Exploring the subtle colors of early April is turning into a passion. Blue gray, olive gray, violet brown, warm gray, green gray – there’s a wonderful challenge in mixing these quiet colors. When I first started studying the late winter/early spring landscape, it seemed to be an undifferentiated mass of tones. But over time, I’m seeing more color and a wealth of gorgeous detail. There is also something about the simplicity of the massive forms of the granite as it contrasts with the delicacy of trees and water, and a sense of mystery, that is best served by understatement – less is more.
Technical painting notes – I’ve been experimenting with a thinner paint application – but many more layers of glaze. The initial start is by rolling thin color onto the panel with a soft rubber brayer (in this case mostly dark gray blues, with touches of iron oxide red and violet). I add Liquin medium in drops to the color then roll the brayer into it, purposely not being “neat”. This produces an uneven roll, which is more interesting. I use a piece of crinkled plastic dipped in Liquin to swish the initial layer around; the streakiness will make the surface feel more active, and keep the surface interesting, even showing through the many layers of glaze that will cover it. Spatters of paint thinner and thinned paint, blotted from the wet layer, will add textures. Shapes for the granite can be blotted out, and the sky was wiped lighter. At this point, I let the panel dry. Traditional techniques are used to lightly bring form and color to the image. I’ve been using a stiffer nylon brush for the linear work, and soft watercolor brushes for most of the glazing. If a line or stroke seems too harsh, I’ll wipe it partly away, or use a soft brush to smudge it.
Below is a photo showing the first day’s work on Overcast Afternoon, accomplished with roller, rag, and plastic wrap.