Daffodil Days

Daffodil Days

Daffodil Days

After the greys and browns of winter, this blaze of bright yellow is surreal. And yet, despite their vivid colour, they are very much an integrated part of the emerging spring growth. There are good years and bad years for wild daffodils. This year is a good year.  Very often an apparently random scattering of daffodils is all that remains of a cottage or farm house obliterated in the agricultural modernisation of the 1960’s.

For the bright yellow of the daffodils I used Winsor Lemon Yellow. This colour is a pure yellow without any hint of red, unlike Cadmium Yellow which I had thought of using. By using a ‘reddish’ background, provided by Burnt Sienna, and hints of blue (Cobalt) produced a contrast to the pure yellow of the Lemon Yellow. As the Lemon was the only yellow used throughout the entire painting the pure form used in the flowers was not disconnected from the general colour scheme. I have the striking yellow of the daffodils within a harmony of spring colour.

The 3 colours used are Winsor Lemon Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. The size is 12″ x 9″.

Here’s the video of the painting process, see you soon.

Moon Light

Moon Light

Moon Light

Having just passed the Spring Equinox (March 20th), the Sun and Moon vie for dominance in the evening sky. On this day, the last of the Sun’s rays were glowing in the upper atmosphere reflecting a dull eerie light. A crescent Moon cast shadows and distant street lighting sparkled through the gloom.

Its amazing how differently we perceive a ‘Moon scape’ when compared to how the camera captures it. The photograph never records what we think we see. For example, to the unaided eye the Moon near the horizon is huge and as it rises appears to shrink in size. A multi-exposure photograph shows the Moon does not appear smaller as it rises into the sky. In fact without a bit of photographic expertise the Moon will appear no bigger than a star.

Also, in low light levels, we don’t see colour. Our eyes trade off colour vision in favour of a sharp monochrome image. A ‘Moon scape’ is very much a work of the imagination. The artist, painter or photographer, must manipulate the image to match what we think we see in a Moon-lit landscape. To a greater or lesser extent, every ‘realistic’ landscape, day or night, has to be manipulated to fit the way we ‘think’ the world is.

4 colours used this time. The 3 primaries, red, yellow, blue are Burnt Sienna, Winsor Lemon Yellow, Cerulean Blue. In this painting I needed a good purple. Purple is a red/blue mix. My red/blue mix from Burnt Sienna and Cerulean Blue is a bad purple, so Dioxazine Purple is used.

Here’s the video of the painting process. See you soon.

Shortcut

Shortcut

Shortcut

As the days pass there is an emerging greeness heralding the lush growth of spring. On sunny days the light penetrates deep into the woods.

When I paint a sky which will be overpainted later, usually with trees, I will keep the sky paint as thin as possible to reduce the interference from the under paint. I also minimise this by not using a medium and using Alkyd quick dry oil colours. However painting wet on wet means there will be a certain amount of mixing, regardless.

This is not all bad, the under colour can help in modelling the shapes of tree branches when the solvent rich colour is applied on top. Because I use a very limited palette (3 colours in this painting) the over paint is usually a variation of what is already underneath. This means there will not be a loss of chroma which happens when too many different colours come together with white in there as well.

You will notice I applied a thick layer of paint in the sky on the extreme right. This was mostly white with blue and yellow. This, of course, was very useful in giving the effect of sunlight in the fine branches and budding leaves, painted on top. Although the white underneath was still wet I was able to put a thin layer of yellow on top without too much mixing.

The yellow was Yellow Ochre and this is exceptionally transparent, so a thin layer on top of white gives a ‘glowing’ colour, a lot richer than a colour made by mixing white with Yellow Ochre on the palette. You can see this difference if you compare the yellow in the clouds and distant fields, both made by mixing on the palette.

Here’s the video of the process, see you soon.

 

After the Storm

After the Storm

After the Storm

After the recent high winds, snow, sleet, hail, rain, the landscape has a ‘shredded’ look. What a change from recent days.

The colours used are Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. These 3 work particularly well in winter landscapes if green is not required. Raw Sienna is too red to produce a green when mixed with a strong blue as Cobalt is. A similar colour, Yellow Ochre, will give the most natural greens, mixed with Cobalt (see here).

This painting, like the last is painted in flat ‘curtains’ of thin atmospheric colour. I used a single filbert bristle and allowed the colours to fade into the next without much cleaning of the brush. I also used variations on these background colours to suggest the buds on the trees, The filbert shape is so versatile as I switch from flat featureless distant hazes to the impossible details of trees. All lines of the graphic details of storm damaged trees were painted with a ‘liner’ (sign writers brush).

This painting is 18″x11″ and was painted in one session in under 2 hours. As usual I used no medium, only solvent, and even as I finished the painting, the dark shadows were beginning to go pale from the evaporation of the solvent. It will however spring back to life when I ‘oil it out’ in a few days.

Here’s the video of the painting process, see you soon.

Spring Light

Spring Light

Spring Light

The woods are about to spring into life. The light has arrived but the temperatures are still a bit low. At the moment the trees are bare, except for the beeches with their brown, over-winter foliage. Soon it will be green, green and more green and I will be trying to add a bit of ‘spice’ to this monotony. Its always a challenge.

I was trying to convey sunlight without the usual ‘sunny day’ look. Cool sunlight, fresh and clear. The curtain of blue (Prussian plus a little Lemon Yellow) in the background and water, dominate the scene. The touches of warm colours (Burnt Sienna, green and yellow) produce a vibrant contrast.

The painting has a graphic look created with a sign painters ‘liner’. An inexpensive nylon brush used to paint long continuous lines on signage. Trees drawn with these long unbroken lines, from the ground upwards, convey the growth patterns of trees. The loaded brush at ground level produces a thick heavy line which thins as the brush travels upwards. Its important to rotate the brush between your fingers, especially at the fine line stage. This keeps the bristles pointed, otherwise, instead of really fine lines you’ll get a ‘furry’ blur.

Remember, I don’t use a medium. The background has to be a really well brushed, thin layer of paint with solvent only added. In a few minutes the solvent evaporates and this can be painted over with the fine lines. The paint used to ‘draw’ the fine lines has the consistency of ink, produced by adding loads of solvent and ‘mulling’ the paint with the flat of the palette knife. If this paint does not contain more solvent than the surface on to which you are painting, the background paint will be lifted onto the brush with no paint will be applied. This technique irritates many traditional oil painters who like the thick, sticky consistency of oil paint.

Also remember I use Alkyd Oil Colours. These are fast drying colours and begin to ‘set’ as soon as they are applied, so the background can be painted earlier than with traditional oils.

The colours used were Winsor Lemon, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue plus black and white. I used a single filbert bristle and the ‘liner’ mentioned above. The solvent was Artists White Spirits (a petroleum spirit for thinning paint). The size is 13″x9″.

Here’ the video, see you soon.

Flooded

Flooded

Flooded

The return of the sun is welcome, especially in the evenings. The sunsets, now approaching 6pm, are lit with a golden glow. I can’t wait for the 10pm sunsets in a few months time.

As in recent paintings I’m using 3 colours and a single bristle brush to produce an evolution of colour from one to the next without cleaning the brush between mixes. Its a discipline which makes me think more about colour in relation to what has gone before and what is about to be applied. I think it also allows more flexibility in revisiting areas of the painting and making fine adjustments to existing colour. By reducing the variables of paint and brushes simplifies the process and can more easily be imagined before I start. This allows me to start the painting without the need to sketch out the scene, something I would have done up until recently.

The colours are almost the same as recent paintings. Yellow Ochre instead of Raw Sienna – less ‘red’, and Burnt Umber instead of Raw Umber – more ‘red’. The blue is still Cerulean, in keeping with these misty dull days.

Here’s the video of the painting, see you soon.

Bleak February

Bleak February

Bleak February

Its cold and bleak with a North wind threatening snow and sleet. Now and then the sun breaks through and illuminates the desiccated vegetation.

Raw Umber and Cerulean Blue are the colours I associate with this time of year. Mixed, they produce a range of colours from the grey of clouds to the deep dark shadows of winter woodland, all from the same 2 colours adding white for clouds and black for the deep shadows. What a harmony this creates.

Raw Sienna was the third colour. To emphasise and contrast the sunlit area, Raw Sienna was used very sparingly in the other parts of the painting. A little was used in the sunlit clouds and again in the dirt track with patches here and there in the foreground grasses. These patches are isolated and kept separate from the main body of cool green grass. This helps to integrate this area of warm golden sunlight in the overall cold scene. Too much contrast of colour would look a little odd.

I used a single filbert bristle and allowed the colour evolve one into the next by not cleaning the brush. This is one of the advantages of a limited palette with the entire painting a range of variations of the same basic colour. The fine lines were painted with an inexpensive nylon ‘rigger’.

Here’s the video of the process, see you soon.