I first picked up oils again about four years ago and this was one of the first paintings that I did and actually liked and triggered a memory of a natural landscape which I can’t quite identify which leaves me with a feeling of nostalgia. It has been hanging on a wall in my house ever since I finished it and I finally decided to part with it and try to sell it online. An artistic teacher had said something about how artists don’t try to paint mist and fog in their landscape paintings often enough and these atmospheric weather conditions have always held a certain attraction for me so I try to do this periodically and this was one of the first oil paintings where I practiced this. I used artist grade Windsor and Newton oil paints on a pre-stretched canvas which is also an artist grade support. After about a year and a half of painting with oils I found soft pastels and enjoy using them since they require less clean up and you get finished results much sooner or at least I usually tend not to play around with pastels as much as the oils. I also needed to put the oils down since lifting the brush up and over the level of my shoulder was painful and the whole arm would go numb and the shoulder joint would hurt like crazy! I’m hoping that the shoulder will permit me to pick up the oils again if I should feel the lure of the brush again. I pulled the oils out recently and looked them over however the desire to use them didn’t quite hit me yet hopefully it will in the future and I would like to develop a more mature style with the soft pastels as well.
This piece will be shipped sandwiched between two pieces of foam board and packed in a card board box with packing media for protection.
Morning Mist on a Northern Lake, pastel on paper, 16×20″
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
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love trees, the more majestic they are the better and it’s hard to come across a tree with more presence than a redwood. I few years ago we planted a dawn redwood in our backyard hoping to one day have a tree similar to the mighty redwoods out west. The first tree didn’t make it since a cat used the trunk as a scratching post thereby killing it. We planted another in its place which is growing along nicely. I found a few pictures of the second dawn redwood on my computer and I was inspired to paint a mature redwood forest and I searched through several reference photos’ before finding a few to use. So this painting was completed in memory of the beautiful young dawn redwood that just wasn’t to be.
You can also read more about Metasequoia glyptostroboides from Michael A. Dirr’s book Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Here
Redwood's Waterfall, Oil on Canvas, 18x26"
I tried to capture a sense of dampness and heaviness in the painting and perhaps a feeling of things lurking around the corner as is if the creatures of the forest have been frightened away by the viewer’s sudden appearance. I’ve started the painting a couple months ago with the mass planning and compositional block-in before beginning to lay in the first layer of color. I then set it down for a few weeks and completed a few pastel paintings since they come along much more quickly than my oil paintings. When I returned to this work it was time to begin layering in the foliage and textures of the tree bark followed by the surface layers of the water and reflections. After looking at the work for a couple days, I made a couple changes in the focal area and layered in more cerulean blue to help capture the viewer’s interest, or at least cerulean blue always gets mine, I think it is one of the most beautiful colors an artist can have on their palette and it’s wonderful for mixing good clear earthy greens, especially when combined with yellow ochre.
I’m never completely happy with anything I paint, however, this one seems to have a certain presence about it that doesn’t always happen so this one gets a passing grade.
The planning and original block-in for this painting started way back in January, but due to an illness that is taking longer to recover from, I couldn’t finish it until early April. I tried working on it on the good days but found that I kept losing my focus and changing things so this one turned out way differently than the original plan. I guess that’s what the artistic journey is all about. Don’t know why oil painting has to be more challenging when you not feeling well, thank goodness for soft pastels.
Snowfall on Evergreens