The problem with this time of year, for landscape artists in Ireland, is the overabundance of green. The monotony of green. Its a real challenge to produce variety from one painting to the next. Green is a difficult colour at the best of times. The standard greens like Viridian, Chrome Green or Sap Green straight from the tube have to be conditioned with a red colour to have a natural look. In fact the most natural greens are usually those made from mixing yellow and blue. The colour will vary infinitely between the yellow and blue so its easier not to have a uniform boring colour.
My next painting is also a green Summer landscape and I made a big effort to be different.
In the meantime have a look at the painting of this one See you tomorrow.
If you visited Ross Castle at Killarney, you probably passed this scene. I thought as a subject for a painting this was more interesting than the usual ‘tourist’ scene of the castle and lakes. The circular shape of the bridge and its reflection has a surreal appearance in this ‘jungle’ like setting. I painted the bridge and boats as smooth regular shapes and everything else as chaotic blobs of paint.
I’m still using the Alkyd fast drying paints and these are way more flexible in a single session painting. Another characteristic of Alkyd is the ability to paint on more absorbent surfaces than you would do with standard oils. This painting is on Daler Oil Painting Paper. I’ve had this for years but found it way too absorbent for oils. The only disadvantage is its mechanical weave not like the organic texture of canvas. The paint layer is thick so very little of the weave is evident in the final painting.
The painting was completed in under 2 hours and I will have the video of the process in a day or two. See you then.
Between storms the sun’s heat is driving the midges and Mayflies into a frenzy. The natural world is, at last, waking up to the possibilities of May. I was thinking of how I would manage a painting with swarming insects to suggest this intense explosion of life. I tried to find a painting with swarming insects to see how other artists would approach this subject. I couldn’t find any. Plenty of drawings and painting of individual insects, but none as an element in a landscape. I took a photograph of one such buzzing swarm. To represent this image in a painting as it appears in the photograph would amount to a splatter of dots. Very acceptable in a photograph, but looking like a mould growth on a painting.
I haven’t given up on painting this subject yet. It means working out a setting and context to portray this overlooked natural process.
With this ‘coming to life’ in mind I created this painting. No insects, just the possibility of a swarm, and the beginning of the cycle of life and death. I felt that sombre contrasting colour and an obvious repeating pattern of verticals would create an ‘edgy’ mood of expectation.
Again I used only 3 colours. Windsor Lemon, Burnt Umber and French Ultramarine Blue. I’m still using Alkyd fast drying oil paints and like the speed at which I can overpaint without a ‘greasy’ build-up of paint.
I will post the video of the painting process in a few days. See you then.
In the last posting I mentioned a little about the construction or composition of this painting. Its a subject I’m the most uncomfortable with because its that which starts as a vague idea and grows into a form continually changing. The inspiration driving us to attempt a particular painting, decides the shape and direction the painting will follow. So its difficult to quantify and put into words.
In traditional landscape painting there are simple guidelines like placing objects off centre and balancing the the whole arrangement. In reality I find it much more complicated than this but I like having a framework or guide to follow. Its difficult to create in a vacuum.
All painting is ultimately abstract. The apparent balance, colour harmony and recognisable scene, etc., collectively are like the cover of a book – an invitation to read the contents. Unlike a book the contents are not literal, more like a piece of music, you like it or you don’t and you can’t say why.
I learn a lot from watching other artists work. As the saying goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and a moving picture is worth even more. Here is the video of this painting. See you soon.
‘Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May’ (Sonnet 18, W. Shakespeare), and we are getting our fair share of rough winds at the moment.
I started this painting with 3 colours only, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue, and decided after a few minutes to add Viridian Green. I was interested in producing a natural landscape of a typical May day and the greens produced by mixing Yellow Ochre and Prussian Blue when placed in situ just didn’t look rich enough. At this early stage in the painting I was able to add green to the sky to spread the strong green around a bit. A strong colour can look unnatural if it is confined to a small area as it was going to be in the left foreground of this painting.
The composition is a little odd. Diagonal lines can suggest movement, so the sky was composed in this way. Its diagonal is strengthened by connecting to the solid left lower corner. This is a hidden structure to help the feeling of movement conveyed by the trees and vegetation in the scene. The vertical line of the lake, lower centre, could have continued the diagonal line and moved to the left but I think as a strong vertical it draws attention to the trees and grasses and how strong the wind is.
I will post the video in a few days. See you then.