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Posts Tagged ‘#Fine Arts #The Study of Art #Color and Luminescence’

The Flight, Watercolor and Ink

This watercolor painting, The Flight, was completed as a two-step maneuver. First, I laid out the background to the painting as wet-on-wet watercolors, so that the ocean, beach sand and light would move back and forth as a series of reflections. Once dried, I superimposed the birds in flight, using a combination of watercolor and ink.

In my earlier attempts to paint these birds, I figured out their positions and got them arranged and interacting with the water in useful ways, but still felt that there was more to do than simply positioning. Somehow, the division between birds and water held and I wanted them to be more intertwined. I wanted the birds to be in transition to flight and to represent this by mixing the various approaches to water, the concept of time, the colors of reflections, making it more chaotic. This time, I feel that I got the movement back into the painting as I had initially wanted.

Using this same technique of wet-on-wet followed by ink, I also painted the birds in a more regal way, as they stand, pre-positioned in the water for flight, but not yet moving. The colors of the background are less agitated with reds, and the birds are positioned more stably in the water.

What did I learn from this exercise? I learned that it takes patience to incorporate new techniques into paintings.

I feel that I am finally back on track for painting with my natural style, but with the privilege of understanding some new techniques recently learned from exchanges with other painters. Taking lessons and studying under other painters both digs up new ideas, and also dredges up old habits, allowing these new ideas and old habits to interact, creating new opportunities, but also feelings of frustration.

I am happy to continue working across these two major zones of learning and intuition with new paintings, and am thankful for the lessons learned.

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Haystack Reflections, water color, 8″ by 11″

Water color of a monstrous rock that juts out along the Oregon Coast, near Cannon Beach, a popular place for photographs.

Haystack Rock monumentally interrupts the horizon while proving irresistible to soaring birds and crashing waves. It is an awesome place.

The number of reflections that play off of it feel infinite, whether it is bathed in sunshine or covered by fog.

Haystack Rock, personal photo

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This painting of the birds went through a number of transitions.  Each painting that I did on the way, holds personal meaning for me.

I like to paint something using different perspectives, over a period of time. Depending upon my mood and what medium I am using, a painting may be completed in a few minutes.  At other times, it may result in a long and more “drawn out” relationship with the subject that has many layers and glazes of paint.  

In this water color and ink painting shown immediately below, my relationship with these birds started out in a rather carefree manner.  It was a small painting, only 4″ x 6″, and I wanted it to be an inspiration for a larger painting on the same subject.  I did this watercolor and ink in a matter of a few minutes.

The Birds (Watercolor and ink)

What is it about this tiny watercolor painting that feels so big and bold?  It is actually a very small painting, but I feel that it has the sense of being large. I like the way that the reflections and shadows of the birds dance around in the swirling sand and water. The birds’ dark shadows disrupt the soft  blue, reflective water as ocean waves press and pull the birds inward and outward, while they scurry around and search for food.

When I paint them again, this time in mostly transparent oils, using a much larger canvas, the mood changes.  The birds become steadier, and more firmly geometrically situated, implying a kind of calligraphy on the canvas.

(Oil)

If I had all the canvas and space in the world, I would not continually paint over what I have painted, but would keep each stage as a chapter of a “book painting”.

(Oil)

Moving from moody and earth toned, I start adding brighter oil colors to the proposed calligraphy of birds.

As this process progresses, the version of the painting becomes less calligraphic, but instead allows each bird and wave to be individually reflected upon.

In the end, I chose to leave the final painting lighter, softer, and less moody than how I started, mainly by smoothing out the ocean water’s movements and lightening it up through a series of tonal washers, or glazes. In the finished painting, the beach was a softer, lighter color of browns than the dark brown birds with their white bellies, offering some contrast between them, but not creating strong calligraphic marks as I initially had. Here is the result.

The Birds (Oil)

This dialogue between the birds and me has been prolonged through quiet moments of shifting dispositions and is now turning into several months of visitation. Our conversation is so interesting that I am sure we could continue this dialogue for several months more. However, I am getting restless.

It is now time to move on, to try new ways of thinking with paint.

What did I learn from this painting? I learned that the quick movements of inspiration are hard to keep. But perhaps they are not for keeping. What they do instead, is attract the painter to the idea of the painting. One might stop there. Or one may press forward and consider the depth of the attraction, sometimes realizing that at the end of the painting, there is a relationship over time rather than a single result.

My painting are already abstract, but I hope to play with abstraction even more. The aim is to keep the thought, without committing completely to the shapes, of reality.

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A big part of the enjoyment of art for me, is playing with ideas.

Front yard in moonlight, Abaco, personal photo
Edited version, more focused on light

Interpreted scene, oils
Interpreted scene, ink
Interpreted scene, Water color
Personal Photo of our front yard, Abacos

Do I go forward with an oil painting of this, with more vivid colors?

Or should I play with something even more abstract?

What will be gained from taking this to a different concept of artistic thought?

Will anything be learned about its value as a setting?

If I do take such a leap, how can I add to the idea of luminescence?

What is it that lures artists to repeat paintings, differently?

Perhaps life, itself?

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Our Front Garden, July 2021

Part of the beauty of gardens are all the hiding places for baby birds who can’t yet fly, for small animals seeking safety while nibbling at low greenery, protecting busy bees and butterflies settling into cooler places during the hottest part of the day. I find when painting these darker places, that they point like arrows to colorful flowers, often contrasting the showers of light that shoot carefree through grasses, and sometimes pointing straight up to daisies announcing, “over here”, “over here” to thirsty birds in need of the bird bath.

This is an oil painting on canvas, 20″ x 24″. My husband asked for the painting before I even took it off the easel in my art studio. I think that he likes it.

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Landscapes we paint, no matter how big or small, are wondrous moments witnessed through our abstraction.

When thought of this way, there is nothing real about a landscape, other than the fact that light is shifting, objects are reflecting and atmosphere hovering, and we experience constant movement of ideas and thought, while traveling through these variable, natural compositions.

Nature is for painters, our most wild and beautiful challenge. Lucky for us, nature is everything, and we have many opportunities to paint, to write, or simply observe its amazing show.

There is no right or wrong painting or poem as all abstractions are personal.

Knowing this, brings freedom of our own thoughts and choices of shifting moments we remember.

Watercolor

Oils

Oil

Watercolor

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The Bird Won

Alone, oil painting

It wasn’t so long ago, but almost forever and a day, before the sun fully lifted into the sky.

The light broke, and now Freely into Blues.

Together alone

Variations of the same oil painting while playing with glazing and color mixing on birch wood.

Oil painting variations were completed during the period of time that I participated in an art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

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There are people whom I carry with me, in my head and my heart.  I am finding the time, through my paintings, to bring them back into view.

Street children  have lingered in my memory for decades.  In this case, I recollect two boys playing cards on a heavily utilized footpath near the dhobi ghats where their parents were working as laundry washers, on the streets of Mumbai, India. I call this painted moment, “Unity.

I took notes describing the scene.

“The boys play their game as though they are alone. Yet, in fact, they are surrounded by people swiftly walking past them. The boy’s feet touch, defining their play area. The sidewalk patterns mimic the shape of their feet and legs, further symbolizing the boys’ sense of land ownership and unity.”

Personal notes
“Unity”, Oil painting

I took a quick photo of the people walking nearby.

Walking area, personal photo

Most likely, the children’s parents were working in the dhobi ghats where laundry workers wash and dry clothing. The urban work space looks like this.

Personal photo of Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat area, Mumbai, India

Each laundry washer, or dhobi, has a small area to work from where clothing and bedding are washed and hung them out to dry.

Clothing drying on lines, Mumbai, India, personal photo

Children are around the scene, and on the streets, as many of their living arrangements are very nearby. In some cases, children are living on the sides of streets, with family members, some under difficult conditions.

Children living on the streets of Mumbai, India, personal photo
Home of mother and son, on the side of a busy street, Mumbai, India, personal photo

Cars and trucks hurriedly stream by some of these tiny home shelters.

Street shelters, Mumbai, India, personal photo

Successfully capturing the surrounding light and colors, depicting the boys’ levels of intimacy, illuminating their likely concerning situation and yet at the same time, highlighting the strength and endurance of these children, abstractly, is the challenge for this painting.

Work developing ideas for this oil painting are showing in an earlier blog, here. This oil painting has been completed during the period of time that I have been taking the art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

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Somewhere between the art of tonalism and luminism is a painting of all the colors seen on the horizon at the moment of sunrise. It depicts the time when a night-darkened horizon line breaks loose from the underground with bright light. Colors go from soft grey to white streams of light that allow colors to jettison through the atmosphere, bouncing onto the grounds and waters below.

It is a moment of rainbow color craziness, lasting only a few seconds before the plain morning light breaks, leaving the simpler blues and yellows of breakfast sunshine.

An en plein air painter might have 10 seconds to observe the shifting array of sunrise colors.

Photography and painting alter it, limited by the technology, techniques and mechanisms used to depict it.

I call this painting, Alone Together.

These sketches were completed during the period of time that I have been taking the art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

Alone Together, oil painting

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These sketches are notes prepared for planning a future painting.  In the process, I  play with brush marks and edges on cardboard, first in black and white and then adding some more abstract color perspectives. 

I am thinking about a simple painting of a person and a bird on an ocean beach, and am wondering what direction to take. 

Where should the person and the bird be positioned?  Should their lines be hard edged and realistic or might these objects be better depicted in a more  abstract and reflective way?  Should they stand out and burst with color or be more tonal in nature, positioning themselves smoothly between water, sky and beach?  When and where should the sky, and the water erupt into being?  How does light run through this?

These sketches on cardboard are for me, a form of meditation.

They are a kind of warm up where I roam about the gessoed cardboard with ink, some acrylic and finally oils, while playing with shapes and soft edges, varying the texture to see what affect it has on the person and the bird.

Person and Bird, Acrylic on cardboard

How important is this bird?

Water Bird, acrylic on cardboard

What about reflections, and of what?

Water bird with reflection I, acrylic on cardboard

Playing with water reflections and edges.

Water Bird with Reflection II, more abstract, acrylic on cardboard

Let’s try mixing it up a little, who has the sharp edges and who is soft and fuzzy?

Sketches for future painting called Alone Together, acrylic on cardboard

A person and bird on an ocean beach, with greater emphasis on the bird.

How complex should the textures be when sketching the bird and person? How about varying brush strokes and types of edges and how these variations create differential emphases on the sky, beach and ocean? How much color should I add?

There are five parts to this simple painting: bird, person, waves, beach, sky, However, this bird seems to be taking over.

Person and Water Bird, (oil paint on cardboard)

Shifting to color when thinking about the horizon and light, I paint some potential perspectives on the background.

Abstract I, Oils on cardboard, hard horizon
Abstract II, oil paint on cardboard, soft horizon

How to depict with horizontal lines, those beautiful shifts in color, the blended statuses that occur, between sky and the imagined ocean horizon; repeated when ocean waves become still waters and beach sand?

Abstract III Oil Painting on Cardboard

And how would it look if it all turned out in blues?

Abstract IV, oil paint on cardboard, lines upon lines

These are early thoughts about edges and brushwork that I might use while preparing a future oil painting of a person and a bird, positioned on the soft and often merged horizontal lines between water, beach and sky.

Time will tell how this all turns out.

These sketches were completed during the period of time that I have been taking the art class called Painting on the Edge taught by Michael Orwick, offered through the Oregon Society of Artists.

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