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.
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.
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.
I’m adjusting to the Alkyd Fast drying oil colours. The changeover from standard oils was gradual with a phase where I was using Alkyd as an under layer and finishing the painting in standard oils.
Now its Alkyd only. At one point I thought they were only useful as an under layer as the luminosity of the lighter coloured mixes were not as intense as standard oils. This painting and the next (just completed) are exercises in vivid colour, contrast, glowing highlights, and rich shadows.
My initial thoughts about lack of strength in the colours was probably due to the fast drying. By the time the painting was finished in about 2 hours the paint was already beginning to dry and the usual dulling of the colours was already happening. I’ve ‘oiled out’ the recent paintings and wow they’re sparkling.
It started beautiful, a mild and sunny Spring day. By late afternoon the clouds were gathering and a darkness spread across the landscape. The first clap of thunder was unexpected as we did not notice the flash. The startled birds had taken to flight by the time the second flash lit the darkening sky, followed by an earth shaking rumble of thunder.
I am reluctant to paint spectacular natural phenomena. Whether its a sunset or cloud formation, or a grossly unusual gnarled tree. If they are faithfully depicted the integrity of the image is suspect. After all, an artist can imagine any scene and the resultant image may be a figment of his/her imagination.
This scene is from the imagination. I tried to create a natural landscape as it was in this split second of the lightning strike. Not spectacular, just natural beauty. Hopefully, in its normality it will be accepted and invite the spectator to explore.
The shape of the lightning reminded me of an inverted tree. So the scene was created based on the similarity between these two very different natural forms. The world was divided down the middle. Heavenly lit on one side, contrasting with the chaotic, gritty natural world.
As usual I’ll post the video of the painting process in a few days. See you then.
The video shows how easy it is to paint onto a wet layer of paint without too much mixing with the base layer. A problem when shadow colours are needed on a layer containing white.
The fast drying paint (Alkyd) I’m using at the moment is working great and the range of painting types that can be completed in alla prima has greatly expanded. I’m actually looking for subjects to stretch the capabilities of this medium.
In the meantime here is the video of the painting process for this painting. I will be posting a completely different painting type tomorrow. See you then.