Monday, September 29, 2014

Sketches from Sequim

Gouache painting in a Moleskin journal

I spent the last few days at a professional retreat for massage therapists on the Olympic Peninsula. It was a beautiful location and I did quite a bit of sketching in-between planned events. Although the entire setting was lovely, I was particularly inspired by the windswept trees on the bluffs overlooking the sea.

Fast colored pencil sketch showing light at sunrise
Loose graphite sketches of trees
Pen and ink sketch
Here's a photo of some of these remarkable trees.
Windswept trees before a storm

Monday, September 22, 2014

Two ways to look at foliage

I find painting flora very challenging. I live in the Pacific Northwest where there are stands of trees everywhere you look. I love drawing and painting trees, but figuring out how to best interpret them in watermedia is an on-going challenge.

I have been a representational artist for many years. Right now I’m stretching my boundaries and learning how to abstract. This is a wonderful and challenging process that's forcing me to see the world in new ways. In service to this process I’m tinkering with different ways to paint masses of foliage. Here's what I've been working on this week.
"Foliage study #1" (casein)
In the small casein study above I've used a palette knife and calligraphy brush to make random marks that can be seen as leaf groupings.

"Foliage study #2" (watercolor)
In this watercolor study, I've used negative space to create shapes that can be read as non-specific plants and a distant forest scene.

Of the two, I like the second approach much better. It feels like a real place to me, even though it's not, and it reads as harmonious. Painting it was fun and interesting. For me, it's clearly the winner in my little art contest. Funny to think of it that way, but subjectivity IS a big part of art.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Foliage Tests

"Foliage study," casein, 6" x 11.5"
Today, I wanted to experiment with using a palette knife to create foliage. I used the same casein colors I've used in the previous two paintings but, in this case, I neglected color theory in favor of an exploration of plant shapes. It proved an interesting experiment. The palette knife concept worked but at the same time took me way out of the abstract and right back into a tight representational art style.

For me, the results are mixed. The marks are convincing, but the color cohesion is poor. This tells me that I'm not yet ready to go back to painting in a representational art style. Not yet, anyway. Instead, I'll return to my lessons in abstracting nature. This seems the better choice for the moment.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The cutest painting I’ve ever done (or at least the smallest)

“Magnuson Park Boat Launch” casein, 6” x 4”
I wanted to use up some leftover casein paint on my palette and painted this little postcard, a memory of the spot where Matt and I ate our sack lunches last weekend. I've never painted anything so small! It certainly showed me which brushes were up to the challenge.

Two words on that...synthetic flats!

But it was quite fun. Could this be a new trend for me…?

Painting of the Day - "Magnuson Park Sunset”

“Magnuson Park Sunset," casein, 11" x 14"