Thursday, February 20, 2014

Coastal North Florida Water View Painting, "Summer Reflections"

"Summer Reflections"
     "Summer Reflections" stands on our fireplace mantel for consideration over the next week or so. Will there be any more minor adjustments to the scene? That remains to be seen.

Today's photos show a newly painted piece of a creek scene near our neighborhood, a couple of detail close-ups, and one of the original reference photos. From the reference photo, you can see that I brightened the colors considerably (while trying not to go overboard with that) and cleared out a lot of North Florida's exuberant, messy-looking growth. As always, you can click on a photo to enlarge it.
A detail from the painting
A detail from the painting

     The painting is on a 2" deep 18" x 24" gallery wrap canvas with the scene continued onto all the sides so that it can be hung with or without a frame. The palette, in acrylic paints, includes ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, dioxazine purple, sap green, naphthol crimson, yellow ochre, Naples yellow, burnt sienna, Payne's grey, and titanium white. 

     For a change, I toned the canvas with a pale burnt sienna tone. Then, after painting the sky in roughly as you see it, I established a fairly dark under painting for the rest. In acrylic paintings, we often work from darks to lights because even light colors (especially when mixed with an opaque white) cover well. Next, the sky was modified and a few clouds added. The far trees were next in muted bluish tones, requiring several milky glazes to get the right hazy appearance of distance. I cut loose on the creek, laying in quick, slightly curved horizontal strokes in a variety of colors and blends. I meant that to be an under painting for the water, but much of it stayed because of the vibrant feel of movement the strokes provided. 
One of several reference photos for this piece

     Most areas of the painting required gradual buildup in layers as lighter and lighter tones were added to the darker under painting. I can't tell you how often during the process my husband asked if the painting would stay so dark, but finally, the gradual, subtle differentiation of tones and colors and layered highlighting led to the version you see today. I exaggerated the differing shades of the foliage; one of the most difficult tasks for a Florida landscape artist can be creating an interesting interpretation of tangled green, green, and more green. This one may be about finished; we'll see what several more days of living with it brings. 

Question of the day: Are you also drawn to scenes with natural water features?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Bonus for Our Sketching Class

     Our sketching class enjoyed the bonus of a guest teacher in our third session. The change in plans occurred because Charleston, SC artist Margaret (Maggie) Hoybach came to visit our regular teacher, Mary Ann Miller and offered to lead a class. Mary Ann generously invited us to her lovely home for the class, followed by a Provence-style lunch (yummy homemade quiche). You can see other images from that third class as well as our fourth and final class on Mary Ann's blog, too. (I was not able to be in her February class, so scroll down to find the two final January gatherings.)
     Maggie, in the red sweater, first showed us some of her gorgeous watercolor paintings and travel sketch/scrap books (which are amazing works of art in themselves). You can treat yourself to Maggie's website here. Then, she provided an interesting and very challenging exercise. Projecting various scenes for just a minute or so, she told us to outline a sketch in pencil and jot down a few notes so that we could further develop the drawing later. We imagined ourselves traveling, perhaps by bus, with limited time to capture an impression of each passing scene. Her method is to quickly place the major lines for the portion of the scene she has chosen to draw: the horizon, a path, building, large tree, or whatever. Then, we were to make a few notes of dominant colors and to indicate values with numbers in the margin (from lightest to darkest: 1 to 5). Since we were using pencil (unlike our other classes, where we sketched in pen), we could later adjust the composition and sketch in other remembered elements. She projected 7 or 8 images for us to outline; than we returned to our tables to revise and color (with watercolor paints) any images we wanted to develop further.

     This could be something fun to try in future travels, and was another helpful way for me to continue practicing drawing. I am still a beginner, but have improved over these helpful lessons. I'll try not to apologize for the efforts I am showing you today. As always, you can click on any photo to see it full size.

     The entire experience at Mary Ann's home (or, La Chambre Jaune Cafe, as she calls her sun room) was delightful. The setting, decorated in the characteristic blue and yellow of Provence in France; the delicious lunch; the shared expertise of our two accomplished artist/teachers; and the lively company of fellow sketchers (many of whom create masterful pictures, quite out of my league)--all of it added up to a day to remember.

     Since I don't plan a separate post on our fourth and final class, I'll throw in a small caricature style sketch from that session. Mary Ann encouraged us to try drawing people--not in any detail or as portraits--but simply to be able to indicate the presence of others in our work. So, I doodled a fellow student immersed in her sketching.

Question of the day: In what small way have you stretched yourself lately?