Monday, May 10, 2010

The Lilacs Are Early This Year!

"White Lilacs"
20x24 oil on linen panel
Kami Polzin copyright 2010
The lilacs are early this year! I went into complete panic mode when returning home from painting Sarasota FLA last week to find the lilacs bushes blooming already. They don't last long, so everything else waited last week until this painting was completed. These are from my backyard (technically my neighbors bush). I had this composition in mind before even getting in the studio. The concept was that I wanted a rich warm background to highlight or support these beautiful whites.
When setting up, I realized that this was going to need to be at least a 20x24 canvas. Since 20x24 was the largest canvas I had ready, that was the size it would be! I started off by using transparent oxide red to tone my board and then began laying out the composition and drawing, paying great attention to the movement and character of the bunch of lilacs. The movement, It matters tremendously!
Happy with the layout, I move on. . .
As important as I knew it would be to get the flowers and foliage in ASAP (since they only had a day or 2 of life to them) I first needed to get at least my average of my background value/color massed in. The reason, color is relative! You cannot execute color until you have in at least an average of what it's going to be next to first
I then began massing in my structural darks (the foliage darks)

I like to work up my painting as a whole as much as possible, I don't usually complete any one thing at once (not to say that's not a good way, it is, just not for me lately) I like to work up my painting as a whole because it seems to help me create harmony in my work. I then started to get the darks of my lilacs in (the shadow side) in this case as usual, cooler than the light side, making the whites somewhat blue.

Continuing on getting a 20x24 covered, beginning to make notes of the difference in color temps and shifts in my large masses - And always correcting my drawing along the way! Painting is drawing, with marks of paint and temperature.

At this point I'm starting to realize that I need to get my eyes away from the area I've been focusing so hard on, and I simply want to get an average color in on the foreground of my painting, still not entirely sure where I will go with this part. I only knew for sure that I wanted it to simply support the lilacs in a beautiful way.

Finally I allow myself to begin massing in some light averages in the lilacs. I use great restraint when I build my paintings, what I mean by this is that as much as I want to put those fun lights in right away, I do my work first. :) Build build build!

Now I'm thinking first, of my entire mass as a form and second, each lilac as individual forms that belong in the large mass. What I see most when I teach is that many painters don't understand form and how to achieve it. I think the biggest problem is lack of truly understanding it. I'm going to share this information on form with whoever might be interested, I realize that many painters reading this are masters in their own right of form but if this benefits even one painter, it's worth sharing. :)
Think of this bunch of lilacs as a large ball. The ball is not flat, it come towards you in the front and gradually goes away from you as it 'rolls' away, it has FORM. As the forms moves (rolls) away from you, there will very likely be notably color/ temp. and value changes. This is what I am paying attention to in order to represent form and space in my painting, noting these changes with paint.
If this were a box, you would probably understand that the box has planes, each side is a plane, right? In a rounded form, such as this bunch of lilacs, it also contains planes, they are just much more subtle than a box. Being aware of this makes painting so much fun! Your eye will never seize to amaze you in what it sees!

Still building on subtle notes of gradations.

Working on correcting and working out some design issues with the foliage.

Day 2: I spent most of the second day working on the vase and deciding how to handle the table top. At this stage, I had it too red. . .

My set up.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sarasota FLA

These are a few pieces I did last week when I made a trip to Sarasota to spend some time painting the Florida landscape. My work is represented in Sarasota FLA at the M Gallery of fine art, where I'll be having a show June 4th as part of their monthly art walk. It's always interesting to me when I travel to a new place to paint. First of all there are the logistics of it, such as packing and shipping your painting equipment (and in my case luckily Marc packed it up and UPS'ed it all down for us, thanks!) Then there is the arriving there all fiery and hungry to get out and paint but truly needing to absorb and get acclimated to your new surroundings. I envy those painters who can set up anywhere at any moment and pop out a painting. I'm just not one of those painters. Can I technically do it, yes. It's just not how I work best. I like to feel the place I am at so that it becomes personal.
So, with the 5 days total we had there, the first and last being total travel days, that left us with 3 days to paint and have dinner with my Mom who also lives down there. My Saturday painting in the rose gardens got scraped out. It happens! Not that I'm ever very happy about that, but. . . . . I do survive! :) The best part was going to see the Ringling grounds and Museum! I'm going to be writing a post all about that experience in a few days! Very amazing place!
The paintings: The first piece was from the Botanical Gardens, what a peaceful and colorful place. While we were there painting, there was a large group of elementary age kids painting. It was so great to see that! It was good to see how involved the community of Sarasota is in the arts. I learned from a 12 year old girl named Brittany that they have a "special mosquito" down there that when it lands on you and bites you, it can lay up to 200 eggs that can go into your blood stream and make you very sick! THANK you Brittany! :) Needless to say, Marc went in and got some 1000 proof deat! ;)
"Botanical Gardens Sarasota"
10x8 oil on linen panel

"Myakka State Park"
8x10 oil on linen panel
Myakka State Park was awesome! It was a difficult day to paint, the light was a bit high key but we truly enjoyed the wild life there. I could have really spent an entire week just painting this park. That's the plan next time!

"Lido Beach Sarasota"
8x10 oil on linen panel

Lido Beach. Between almost getting attacked by the Mr Raccoon and setting up on a pile of red fire ants, I'd say it was a pretty successful evening of painting! I'm not sure people realize when they go into a gallery and see our paintings hanging there signed, varnished, and lit with a lovely gold frame on them just what the painter may have gone through to get that painting. :) As I'm writing this here on my comfy couch with my hot tea, I'm finding this quite comical!
This was a FUN piece to paint though. The color was amazing! I kept thinking of Camille Przwodek and her color palette. I absolutely can see how living in CA or FLA where your colors would be just that, bold and beautiful! The shadows were PURPLE! I kept trying to gray them down, but nope, they were purple, and I think I went to the conservative side of things here. Painting mostly in Minnesota where it's a pretty subtle palette most of the time, that was the biggest difference, the richness of color. I just love color!
It was a great trip and I can't wait to go back! Hope you enjoy the paintings!