This summer I took the opportunity provided by the nice weather to get outside to paint. After wrestling with my very heavy pastel box and struggling with my rapid drying acrylics, I decided I needed a more suitable method to capture the great outdoors.
The day after the Lake Country Art Walk Show, I was too tired to pack a lot of stuff so I took my watercolour palette and at the last minute, decided to throw in my pens and ink bottle. I immediately fell in love with this combination of media.
Not long after, I decided to submit some work to the Lake Country Art Gallery for their annual Under 100 show. This show is limited to works under 100 square inches and priced at under $100. It's timing (just before Christmas) is no coincidence. This very successful show is an idea place to find that perfect gift for someone.
Little Wilderness, 6" x 8" Acrylic, $85
The plein aire works I had been creating were perfect. I also decided to do several small acrylics for the show (from the comfort of my studio).
I will also be exhibiting a number of these smaller paintings at the For the Sake of Art Almighty annual show at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on November 12 and 13. These works have been a lot of fun to do and I have learned a lot as well.
I hope you can make it to one or the other show. If you make it to the show at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, stop by my booth and say hello!
Moo To You Too, 18"x24" Acrylic
Having worked extensively in oils in the past and exclusively in pastel for the last 4 years, returning to painting on canvas provided some interesting challenges!
I found out when tackling my first oil painting in years that I have become sensitive to the solvents and mediums used in oil painting. So I got a set of acrylics thinking that it would be just like oil. Oh, nooo. Not even close.
But having worked out a technique with pastel that utilizes a watercolour underpainting, I thought I would try something similar in acrylic. It took a couple of paintings and some head scratching but I have now developed a friendship with acrylic.
First, I established the drawing with charcoal, referring to sketches I had made to work out the composition. The drawing for this painting was very important. The shape of the fence and the placement of the elements had to be right for this painting to work.
Once I had the drawing the way that I wanted it, I painted the fence with thin paint to lock it in. Because acrylic dries so fast and will not mix with subsequent layers, I was able to block in the rest of the foreground in thin paint. I tried to follow the contour lines of the land. Lastly I painted the sky with thin paint allowing it to overlap the roughed in trees and shrubs. I
used gloss medium to thin the paint with a little bit of water. Water alone would not provide a strong enough paint film.
The next stage of the painting was to paint the sky a bit thicker, smoothing out the transitions and correcting the temperature. Then I moved on to the grasses in the
distance and foreground, adding some colour variation as I went.
I try to think of the colour beneath the colour it will end up. I also
worked on the shrub at the top of the hill and the trees on the left. Nothing is finished yet. Before I quit the session, I painted some sky colour back into the shrub – it had gotten too dense.
Looking at the painting the next day, I decided that the hollow
behind the foreground fence needed definition and the shadow of the fence going up the hill was too straight. I worked over the colours and values of these areas.
I did some negative and positive painting in the shrub and the grove of trees and modified some shapes. To get a handle on the values, I worked on the fence going up and over the hill and gave the cow another coat and some definition.
To finish, I built up the rest of the fence and added the grasses in the foreground.
Working this way with the acrylic, in thin layers, allowed me to build texture and depth of colour. It also allowed me to see where I was going as I went along.
Ah! Summer time. Time to get out of the studio to sketch and paint on location.
Painting on location or "Plein Air" painting, as it is known, is a great way capture the beauty of our Okanagan valley. Although I also take photos and work with them back in the studio, nothing replaces actually being there. And since cameras do not tend to record the scene the same way as our eyes see it, being there is essential to capturing the landscape in a painting as it really is.
I am lucky to have a friend to paint with - Sharon Rose, a very talented artist from Vernon, BC. She and I go out about once a week to paint.
Although painting on location has its challenges - changing light, clouds that won't hold still, bugs and other inconveniences, I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Thank you to everyone who dropped by my booth at the Lake Country Art Walk show on the weekend. I very much appreciate the support and comments on my recent work!
This show was very successful for me. I sold a total of 8 paintings. With all those empty walls at home, I am very motivated to continue to paint this fall. Once again, thanks!
People frequently ask about my technique and the use of watercolours with pastels. The paper that I prefer is Rives BFK printmaking paper. It is fully
archival and has a smooth surface that allows me to paint freely without imposing a texture. Because it comes in white and working in pastel on a white surface can be difficult, I like to start with a watercolour underpainting.
Once I have let the underpainting dry, I start to work with the pastels. In some areas, I will let the watercolour stand alone, in other areas, I enhance or even replace the watercolour with the pastel. I work with the painting until I reach
a point where many areas are resolved and it is time to pause. I call this the 80/20 point. About 80% of a painting is completed in about 20% of the total time. The remaining 20% - the fine tuning and resolution - takes about 80% of the time.
During this final stage of the painting, I place it where I will see it in passing frequently during the day. Everytime I see it, it will show me something. Some things are good, some things will need modifying. I evaluate the painting - does it represent the feeling I had when I stood there? Over a few days, I will determine what the painting needs to complete it.
The Okanagan provides inspiration wherever you look. I enjoy both painting on location and working in my studio. For more information contact me at email@example.com