabord.
The first painting I did conventionally painting from light to dark and reserving the whites without masking. Some of the fog is lifted, some of it is reserved. I used a very restricted pallet of burnt sienna, cobalt blue, phthalo blue and new gamgee.
Foggy Morning on the Columbia (watercolor on aquabord 8 x 10) $60.00
For the second painting I added dioxon purple to my palette. I proceeded once more from light to dark getting to know the new surface. The first thing I discovered is that the surface has to be bone dry to accept an over glaze. The second thing I discovered is that it’s very hard to lay down an even wash on the clay surface. On the other hand lifting is very easy. Rather than reserved the whites, I lifted them after the painting was almost completed. The result is softer than the watercolor painted version.
In class I learned that the trick to even washes on clayboard is to saturate the surface and let the water soak all the way through the clay part of the board before beginning. Over glazes require that the board be thoroughly dry. A hair dryer is an absolute must for working with clayboard.
The workshop turned out to be a fantastic experience. I will be detailing so of the lessons learned in the coming blog entries as well as posting the paintings I started in class.
The clayboard version of the painting is protected with a clear satin polymer varnish and may be framed with or without glass.
These paintings are currently for sale on line at my Etsy shop.
Wyoming Glow (watercolor 15 x 18 inches) $225
Back to Wyoming in the morning. I used the same reference photo for this painting as I did for my last pastel. I didn’t mess the seasons this time but it looks like spring rather than summer to me. That’s because it’s been such a wet year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Wyoming so green. The early morning sun on the grass was simply spectacular.
The problem for me was not to lose the forest in the trees. It’s much too easy to get mesmerized by detail and try to paint every tree. Yet the painting must still suggest individual trees and I wanted the emphasis to remain on the sunlit grass. My solution this time was to eliminate detail by using a big brush. The entire painting is done with a number 14 round brush (about three eights of an inch at the shank but coming to a fairly tight point).* Usually I work in numbers 12, 10, 8 and finish with 6 (the smaller the number the smaller the brush).
I did not use mask either. Painting carefully around the lights rather than reserving them with mask forced me to keep them big.
I also used a fairly limited palette: winsor purple, phthalo blue, cobalt blue, quinacridone gold, and burnt sienna. This not only helped unify the painting, but helped me concentrate on big shapes.
But I have my husband to thank for the key to this painting. He came upstairs and looked at it in progress.
“But where would I put the detail?”
“I don’t know.”
Stephen is not good at seeing what to do to a painting, but he’s very good at seeing problems. It pays to listen to him. I thought about it. One classic maneuver is to put a lot of detail into the foreground. I used that approach with my pastel. But my painting was already too abstract to allow much real detail in the foreground. In the end I did two things. I added texture to the foreground and sharpened up the trees just where they intruded on the distant grass at the center of interest. Together the changes created instant depth.
*Actually, I used one other brush, but only for my signature. For that I used a number 2 rigger. Riggers are very long thin brushes designed to make long thin continuous lines without having to repeatedly re-dip then in paint. The name comes from their usefulness in painting sail rigging.
This painting is currently for sale on line at my Etsy shop. Or purchase a print.
Autumn Landscape of the Mind (pastel 12 x 17) SOLD
This pastel is based loosely on a photo I took just east of Tetons National Park in Wyoming. The early morning light made the grass glow almost yellow against the darker hills. I drove my family slightly batty stopping the car over and over to take yet another picture of light on the hills. I was actually pleased when when had to wait twenty minutes twice for construction. I liked this view in particular because of the way the beckons you in.
But my pastel could hardly feel less like early Wyoming summer. It seems we’ve never quite gotten summer here in Oregon this year and my mind has moved right along to fall. So I went where my mind is, and left June behind, converting dying pines into turning foliage and taking the grass even further yellow. But I left the morning light.
Working on the rough side of peach colored Canson Mi-Teintes I used almost entirely soft pastels. Only the foreground grass went in in hard pastel. The shadows in the grass are more soft pastel.
The blues, greens and oranges came very naturally. I added a few hints of purple in the shadows to set of the yellow grass.
This painting has sold, but you may purchase a print through my gallery at Fine Art America.
Georgia in the Morning
I am now offering many of my paintings as greeting cards through Fine Art America. The cards are 5 x 7 inches and can be printed blank or with a custom message inside. A single card costs $5.45. In packs of ten they are $2.95 each or $29.50 per pack. In packs of 25 they are $2.25 each or $56.25 per pack.
Winter Morning Solitude II (10 x 16) SOLD-Prints Available
This is an early morning in February on Agate Beach, Oregon. The light isn’t sunrise but it’s reflection in the Western sky.
The painting is all broad washes and wet into wet. I began by masking the white water. Then I painted in the reflection of the sunrise with yellow ochre into which I dropped rose madder quinacridone. While that dried I washed the sand and rocks with raw sienna, followed by burnt sienna, followed by raw umber, followed by cobalt blue. I finished the sky wet into wet with mixes of Prussian blue, cobalt blue and burnt sienna. The ocean is cobalt blue and burnt sienna. The rocks are burnt sienna followed by burnt umber followed by cobalt blue.
Purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.