Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Afternoon Excursion to the Nature Preserve

Today I thought I'd walk the dog, and get in some plein air painting, all in one shot. The weather here has been absolutely beautiful lately, and even some of the trees are changing color! I went to the nearby nature preserve to see if I could capture some of the beauty.

I painted for about an hour, trying to get the late afternoon light (somewhere between 3:45 and 5 p.m.). I love how the shadows slowly climb down trees and hills, and wanted to capture that in my painting.

Although I slipped in the mud a few times -- and got scraped up pushing through untrimmed thickets to get to my vantage point -- I think it was worth it. Not only did I get some wonderful fresh air and time outside, but my painting turned out all right too... and Bella had a great time dashing through the shallow creek! She needed a bath when we got home, but hey... it was fun. :-)

Below: Bella enjoying the water.

Below: the almost finished painting. I'm going to give it a rest and then maybe come back and tweak some edges and values here and there. Oh - and sign it! :-)

"Around the Bend" - 12x9" - oil on linen panel


Monday, October 15, 2012

Gaga for Green and Outdoor Light

Wow... I would like to try and post on this blog more than once a month, but it seems that's all I have time for! SOOOO much has happened since Weekend with the Masters!

First of all, as happens every time I return from an amazing workshop, my work begins to evolve rapidly. I'm finally starting to loosen up a little bit, have more fun with my brushwork, and incorporate more complimentary colors in skin and hair. And lately I've been a little bit obsessed with green.

For example, in this recent self portrait, I got a little bit "crazy" (for me!) in the hair. If you look closely, there is a weaving back and forth between hard and soft edges along the outside contour of the hair. There is even some wild color going across the form (going the opposite direction that the hair falls) to loosely indicate the planes of the head. I'm always amazed at how much green I have to use when painting blonde hair. This time it was an eclectic mix, in the appropriate values, of white, lemon yellow, yellow ochre, raw sienna, viridian, radiant green, transparent oxide brown, and cadmium orange. That's a lot of variety, for a generic hair color that we're always told to fill in with the yellow crayon when we're kids!

"Self Portrait" - 20x16" - oil on linen - Private Collection
Painted in afternoon window light (south facing)

The painting below is one that I JUST finished, and I think it's one of my best nudes to date! Thanks to my very talented artist friend, Carol, who volunteered her beautiful (and private!) backyard, I had the amazing opportunity to work with a live model out of doors. I suppose that if I had a north light window, that would be the next best thing, but as it stands, I have very little experience with painting the entire figure in natural daylight. There is something completely different about it, especially when the light is diffused by clouds. Fortunately for us, we still have relatively warm weather here in Dallas! We kept the model comfortable by having a space heater on hand, and Carol's cat, Sadie, kept her company. :-) If I had just an extra inch or so of canvas on the left, I would have put the cat in!

 "Garden Nude" - 18x14" - oil on linen panel - Available

Sadie "modelling" next to the model :-)

We worked from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and had cloud coverage the entire time, which kept the lighting pretty consistent. I was continually amazed at how much surrounding color (greens from the surrounding ferns and trees, yellows from the cloth she was sitting on) found its way onto the model's skin. I had to get used to pulling from colors I wouldn't normally use in my studio. The result was a painting with LOTS of Gamblin's Radiant Violet and Radiant Green in areas such as the highlights on the breast and hip bone, the reflected light on her right side, and the blonde hair. There was also very little contrast, so it was a great exercise in turning form using subtle changes in color temperature, rather than value shifts. In the detail below, you can see just how much color I could get away with in the hair and face. I think I could have pushed it even MORE than I did...

 Detail of the legs: I tried my best to work across / around the form rather than along it. This makes for a more solid looking figure and enhances the illusion of three-dimensionality.

I have another new painting I've been dying to talk about, but I'll save that for a later post. Till then, happy painting, everyone!
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