Technique

Idea-Sketchbook Archives: Daniel Sprick Workshop

By nature, I am an obsessive note taker. I have piles of “idea-sketchbooks” and every so often I will pull out an old one and read through my notes.

Recently I was reading through an idea-sketchbook from January 2013 and I came across my notes from a Daniel Sprick workshop I took at Studio Incamminati. I want to share some notes I wrote down during the workshop describing Daniel’s methodology and thought process.

Creative Process: Oil Sketches

Creative Process: Oil Sketches

“Expression implies emphasis and selection”

I am not sure where I first came across this quote, however I had it posted in my studio for several years to remind me daily of this idea. To me the idea that “expression implies emphasis and selection” is what the creative process is all about. 

In order to synthesize my experience into a work of art, I need to investigate it and then choose how I will express my interpretation of the scene. 

Why I Teach Painting Classes

Why I Teach Painting Classes

When I first started painting with oil in late 2006, I struggled to understand and apply everything about the medium all at once, but when I switched my mindset from having to focus on everything all together to narrowing my attention to mastering one fundamental of painting at a time, things really began to take off for me.

Before that time, each painting experience had the potential of becoming emotionally discouraging and also a disaster in outcome, you know, making a bunch of mud. And in the beginning, the time I had to devote to learning to paint was precious, because I was still working as a full-time architect.

Cerulean (PB 35 or PB 36)

Cerulean (PB 35 or PB 36) Information: Semi-Opaque to Opaque depending on the manufacturer’s pigment Handling Characteristics: a beautiful, lower strength pigment that mixes well alone with white, and with most every pigment on my palette.

Cerulean blue is one of my favorite oil colors and I always have it out and use it often.

Each manufacturer mills their cerulean blue differently, so for one manufacturer cerulean may be an opaque paint, and where another may be semi-opaque. Even with this difference from manufacturer to manufacturer, I love incorporating this pigment into my paint mixtures.

What I value most about this oil color is its soft blue that leans towards green. It is a granular pigment that mixes in a muted way with other more fine-grained pigments, such as quinacridone rose or viridian. And when cerulean is mixed with earth pigments, it will make lustrous and soft grays (mixed with umbers) or muted greens (mixed with ochres). I think an afternoon spent exploring and fiddling with different mixtures that cerulean can create is time well spent. (I wrote a blog post four plus years ago all about my cerulean favorite paint mixtures)

Because of the diversity and how manufacturers produce cerulean, I have found at times that I squeeze out as many as three different cerulean’s on my palette, this happened when I was working on the blue quilt in the double portrait of my daughter and her friend.

At other times, when I begin a painting, I think about what I want to achieve color-wise and decide before I start the painting which cerulean will best meet my painting goals. Currently I am working on a painting with a muted but lush background and only the semi-opaque, large grained quality of the Blue Ridge Cerulean will do because of its enabling properties to create the visual vibrations of broken color so well.

It is my belief that an artist must become intimately acquainted with each pigment used on their palette, this means you need to understand its physical and mixing properties, along with knowing if the pigment “plays well” with other pigments utilized on your palette. If a pigment is “bullying” in its staining and mixing traits I will shy away from using them regularly because it is so easy to go overboard and then my painting begins to be visually dominated with that specific color.

Cerulean is a color that “plays well” with all pigments. You can mix fantastic grays, purples, and greens on your palette with this pigment, and visually it also mixes well on the canvas when you lay a pure cerulean tint over a color saturated underlayer.

All in all, I just love working with cerulean.

Row 1: Name: Cerulean (PB 36) Manufacturer: Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors My Thoughts: The Vasari cerulean is made with PB 36, where all other manufacturers use PB 35. Because of this slight pigment difference the Vasari cerulean is a deeper more richly blue-green. It is one of the more finely grained cerulean’s, with an opaque covering effect. The colors straight from the tube is more reminiscent to me as the blue-green of a piquant feather--almost cobalt turquoise--that is just a smudge off from a purely saturated color, when comparing it to the other cerulean’s manufactured.

Even with its pure form being slightly desaturated, Vasari cerulean is a fantastic color to have at your disposal. I love how it is a bit more green than the other manufacturer’s cerulean blues and at times I will choose to use this cerulean just because it is such a stunning color and I just want to revel in its beauty and share it in the painting.

Row 2: Name: Cerulean (PB 35) Manufacturer: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors My Thoughts: The Williamsburg cerulean is made with PB 35, same to the other manufacturer examples except for Vasari. This cerulean is a fine-grained pigmently dense oil color that is a pure saturated middle-of-the-road blue-green cerulean. It is creamy and texture and mixes on the opaque site because it is so dense in pigments. I choose to use this in my painting when I want a slightly stronger effect and mixing power with other pigments.

It is a joy to use and I have so much fun when it is squeeze out on my palette.

Row 3: Name: Cerulean (PB 35) Manufacturer: Blue Ridge Oil Colors My Thoughts: The Blue Ridge Cerulean is also made with PB 35, and for the past five years it has been my predominant cerulean squeezed out on my palette. I discussed it exclusively in the blog post Favorite Paint Mixtures: Cerulean.

The reason why I like using this specific version of cerulean is because of its semi opaque characteristic and it’s somewhat larger grained granular texture. It is the closest version of cerulean in oil colors that handles like cerulean watercolor pigments handle. Because it is a bit more large grained than other manufacturers when you skim a layer of this cerulean over under layers of different colors you get the visual vibrations of broken color, the same visual effects the Impressionist strived for in their work, and something I personally also strive for in my paintings.

Due to its semi-opaques characteristic it is slightly weaker in mixing power with other pigments than the other cerulean manufacturers listed. However in this situation I like using it to my benefit in the visual effects I’m striving for.

Row 4: Name: Cerulean (PB 35) Manufacturer: Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors My Thoughts: the Gamblin cerulean is a very bright almost a royal blue. It mixes well and has good workability. I don’t often use the Gamblin cerulean because straight from the tube it is a bit lighter in value than the other manufacturers and I prefer starting with a slightly deeper in value cerulean when I need to use it straight.

Row 5: Name: Cerulean (PB 35) Manufacturer: Winsor and Newton Artists’ Oil Colors My Thoughts: The Winsor and Newton cerulean is another excellent cerulean choice, especially if you are seeking the semi-opaque mixing attributes. I used to use it exclusively prior to discovering the Blue Ridge cerulean. This cerulean is creamy and fine-grained and handles well.

In summary, I do not have an absolute favorite cerulean, but use them as I need for my painting goals.

……………………………… These articles about my color palette and the oil colors I use are the result of my experience and continued exploration. I have purchased all oil colors on my own and I have not received any reimbursement from the mentioned paint manufacturers or art supply stores. The usefulness and perceived attributes expressed here in these articles are my personal opinions. The oil color manufacturers that I will discuss in this series are: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors, Winsor and Newton Artists’ Oil Colors, Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours, Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors, Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors, Blue Ridge Oil Colors, Old Holland Classic Oil Colors and Rublev Colours-Natural Pigments.

Cadmium Lemon (PY 35 or PY 37)

Cadmium Lemon (PY 35 or PY 37) Information: Opaque Handling Characteristics: Cadmium Lemon is a saturated cool yellow with minor green undertones. Cadmium Lemon mixes well with other colors and white.

As I described in the first post that introduced the Cadmium Yellows, the naming of cadmium yellows is not unified and standardized, instead each manufacturer employs their own appellation to the variety of cadmium yellows they produce. I like to organize the cadmium yellows into three groups: Cadmium Yellow Deep Value, Cadmium Yellow Medium Value, and Cadmium Lemon (coolest and lightest value of the cadmium yellows).

Today I want to focus on the last grouping, Cadmium Lemon.

Cadmium Lemon is a color I always keep out on my palette and I value for its cool yellow color. I like how it is a powerful pigment, when mixing it with lead white to make a very pale tint a small amount goes far.

Cadmium Lemon is a great color to use in flesh tones (I like paring it with cool transparent reds). Another helpful aspect of this oil color is that as a pure color tint of Cadmium Lemon and Lead White, when laid on top of other layers of paint it visually blends and creates a sense of depth and form. This spectrum of cadmium yellow may not be used as often as the Cadmium Yellow Medium Value however it is a handy color to always have out and ready on your palette.

When mixing cadmium lemon, I find if you want to keep the mixture saturated it is better to choose colors that are cool in temperature. For example, if you want to mix cadmium lemon with a blue it’s a good idea to look at the blues on your palette and discern which of the blues are coolest in temperature. If you have three blues to choose from, cerulean, cobalt blue, and ultramarine blue, the coolest blue of these three is cerulean. By mixing cerulean blue with cadmium lemon your mixture will stay more saturated and pure in color. However if you would like to desaturate and mute the color mixture, the best choice is to select a warmer color. Using this example of blues, the warmest blue available is the ultramarine blue because it is a blue that has red undertones in it.

Row 1: Name: Cadmium Lemon (PY 35) Manufacturer: Winsor and Newton Artists’ Oil Colors My Thoughts: The Winsor and Newton Cadmium Lemon is an excellent basic cool yellow color with greenish undertones. It is dense in pigments and mixes well while staying open on the palette for a long period of time. A tube of cadmium lemon from Windsor Newton will last a long time even when you always have some squeezed out on your palette. It mixes well with other colors and does a good job.

Row 2: Name: Cadmium Lemon (PY 35) Manufacturer: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors My Thoughts: The Williamsburg Cadmium Lemon is slightly warmer than the Windsor Newton, Michael Harding, and Gamblin versions. As you mix in white it cools down rapidly and makes for a very pale tint.

Row 3: Name: Cadmium Lemon (PY 35) Manufacturer: Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours My Thoughts: Recently I have been using the Michael Harding Cadmium Lemon and I really enjoy its handling properties. I believe it is slightly stronger in pigments than the Windsor Newton version and stays brilliant and clear and it’s pale cool yellow even in its palest mixtures. Creamy and soft in texture while maintaining its opacity makes this a lovely paint to work with.

Row 4: Name: Cadmium Lemon (PY 35) Manufacturer: Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors My Thoughts: The handling properties of Vasari paints are wonderful, they are lush and creamy. However the Vasari Cadmium Lemon color temperature is a tad warm (similar to the Williamsburg version) coming straight out of the tube, though it cools down quickly as it gets mixed with white.

Row 5: Name: Cadmium Lemon (PY 35) Manufacturer: Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors My Thoughts: It is my perception that the Gamblin Cadmium Lemon is the coolest yellow-green of my color scales. The oil color looks to be dense in pigments and handles and mixes well.  In my color scale gradient, the lightest tint is the least strong of the examples.

Row 6: Name: Cadmium Yellow Light (PY 35) Manufacturer: Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors My Thoughts: For these color swatch scales I include colors by similarity in the color spectrum, Gamblin’s Cadmium Yellow Light is a cool pale yellow almost identical in quality to the Williamsburg Cadmium Lemon and this is why I included this oil color in this grouping. The paint is dense in pigments and mixes well and if you do not have the Gamblin’s Cadmium Lemon you can substitute the Gamblin Cadmium Yellow Light.

Row 7: Name: Cadmium Yellow Medium (PY 37) Manufacturer: Blue Ridge Oil Colors My Thoughts: This oil color is also a cool yellow and is similar to the other Cadmium Lemon color swatches. This paint is not as dense in pigments as the others are, thus it is not as opaque as the other Cadmium Lemon versions are. I guess if a pale cool yellow that is semi-opaque is needed this would be a good solution an option.

In summary, my favorite Cadmium Lemon to use for its clear cool yellow is by Michael Harding followed by Winsor and Newton. I also like using the Vasari version for its creamy texture and ease of paint handling. ....................................

These articles about my color palette and the oil colors I use are the result of my experience and continued exploration. I have purchased all oil colors on my own and I have not received any reimbursement from the mentioned paint manufacturers or art supply stores. The usefulness and perceived attributes expressed here in these articles are my personal opinions.

The oil color manufacturers that I will discuss in this series are: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors, Winsor and Newton  Artists' Oil Colors, Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours, Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors, Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors, Blue Ridge Oil Colors, Old Holland Classic Oil Colors and Rublev Colours-Natural Pigments.

Cadmium Yellow Medium Value (PY 35 or PY 37)

Cadmium Yellow Medium Value (PY 35 or PY 37) Information: Opaque Handling Characteristics: Cadmium Yellow Medium Value is a rich saturated yellow and lies in the middle of the yellow color spectrum. Not too cold or too warm in color temperature and overall a lovely and versatile yellow to keep on the palette.

As I described in the first post that introduced the Cadmium Yellows, the naming of cadmium yellows is not unified and standardized, instead each manufacturer employs their own appellation to the variety of cadmium yellows they produce. I like to organize the cadmium yellows into three groups: Cadmium Yellow Deep Value, Cadmium Yellow Medium Value, and Cadmium Lemon (coolest and lightest value of the cadmium yellows).

Today I want to focus on the middle grouping, Cadmium Yellow Medium Value.

Cadmium Yellow Medium is a versatile color to have out. I use it for almost every painting in some manner. When mixing flesh tones, often cadmium yellow medium value is my base yellow mixed with cadmium Vermilion and quinacridone rose to create my initial warm flesh tone. If I’m working on a floral piece, I will use cadmium yellow medium to paint the petals of the flowers and to mix the greens for the leaves and stems. I do not like using green colors straight from the tube to paint green vegetation, instead I prefer to mix the colors as I want as this enables the greatest level of variety and nuance.

Cadmium Yellow Medium Value is an opaque pigment, so it is inherently strong in its tinting strength and can be used to great effect in many different paint applications. It works great when using a strong broken color methodology such as the Impressionist used. Or you can create visual depth and nuance when you lay in a cadmium yellow mixture into a previously laid down layer of transparent paint, playing with the visual effects of transparent and opaque paint passages.

Row 1 Name: Cadmium Yellow Lt (PY 37) Manufacturer: Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors My thoughts: Cadmium Yellow Light manufactured by Vasari is a lush and densely pigmented oil color. It has a smooth and creamy texture and mixes well. This oil color is made with PY 37 which tends to be slightly cooler in color temperature than PY 35.

Row 2: Name: Cadmium Yellow Medium (PY 35) Manufacturer: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors My thoughts: the Williamsburg Cadmium Yellow Medium oil color is another lush and densely pigmented paint, it stays open for a long period of time which is helpful. I like it’s warm color temperature and mixing capacity. I also like how it mixes when painting flesh tones, as I tend to jump around exploring the different paint manufacturers, when I paint portraits sketches I like to squeeze out this cadmium yellow.

Row 3: Name: Cadmium Yellow (PY 35) Manufacturer: Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours My thoughts: My gut feeling about the Michael Harding Cadmium Yellow oil color is that it is a softer to handle, more creamy paint than the Williamsburg version. However they are close to identical in mixing even though straight from the tube the Michael Harding is a touch deeper in value than the Williamsburg, it almost matches Vasari and Gamblin “straight from the tube” color swatch. Another attribute of the Michael Harding oil color is that it also stays open on the palette for a very long time. Staying open is a feature that I particularly value in the paint I use because I paint almost every day and like to minimize the amount of time I need to dedicate to peeling off the hardened film on the oil colors on my palette. This may be a minor inconvenience, however it goes along way in earning my favor.

Row 4: Name: Cadmium Yellow Medium (PY 37) Manufacturer: Blue Ridge Oil Colors My thoughts: Personally, I have been disappointed with The Blue Ridge Cadmium Yellows. I have such positive impressions of this manufacturer's different blues (such as cerulean blue, cobalt blue, cobalt turquoise, and ultramarine blue) that a few years ago I purchased this manufacturers cadmium yellow range. My impression is that these oil colors are not as dense in pigments as other manufacturers make cadmium yellows. I have to go through 2 to 3 times the amount of volume of paint in order to attain the same mixing quality, and this bothers me. Other than that these paints do handle well, I like how soft and cream the they are but I do not use them often.

Row 5: Name: Cadmium Yellow Pale (PY 35) Manufacturer: Winsor and Newton Artists’ Oil Colors My thoughts: The Windsor and Newton Cadmium Yellow Pale was the initial paint manufacturer I used because this is the manufacturer that my mentor uses. I enjoy using this paint however I have shifted away from this version because as the paint is mixed with lead white to a very pale tint the yellow shifts cool in color temperature, almost achieving a cadmium lemon color temperature. When I am using a cadmium yellow medium value oil color I want it to stay warmer in color temperature and not to shift into the cool greenish-yellow tones of cadmium lemon.

Row 6: Name: Cadmium Yellow Medium (PY 37) Manufacturer: Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors My thoughts: This version Cadmium Yellow Medium by Gamblin is a warm cadmium yellow that stays warm even in its lightest tints. It mixes well and is a dense pigment oil color, however I do not tend to use Gamblin oil colors often because I am not crazy about how they age on my palette, to me they film over and get tough after a while which makes me have to scrape off and squeeze out more paint then I would have to with other versions. This oil color is also made up of PY 37.

In summary, my favorite oil paint for Cadmium Yellow Medium Value is one made with PY 35, and for handling qualities it is a tossup between whether I use the Williamsburg oil color or the Michael Harding one.

....................................

These articles about my color palette and the oil colors I use are the result of my experience and continued exploration. I have purchased all oil colors on my own and I have not received any reimbursement from the mentioned paint manufacturers or art supply stores. The usefulness and perceived attributes expressed here in these articles are my personal opinions.

The oil color manufacturers that I will discuss in this series are: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors, Winsor and Newton  Artists' Oil Colors, Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours, Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors, Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors, Blue Ridge Oil Colors, Old Holland Classic Oil Colors and Rublev Colours-Natural Pigments.

My Full-Color Palette: Cadmium Yellows

Over the next few weeks, I will cover the different cadmium yellows I like to use.

Each manufacturer has a different naming convention with regard to cadmium yellow. What one manufacturer would call cadmium yellow, another manufacturer will call the same visual color, cadmium yellow deep and another manufacturer may use the term cadmium yellow medium. Because of this variety in the naming conventions of cadmium yellow, I mentally divide my cadmium yellows into three categories: 1) cadmium lemon, 2) cadmium yellow (light or middle value), and 3) cadmium yellow deep (or darker than the middle range of cadmium yellows), with a subcategory in cadmium yellow deep for almost orange cadmium yellows.

Each of these three divisions of cadmium yellow has a place on my palette. I will describe them each in turn, starting with cadmium yellow deep.

My initial color swatches of the cadmium yellows.

Cadmium Yellow Deep Value (PY-Varies)

Cadmium Yellow Deep Value (PY-Varies) Information: Opaque Handling Characteristics: Cadmium Yellow Deep is a rich saturated yellow, warm in color temperature and overall a lovely and versatile yellow to keep on the palette.

In the spring time Cadmium Yellow Deep is an important color to keep on the palette because so many spring flowers are a deep saturated yellow.

In general, I always keep this color out and available, and because I love this color for its rich pigment-dense quality it is important to always be thinking about how to best mix it with other colors. So, there are times when control and moderation must be utilized, or else you will over power the color mixture you are striving for.

I have heard that Salvador Dali did not like using the cadmium yellows because they can be so powerful. Cadmium yellow deep can be overpowering and it is important to always use caution when mixing with this color. When I need to employ control with cadmium yellow deep, I will often dip my paint brush into the pure paint puddle, but before taking this paint and applying it directly to my paint mixture, I will daub the paint brush in a clear space on my palette, right next to the paint mixture puddle, and slowly introduce the cadmium yellow into the mixture. This is the best way to control overly strong pigments and guaranteeing that they do not overwhelm what you are trying to accomplish.

Row 1: Name: Cadmium Yellow Deep (PY 35) Manufacturer: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors My thoughts: Recently (like in early 2017) the Williamsburg cadmium yellow deep has become my preferred manufacturer to use. I enjoy its dense pigment, smooth workability, and how even when mixed into a very pale tint the color mixture remains in the warm-yellow color spectrum. This oil color stays open for a long time and over all it is just a fun color to keep out. Especially during the springtime and all the varieties of daffodils and forsythia are in bloom.

Row 2: Name: Cadmium Yellow (PY 35) Manufacturer: Winsor and Newton My thoughts: The Winsor and Newton cadmium yellow is another favorite of mine. I like it’s mixture, it is pigment-dense and uses safflower oil as its vehicle. This makes the paint stay open for a very long time on the palette.

Row 3: Name: Cadmium Yellow (PY 37) Manufacturer: Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors My thoughts: In the autumn of 2016, I had the good fortune to experiment with the Vasari cadmium yellow. I fell in love with its texture and quality, I especially enjoyed its smooth buttery consistency. In its purest form out of the tube, it is my opinion that the color is a cooler and a smidge less saturated than the Williamsburg cadmium yellow deep tints. As this oil color is mixed with lead white the color mixture becomes more vibrant and almost a saturated as the Williamsburg cadmium yellow deep. The Vasari cadmium yellow is slightly cooler in color temperature, however this lends itself well in some paint applications, such as painting lemons, and probably does not make any significant change for other paint applications.

Row 4: Name: cadmium yellow deep (PO 20, PY 35) Manufacturer: Winsor and Newton My thoughts: If ever I squeeze out the Windsor Newton cadmium yellow deep, I will place it right beside my cadmium orange. In fact there have been times when I have use this color instead of my cadmium orange, especially if I am working on a painting where the light is particularly saturated and golden, such as when painting during the “golden hour”. This is a very nice convenience mixture to have, however there aren’t many times when it is specifically needed, so I keep a tube of this paint available as a in special cases only, such as when I’m painting pumpkins, terra-cotta pots, or special hybrid daffodils that have particularly dark-orange center coronas.

Row 5: Name: Cadmium Yellow Orange (PO 20) Manufacturer: Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors My thoughts: This is another Vasari color I got to experiment with in the autumn of 2016, and I really enjoyed it. At times when keeping this oil color out on my palette, I would not bother with putting out cadmium orange, because this was so versatile. This color makes some particularly beautiful light value tints, colors that are just fun to mix and see where I can incorporate them into a painting. Like all Vasari oil colors, the mixture is pigment dense and creamy to handle, a pure pleasure to use.

In summary, my favorite cadmium yellow deep oil color is made by Williamsburg, and for special times I also like to have the Vasari cadmium yellow orange available.

Here is an image of my original swatches I did of the cadmium yellows before I began to make the graduated swatches. As you can see, the colors and names were all over the board. You also get a preview of Naples Yellow. /> ....................................

These articles about my color palette and the oil colors I use are the result of my experience and continued exploration. I have purchased all oil colors on my own and I have not received any reimbursement from the mentioned paint manufacturers or art supply stores. The usefulness and perceived attributes expressed here in these articles are my personal opinions.

The oil color manufacturers that I will discuss in this series are: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors, Winsor and Newton  Artists' Oil Colors, Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours, Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors, Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors, Blue Ridge Oil Colors, Old Holland Classic Oil Colors and Rublev Colours-Natural Pigments.

Cadmium Vermilion/Cadmium Scarlet (PR 108)

Cadmium Vermilion/Cadmium Scarlet (PR – 108) Information: opaque, lightfast Handling Characteristics: Saturated red with a shift towards orange when used purely and when mixed with other pigments.

Cadmium Vermilion is one of my favorite warm opaque reds to use. I feel as if I use this color in all my paintings in some form or another.

Like Cadmium red medium it mixes well with other colors, either in two color or three color mixtures, and can make beautiful skin tones. Personally, I find cadmium vermilion to be essential for glowing flesh tones.

Cadmium Vermilion is also important for mixing a variety of grays, when mixed with blues or greens the grays of silver and pewter are captured.

My experience with Cadmium Vermilion, sometimes called Cadmium Scarlet (PR 108), comes from using three different manufacturers’ versions. Each version is a range of warm, orange-ish, medium opaque red. You’ll see from my swatch card that in the fourth row I have included Gamblin’s Cadmium Red Light (PR 108) also. This is because Gamblin’s Cad. Red Light really falls in to the same spectrum as the Cadmium Vermilion examples.

Row 1: Name: Cadmium Vermilion (PR 108) Manufacturer: Blue Ridge Oil Colors My thoughts: Of this range of warm reds, Blue Ridge,s Cadmium Vermilion is one of my favorite oil colors to use. The first reason is because it is almost a spot on color of the red petals of an oriental poppy. Then also because it is so lush, and I particularly like how the color shifts to a pretty delightful salmon pink tone when mixed with whites. Also with this specific oil color, if you mix it down to a very, very light tint you are able to re-create the Old Holland color, Brilliant Yellow-Reddish, a color I used to always keep out on my palette until I realized it is so easy to mix with lead white and cadmium vermilion.

Row 2: Name: Cadmium Vermilion (PR 108) Manufacturer: Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors My thoughts: the Williamsburg version of Cadmium Vermilion is another favorite of mine, it starts out more red than the Blue Ridge version, thus as it tints down it maintains a pink-ish quality, however there is still enough of a touch of orange in this color that makes it nice to work with.

Row 3: Name: Cadmium Scarlet (PR 108) Manufacturer: Winsor and Newton Artists Oil Colors My thoughts: During my first years of learning how to paint with oils, the Winsor and Newton Cadmium Scarlet was my orangey-red I kept out on my palette. It was the one my mentor, Danni Dawson, used and I did not switch until I began to be curious about other paint manufacturers and what they offered. After trying the Blue Ridge and Williamsburg versions, I quit using the Winsor and Newton one.

Row 4: Name: Cadmium Red Light (PR 108) Manufacturer: Gamblin My thoughts: I have not explored as much with the Gamblin color on this swatch card, however because I had some of this paint I wanted to place it in its place in relationship to my other colors.

Overall, it is a tossup for me in whether I choose to use the Blue Ridge or Williamsburg oil color. For several years I have been only using the Blue Ridge version, however when they had the fire in their factory a year ago and I ran low on my cadmium vermilion, I began using the Williamsburg version a bit more. I find if I start a painting with one version, I prefer to finish the painting with that version. I don’t switch back and forth between manufacturers when painting, especially if I am using the cadmium vermilion for flesh tones, it just becomes too tricky.

Here is an image of my original swatches I did of the cadmium reds and oranges before I began to make the graduated swatches. ....................................

These articles about my color palette and the oil colors I use are the result of my experience and continued exploration. I have purchased all oil colors on my own and I have not received any reimbursement from the mentioned paint manufacturers or art supply stores. The usefulness and perceived attributes expressed here in these articles are my personal opinions.

My Full-Color Palette

Today I am starting a series of articles that will focus on the individual oil colors that make up the full-color palette I use on a regular basis.

You may wonder why I have so many colors on my palette and why I do not use a limited color palette. This is because I have chosen to paint with oils in the colorist tradition of striving to capture the visual impression of color and light, versus focusing mostly on depicting form and letting color play a minor role in my artistic expression. By using the colorist methodology of painting, I have found that I need the most saturated version of the colors available, I then have the option to desaturate my mixtures as the situation in the painting warrants. Some of the oil colors on my palette are pure pigments and others are convenience mixtures.

Let me share a bit about my painting process. I use layers of color tints (one or two colors mixed with white) to build up the three-dimensional illusion of space, mass, and value in my paintings. Often I start with pure, intensely saturated color tints, and then refine and desaturate these initial layers of color as the painting evolves by laying additional layers of paint on top of previous layers. I look for color compliments and ways to enhance the visual impression of color and light in my paintings, however I also strive to always maintain a strong feeling of form in my work. This means that modeling and getting the values accurate is equally important to me as it is for accurately capturing the color passages in my paintings.

Because when you’re painting you are using a physical thing, pigment suspended in linseed oil or another medium, some colors do not mix like they are expected to if you follow the rules of color theory and because of that some pigments/oil colors are better than others when working and interacting with other oil colors.

As part of my studio practice I believe in exploration and experimenting with my results and testing what different oil colors interact with others. In this past year I have decided to go back, really investigate the oil colors I use on a regular basis. In the beginning of this investigation, I just painted out a pure from the tube swatch next to a 50/50 mixture of the paint with white and labeled them. Quickly I realized this was not providing me with enough information that I was seeking, so I began to make graduated scaled swatches of each color.

These upcoming articles are my way of organizing and listing out all of the relevant information I know about them. All information is derived from my own experience. I will also share tips and opinions about why certain pigments have a constant place on my daily palette. I will be comparing paints from different manufacturers and I’ll explain which one I prefer and why.

This is going to be a long series of articles and I hope to post a new article each week. However at times, lulls in the frequency may occur, so I hope you will be patient. These articles on the oil colors that make up my color palette is something I’ve been working on already since June 2016 and I look forward to sharing with you some of the discoveries I have found.

So let’s start with a list of the colors I keep on my palette all the time.

This is my daily full-color palette set up. The first column of color swatches are the oil colors straight from the tube. For the next columns (two through five) I mix different whites I use on a regular basis with each color. In each of these columns, for each of the color tints, I tried to mix consistent volumes of white with pigment. This way it would be easier to discern the pigment density of each color and the tinting strength of the whites. The second column of color swatches are made with a mixture of Rublev’s Lead White#1. The third column uses Rublev’s Venetian White. The fourth column uses Gamblin’s Titanium White, and the fifth column uses Williamsburg’s Zinc Buff White. (Eventually I will have an article that is just dedicated to the different whites I use, these four whites are just a few of what I explore and work with.

I know that there are many colors out there, however for this project, the oil colors I personally use and have explored are going to be written about. It is my goal with this project to share with others what I have learned from the different oil colors out there, hopefully you learn something as well and make better and more specific decisions about the oil colors you choose for yourself.

Let’s begin (in no specific order) with a color from my palette.

Cadmium Vermilion/Cadmium Scarlet (PR 108) Cadmium Orange (PO 20) Cadmium Yellow Deep (PY-varies) Cadmium Yellow Medium Value (PY35 or PY 37) Cadmium Lemon(PY35 or PY 37)

Creative Process: Bittersweet, 32 x 40 inches

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Bittersweet by Elizabeth Floyd, 32 x 40 inches, oil on linen

Bittersweet

The idea behind this painting had been floating around in my mind for more than two years before I was finally ready to begin in November 2015. I knew the subject matter would require a large painting surface and I must admit I was a bit intimidated by the idea of painting a life-size painting in the level of detail I imagined.

I am glad I allowed the idea to percolate and develop, because I am so happy with how this painting turned out.

I wanted a painting that was as big as possible while also maintaining the intimate feel of the delicate vine. By my nature, I am drawn to intricate patterns and details, the more delicate and nuanced, the more my mind wants to engage. So I wanted this painting to be an exploration of layering the textures and patterns created by the setup. Included in this painting is a Turkman rug that has beautiful deep reds, blacks, and blues, where some of the reds almost shift into purple tones. I was drawn to include it as my background because it complements the yellows and oranges of the bittersweet. The split-oak basket was an object I have wanted to paint for along time, I had just never found a place for it in a composition. So overall this painting came together and I began painting it.

For the first two months that I worked on this painting, I had several fits and starts where I would have to scrape down everything I had worked on because it was just off. I do not have any photos of this era because I was so wrapped up with the painting process that I would forget to take photos. Around Christmas I took some time off from the studio. During this break, I thought about how I wanted to move forward and what I might have to change in order to accomplish my painting goals.

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-01 This is where the painting was when the new year rolled around, and I was now energized to tackle this painting.

The big change I incorporated into my studio habit to help me overcome the painting obstacles I previously encountered was to move my easel away from my viewpoint spot. Each time I actually painted, I needed to step 3-4 steps forward to paint, and then I would step back and compare the painting to actuality. This is similar to the sight-size painting method, but not really. I have really fallen in love with this method and have been using it on other paintings I am working on now.

Once things began to come together it was just a matter of working on the details and moving forward. The painting then came together rapidly.

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-02

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-03

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-04

20160202-002 Bittersweet WIP-05

Here is a detail of the finished painting.

20160202-002 Bittersweet 32x40 detail

Creative Process: Ring, Sparrow, Phoenix, 24 x 36 inches

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Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen

Ring, Sparrow, Phoenix

Last summer this painting was inspired by many ideas I had about marriage that were floating around in my head.

I had just acquired a vintage double wedding ring quilt at an estate sale and fell in love with its faded pastel colors and pattern. When I decided to develop a composition with this quilt, I was motivated to find objects that would support thoughts of love and marriage.

Of the different objects included in the painting, three specific items that symbolize and support my ideas of what makes a marriage strong and long lasting were:

Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen 1. My wedding band 2. The image of a sparrow on the Pennsylvania redware pitcher. Often a sparrow has been a symbol of industriousness, commitment, and hard work. 3. The image of a phoenix on the imari bowl. A phoenix is associated with the cycle of life, living, burning itself out only to rise from the ashes with renewed youth and vigor.

Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen

Other items were included as well, flowers from my early-summer garden, draped fabric, food and drink. I gathered these items, and began to assemble a complex composition with a lot of individual pieces, where a linear rhythm would predominate over my tendency to rely on color-masses to create unity.

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Here are photos of my process:

20150706-013 WIP ring-sparrow-phoenix-01 20150706-013 WIP ring-sparrow-phoenix-02 20150706-013 WIP ring-sparrow-phoenix-03 20150706-013 WIP ring-sparrow-phoenix-04 20150706-013 WIP ring-sparrow-phoenix-05 20150706-013 WIP ring-sparrow-phoenix-06

And here is a detail of the gaillardia flower bouquet Ring, Sparrow, Pheonix by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen

Creative Process: Late Summer Tomatoes, 36 x 30 inches

I am VERY wedded to my process of painting from life in natural light when I am working on a still-life painting. Sometimes this dedication to only painting from life can affect the development of a painting. This painting, “Late Summer Tomatoes” started out with sunflowers as the leading star, however a family emergency required me to stop work on the painting after the initial first week of work. This situation took me away from home for two weeks and in that time my sunflowers had bloomed out in my garden, leaving me in search of something else to incorporate into the setup from what my garden was producing when I returned to the studio.

Luckily for me, my tomatoes were especially productive and I decided to paint them again.

Here are some photos showing my painting process.

20150924-020 WIP01This image is taken from my first day of blocking in the composition.  As you can see, originally a basket full of sunflowers was going to be sitting on the green step stool.

20150924-020 WIP02 At the beginning of the second day of blocking in I realized that I needed to shift the stool down some in the painting, so began to work over the previous day's burnt umber block-in with lead white mixtures.

20150924-020 WIP03 Then I left for two weeks, and this was the chaos I returned to, with the sunflowers all bloomed out... My garden always gets overgrown and wild by the end of August.  I am painting so much that I do not have has much opportunity to keep the crazy growth in check, and I hate cutting back at this time because I want to maximize what I can paint from in September and October, and so many birds begin eating from the seed heads of the flowers I just feel guilty about cutting back the chaos until the last moment.  Sigh. How I wish there were more hours in the day during the summer...

And thank goodness my husband is patient with me and that we do not have a HOA, they would be bothering me like crazy around this time of year ;)

20150924-020 WIP04 When I got back home and into the studio, things were so crazy I did not photograph any of the earlier days.  But, you can see that I made a lot of progress on the quilt and stool along with the first block-in of the tomatoes.  To make the change easier after what I had painted in before the two week break, I laid down a middle gray value to simplify everything, it was easier to move forward without any of the previous composition still lingering.

20150924-020 WIP05 Further along with a big push focusing on the tomatoes.  The tomatoes began to ripen quickly in my studio, so I had to give them my whole attention for several days in a row.

20150924-020 WIP06 Getting closer to the finish line.... 20150924-020_Late-Summer-Tomatoes 36x30 The completed painting! Late Summer Tomatoes, 36 x 30 inches, oil on linen.

20150924-020 Late-Summer-Tomatoes detail A closeup of the tomatoes and stems.

WIP: Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates, 24 x 30 inches

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Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates

This is a painting where the idea of its basic composition was established in late 2014. I had worked on a vertical configuration of this compositional idea in November 2014, but in December 2014 I came down with pneumonia and let the original painting get put aside. Also the orchid that had been a part of the original composition had lost all its flowers. Then as the New Year (2015) came into being, all of my various amaryllis bulbs began to bloom. And with the blooming of my “apple blossom” amaryllis, I decided to revisit the composition. In assessing the original painting, I decided to change to orientation from vertical to horizontal.

After the initial block-in of the painting, I decided to focus on painting the amaryllis bloom. The other areas of the painting would last, while the flowers needed my immediate attention. As I have shared before, I prefer painting from life, even if this puts me under a bit more pressure in the race of completing the floral sections before they wilt and die. So on the first full day I had in the studio I dove in.

In fact, I worked on the amaryllis bloom for the time that Naomi was in preschool, typically I get 2-3 hours in the studio during this time and I had to stop mid-day to pick her up and deliver her to the babysitter so I could have the rest of the afternoon to paint. When I returned, I was able to look at my progress and setup with clear eyes. In analyzing what I had accomplished that morning and how it affected the composition, it came to me, that the painting would display the amaryllis bloom best if I turned the flower 180-degrees. So I scraped down what I had laid-in that morning and began again.

20150302-002 WIP Pomegranates-01

{the amaryllis bloom in its first position}

20150302-002 WIP Pomegranates-02

{the amaryllis bloom in its second and final position, with my initial colors laid down}

20150302-002 WIP Pomegranates-03

{the amaryllis bloom with some of its surrounding background}

One of the truths of being an artist I hold is it never hurts to scrape down and begin again. Invariably the next go-round will be better and come more easily than the previous try, and I will feel better about the final outcome of the painting.

After revising the orientation of the flowers, I worked on areas of the painting choosing to jump around depending on the amount of uninterrupted studio time I had to dedicate.

Here are some detail images of the final painting:

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

Still Life with Amaryllis and Pomegranates by Elizabeth Floyd, detail of 24 x 30 inches  - oil on linen

...................................................................... Framed Painting {24" x 30" – oil on linen} ......................................................................

WIP: Created with Love, Final Phase

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Created with Love

Created with Love

Created with Love, my first painting of 2015 is officially finished.

To me, a painting becomes complete when I take down its still-life setup. No longer can I take the painting back into the studio to putter and fine-tune areas, in truth I can always return to a painting and add to it and change it some, but I like working from life and if my setup comes down I hesitate going back into a painting because I do not want to lose the connection I had with its setup. I get concerned about diluting my visceral connection with the inspiration of the painting in some way.

At the end of January when I finished phase two of this painting, I brought the painting into my living room to contemplate in a different environment than my studio. And in doing so, I realized I needed to make the background behind the red amaryllis more defuse and softer. When the paint was dry to the touch, I began exploring ways to soften the background some, and to make the flower stronger.

WIP-20150121-2A created-with-love-36x24

 

The left image was before I began to experiment with softening the background some, and the right image was taken after my first experiment.  I liked it so much that I quickly began applying various glazes over the background, some where light in value and others were dark, I did not use the same tint mixture but shifted the tints to warm and cool depending on what seemed the best solution.  This phase went quickly.

Here are a few details of the finished painting.

20150226-001a created-with-love-detail

20150226-001b created-with-love-detail copy

20150226-001c created-with-love-detail

 

Okay, the biggest thing I learned about this painting is that I love diving into the details...

...................................................................... Framed Painting {36" x 24" – oil on linen} ......................................................................

RELATED POSTS: Work in Progress - Created with Love: Phase 1 Work in Progress – Created with Love: Phase 2

Work in Progress – Created with Love: Phase 2

WIP-20150115-1-created-with-love-36x24.jpg

In the first phase of completing this painting, I focused on the amaryllis bloom.  As soon as I got to a certain point, I was ready to tackle the quilt in its entirety.

WIP-20150115-1 created-with-love-36x24 {first day working on the quilt background}

I knew this would take A LOT of time and effort, however I LOVE painting drapery and fiddling with the minutia of shifts in value found in painting cloth.

My decision to tackle the quilt in a somewhat organized manner, working in adjacent areas most of the time was helpful in making sure that the overall continuity of the colors and values would read as a whole, even thought it took almost 9 long painting sessions to get the first layer of the quilt completed down.

WIP-20150115-2 created-with-love-36x24 {moving forward with one section at a time}

WIP-20150115-3 created-with-love-36x24 {At the end of a session}

After working for two long days on the quilt, I needed some immediate gratification in the last hour of my painting session, so I moved down to the lay-in the antique suitcase I got from Steve's grandmother.

WIP-20150122-1 created-with-love-36x24

{moving a bit further along}

By the end of this session, I had figured out about how long it would take to complete one of the four sides that make up each double wedding ring, and was able to estimate how much time I would need to cover the entire canvas.

 This type of hyper-intensive attention to detail also takes a lot of mental energy.  And the best way to remain fresh over a long day of painting is to plan on only focusing on one area at a time, and when your brain starts to turn to mush and you no longer care if you are getting it right.  This is the time when you take a break.  Deep work is mentally fatiguing and to stay on top of your game, means listening to yourself.

The type of breaks I like best to take when I want to mentally refuel my mind is to get on the yoga mat and complete a series of stretches.  I think this type of break is the best for resting and recharging, for me it usually takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of resting my eyes and stretching to be ready to start again.

WIP-20150129-1 created-with-love-36x24

{Almost all covered}

WIP-20150131-1 created-with-love-36x24

{first pass of the quilt completed}

At the end of this painting session, the canvas was finally covered and I could begin to plan how to further refine the painting and make it read a bit better.  For this painting I used a lead white with a walnut oil binder, so it was taking a while for my white layers to completely dry, which, was fine with me because I needed some time to map out the next and hopefully final stage.

 

Work in Progress - Created with Love: Phase 1

WIP-20150108-2-created-with-love-36x24.jpg

This year it is my goal to work on a few large and more complex compositions and I thought you may enjoy reading about my process. So today I want to share with you a still-life I began in early January 2015, this post discusses the first phase – focusing on painting the amaryllis flower from life.WIP-20150131 created-with-love-36x24

{Created with Love - 36 x 24 inches - almost finished}

This past December when I was finishing up my double wedding-ring quilt, I began thinking about how fun it would be to paint this quilt in a still-life painting. Then I began pondering what to pair it with… knowing that it would have to be something strong to counteract the bright colors and complexity of the quilt. As I was thinking about possible compositions, one of my large “red dragon” amaryllis bulbs came into bloom, and all was settled. I knew I could begin the painting I was pondering right away.

As an artist, I prefer to paint from life and in natural light. This being said, in the winter months I must rely on winter blooming flowers, which typically involves forcing a variety of bulbs inside. My favorite winter blooming bulb is the amaryllis, a tropical bulb that prospers in our warm interiors.

When painting flowers, painting from life is my preference because I feel my work captures the gesture and essence of the flowers I am working on. I try to stay away from relying too much on photo references, I think it is because photographs are one more filter away from my own personal relationship I have with the flowers. Being an avid gardener and that I typically am nurturing and growing the specific flowers I am painting, it is like I have a deeply felt relationship with them, and I want the flowers to be there while I am painting and trying to convey what I am feeling in paint.

Because of this desire to paint from life and knowing a flower only has so long before it begins to fade, I have to plan the sequencing of how to paint every given floral still-life composition. Typically I begin every painting with a drawing painted in with burnt umber, then I begin to immediately paint the areas with the most limited lifetime, in this painting it was the amaryllis flower.

Work in Progress - Created with Love

{first day: end of burnt umber block-in}

By beginning with a burnt umber drawing, I make sure that I can get the scene onto the canvas as I want, establishing an accuracy in proportion and scale. I always try to get the drawing as correct as possible, even knowing that once I begin to paint the under-drawing is going to be obliterated. I view this phase as a very important step because I feel like it helps me engage a level of muscle memory and mental connectedness I want to have with my compositions.

After the under-drawing is finished, I will take a small break (15-30 minutes) to get away from the painting, so when I return I will have fresh eyes and will be able to identify any errors in the original burnt umber drawing. If all is well, I dive into painting the most important and ephemeral subjects.

WIP-20150108-2 created-with-love-36x24

{first day: at the end of the painting session}

I began painting the amaryllis flower right away.  Blocking in color masses, keeping the shapes large and descriptive of the total structure of each flower.  When I paint flowers I am also trying to gage how long each flower will keep fresh and bright.  I knew from watching how the flower opened that the flowers on my right were the ones that would fade the quickest.  So they were the first ones tackled.  Leaving the two flowers on the left to be partially laid in.

WIP-20150108-2a created-with-love-36x24

{first day: end of painting session}

Because when painting you make decisions based on the adjacent areas, I also began laying in the values for the neighboring background areas.

WIP-20150109-1 created-with-love-36x24 copy

{second day: a few hours into the painting session}

Upon returning to this painting the next morning I realized I needed to spend some more time laying in the adjacent background areas.  So I began to tackle more of the double wedding-ring pattern and the white areas.

WIP-20150109-2 created-with-love-36x24

{second day: near the end of the day}

After the adjacent areas were laid in, I went back into the amaryllis flower and began refining.  I also took out the back of one of the flowers that had wilted overnight.  Sometimes I will keep a wilted flower in my painting even after it has ceased to exist, however with this painting I realized the void left by that one flower, now wilted, made for a more dynamic shape of the overall flowerhead.

WIP-20150109-2a created-with-love-36x24

{second day: end of painting session}

WIP-20150110-1 created-with-love-36x24

{third day: a few hours into the painting session}

On the morning of third painting session, I realized that this would be my last day to work with the amaryllis flower before it totally wilted.  So I worked almost exclusively on it.

WIP-20150110-2 created-with-love-36x24

{third day: end of painting session, detail of the flowers}

As the end of the day drew near, I had just about finished with painting the amaryllis, so I began to focus on painting the quilt.  I still stayed close to the areas of the amaryllis because I knew that I would need to use this area to key to as I worked on the quilt when the flower would not be there to help me judge for correct color and value.

For me, painting is the experience of slowing down and absorbing what I see, and by painting objects that have a fleeting life, such as a flower, I feel like I am making their beauty more permanent, something to be admired for a long time to come.

Thank you for stopping by and I will be back with another post that describes the next phase of this painting.

 

My Still-life Commission Process

2014-hydrangea-commission.jpg

Sometimes I am asked if I ever complete commissions, and my answer is “yes, I do!” and then I go on to explain how I approach commissions, as my process is not typical… this is because when I work on a commission, I paint three different compositions of the subject matter, and my client gets to select their favorite of the three.

The reason for my process is because I really enjoy exploring a single subject matter from various points of view. In my mind, creating artwork is more than just recording something visually accurate, it is about capturing the essence and meaning of the subject.

And I am an artist who loves to share my sense of beauty and often this is something that cannot be pinpointed but instead is felt and made aware of by experiencing. And by investigating a single topic (or object) in multiple ways, I begin to really understand it and thus am better able to express what makes it so special and beautiful.

This summer I was asked to create a still-life painting of blue hydrangeas, and now I want to share my process and how I created the three different compositions.

The first thing I did after accepting this project was to brainstorm about ideas, thinking about color schemes and potential schematic diagrams of the big geometric shapes and breakdown of compositional space. If you know me in person, you know I am always toting around my “idea book”, a spiral sketchbook where I write down EVERYTHING.

Being a colorist, before I ever began to investigate the compositional formats, I thought about how I wanted to emphasize the blue of the hydrangeas. Often I will amplify the visual impact of a color by paring it with its complementary color and color temperature. So being that I was going to be painting blue hydrangeas, in my mind’s eye I wanted to surround the flowers with warm oranges, peaches and reds.

sketchbook-hydrangea commission{composition doodles}

From my compositional thumbnails and sketches, I became interested in pursuing two trains of thought, one was where the hydrangeas were centered and the central focus of the composition, and the second was where the hydrangeas were part of an entire scene, visually interacting with the other objects in the painting.

Still Life with Cherries and Hydrangeas{1st painting :: Mid-Summer Hydrangeas}

With this first composition I explored utilizing color as a way to emphasize the blues in the hydrangea flowerheads. These hydrangeas were from my garden, so I also got to incorporate the flowerheads at different levels of maturity, the older blooms had larger individual flowers in a lighter dusty blue where the flowerheads that were just beyond being a bud were variegated in color from a pale green shifting into cream in some flowers and in other flowers with deep blue tips.

Ode to Fantin Latour{2nd painting :: Ode to Fantin Latour}

For the second composition, I wanted to explore a vertical format while incorporating a variety of flowers into the bouquet. This painting is also an ode to the French artist Henri Fantin Latour, because I think he is the master of all floral still lifes and is an artist I really look up to. I wanted to create a sense of mystery while also emphasizing the blue of the hydrangea blooms by including notes of orange, yellows, and roses throughout the composition.

During all this time when I was working on these commission paintings, I was constantly looking at other artist’s interpretations of hydrangeas and it was through the process of painting hydrangeas and viewing other paintings with hydrangeas in them that my own opinion about what makes hydrangeas so captivating as a flower crystallized in my mind. To me it is the lace-like quality that comes from the individual flowers of the flowerheads catching light, and of the other individual flowers falling into shadow. The overall round form of the flower heads are punctuated with the delicate edges and details of the individual flowers.

Still Life of Hydrangeas{3rd painting :: Blue Hydrangeas in Blue Willow}

So when I began the third painting, I really strove to focus on the effects of light and shadow, allowing my earlier explorations of color complementaries to take a backseat and to expressly investigate the way the light fell across a bouquet of hydrangeas. Texture and the lace-like qualities were my focus, so I zoomed in and made it a painting about the flowers.

2014 hydrangea commission

And through this process, I gained a comfort in being able to paint hydrangeas, which to me, hydrangeas are some of the most difficult flowers to capture, especially as I paint from life, and if the flowers wilt, I am in deep water if the painting is not complete…

All of these paintings were fun to paint and I learned so much from this process.

The client selected the third painting.

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Interested in commissioning  a still-life painting with a special flower or family heirloom?

Please visit the Commission a Painting page to learn more.

Painting in the Garden Class

ptg-in-the-garden-1

{a still life in progress}

This past weekend was a monumental one for me in two ways. First, on Sunday, the reception for my first large solo-exhibition took place. In this show 25 paintings and four graphite drawings were on display, and I feel the exhibit really marks a point in my art career where all the hard work of the previous five years is rewarded. It was fun seeing my work grouped together and in a place other than my living room… and in observing the collection of paintings, it is remarkable seeing the repeated themes in my work.

The second thing that I embraced this weekend is my new willingness to begin teaching group classes. Up until now, I have limited my teaching experiences to private one-on-one lessons. However, I have been considering teaching group classes more, after several weeks of thinking about it, I have decided to offer an eight-week plein air class in my home garden.

ptg-in-the-garden-2

{another still life in progress}

This is because for the last two years I have been painting in my yard, sometimes focusing on my flowers in situ and at other times setting up still-life vignettes. I have found so much to enjoy in these experiences that I want to share it with others.

My goal for this class is to cover the basics of painting and drawing outdoors with an emphasis on slowing down and enjoying the creative process of observing and creating art.

Class starts in a few weeks on Saturday, July 26th

Painting in the Garden Enroll now via Paypal $240 10am-3pm Saturdays, July 26, 2014 to September 20, 2014 No class on August 30th, Labor Day Weekend

painting-in-the-garden-collage for web

{a watercolor of irises, fragrant nicotiana, and a still life in progress}

Each class will include a demonstration, plus having time to paint. Students may work in oil, watercolor, pastel, or pen and ink. Weekly lessons will cover composition, color, and technique with an overarching focus on slowing down and finding appreciation in the simple details. All levels are welcome.

Treat yourself to some quality time and plein air painting in my garden. Set up an easel or paint in a journal, surrounded by dappled shade, lush greenery, and colorful blossoms. You choose to paint directly from the garden or from a still-life vignette — whatever strikes your fancy...

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To learn more about the class, visit the Painting in the Garden Class page, or download the class brochure to register by mail.

Welcome 2014!

201401-happy-new-yearHappy New Year!

Are you excited about the way this year has begun?

I am… because so much happened last year that was never planned for or expected, and brought about such amazing results, that I am entering 2014 with an overwhelming sense of optimism.

However I am also feeling a bit nostalgic about 2013… and here are some of my favorite blog posts from last year:

The Favorite Paint Mixtures Series: Permanent Alizarin Crimson Permanent Green (PG 36, PY 74) Dioxazine Purple (PV 23) Cerulean Blue (PG 35) Permanent Rose (PV 19)

The creative process and finishing a painting

How ideas underpin the development of a painting

Now that we are in the new year, I am eager to share new work and chat about art. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the experience.

Wishing you the best in the coming year, Liz