16 x 12 inches

River Farm {Plein Air Painting}

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20100331 River Farm 12x16

River Farm – 12" x 16" (30.5 x 40.6 cm) – Oil Canvas Panel

Wednesdays are my days to go out and paint en plein air. This schedule was started a few weeks ago, where I go out with an artist friend who has lots of experience painting outside. I am still learning about how best to paint landscapes while also dealing with the elements.

Today we faced windy conditions, one gust tipped my easel over, spilling palette, canvas panel, and all the contents stored in the easel all over the place… I was just lucky that my turp/OMS was not open yet. So from this little adventure I now know attach my easel to something heavy to avoid future times where the wind may catch the a flat canvas panel and change its function from a painting surface to a kite.

It was a fun experience, though I am exhausted from it! It reminds me of Sara Winters blog post from last year about how plein air painting can be challenging. It is and this is why I am going to keep at it, because I like the challenge :) even when the outcome does not quite match what I had in mind.

Have a wonderful evening, and thanks for reading,

Liz

Sunflowers in a White in White Composition

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White on White with Sunflowers – 16" x 12" (40.6 x 30.5 cm) – Oil on Canvas{Flower Project 2009 – No. 3}

With this painting I was interested in painting a scene that was set in a predominately white environment. Compositions with specific dominate color schemes has been a fascination for me since around 1996 when I took my first art and architecture history class and we studied the Russian suprematist art movement. Malevich’s White on White composition is a painting I often think about, something so simple can also be very thought provoking. The off balance square in a square format, the tension of the tangential corner on the top and near tangent on the right is stabilized by the large negative space of the bottom and left sides.

Even though I paint in a representational manner often the modern and abstract schools of art and architecture will inform my ideas for a composition.

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As an aside, I often do not realize how reliant I am on certain tools to create a single blog post. Last night and this morning I could not get Photoshop to save files, it kept having a program error, so this morning three hours later after uninstalling and reinstalling Adobe Creative Suite I am able to complete a blog post with a saved jpeg of the painting! I am relieved to have my programs working well now. Without technology life would be so simple but not as fun because I would not know the wonderful benefits of blogging.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing the day with me,

Liz

Dahlias with a Mexican Platter Still Life

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Dahlias with a Mexican Platter – 16" x 12" (40.6 x 30.5 cm) – Oil on Canvas
{Flower Project 2009 - No. 1}
I started this painting the day after Susan Abbott’s workshop finished, a little over two weeks ago. The setup started out with the dahlias I had picked up at the farmers market in Old Town. While the backdrops and accompanying items were chosen for the colors. During the workshop we had a color exercise where we selected complementary color pair and then the neighboring colors of this pair, playing with warm and cool color choices. This painting is a play off of the magenta/violet of the flowers and the complementary color yellow that appears in various areas of the painting. I then selected greens and blues to be the second most common colors that connect the two complementary colors.

For the first three days of the painting I only worked on the flowers, as they were changing fast and would soon wither. After the flowers were pretty much developed I then focused on working on the other areas of the painting trying to incorporate all the lessons learned from Danni’s workshop. The biggest bit of insight I am still getting used to is the need to slow down and absorb what I see and take the time to really work to capture the image without overworking it. It is a fine line and I also have to fight against some levels of impatience as I want to get to the finish line, so I have been having to let go some and just enjoy the process of each brushstroke and new evolution the painting took as I would refine different areas.

After all it is the journey and the present that mean so much.

This is also the first of the 50 flower paintings I set out to complete in 12 months.

Workshop with Danni Dawson

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Hello ~

It has been an amazing and busy week. Monday was the first day of the five-day workshop with Danni Dawson. I was so excited about attending this class, excited about what I would learn, excited about what Danni would demonstrate and teach, and I was not disappointed!

During the five days I completed one painting and began another. Because we were painting still life items from her garden and most of the flowers were bloomed out, I focused on painting figs, leaves, and pears instead of painting flowers like I anticipated. Danni suggested that if you have a desire to become a still life artist it is important to plant what will be your subject matter. Something I will keep in mind once we get a house.

This is the first painting I worked on and was lucky enough to finish. It was of a branch of figs and leaves. Figs and leaves have historically been my nemesis where I have scraped down and given up on many a painting before this week.

Fig Branch – 16" x 12" (40.6 x 30.5 cm) – Oil on Canvas
{Day 4 – Final Painting}
Danni teaches in such a simple and direct manner, with great explanations that I am always inspired to reach beyond my comfort zone, and am almost always rewarded with a new breakthrough in my understanding and ability to paint with oils.
{day 1}

One of the first things Danni said on Monday morning was that still life painting requires a lot of planning and forethought on how to go about completing the painting. So when beginning, identify the part that will die/change the fastest. Once this is identified, block in the entire painting but strive to complete that part as quickly as possible. In my case it was the two leaves that were floating above the branch, by the next day they had curled up and fallen down.

{day 2}

On the second day I focused on the figs and the lower leaves, as I saw they had already changed significantly from the day before. Because the wood crate and background were not going to change any, I just blocked in the basic local color values.

{day 3}

The third day was spent refining different parts of the painting, adding highlights, adding further details to the leaves, and finishing up the wooden crate. The one thing I heard over and over again from Danni to me and my classmates was to “slow down”. She was always encouraging us to slow down and truly absorb what we saw. She also encouraged that we break down a particularly complex object into separate areas, and to just paint and complete the individual areas before moving onto another area. She said this was particularly important when painting highly reflective areas like a silver cup. Though one should never just dive into a specific area and finish it until after the whole painting is blocked in and the direction of the painting is clear.

{day 4 - detail of finished painting}

I spent most of the fourth day working on the background. To give it a sense of space, instead of it being a flat single colored surface. I worked with a variety of glazes and solid paint. I also selected areas of the leaves to bright up with transparent orange, an new color for me.

During the week I was exposed to a lot of information, I learned a lot, and know it will take awhile to incorporate everything into my working knowledge. Though the biggest thing I came to understand was the importance of which whites to use and keep on the palette. Over the summer I had started to shy away from using Old Holland Cremnitz White because for awhile it was over $30.00 a tube and I would go through it pretty fast. So I began to use WN Titanium White more and more because it was closer to $20.00 a tube. This looks good initially on the basic economic terms, however over the week Danni demonstrated all these wet in wet techniques that required the lower layer of paint to set up some, becoming a little stiff while still being wet and malleable. This can only be done with a stiff white like Cremnitz or Flake White. So I learned in order to speed up my painting I needed to ditch the slow drying/setting up Titanium White at times and use a lead white. So the expense of the Old Holland Cremnitz White has just proven itself as being a valuable player. (I have tried using the WN Cremnitz White before but it is too gooey and stringy like warm taffy for my liking)

Have a great weekend and once the second painting is finished I will post it.

Liz