I’ve been away from my blog most of the winter but I’ve been busy painting in both oil and pastel and finally had a somewhat decent and sunny day when I could photograph a couple of my painting. It’s been a frustrating winter for me artistically and physically since I’ve been unwell on and off for much of it and found myself in a creative rut where everything that I did was less than satisfactory; however, I did manage to complete one landscape painting that I’m mostly happy with, called Autumn Woodland Stream.
This painting is composed from a couple reference pictures that I found of the Bruce Trail near Hamilton, Ontario. I used to have the odd opportunity to hike along the beautiful woodland along the Niagara Escarpment and have happy memories of those years during my 20s. I did a few value studies and compositional sketches before starting the first block in. All in all there are probably 3-5 layers of oil paint since I used thinner transparent colours to create what I hope is an interesting surface for the painting, than I added details in key areas where I want the viewer’s eye to travel. I also created several visual pathways using value changes and hopefully well placed tree branches to create a semi dramatic atmosphere in an otherwise quiet woodlot. I hope that I’ve managed to capture a sense of the sacredness of the forest, the water and all its creatures.
For all those pigment fanatics, I used W&N artist’s Titanium white, yellow ocher, cadmium orange, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, burnt sienna and Old Holland, Zinc White, Persian red and French Ultramarine Blue Light Extra (which is great for those darker violets). I’ve starting painting a few studies using pigments by Blockx, Michael Harding and Old Holland and will probably leave W&N behind since the higher quality paint have a much better pigment load resulting in better luminosity and intensity then the cheaper pigments. The Michael Harding Cobalt blue and Blockx Yellow Ocher are both especially nice, I will be trying more pigments by these two companies in the future. And Old Holland can’t be beat, I adore their FUB and Red Iron Oxide (Persian/Indian Red), together they create a lovely natural mauve, you just need to be careful that you don’t blow the blue out of the water with the super dense Persian red.
For some reason the photo seems to be flattening the composition; in reality, the actual painting seems to have more depth but at least the colors are more or less correct. Camera + painting = frustration.
Autumn Woodland Stream, 16×25″, Oil on Canvas
Living near Lake Erie has given me an appreciation of the beauty and sometimes violet nature of the lake, but it’s always been the sunsets that are the most dramatic. For some reason I never seem to have the camera with me at the right moment so when I saw a friend post a picture of a sunset along the lake on her Facebook page, I just had to ask her if I could use it. Thank you Tracy!
I also tried a new surface with the Colorfix Supertooth paper and like it well enough since it allows for a couple more layers of pastel and it has a much softer texture; however, it doesn’t go as far as Wallis Paper. Pastels include the usual Unisons and Ludwigs and the under drawing was done using Faber-Castell pastel pencils. I also used a few of the very warm colors in the Ludwig Plen Air set to make those shadows in the foreground vibrate. I probably took the greatest amount of time trying to recreate that dramatic sky leaving me to wonder why something as soft and simple looking as a sky can be so complicated. This must be the smallest pastel work that I’ve done yet and have to say that it’s great to have a piece that I actually like that isn’t so large and didn’t take so many hours to complete.
Soft Pastel on Colorfix Supertooth Paper 9×11”
I think it’s funny how artists always say that it’s bad to use too much green in landscape paintings and yet green is one of Nature’s dominate colors; seemingly, the color of life. It’s is also one of my favorites (perhaps it’s the gardener in me) therefore I decided to break with conventional wisdom and paint a landscape using green as the dominate theme. Sometimes you just need to do things the way you want since art begins with the artists and it is an expression of those artistic desires. I worked from a picture that I had taken near the Grand River in late spring before the terribly dry summer really kicked in so perhaps this is an expression of what summer needed to be instead of what we got.
I used Terry Ludwig and Unison Pastel on Wallis Belgium Mist paper.
The Green Walk, Soft Pastel on Wallis Paper, 18×12”
It’s been awhile since my last post I see…guess this means that it has been summer break time…or at least that’s my excuse. However, I’ve been busy at the pastel easel and have completed some new work including this one.
We decided to stop along the Grand River in Cayuga, Ontario on our way back from delivering some work to the gallery, so I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of the river for reference images. I loved how the gnarled willow tree was growing over the river like an old woman stretching after waking from a long nap. The bark was deeply creviced and the leaves and branches allowed the light to travel through creating a lace-like appearance. The sky was partly overcast lending a silvery appearance to the still waters of the Grand which is something I hope that I’ve managed to capture in this painting.
I used mostly Ludwig’s with a few Unison’s on Belgium Mist Wallis paper. For the darker tree trunk and branches I used the lovely warm brown pastel BE#6 that came with the Unisons Landscape Set of 72, it is the most wonderful rich velvety brown a pastel artist could ever want.
The Old River Tree 12×18″ Pastel on Wallis Paper
I’ll post my newer work over the next couple weeks.
I wanted to share my latest bit of news, I have been accepted into my first gallery since picking up the art again. The Grand River Gallery is located in Caledonia, Southern Ontario, Canada, and is a lovely place to enjoy viewing beautiful work by several talented local artists. The owner, Rene Ariens accepted my pastel Woodland Path and my orchid portrait Lady Rothschild as part of his collection for the next few months. Be sure to drop by the gallery if you’re in the area.
Paph Lady Rothschild
Somehow this painting started out as an autumn scene and transformed itself into a spring scene, not sure how that happened, perhaps it had something to do with the arrival of season after a very long winter.
I worked on a new surface wanting to experiment with something a little different and I do like how the colors are more brilliant and striking then on the colored surfaces. I had started another pastel on an Ampersand Pastelbord and ended up washing it off and repriming it with several layers of Golden Fine Pumice Gel. Another time I would use a coarse ground for soft pastel since this would allow for more layers of the pastel and it would be more agreeable with my soft Ludwig’s.
The trees and shrubs remind me of forsythia, purple smoke brushes and apple or pear trees in bloom, which are species I saw frequently in the horticulture business. I also used the beautiful Unison turquoise pastels in the sky along with a very pale and cooler Ludwig turquoise in the water. The colors in water should always be cooler than those on land, one of the ways you can separate land from water.