Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thoughts of Spring

Even though there is still plenty of snow on the ground and drifts as high as six feet on the north side of the house, there is a wonderful feeling of spring in the air. The sun is now higher in the sky and gives a warmth that is long overdue. The birds are happy at the feeder and there is the cheerful dripping sound of icicles melting from the eaves. But on gray days, when the sun hides in the clouds, the bone chilling cold returns and the birds and the icicles are quiet again. This is the game March plays in Maine.

Another sign of spring is the arrival of the seed catalogs. Today, while looking at one of the catalogs, I was reminded of another spring when our art gallery was located on Front Street in Belfast. My studio was in the back, overlooking the harbor. 

I was determined to paint as many of the spring flowers as I could from life.  Each morning I would gather them from my garden and bring them into the gallery with me. After opening the gallery, I would set up my studio and begin to paint. 

I was successful for awhile, starting with the early forsythia and pansies, but it wasn't long before there were so many flowers that I was overwhelmed. My biggest challenge was my favorite – the peony. I was never able to capture the beauty of those gorgeous flowers. I needed at least two days of painting but the flowers wouldn't wait for me. They moved by the hour, opening their petals and shifting their position in the vase. By the second day the bouquet was completely different from what I had on the canvas.

Lilacs are another favorite of mine and I have painted them many times. 

Lilacs and Lace, oil, 20x16
Lilacs and Brass, oil, 14x18

Because my studio was part of the gallery, many customers would join me while I painted. Some came back the next day to see if my painting was successful. And some came back to purchase the finished wet painting. It was all great fun. I have met so many wonderful people over the years. We had an interesting mix of customers - "the summer people" who returned each year, "the locals" and "the new visitors to Belfast". Friendships were formed and treasured. 

One elderly couple will always remain in my memory. They were visiting Belfast and looking forward to visiting their son in California. They were to fly out in two days, Sept. 11, 2001. Later I saw their pictures in the newspaper. They had been on one of the planes. I wasn't going to add this part to my story, but I can never think of the customers on Front Street without thinking about them.

Thank you for visiting with me. I have more stories to share. I hope you will join me.

These paintings are available on my website.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Greenland #2 and a bit of geography

Puilasunnguup Aqq, Kujalleq, Greenland

Greenland #2, oil, 9x12

Beginning my block-in using the photo reference downloaded into my Kindle.

This is my second painting of Greenland as part of The Virtual Paint Out Group.

What an interesting country. I did a little research and thought I would share a bit of its unusual geography with you.

  • Greenland is a member of the Kingdom of Denmark.
  • It is located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
  • Greenland is a large island of roughly 836,300 square miles with a harsh, rocky landscape.
  • 81% of the island is covered with an enormous ice sheet.
  • It has an arctic climate, with unpredictable weather variations and temperature ranges from –20 to 50 degrees, with the northern regions barely seeing 5 degrees in the summer.
  • The population density is very low, approximately 56,400 people – 89% Inuit, 11% European.
  • All the towns and settlements are situated along the ice-free south and southwest coasts. The remainder of the island is mostly uninhabited.
  • The economy is supported mainly by the fishing and mining industries.

You never know what you will learn in an art class. 

This painting is available on my Ebay page.

Thanks for visiting,

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Greenland Harbor #1 - March's Virtual Paint Out

This month our artist group is traveling, via our computers, to Greenland. Using Google Maps Street Views only, we explore the region and each artist finds a spot to paint. The idea is to “walk around” the area using Google Street Views as if we were actually there with the painting group looking for that ideal spot to set up our gear and paint. We then post our finished paintings to artist, Bill Guffey's blog with a link to our reference location. For more information check out,  Thank you, Bill. This is great fun.

Arsaaffimmut, Uummannaq, Qaasuitsup, Greenland

Greenland Harbor #1, 9x12, oil

My initial lay-in

When I found the scene I wanted to paint, I photographed it with my digital camera, then transferred the picture into my Kindle. I added veridian green to the icebergs as I remembered that the icebergs I had seen in Newfoundland were very turquoise in color.

This painting is available on my Ebay page.

Thanks for visiting,

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Color Harmony/ Limited Palettes/ Gamut Masking

In a previous post I wrote about the value of an underpainting and the four basic components of every painting – composition, shapes, value and color. The underpainting resolves the first three, leaving only the color component. And it is with color that the magic happens – hopefully.

I use my reference photograph for my underpainting, altering shapes, moving and eliminating objects until I am satisfied. Now is the time to put the reference photo aside and let your artistic vision take over. If you try to copy the colors that you see in the photograph you will be disappointed with the results. The camera filters the scene through it’s digital components and mechanical settings, with no input of reality or emotion. Besides flattening perspective, the camera alters the colors and the values. And should you print the photo, there are further alterations from the printer and ink.

Color is a very personal choice. I prefer the color harmony of a limited palette using the three primaries -  yellow, red and blue, plus black and white. For different scenes, lighting conditions and moods, I can choose from the many available versions of these three primary colors.

I mix my secondary colors, oranges, purples and greens from these primaries when I lay out my paint. I prefer to use black and yellow instead of blue and yellow for my greens. Browns and tans are created by mixing all three primaries together. The resulting secondary and earth colors, quickly mixed, are more varied and lively than the blended colors found in a tube.

Black is a much maligned color. Ivory black, having a blue base, makes interesting greens when mixed with yellows and useful grays when mixed with white. Adding a bit of gray to a color softens and mutes the intensity. Ivory black is also useful for darkening any dark color without changing it’s hue. But, of course, neither black, white, nor their gray mixtures are ever used without the addition of a bit of color.

A limited palette of colors is my choice for landscape painting. For still life painting more colors may need to be added. These will vary by your choice of subject matter.

Gamut masking – an interesting experiment.

Using either the standard or the Munsell color wheel that includes the complete range of intensities of all the colors from full intensity on the outer edge to neutral in the center, a cut-out shape is placed over the color wheel and only the colors within that shape are used in the painting. All other colors are excluded. The shape of the gamut mask is the artist’s choice and some very weird colorations can result.

I experimented with the safer triangular shapes. The three points would indicate the three colors I put on my palette. All the colors within the mask were a product of these three colors. Colors outside the mask were excluded. As the mask could be moved in any direction, the hues and intensities of the colors chosen and their resulting mixtures would also vary. But no matter what three colors were chosen, color harmony was assured.

If you are having trouble with color, I hope this information will be helpful to you.

Thanks for visiting with me,