Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where I Paint, Demo!

I'm not sure where the time goes these days but I do know it go by quickly!  My issue is not so much finding the time to paint, like so many struggle with, it's finding time to keep up on all the other things in life, such as computer work and cleaning my house!  This morning when my kids absolutely could not find one clean sock and I got out of bed to trip on a pile of laundry I decided, okay Kami - A break from painting, clean your house!"  So, that's what I'm doing!  And to tell you the truth, I think of it as a way to clear my head so that next week I can paint even better!  :)  
Not to mention my 12 year old is in hockey!  Never thought I, of all people would be spending more time in a day at a hockey rink or driving to one, than along the river with my paint box, but I am, and now finally realizing this season of my life will pass and is passing faster than I want it to.  I remember when he was 5 years old, we were driving to the rink at some unGodly hour in February, I was grumping about it, I looked back at happy freckle faced kid with his stick across his lap and he said "Mamma, you don't get it!  This is my ART!!"  :)  Forever changed my attitude.  I watched him that morning on the ice, put down my Henri Art Spirit, and saw the hunger and passion in his eyes, just the same way I feel about painting, and GOT IT! Yup, it is his art.  This passion can be very inspiring if we let it be and hopefully we can bring it to and through our art.  All these pieces of our lives.
  Now to my poor deprived blog.  (FYI, I post almost daily paintings on my Facebook page. . . .)
 I've been meaning to make this post on the building of "It's Where I Paint" for a good couple of weeks now.  I've since painted many paintings that have yet to be posted, and started up teaching winter semester of classes at my studio and school, St Croix River School of Painting.  I promised weeks ago to my students I would have this demo here posted so here it is!  

The large studio piece is 24x24.  I worked from my plein air piece 12x12 and a really bad photo of the place.  All I can say is thank you Nature for revealing such absolute beauty through light and color!  I could have never done this painting without studying directly from the source last summer.  My photo was virtually useless where color and temperature is concerned!  A camera can record objects and color but not temperature.  If you want to paint landscape, you need to get your butt outside and paint directly from Nature herself.  
I start off by using Transparent Oxide Red with Gamsol and lay in a wash.  Partly to loosen up my arm and partly to get rid of the white canvas.  I do not always use an undertone (wash) but most likely if I'm painting a warm light source I like to use a warm tone.  For instance when I'm painting a winter scene I may just go directly into my white canvas or I might lay in a Magenta undertone.  
I always mark 4 marks on the canvas dividing 1/2 on all 4 sides so that I can see where the middle is.  I try to avoid putting any major lines of contrast in the middle of my paintings, generally speaking.  
Then I start right in with my drawing.  (note: I always do several composition studies, value studies and small color studies before I start a large painting)  
As far as I'm concerned, this initial lay in is the most important part of the painting, the rest is just painting.  The concept and composition really needs to be solid right from the start.  I'm so much more conscious of this now than I used to be.  I used to just start painting with little thought to my division of space and how I could best say what I'm trying to say.  

Still working up drawing with only paint and thinner, no white.  I'll often times use a paper towel at this point to push and pull the shapes.

And I'll keep working the shapes until I'm happy with what I see when I stand across the room.  Then I start working up darks, I always leave my light areas until I absolutely need them to relate my darks to.  Just understand the reason is that the canvas is already in the key of light, the darks need to be developed by you.  Since everything is relative and we are simply manipulating our small range of value to create an 'effect of light' it's important to get as much of the canvas covered as possible.  

Okay!  Time to start massing in my averages.  I started with the back because it's pretty large and consumes most of the canvas.  It would be difficult to guess the rest of the color without it's 'support'.

Here you can see how I develop my pools of color.  I start by using a limited palette of Ultra Marine, Cad. Red, and Cad. lemon or Cad yellow light.  They are all mixed separately with white at the same saturation levels.  Then I begin to merge the 3 primaries together, this way I keep a clean mixture of paint, that I have control over.  I see way too many times students just grabbing paint and guessing and they make nothing but 'mud' as we tend to call it in the painting world.  Most colors I've seen in Nature of tertiaries.  This is where we have difficulty mixing color.  A tertiary is a color composed of each of our primaries, yellow, red, blue.  I think of each color as have a dominant primary, then a secondary, then the 3rd.  If we mix them equal or at different saturation levels, we lose control over our color and people get frustrated.  Try and identify what the dominant primary is in your color, then your 2nd, then your 3rd.  This will help you identify and mix your color with less frustration.  And if you want to know more about this you can take one of my color mixing workshops!  :)  

On with the painting!  You can see my plein air piece to the side here.  I just continue to mass in my large averages.

still massing but starting to get some opaque paint on the tree trunks.  I tend to work up my entire painting at once, meaning not finish one area but work up all the areas.

Starting to break into the large flat averages by noting notes of color shifts that would represent form and vibration within the masses.  

Thinking quite a bit about form within the island. . . 

"It's Where I Paint!" 24x24 oil on linen
So, as you see I got a little too deep in the zone once starting the water and forgot to photograph it. . . oops!  
Again, my pool of greens in it's different values and temperatures.  Each time I go into another mass, I clean my palette and start a new pool.