Sunday, April 28, 2013

Geranium Joy

To me, one of the many joys of summer is the eye-popping color of the brilliant red geraniums that always grace our front steps.  Somehow the colors seem to get more and more vibrant each year!  The little painting that I'm featuring this week is based on a photograph provided in a great workshop I took in Kentucky with artist Dreama Tolle Perry.
 I started my painting on a smooth 6x6 panel and sketched the basic shapes with an orange-red because I wanted some of that color to peek through in the finished piece to unite the painting with the geranium red theme. 
Using Dreama's technique, I quickly covered the whole canvas with transparent colors mixed with a fairly glossy medium.  Since I use a palette of only three transparent and three opaque primary colors, I mixed the colors I wanted before applying.
While the first layer was still wet, I painted the second layer much more thickly and included my opaque colors.  I had the most fun hinting at the shape of the geranium leaves by defining their edges and allowing bits of leaves and blossoms to "be free".  It was a joy to paint ... Geranium Joy.
Geranium Joy, Available
6x6 oil, framed

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Window Box

As the weather warms up I know that my beautiful window box pansies, planted in October, are not long for this world.  In honor of all the pansies ready to give up their spot to make room for summer flowers, I am featuring their smiling, sunny faces this week.  This picture, from last year's bounty, inspired a small painting I call "Window Box".
I chose a 6x6 square panel to paint on because I wanted to echo the shape of the corner of the  window box so that the softly draping blossoms would stand in contrast.  Since I'm the boss of me :), I freely changed colors and rearranged the flowers to encourage the viewer's eye to move through and around the blossoms.
Window Box, SOLD
6x6 Oil

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Special Edition! Creating "Umbrellas by the Sea"

Vernazza, Italy, under the warm glow of dancing yellow umbrellas ... sipping liquid grapes ... breathing in the gentle caress of a sea breeze ... this is one of the many reasons why I know that life is a gift to be gratefully treasured, especially when it is shared on the 25th anniversary of marrying my best friend :)   This is a scene that took me five years to decide how to capture, but once I got started I couldn't wait to complete my vision.
 I knew that I wanted a large canvas because Vernazza is nestled in the embrace of a very high ridge overlooking the expanse of the Mediterranean Sea.  I chose an 18x36 canvas (big for me!) and then cropped the image to emphasize what I loved most -- the large sunlit yellow umbrellas.
I started by sketching the basic placement of shapes with a fair amount of accuracy.  I used a pastel pencil because it was easy to make changes, if needed.
 Once I was satisfied with the placement, I "sketched" with paint and let it dry so that I could paint over it with transparent paints without disturbing my road map.
  Since the umbrellas were what I was most excited about, I started with my favorite part (dessert first, right?)  I painted the whole area with transparent indian yellow (using an oil medium called "Archival Lean") and then laid on opaque paints quickly so that the underpaint was wet enough to be picked up where I wanted it to be.
 This next part was fun because it made the umbrellas really start to "pop" with the complimentary colors.  I laid in transparent ultramarine blue for the mid-ground church and, again, quickly painted opaque colors before the underlayer dried.
The fun continued in similar manner...
At this point, I needed to make a decision.  The photograph blocked the background hills because of mid-sized trees that had been planted along the marina edge.  But, this being Vernazza, I really wanted to capture the sense of being small in a large place.  So I chose to look through the trees and imagine the steep hill that lay behind.  This was not easy!  You will see that it took several iterations.
My challenge with the next portion of this painting was to make it lively without breaking up the simplicity of the overall "values" I had planned (squint at the final painting image and hopefully you'll see what I mean).  I also didn't want to paint every single chair leg and table top because I know that less is often more since it allows the imagination to create far better stories than the paint brush is able to.
I knew I wanted to work more on the background hill, but it would be easier to judge what needed to be done after painting the foreground.
At this point I had covered the canvas, but I knew that several areas needed a bit more attention...
On my final pass, I created depth and interest in the background, adjusted the boats and water, added texture to the potted bushes, and worked on a few shadow and light nuances.  This painting is currently hanging at the Waverly Artists Group and looks great next to its companions, Ready for Limoncello and Fruit of the Vine!
18x36 oil
(here's the photo again, just for fun comparison)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Summer Shade

Although it may not be quite time to seek refuge in the shade from blazing summer heat, I was thinking of this scene recently because I just finished hanging the painting that it inspired at Glenaire Retirement Community in Cary, NC.  The cool refuge of shade was definitely necessary on the day I took this picture because it was 102 degrees in July and I was painting outdoors for the very first time.  Why did I choose a 102 degree day to experience the joys of plein air painting?  Good question!  I was taking a class and it is amazing what "non-refundable" can cause one to do :)   As I sweated, I mean glowed, I was lured by this scene because the shadows on the lush hillside looked so deceptively cool.

I'm not sure why I chose a large canvas for my first plein air painting, but it definitely caused me to paint quickly and with energy!  I laid in my darks and then enjoyed adding the sunlit areas that spilled down the hillside and sparkled on the flowers and grasses.  I can honestly say that "Summer Shade" was created by the sweat of my brow!
16x20 Oil
This painting was juried in to the Junior League of Raleigh's annual show at the Raleigh Convention Center ... pretty "cool", huh? :)

Click here to see where you can visit "Summer Shade" until June 2013.