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Documenting a period in my development that could become pivotal

Monday, September 16, 2013

Painting water reflections seen through blades of grass.

Mist is rising from the slightly breeze kissed  water. The mist softens the forms of the grass. 55" long and 38" wide keeping the acrylic damp was possible because of the coastal mist and high humidity. The humidity dictates the way I paint outdoors especially on large canvases.

In the tidal waters there should be no surprise in catching a crab with a worm.
On this 18" square canvas I spent most of my time painting the grass because the blades tended to disappear in the lively sparkling waters. I also used acrylic on this painting begun on a less humid sunny day.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Challenging Myself to More Difficult Painting - a journal

Goal: Gain the satisfaction of having extended myself outside of my comfort zone.

What I did:
Made video recordings of my step by step resolution of a large outdoor oil painting. I have been inspired by Terrill Welch’s videos on painting on larger canvases and feel gratified by the camaraderie of Facebook artist acquaintances. Videos are an entirely new medium to me.

Worked larger than I thought I could any more.
Since I have been working almost entirely in acrylic for large paintings for 48 years, I am amazed how I remember how I used to paint when I try some new ways to manage my solvents for oils.
Learned that Trader Joe’s vegetable soap and water are useful to break down the pigment washing brushes after each painting session. This soap saved me from the fumes of paint thinner. A big deal for me because these fumes can give me a head ache.

Applied the paint in ways I do not remember using before. In the past I have added linseed oil if the paint was thick and drying out. But for painting mediums I used to use turpentine and paint thinner.  This time I used enough linseed oil to making a spreading medium. The paint was thinned enough to drip on the canvas.

The linseed oil made the paint shinny before drying.  The paint dries in a couple of days to a matt finish. More permanent is the liquid looking shape of the brush strokes.

Became more aware of the stages of development of the painting.
The first burst of energy can be frantic when performing in front of the camera because I am trying to paint over a large area in a short time. The second stage is where specific areas do not measure up to favorite areas. Quick fixes invite picking at the painting.  To avoid picking, I kept saying I wanted to keep the whole painting in mind and work all over but I could not avoid this stage.  The next step is obvious - a rest where the painting is put away or just left in view where the mind can subconsciously work on it.  The next stage is returning to the canvas after working on others so the canvas is no longer precious and I can try painting all over the canvas to resolve perhaps a new goal. The last step should be the signing of the painting in which a few details are carefully selected for revision. Revisions are to be consistent and important to the meaning of the painting.  Sometimes after the signing, I continue to want to make changes.


In my “Lunch at Mildred’s”, another painting done at the same time as the video recordings of “Rhitner Creek”, I used a lot of paint out of the tube without a medium to increase the soft pastel effect. I scrubbed with the brush and mushed the colors together.  To some degree the dry brush made a pleasant effect. The dry application is usually unpleasant. Dry brush on a rough surface leaves specks of color underneath. 
  I was surprised to find a sketchy area which was very direct with energetic movement.  Overall the painting makes me want to put on my glasses when I am, already, wearing them.  Expressions of the people are secondary to the softness and I want their feelings to carry the painting more.  I am thinking of painting another one of the lunch with decisive outlines and strokes of color showing contrast.

“Near Painted Hills” was a 15 minute tail gate painting started in June. Then I worked on the foreground in three sessions.  One right after returning home, I put the painting up where I past it every day, then Sept. 3 at Coyote Rock Marina.  Big drops of rain fell so I quickly used some left over paint mixed in the lids of heavy body acrylics. The energy of the storm and the pressure of finishing before the downpour psyched me up to the same impulsiveness as when I started the painting on location.