Category Archives: studies

New work: Quince Branches in a Tan Vase

So much is happening in the garden: two new hives of bees, new bee fodder (phacelia!), new green manure mixtures, and a foray into next-gen gardening with Bio-Char. I want to write about all of it but there’s still life material growing out there too. The Ruby-Gold ornamental quince put out flowering branches for the first time this year; combined with a new thrift store tablecloth it made an excellent color study.

Ruby Gold Quince

Quince in a Tan Vase, 24 x 18, oil on panel

New work – Frenchboro Harbor series

I have four new blog entries started and material just keeps coming; the title of this blog was never more apropos than the bees and art in spring 2014. It’s all very exciting but very little is actually being posted. To remedy that, here’s a quick look at a study for a larger painting now on the easel of Frenchboro Harbor. Done from studies and photos taken last August, this study represents a departure for me in terms of image and paint application.

Frenchboro Harbor Study; Big Trees  16″ x 20″, oil on panel

Frenchboro Harbor

Here’s a detail of the paint: applied without medium a la Cezanne, “a short stroke representing only the brush exploring the form”.

Big trees detail

Imprimatura – yellow

Working on a colored ground (a glaze of pigment over the otherwise white board) is helping me to keep my paint loose, my brushstrokes more fluid, and making it easier to concentrate on the form. I generally use a uniform gray, but after reading about the working habits of Giotto and van Eyck, I decided to try a selection of very bright primary colors. This is the first painting in this series:

Yellow imprimatura, underpainting

18 x 24″, oil on board

The set-up is heavy on bright greens and dark red, balanced by the off-white muslin drapery and tarnished silver pieces. The yellow ground should brighten the darks and influence the lighter colors – we’ll see! Here is a detail of crabapples on the salver:

Crab apples, underpainting

Drawings, work in progress

Our new studio space allows me to work on more that one piece at once. I like having drawings stacked against the wall, and the ability to switch pieces out to let the paint set up on one while mixing a whole new palette of colors for the next. It is immensely satisfying to have inventory! (I know I’m coming to this late, folks, really late.)

Right now I have a painting of a milk-glass vase with zinnias and asters in full swing, but I can also look at the previous oil sketch (same composition) and the charcoal and ink-wash drawing (slightly different viewpoint) for reference. AND, the painting is just so much easier having worked out my issues with aster construction in a previous piece. Not that the asters are smooth sailing even now – it’s rather too bad they grow so well in my garden because they are incredibly complicated.

This is the oil sketch: ivory black on tinted ground, 24 x 18 inches:

oil sketch of asters and apples

Here’s a detail. Asters are complicated!

oil sketch detail

And this is the wash drawing on Bristol paper, 20 x 17, slightly different view of the setup:

Bristol board wash drawing

New work, new idiom

It has been a long three months of working through the idea of painting a background. My still life set-up area is not ideal; the hoop house walls are a plastic film that distorts colors and images behind it and my drapery arrangements are fixed as to height and weight. I’m getting more accomplished at setting up objects that relate to the structures they’re sitting on, but it’s all new to me – I’ve always been a big fan of “dump the oranges on to the table-top and paint them as they lay”. That philosophy (or lack of same) just isn’t working for me any more. I either need to move into Cezanne’s kitchen – where every view seems to be a paintable one – or I need to pay attention and integrate all the information available. The second choice seems more sustainable, but I’m not totally discounting the move to Paris.

New work under the new idiom, just dipping my toes in and painting the green and slippery tones that were really behind the set-up. Oil on board, 16″ x 20″, Roses in a Spanish Cup:

Roses in a Spanish Cup

New work

I’ve been doing studies for larger, or more involved works later on. This piece is on rag paper coated with bull’s eye shellac. It makes a beautifully smooth, toned surface that holds up well over time. 

Quince and Wild Apples, 20 x 28″, oil on shellacked paper.

quince-and-tomatoes