Apple Blossom Days

Apple Blossom Time

Apple Blossom Days

After a relatively mild and wet winter the blossoms are early this year. The May Bush, or Hawthorn, is in bloom. As the name suggests this normally flowers in the month of May.

Painting flowers requires a paint colour appropriate to the particular flower. The richness cannot be suggested by the ‘dull’ colours I normally use. In this painting, the pink of the apple blossom was achieved by using Alizarin Crimson. The other colours in the painting were Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine.

There are a few very strong colours which can dominate a painting and upset the harmony of colour. Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow or Viridian Green are three that come to mind. In the natural world there is a natural harmony of colour. I have found that in a painting just matching what I think I’m seeing and throwing in an array of colour never creates a natural landscape painting. It must be something to do with the fact we are conscious we are not looking at the real thing but an interpretation. We are viewing a rectangle of various pigments playing at being a real world.

The crimson in the middle of a area of green would be a jarring combination of colour. To lessen this unpleasant combination I made the overall colour slightly purple by using French Ultramarine (a purple blue) and spread the crimson as much as possible throughout the entire painting. Viewed on its own its not noticeably purple and the crimson of the blossoms are not out of place or alien to the general scene, but viewed beside the last painting the difference in the overall colouring is very noticeable.

Apple Blossom Time

Apple Blossom Days

Two Gates

Two Gates

 

I’ve included two thumbnail photos of this painting and the last one to show the overall colours relative to each other. In the previous painting the use of Cadmium Yellow was the issue. In today’s painting, although Cadmium Yellow was also used, its the crimson that would have unhinged the harmony more than the yellow.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Two Gates

Two Gates

Two Gates

Its the time of year for painting trees. The leaf buds have just opened but are not numerous enough yet, to conceal the branches. In celebration of the lush growth I’ve used Cadmium Yellow instead of the usual Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna to produce richer greens. As usual with such a strong colour I’ve tried to spread it as much as possible, especially in the sky, to maintain a harmony of colour throughout the painting.

In planning the painting I was interested in the shapes of the trees and so I needed to isolate them from the background. I didn’t want to use a ‘photographic’ blur in the distance, so although the distance is not sharply defined I painted a few details sharply (the tree trunks) to produce a ‘human eye’ scene and not what a camera sees. Another design trick was to have a lighter tone in the distance. Finally, the viewpoint was low enough to raise the hedgerow and silhouette it against the sky and distant forest.

The colours used are Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue plus black and white. I’ve not used any medium just solvent. This, I think, helps a lot in keeping the loose and sketchy look to the painting. Sometimes a medium, even Liquin, produces a ‘stickiness’ which makes painting heavy and stodgy.

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

Abandoned House, Graney

Abandoned House, Graney

Abandoned House, Graney

This peculiar ruin, a well known landmark, is on the road between Castledermot and Baltinglass. Its unusual because its so tall, possibly 3 storeys with 2 tall chimney stacks, and for an 18th century farm house this is unusual. For such an enduring structure I don’t when, or why, it was abandoned. Possibly as a result of a fire, or maybe several fires, as the roof was probably thatched.

I decided to set the scene with a dramatic morning sky. This was not what it was like when I photographed the scene. That day there was a drizzling fog and not at all in keeping with what I had remembered it like the last time I passed this way. On that occasion it was a clear bright morning and what a sight was presented as I rounded the corner and was confronted by this ghostly shell of a house.

I used 3 simple colours here, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue. I knew the green produced by this yellow and blue would be just right for this early morning light. Green always produces problems if painted as a monotonous layer as it tends to dominate a painting. I made sure to have as many colours as possible underneath  the green before finally laying it down. Some of the under colour mixed with the green and in other places I didn’t completely cover the under layer.

As there are only 3 colours used and the same yellow and blue were also used in the sky, there is a green tinge in the sky. This is not too noticeable as a green colour, as the solid version of this green is so close by on the middle distance ground. What is noticeable is the harmony between the sky and ground colours. A distinct advantage of a limited palette.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

 

Wicklow Storm

Wicklow Storm

Wicklow Storm

This unusual and wind bent tree is on the shores of Glendalough in County Wicklow. When I need a break from the flat land of Kildare I travel a few miles east to this mountainous part of Ireland. Glendalough is a popular tourist location and a must-see for overseas visitors. Apart from the spectacular scenery, the remains of the monastic settlement (founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century) give an idea of the importance of this ‘Monastic City’ 1500 years ago.

The colours I used when I started this painting were Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue, similar to the last painting. However as I began to paint in the foreground, I couldn’t get the richness and depth of colour needed. The 3 colours produce beautiful harmonious colours and are great when suggesting a landscape running into the distance. Trying to overpaint a foreground, as in the line of trees, in the same limited range of colour is going to cause problems.

I use Olive Green as it is rich and dark and a similar shade of green as that produced by Yellow Ochre and Cobalt. Even as a neat unmixed colour it has a natural green colour.

I am using fine ‘liner brushes’ (used by sign writers) at the moment to help with the really fine lines of branches and grasses. I tried Liquin Fine Line and didn’t find it great for my application. My technique is to thin the paint with solvent only, to the consistency of ink. More fluid than the wet paint onto which I’m painting. If its not this thin, the brush will pick up paint rather than put it down. Draw the lines with a flicking action, rotating the brush. It takes a bit of practice, but its worth the effort.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Daybreak, Dollardstown Wood

Daybreak, Dollardstown Wood

Daybreak, Dollardstown Wood

I was planning to paint this scene as a dull grey morning with loads of blue-grey mist. The sky was already painted to fit such a scene when I had a change of mind and decided to look forward to a more pleasant sunny time which, hopefully will be here soon.

This is why Cadmium Yellow arrived late on the palette. The original colours were Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. The combination of the yellows (Cadmium & Ochre) produce the most amazing range of ‘golden’ colours and it certainly has produced the brilliant light effect here.

Adding such a strong colour late into my painting process means backtracking to introduce this colour into as many places as possible to avoid alienating the particular shade of yellow. I would always try and have the entire range of colours in every part of the painting, particularly the sky. As it worked out it was good that this yellow was not in the sky mixes. This would have introduced too much warmth into the morning sky. As it is, in contrast to the rich hot colours created by the rising sun, the sky does seem to be cool.

Here is the painting process, see you soon.

Many Weathers – Time Lapse Painting

Many Weathers

Many Weathers

A little bit of everything, weather-wise. There is a definite touch of Spring in the air. The cattle are out of their Winter quarters in spite of the wet conditions. For many farmers the winter feed is coming to an end and there is no choice but to let them out.

I’ve used my 3 favourite colours here – Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue.

Here’s the video, see you soon.

The Gap – Time Lapse Painting

The Gap

The Gap

When the black herds of the rain were grazing,
In the gap of the pure cold wind
And the watery hazes of the hazel
Brought her into my mind,
I thought of the last honey by the water
That no hive can find.
From The Lost Heifer by Austin Clarke

For a while I’ve not included black in my limited palette, usually of 3 colours. Not using black seems to be the norm by landscape painters. Probably because I use so few colours but I found it a bit restrictive. I would have to use a dark blue (Ultramarine or Prussian) to produce dark shadows and even at that it meant layer after layer of alternating red (Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber or Indian Red) and blue to build up the darks.
Here I have used Cobalt Blue and also black. It gives the painting a more ‘gritty’ look and in keeping with my current painting subjects – cold, wintery landscapes.
The colours used here are Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Cobalt Blue, plus black and white.
Here’s the video, see you soon.

The Lost Heifers – Time Lapse Painting

The Lost Heifers

The Lost Heifers

Brightness was drenching through the branches
When she wandered again,
Turning sliver out of dark grasses
Where the skylark had lain,
And her voice coming softly over the meadow
Was the mist becoming rain.
(from The Lost Heifer by Austin Clarke)

An interesting part of this painting is the reflections of light on the stream on the left. The normal procedure, in oil painting, is to paint in the darker colours then the highlights of the reflections and ripples are finally painted on top. This is what I did in the foreground.

However, on the left I painted the highlight colour first. Its Windsor Lemon Yellow, a transparent rich yellow. It was applied with solvent only and by the time I was ready to ‘draw’ in the shadows and reflections, the solvent had evaporated.

The Lemon Yellow highlights are better, I think, in this situation. The transparency gives a subtle  inner glow which I don’t a ‘whitish’ colour would achieve.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Flood Light – Time Lapse Painting

Flood Light

Flood Light

The same colours and theme as in recent paintings, here I used a knife to create the chaotic tangle of bushes and briars in this small clump of trees. The reflected light was glinting in the flooded grass and the points of light had a similar look as the trees. In this small painting the texture of the canvas was just the correct scale to represent the fine details of the trees. I don’t like using the canvas texture that much as it adds a ‘mechanical’ look to the area painted. You can see this texture in the trees left by the flat side of the knife.

The painting is 12″ x 9″ and took just over an hour to complete. Here’s the video, see you soon.

Flood – Time Lapse Painting

Flood

Flood

This is another painting of the our countryside after the recent exceptionally heavy rainfall. There are parts of Ireland, in the West, and many parts of the UK where the flooding is not such a pleasant happening. This is ‘marginal’ land in the process of drainage operations. In former times this would flood on an annual basis, now it’s an occasional occurrence. In a week or two it will return to pleasant pasture and the livestock will be let loose after their winter confinement.

The technique is similar to the last few paintings. Layers of colour are built up using solvent only, no medium. These colour layers are dark with transparent areas which will be left in the final painting. Two areas in particular are the result of this method. The blue of the deep wood and the orange of the sunlit trees. There was a little white used in these areas, but its largely transparent colour.

I used a colour in this painting I rarely use – Windsor Lemon Yellow. The other colours were the same as the last painting (here). They are Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna & Ultramarine Blue. The Lemon is almost a highlight colour and I used it on its own in a few areas. Its not a natural yellow and for this reason I mix it with the Ochre to calm it down a little. It also does not produce rich mixes with either the Burnt Sienna or the Ultramarine. As I usually do with a colour like this, I placed it in the sky so as not to have it out of harmony with the rest of the painting. It was applied as an under colour, not in a final mix. The under colour of Lemon mixed a little with the white, added on top and it produced the faintest of lemon tints in the clouds.

Here’s the video. The painting is 18″ x 12″ and took about three hours to complete. See you soon.