Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Twirling Ribbon and Little Pumpkins

Studio Set Up Little Pumpkins
In late summer, painters sometimes lament that there is just too much bright green in the landscape.   We look for any other color than green and play that color up - to the extent possible anyway.   This year was different;  the lack of rain in New England has had an impact on the look of the landscape and the amount of green.   The tips of the leaves have prematurely turned a dry yellow.  Even the sound of the landscape is dry and "rustling" instead of moist and quiet.  

In the vegetable garden, the watering restriction has affected the amount and size of the tomatoes.  We didn't get too many tomatoes, like most years!

Monochromatic Underpainting

The pumpkin variety I planted seemed to thrive despite the arid conditions.   These pumpkins were not the monster-sized, county fair type pumpkins that require lots of water, but rather, the small ornamental variety called "Jack-Be-Little."   Approximately twenty-five little pumpkins were harvested from a mere six plants. I decided to set up a still life with several of these little fruits.

Twirling Ribbon - Stage Two
Using a larger 22 x 28" canvas, it was important to plan out the composition carefully. This still life plays up a complimentary scheme of orange and blue.   What would look nice with a bunch of little orange pumpkins?   Blue things, of course.  A rustic blue pottery vase, a clay pot, blue hydrangeas and a spool of blue ribbon were the elements that seemed to harmonize.    Several set-ups were attempted and rearranged before arriving at this arrangement.  A monochromatic block in was completed first.  In the stage two photo, see the mid-tones, some blues and oranges.

I applied a transparent dark wash onto the bare canvas.  The monochromatic stage photo above shows the wipe outs that established the structure of the painting.   This stage was worked over the course of two days while the transparent wash was since workable.

Since this was a studio still life, the painting method used was "indirect."   The indirect method means many thin paint layers of paint were built up over time to achieve a luminous glow that resembles a classical realist look.
Stage Three with Real Bittersweet

Once the painting was at Stage Three, it needed something more.   I placed the painting on the floor and positioned a length of fresh bittersweet over the front of an awkward area in the middle of the painting.   I liked it how the bittersweet masked the "not so great" spot, so I painted it in as a way to unite the two sides of the still life.  Over the next few weeks, additional layers were built up warm glow to the lights and blue glow to the shadows.   The complete, or at least nearly complete painting is shown.

Twirling Ribbon and Little Pumpkins

The last issue to address with a luminescent painting like this is capturing a quality photograph.   The extra oily glow makes it difficult to get a good, shine-free image.  A polarized filter and low light setting helps.    This image isn't too bad, but I'll probably work on getting an even better image.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Boston Guild at Public Garden

Painting with the Boston Guild

Today a number of painters gathered at the Boston Public Garden to share easels and supplies with anyone who wanted to give painting a try.    It was a gorgeous October day so in addition to interested painters, lots of tourists and walkers were enjoying the demonstrations.

Footbridge in Progress
My painting depicts a classic Boston scene, namely the footbridge over the duck pond.  I don't mind painting a scene that I've painted before, in fact, it seems easier.    Perhaps being familiar with the lines and angles from a previous paint out frees up the mind to inject some creative flair.  In this case it was using multi-colored piles of paint (unblended), applied in a thick layer for the high key bridge supports, and the darkest transparents under the bridge.   And although it was October, few trees had peak autumn colors.  That didn't deter me (and other painters) from pumping up the greens with yellow, gold and red.   The many trees were reflected in the duck pond, broken up by the surface ripples.  


I noticed several couples pausing on the bridge, enjoying their romantic moment.   Hugs, selfies and even engagements happen here.   This famous spot is a beloved Boston scene, and a perfect scene to share with your beloved.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Arched Stone Portal

Arched Stone Doorway

The rustic brick villa looked mysterious but inviting and was capped with a beautiful stone archway. Simple geraniums planted asymmetrically enhanced the lovely old entrance to the cottage inn.  It was located down the end of a moist, shaded path through some woodlands. Ivy clung to the brickwork which looked extra green against its warm pink complement.