11 May 2007

Glastonbury Tor, day 2

I was most nervous about this painting, after the underpainting looked so... well, choppy. And, this is a more complex painting that the Avebury scene that I'm working on at the same time.

When I stopped and looked at this from across the room, my fears vanished. Well, mostly. It's a good painting. (My original photo is immediately to the left of my painting.)

I'd guess that there are still a few days' work in this painting before I decide that it's finished. In addition, I may let this sit--over the weekend--so the paint will start to set.

That serves two purposes:

First, it makes it easier for me to work fresh colors into the painting without disturbing the existing paint too much. In some cases, I'll want to lay the paint over the existing colors. But, with a little elbow grease, I can work paint into the still-tacky layers.

Also, I'm really happy with how this looks. So, if additions to it don't work on the first try, I can carefully wipe them off without disturbing existing work very much.

If you compare my work today with yesterday's underpaintings, you'll see what I'm doing with color. I won't keep posting my work, step-by-step, for every painting; I'm mostly doing this to share the process. This underpainting technique generally works best with oils. Acrylics dry too quickly to get the exact same effects. (That said, there are merits to underpainting acrylics. They're simply different merits since the painting techniques are also different.)

I think that this has been a very good day for art. Even better, I accomplished this during the brief time that we had full sun. I need sun to get the colors right, and I thought that today might be a no-painting day when I saw the sky.

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10 May 2007

Underpaintings - Glastonbury, Avebury

I've just completed the acrylic underpaintings for the two new landscapes.

First, I underpainted the Glastonbury Tor scene, at right.

Generally, I'm working with the opposite colors of what will be on the finished painting. That's obviously not a rigid rule; sometimes I work more intuitively and in the Impressionist style. In the sky area, the yellow-orange will be below blue paint, and the pale blue will be under the white clouds. Orange, not red, is under green areas, and blue-purple under yellow-green and brownish areas.

After that, I worked on the Avebury scene. I'm especially pleased with the composition; that is, what's where, and how the darks & lights fit in the picture.

Again, I'm working intuitively, but generally applying color opposites to broad areas. In this one, I was more careful to emphasize the darks & lights, because they're important elements in this painting.

I let the acrylic underpainting dry overnight. Tomorrow, I'll start the formal (oils) work on these two paintings.

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08 May 2007

Tonal paintings - color opposites

Today, I tried a couple of acrylic sketches based on a photo of one of my favorite salt marshes. It's directly across the street from the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The first sketch is at right, and it's on an irregular piece of corrugated cardboard. The photo is directly below it, propped on my easel.

I'm working with corrugated cardboard for sketches. I cover the cardboard with gesso and paint over that. Since it's informal to start with, I'm more willing to experiment with color and design. Worst case, I throw it out; best case, I'll sell it on Etsy or something, for cheap.

Anyway, I tried a more stylized version on canvasboard. I'm not sure how well I like it, but this is all about experimenting.

What I really want to create are semi-abstracts and abstracts. I'm really in the mood for them, but something in my brain keeps shutting down when I start thinking in this direction. I'm not sure why.

So, pushing myself with these tonal studies in colors almost opposite what will be in the finished version... this is good. It's a step in the right direction.

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07 May 2007

Four underpaintings - Winter scene

I've been wanting to paint a winter scene from an old issue of Yankee magazine. It's very simple: White snow, grey sky, a single evergreen tree, and a maroon house with snow on the roof.

However, when I started the canvas in oils... ick. You can see it in the photo at left. I stared at that for about three weeks, feeling very uninspired.

Then, I realized the problem: I need a good underpainting to make it interesting. So, I just underpainted one canvas and three pieces of gesso'd corrugated cardboard (for preliminary oil sketches) with Maimeri acrylic paints. The result is at right.

The blue areas will go underneath the white snow. The orange-ish areas are the underpaintings for a flat grey winter sky.

Most people will have no idea that such vivid colors are underneath each landscape, but I'm hoping that these will make a big difference in how interesting the finished paintings are.

Of course, that's why I'll be creating a few oil sketches before I work on the canvas. The canvas is the tall skinny painting in the middle, and it's 6" x 12".

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