April Sunshine

April Sunshine

April Sunshine

On these dry, cold and windy days we get a flashback of the past winter. In recent paintings I began to use colours like Cadmium Yellow to express the colourful growth of Spring. Here I used ‘Winter’ colours to paint the brightness and promise, hopefully, of finer days to come.

The 3 colours I used here were, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Cerulean Blue. This blue is a mild warm colour, not good in mixes to produce green or purples so the overall end result is blues and browns, ideal for this subject. As you probably know I use Alkyd fast drying oil colours. Some colours, like Cerulean, are not available in the Alkyd range. The Cerulean is a ‘hue’ for some reason. Maybe its OK but in these cases I use the traditional oil colour. Alkyd and and ordinary oils are compatible when mixed but should not painted in distinct layers (each dry before the next is applied) with the Alkyd as the final. Alkyd dries so fast it would retard the final drying of under layers of ordinary oils. As my method is ‘alls prima’ the paint get well mixed before they are applied as a single layer.

The Alkyd colours tend to be more transparent than their equivalent oil colours. This was noticeable when painting the blue of the sky. The white, which was Alkyd Titanium, added a transparency to the blue mix which is not usual for the very opaque Cerulean Blue. It looks more like the Cobalt or Ultramarine blues in terms of transparency, very nice for this sky.

Here is the video, see you soon.

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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.