This is a close up of the mono print above to show that thick texture and colors smearing together. I like to put blobs of three different colors on the palette and scrape the palette knife through them only back and forth a few times on the edge to mix them slightly. Then I scoop some up with the palette knife and blob it onto the paper and press another paper on top of the first one. When you pull them apart you get these nice smears and veins in the paint.
Then it’s fun to decide what it looks like. If I used this small section and decided to cut it out of the bigger print I could enter it in a show as a very small landscape, call it “moon over mountains” but I probably won’t.
I think I’ll do another one. They’re so fast easy and fun!
I took this photo in my dining room light so the colors are a little too warm. I’m excited because one more difficult step is done and I’m almost finished with the painting. The crabs, they kind of sparkle or shimmer to my naked eye. I’m not sure the effect is working on the computer screen.
This project has taken me months with all the sketches I did and all the planning. A few hours at a time and not every day is how I’m getting it done. The flowers and horse are still in the underpainting stage and will need two coats of dots because the background plant and the crabs needed two coats, The horse looks like the most difficult part and I’ll probably do it last.
The reason the crabs are shimmering is because tiny dots of the underpainting are showing through. The underpainting for the crabs was in cool grays and the dots on the crabs are warm orange and red, so the complimentary tints are close to the same value but opposite causing the shimmery look.
The shimmer is a thing I like about pointillism so I’m excited because I think all the hard work I put into it is going to pay off.
Some unplanned things happened with this. I’ll show more close ups with some weird happenings when it’s all done.
I got a start on my 5 crabs and 1 crab claw. I’ll have to go over the crabs again when this dries. You can see a lot of the underpainting gray showing through the dots. If I fill that in with more dots the crabs will be brighter and more solid looking. It took hours to dot the first crab colors but the second layer of paint will be a little faster and easier.
On Oct. 1 I’m leaving for my vacation in Maine. I’m counting down the days. Art camp is Oct. 6 to the 13th. I’m driving so I think I’ll get to Acadia on the 3rd and I’ll have a couple days to scout for the best locations to paint and maybe get a sketch. One week isn’t much time for me to do a painting since I go through a slow process ( I won’t try to do pointillism ) but I got 2 paintings done at the Ghost Ranch in one week and if I don’t finish a painting in 1 week I can stay a few extra nights in Bar Harbor if I want to. There’s no reason I’d have to rush home.
The thing I really like about art camp is that they advertise it as “no drama” which means no pressure, no contest, no judgement, etc. All the Plein air painters there will be knocking out a painting every day, some will be doing more than 2 a day. But I’m free to do whatever I want to and I won’t hear anything about it if I don’t put my painting up for display every night. Because I don’t really want to paint like that.
Also, the food will be great if the Ghost Ranch was any indication of future food plans. I’m a big fan of Eric for putting these great art vacations together, I’ve wanted to go to Acadia for 20 years. 20 years ago I entered an art show in Kennebunkport and got accepted so I shipped my painting and my daughter went with me to the opening. Acadia is North of Kennebunkport but I wanted to see more of Maine and when we got to Acadia it was cold. It was warm in VA. and she didn’t bring her coat so we just drove around the loop but didn’t hike.
Phone reception and internet access might be spotty up there but I’ll take my camera and lap top so I can do a blog post from art camp if possible. And I hope I can finish this still life before I go.
I’m so excited about my pearly shadows! It’s not even boring painting dots! I could do it for hours! I’d call it a zen way to paint, but I don’t know if a real zen person would agree.
The way to make pearly shadows is to use warm gray next to cool gray. The art viewer’s eye will mix the dots for you and you get a lively gray not a dead gray. This is an old trick that a lot of artists know in theory but they don’t like gray so they don’t do it.
In this photo you can see the leg of the horse on the left and the crab in shadow on the right both still in the underpainting stage, and the flower stem crossing over the crab.
I made a lot of progress on the painting but I want to work on the green leaves and stems more. So far I’m doing the background, table top and flower, all cool colors on top of warm underpainting colors. I haven’t started on the crab colors or the horse or the flowers. I might have to wait for this to dry a little so I don’t smear it.
This is how I prepare the paint for dotting. Mix terpenoid in a little at a time with the palette knife until it’s smooth and soft then pick up a blob with the palette knife and mix more terpenoid into the paint with a paintbrush. Be careful not to have a blob of paint on the bottom of the palette knife because it might drip onto the painting causing a bad blip. With a good brush and runny paint you can get 20 or more dots if the paint is flowing off the brush nicely, without going back to reload the brush with paint. I’m using #3 round brushes. I’ve seen pointillist paintings with smaller dots but I think this is working.
If you hold the brush in one hand and the palette knife in the other hand you don’t have to keep reaching back to the palette for more paint. It’s a slow process but less wasted movement is a little more efficient over the course of the painting.
I did this color rough full size because I already have my subjects drawn this size and this helped me arrange them and make some executive decisions on how to paint this.
I’ll stand this up against the wall and try to make more decisions before I can paint, like, do I really want to use the checkered tablecloth or is it too busy? Because I could just paint it to look like my white plastic work table which is under the tablecloth.
Is that crab falling off the edge of the table too far gone? Maybe I should move the edge down 1/2 inch.
Is that flower going to work for the background? Is this arrangement working with my subjects this size? Do I need to try another arrangement? Do I really want to paint this? etc.
Considering the amount of time I already have in it starting with a few tries to draw the horse, the time spent on sketching the crabs, The time spent on sketching the tablecloth and flower, it all comes out to possibly 20 hours so far and it might take another 20 to paint it because I’m planning on trying pointillism again. After I spend that much time on it will I like it?
Having to make a lot of decisions for a painting can slow me down sometimes. I’m not one of those artists that can whip out a finished painting. Abstract mono prints, those I can whip out.
Any advice will be appreciated. More contrast? Composition ok? etc.
One of these days I’ll say, “Yes! I nailed it!” This is not the day but I don’t hate this attempt. Each try is getting me one step closer to my wave masterpiece which will happen some time before I die.
In the background you can see condos at Sandbridge about 2 miles up the beach and some waves far away. You can’t go past those pilings. That’s a restricted area for wildlife.
The pilings and shadows make arrows pointing down to the water. This close up shows where I’m trying to give the illusion of a thin layer of water on top of wet sand. It soaks in fast and some runs back out. That’s the sweet spot where you can see reflections of sky or maybe shore birds if they’re there.
This is a little rough because I wanted to do dry brush and try to make the painting fuzzy. I didn’t use any Terpenoid or medium.
You can see my brush strokes but I didn’t achieve the ultimate fuzzy effect that I’d like to get. I’m talking fuzzy like William Turner.
There are so many scenes that I have in mind to paint, I can’t just do waves, I’ll do other subjects and go back to waves at different times. No rush.
I got this far with it a few days ago when it rained. Now it’s raining again. After propping it against the wall where I can look at it once in a while, I’m not sure about it. I was working from my sketch and trying to mix colors from memory. Now I want to redo it and forget about trying to make it lifelike. I’m considering using more colors or if I should keep it limited like this is. I’d like to try a painting technique that I never use, dry brush. I want to make it fuzzy if I can. Fuzzy is in style. hahahah Stay tuned. I’ll show it to you even if it’s a disaster.
This much is painted with my brushes taped to yard sticks, ala Matisse, and I might continue with that. It’s a little hard to get started on a project if you don’t know what you’re doing. I know a lot of artists work from the subconscious or somehow spontaneous, I like to have a plan.
The masking fluid saved the orange dots in the water when I painted blue and gray on top of the masking fluid on top of the orange tint.
When the paint was dry I scratched off the bumps of paint on top of masking fluid with my fingernail. After I do the dishes my fingernail will be ok but there’s some paint discoloring it. That’s a normal fingernail for an artist. If you try this maybe you will think of a better way to do it than scraping with your fingernail.
People say masking fluid doesn’t work on oil paint. They are misinformed. If I can make it work, you can do it. I’ll give you the tips.
First, tint the paper or canvas with a thin wash in the color you want to save with masking fluid. They will tell you masking fluid doesn’t stick to oil paint but if you thin the paint enough with terpenoid you break down the oil and when it dries the pigments have less binding them to the paper and they get a little powdery. I brush off dry loose pigments with a paper towel before painting the masking fluid on it. The bright orange left plenty of color.
Second step, paint the masking fluid on the dry oil paint tint.
Third step, use a deer foot brush to put paint on top of the masking fluid without lifting it. If you use a stiff brush it might make the masking fluid come off but this brush which works great for stenciling won’t lift your masking fluid. You can build up a few layers of glazes and still see where the masking fluid makes bumps under your colors.
When it’s dry scrape off the bumps and Voila! masking fluid saved your bright dots or lines! This is easier than trying to paint bright orange dots on top of the blue and gray glazes because the orange is a semi transparent color and it shows up bright on a plain white paper or canvas but if you want to have bright orange dots on top of the blues and grays you have to take the time to under paint the dots with white and wait for the white to dry then do the orange on white.
So, yeah, if someone tells me it won’t work I might try to do it anyway. I learn the hard way sometimes but I’m not afraid of failure and once in a while something works for me and others don’t try at all. I could say I’m hard headed like my Mom or I could be a skeptic like my Dad or an unholy mix of the two. hahahahah
First I had to paint the flowers with white because the pinks won’t show up bright enough on the dark tinted paper since they’re semi transparent colors. Also, I couldn’t see the flowers well enough until I painted them to tell if they look like a good arrangement.
The background texture is from my modified fan brush. I wanted to make a look of pine needles on the ground
The scary part is the pinks. I mixed my colors in plein air sitting next to the azaleas and I think I have the closest pink to what it actually is, but it’s not as bright on my palette as it is in reality. Flower petals allow a little light to go through. They’re not 100% opaque because of the cell structure, if you know what I mean. The sun on the pink petals makes a brighter pink than you can buy in a tube of paint.
I need to do a color rough and see if the pink will be brighter if I use glazes of the two pinks that I have straight out of the tube.
First I need to go over this again and decide where to have shadows and where to have spotty sunlight. Then wait for that to dry before painting the pinks. I’m excited I got this far with the painting and might be able to finish it next week. It can dry this weekend. I’m going to PA.
As I’m sketching the flowers, I pick up information that a photo won’t give you. It’s not always easy to see the petals as separate shapes. I’m sure a camera would blend them together. I might be the only one interested in drawing petals separately but it could help me decide which direction to drag my brush on the painting, where the edges are if I want to keep edges. I’ll probably simplify the painting but I need detailed drawings.
Another thing a photo won’t make you aware of is that the buds and flowers come in groups of three. The stems are in threes too. The stems don’t go straight vertical but have some curve. Some of the petals have smooth edges and some have zig zag edges.
Now I realize that other plein air artists don’t care about separate petals. They’d go to the garden and start right in with slapping down some paint and finish the painting in a day or maybe less. I need the sketching time to figure out a plan.
The more flowers I sketch the easier it gets. I might need more flower sketches but maybe these are enough.
The two big azalea bushes I was standing between are in a kind of U shape where I can step off the path and stand between the bushes to sketch. These are on the shady side. I looked at the sunny side of the bushes and the sun was too bright on my white paper. It was blinding! I use the white paper last because it’s not great for sketching in plein air. Also when looking at the side in the direct sun all the flowers were lit equally bright. When I sketched the shady side it was easier on the eyes. I didn’t feel like going back to the car for my sunglasses.
As I was standing there for around an hour and a half to fill each of these papers with flowers, some spotty light fell on a few flowers at a time and it was much nicer to see than the bright glare of direct light. I decided to do my painting with spotty light. I’ll have to fake it on the sunlight if I paint this at home, but that means I can put as much sunlight in as I want to, because if I go back to the garden to paint the flowers will be different and I don’t know exactly what time the sun fell on any flower to catch it at it’s best.
So, yeah, and hour and a half on each sketch paper. That means I have around six hours in it so far and haven’t started painting yet. That’s one reason I can’t get in with a plein air group. Also, I don’t want to pay to join a group, I mean $35 to get your name on an email list? But they don’t like this approach to painting. They don’t want to go back day after day and do a bunch of sketches. But it’s a whole different process and if I ever sell a painting I’ll ask a lot more for it than their fast one day paintings would go for. They want their art openings to be “cohesive” which means the artists must conform. If all the paintings for sale are asking $300 and someone enters a painting and they want $1000 for it, the juror would reject it because they don’t want an artist to think their painting is worth so much more that any of the others.
I traced my flowers from the sketch papers and cut them out to arrange them on the paper I tinted for this painting. This step will help me decide if I need to draw more flowers or if this is enough. I want to have some flowers in the background too. If I can come up with a good arrangement then I’ll try to decide how much sunlight to put into the painting and where. I decided I want the spotty light to make the composition more than the flower shapes. If I can make a good composition with the flowers and light, I hope the viewer’s eye will move around the whole painting.