Watching the Waves Come In is a long-term series that is always in development. Every time I learn something new I see what effect it will have on my little wave paintings. Or sometimes these small paintings inform my larger work. Either way, they are a delight to paint. I used to use a brush when working on them, but now it is mostly the palette knife, with more attention paid to the viscosity of the paint and the choice of paper – smooth or textured watercolor paper (primed). I look for ways to let the viscosity emulate the action of the water – more like sneaking up on the subject rather than trying to copy a moment or view. This approach, at least for me, yields more of the feel of my watery subject. It also allows for random accidents to influence the painting’s development, and life is certainly about the accidents. Enjoy.
With all the frozen blue violets of winter around me, I felt a sojourn with some camellias would offer some respite. But the colors of winter followed me into this new painting. It was refreshing to paint new forms, but the cold blue sky outside affected what I saw. So here they are, my (almost) icy camellias. You never know what will happen in the studio…details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I started the painting using a 4″ soft rubber roller to “loosely” roll a mixture of blue/black and dark green oil paints onto the panel surface. I used a silicone scraper to draw the gestures of the flowers and leaves, then spritzed the surface with mineral spirits and re-rolled (or redistributed) the paint. I used a rag to wipe out some of the lighter areas, then drew some more with the scraper. At this point, I let the painting dry thoroughly. The next day, I glazed colors onto the surface and started working with a brush and thin paint to define the forms. Alternating use of roller and brush kept it loose and provided many happy accidents. Additional glazes and painted highlights (still alternating brush and roller) adjusted the color harmonies and added unexpected light to the subject.
The lilies are in bloom, and this particular stand of lilies filled the entire neighborhood with their fragrance. My close-cropped view emphasizes the thrust of the lilies in all directions, and perhaps implies the way their scent spreads. The small pink flowers nestled close-by offer a contrast of scale and color, but they also symbolize, for me, the way we all have our roles to play, and every role is equally important for a well-balanced and successful outcome. Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: I used a soft rubber roller extensively, building the image with sweeps of the roller – sometimes using the end, sometimes dabbing, often rolling. Liquin Impasto medium added to the oil paint works well for achieving a good viscosity, controlling transparency, and speeding the dry time. I used a brush as sparingly as possible – the marks from the roller seemed to suggest movement and air, which are key to capturing the feeling of a subject outdoors.
When I first painted this panel four years ago, I hoped to capture the cheery yellow face of the bullhead lily saying Wake Up! At the time, it was a difficult subject full of spatial and perspective issues to resolve, I did my best, and was quite pleased with the result (see below).
However, with time and experience, I saw there was more that could be done to bring the subject into stronger focus. It needed more “pop” to match the spirit of waking up. I needed more sun in the painting. The final version (at top) has a punchier bright blue, and two lilies. One is still sleepy, but the second lily is ready to jump up out of the water and embrace the day. I used a soft rubber roller to lay down the brighter blues, blending the color over some of the lily pads to enhance the feeling of this watery world. I also intensified some of the greens in the painting. The second lily was blocked in quickly with a brush. So much easier than the first lily – how I do appreciate what experience teaches us. Details form the final version of New Morning are below. Enjoy.
Another interpretation of looking through trees – a bird’s-eye view, maybe? I don’t know if I’m swooping in to land on a branch, or studying the whole scene in the pond’s reflection, but it’s a tumultuous world of light and color and I’m loving it! Details below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: Adding Winsor Newton Liquin Impasto Medium to the oil paint speeds the drying and makes rolling out color easier. I often use half medium/half oil paint when rolling. It also increases translucency and provides a kind of glow as the colors layer over each other. When working with the roller, remember you can let it “hop, skip, and jump” its way across the surface, or use the edge of the roller for thinner lines.
Back and forth, up and down, sideways, everything is moving at the beach, and that is the challenge of painting it. With Beach Patterns, the crisscrossing waves caught my attention first, but the shallows and sand bars took over. There are no straight paths, no clear directions, only the endless shifting, and that incredible white foamy lace. Detail below. Enjoy.
I suppose it could be call a conceit. A series of paintings based on imagining what it would be like to paint alongside Corot – at his ponds, in his favorite weather and time of day. Painting with Corot is the third in my series, in which I explore various ways of capturing the feel and mood of Corot’s work, but informed by techniques and approaches from my own work. This straightforward view of a June morning at “our” pond shares Corot’s soft focus and close values, and his delicate touch. It also speaks to the sense of calm and serenity that so evidenced Corot’s sensibilities. Detail below. Enjoy.
Technical painting notes: Unlike Corot’s views, this painting has little real brushwork. I started it with a soft rubber roller loaded with thin oil paint, which I manipulated using monoprint techniques. Much of the foliage was built up with daubs of paint applied with crumpled plastic wrap. A few glazes balanced the color. Most of the brush work was limited to the tree trunks and branches, and a bit of duckweed.