Monday, March 24, 2014

New Work and Art Class: Ed's View - Tomahawk Lake, oil on canvas. Shown in stages of creation.

Ed's View - Tomahawk Lake
Oil on canvas, 30 x 48 inches

I visited Ed at his lake house a year ago. It was a great visit, relaxing at his lakeside home. The photos taken from that trip often came to mind, but I never put the brush to canvas until last week. Ed and a friend were come to stay with me and I was struck with inspiration to make a go of the lake on canvas.

Here's the progression of the canvas below.

The idea was to make this simple, all green subject into something far more interesting. I quickly laid out the design with a few pencil marks and pushed off with an unusual green and anything else that would not be green. At this point I was looking to make an unusual color statement early.

Purples are added to the sky and water, but not the same kind of purple. I'm starting to run colors into the reflection to see what happens. I'm liking the greens in the water surrounded by the reds, but how to pull that off?

Here I'm in danger of loosing power as more color and body is painted in. It's really easy to make a muddy mess here, so I'm keeping the colors distinct as best as I can. This is a strange color palette that will need some real attention to pull it together in a believable and interesting way.

The addition of the oranges and yellows helps keep the painting fresh and it adds more interest. More darks are laid in to increase the power and presence of the bottom reflection. At this point, I let it dry a bit for one day.

Working on a dry canvas is a big help here. I'm adding some light blues, yellows, and rose over yesterday's paint. Now the oil is coming to life more. At this stage, it's very easy to fill it in, leaving a duller work. Today's colors are laid in so that the underlying color comes through. This gives the work more complexity and unexpected color combinations result. Even though the oil is less rough, there is still much that interests the eye. The sky and water are complex surfaces just like the land mass. I didn't set out to do this, but the oil is leading the way now.

Here the oil is done. The land was filled in with a minimum of foliage and tree trunks.
I left is alone a came back to see in again two days later.

After some deliberation, I decided to put blues directly into the yellow cloud and used a variety of colors to overpaint and calm the sky and water more. When I was adding the ochre yellow to the water, it had the side effect of giving the water more mass and increasing the airiness of the sky. Nice! I've also hinted at grasses more in the bottom left.

Since I had a photo of the successful session before, I elected to gamble and try for a soft, shimmering water surface. Both versions work for me since they are still underworked and chromatically interesting. Today I like the last, more poetic one but I'm already thinking of starting a larger canvas with a new color combination and keeping it on the rough side. 

I got a good start with this oil and once it was about 1/3 of the way in, the canvas told me what it needed next.

I thought the oil was finished but a couple of days later, I decided that the green trees were too pat. So in this version I eliminated them, but not completely. I painted into them with another blue (different than the trees on the far right, but it doesn't show that well here.)

Last, I added more aqua trees to the center of the tree line, made the reflections more interesting, and adding more shimmer to the lake.

It almost painted itself!


  1. Thanks for the progression photos. They give me courage to try some new things.

  2. Me too!!! It's always great to hear from you Marilyn!!