Many, many artists talk about painting the light ever since the Impressionist put paint in tube and went outdoors to paint.
Lately I’ve been interested with the color white. I say color because depending on the light and shadow, and what is around it, white takes on many nuances of color.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s when John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla (two artists I admire) were painting there was a lot of full, white fabric around, especially worn by women and children, as well as in the sails of boats.
These white houses and the challenge of the shadows, and the flowers caught my eye.
Master Gardener, Patty Thayer, has turned her yard into a garden wonderland, with paths, plants, and colorful flowers at every turn. A large deck plus small spots to sit provide areas to relax and refresh. The garden is embellished by the work of Artist Blacksmith, Doug Thayer (Patty’s husband).
Our plein air painting group was invited to paint in their garden again this year. Deciding what to paint is the most difficult part. The flowers were incredible, blooming everywhere. I chose the steps to the deck where this ceramic blue lantern joined in the color celebration.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” —William Shakespeare
To enjoy the fragrance as well as to get lost in these shapes and colors is almost more joy than my brush can handle. Indeed the looking and seeing is a big part of painting for me. The name of the thing—not at all.
Getting it from my head into paint…well… that’s a whole ‘nother challenge.
If ever there were a flower bursting with joy it would be the peonies growing behind my deck. When I first moved into this house they were growing on the side of the house. Who could see them there? I moved them right outside my back deck where I can see them from my desk and they have flourished.
I have invited other artists over to paint them, as I just had to share their beauty. I feel like there is a garden party the whole time they are in bloom. I cannot paint them enough.
One of the biggest challenges for plein air painters (painting outdoors) is the vastness of what we are looking at. Trying to get the huge outdoors and fit it on our teeny, tiny, little canvas can stop an artist in our tracks so to speak.
All the advice, tips, and rules I hear from experienced painters seem to leave me when I am out there enjoying the wonders of nature. “Paint what you love.” “Look for the big shapes.” “See the darks and lights.”
Ever since I saw my first Monet painting I wanted to paint water lilies. We were at a beautiful garden with a pond with the most perfect water lilies you can imagine. I was so excited.
By the end of my painting session I was so disappointed. I had wanted to paint water lilies. Here is a sketch of what I did. I went home and scraped it off.
Luckily I took lots of photos and when I enlarged the photo and painted in my studio, I actually painted water lilies.
I was listening to a podcast by the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood, where she interviews successful artists (http://www.savvypainter.com), and the artist was saying he works on 40 to 50 canvases at a time.
Well my studio isn’t big enough to do that, but I’ve been working on one piece at a time. Working small and in oil, wet on wet, it generally requires finishing a painting in one session.
Lately though, some of the techniques I want to use haven’t been working and it would seem the paint needs to dry before I apply the next layer. So working on more than one piece would be beneficial.
Also, a fellow artist point out to me that if you are having a problem with a painting and getting frustrated, setting it aside and working on another can 1) build your confidence back up, and 2) going back to the first painting later you may see the problem in a new light and it has solved itself.
Indeed it seems to be working. I started this tulip painting, and then started a beach scene. Came back and finished the tulips and started 2 more beach scenes. Solving problems in one saves time with the next and letting areas dry for a certain texture is working well. I like it.
“Field of Tulips”, 8×10″ oil, available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/560288
After I took that e-Course in the winter I wanted to make sure I embedded the lessons in my memory, and since the subject matter we painted was basically florals, I painted several more flower still lifes. I’m quite happy with the results.
Then the weather got nice and plein air painting started (painting outdoors) and I was back out in the landscape. I’m always rusty at first and this year was no different. But going out each week helps and I’m getting better.
In the meantime, back in the studio I remembered some photos I took of a house nearby that has it’s whole front yard filled with tulips! Maybe this would be my happy medium. This could be a nice transition between flowers and the landscape. It was very fun to paint.
People think it’s great that an artist gets to paint all day, and it is. But every day I have to find something to paint. For years I painted landscapes. A couple of years ago I ventured into the still life.
Successful artists tell you to “paint what you love”, “paint what you are passionate about”.
I love a dynamic sky, flowers, and birds. I hadn’t really painted flowers or birds until this last year or two. The online class I just completed (see previous blogs) was all flowers and it was great. Eager to continue with flowers I looked into my photo reference files (we are just coming out of winter here in Michigan). My spring flowers are just beginning to peek out of the dirt, but it will be a few weeks before I have anything to paint from my garden.
I started with an Iris, then a garden scene on a 6×6″ panel—maybe too small for such a large subject.
I saw some paintings by Cezanne of some apples and got inspired. I bought some apples and set up a still life with a white pitcher on a sunny day and painted this 10×8″ oil.
Using what I learned in class I noticed old habits trying to resurface and I kept thinking of shortcuts that might be easier. I only have to step back and look to see those sabotaging thoughts aren’t working. Stepping back from the work is one of the most important parts of painting…
We got a bonus lesson in week 6, one last photo to paint and to learn the methods of our instructor. I was feeling pretty confident with most of it, applying the techniques I’ve been learning throughout the course.
Then I got to this mass of greenery from the overhanging tree.
First my strokes were too blocky. Wiped that out. Then they were too spikey. Wiped that out. Third time’s the charm? I am happy with the result now. Hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Here is my “pots on a ledge” bonus painting. #DreamLovePaint
The course is over. Now I have to find something new to paint—out there on my own again.