Monday, January 15, 2018

New Work: Jeweled Forest, oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches

Jeweled Forest   oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches  $1575.

This is a small work for me and I enjoyed the process. Since I'm typically working in the 4-6 ft range, it is amazing how rapidly things happen in a two foot world!

There was an older oil under this panel that had been sitting around in the studio for about a year. Now that 2018 had begun it felt like a good time to have another go at that image. 

My first thought was to improve the existing oil but as soon as the first brushstroke was applied, I realized that I didn't want to just tweak what was there. Now I had an opportunity to do something much bolder and that's were the orange background came in. 

I'm typically working with 1/2" width brushes and they cover canvases quickly, even at 5 or 6 feet.  In this case, it was like having making an acre of orange forest in minutes with the painting asking, "OK, did that, now what?" 

I was great fun to 'locate' the green trees rather than representing them in detail. The bright greens held their own against the orange background nicely. The yellow foreground in the bottom right is all that remains of the original painting and I used that area as a bright inspiration for everything that followed. 

There are always a lot of options for sky besides blue and that was my plan. First I put down a bit of blue and purposely left remnants of the original oil in the sky. My intention was to bring in another color over the blue creating something different. Hmmmmm, those remnants are nice with those random bits of yellow mingling with the blue... an unexpected surprise that made a common blue sky a lot more interesting. OK then, add another, brighter blue to the mix and create a glowing sky - push the blue.

From there I added more dark, contrasting areas in the trees and it was done. to figure out those other 4-6 foot canvases waiting for their solutions.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Work: Renewal, oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches

New Work: Renewal, oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches

This oil is all about putting paint down to create patterns and surfaces. The color is a big part but I was more focused on keeping things fresh and letting the brushwork show.

As soon the painting began to develop I became enamored of the delicacy in the foreground trees. I began to build a painting around them, using simple bands of color elsewhere. all of the other elements were in place, it became apparent that each required a light touch of their own. That's not to say that I lightly painted everything in and it just worked on the first try. There are a lot of paint layers here from good intentions, false starts and some dead ends.

Regardless, each attempt had merit and I have learned to allow a little bit of those trials to show through. Rather than paint completely over the sky, water or band of trees, I used the previous work as an underpainting. Those remnants of color and edges provided more complexity and interest.

Of course that requires a lot of back and forth, but that is how the painting gets better. This oil was finished three times, or so I kept thinking. When I viewed the 'finished' oil the next day in the studio, my memory of the painting collided with the real thing on the easel and not in a good way, but that's ok. The time away from the oil allowed me to see it more objectively so I could clearly identify what was lacking and consider different solutions to make it better.

Now that this oil is finished, I miss the challenge this painting presented but there are other starts in the studio with delightful potential, patiently waiting their turn.

This is my first work of the new year and as I was putting on the final touches, the name Renewal came to mind. It implies a lot of things and the thought of it keeps us flexible.