If you live on the island, you’ve noticed that the rocks at Compass Harbor are black basalt, bleached with salt-grime and truly spectacular in the late afternoon sun. If you also said to yourself, wow, I bet that view would be very difficult to paint, you would be correct. Here’s a first attempt:
View from Compass Harbor to the Porcupine Islands, late afternoon. 24 x 18 inches, oil on panel
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
Here’s a detail of the paint: applied without medium a la Cezanne, “a short stroke representing only the brush exploring the form”.
March in Maine: wearing crampons over my boots to hike down to Four Seals Beach and wearing fleece-lined leather gloves to stand on the rocks and draw, white sky with black rocks and seals barking in the distance, the full moon and the sun glowing on different horizons. I’m happy with the work, will continue to use a Cadmium Lemon wash and different hues to make the underlying map on this set of paintings.
Four Seals, Square Rock, 18 x 24 inches, oil on board
Still working on the background staying toward the back, and enjoying improved light under the new studio.
Gladiolas in a Blue Jar, 24″ x 18″, oil on panel.
The new studio building enables my short attention span – I have a new personal best six pieces in the works. Of course, it helps to be able to tailor my activity to how much time I have available; some nights I can manage to get all the colors mixed and a dozen brushes dirty, some nights all I manage is a monochrome line. It doesn’t matter, painting is cumulative and that seems to be true for the skill as much as for the finished product.
White Vase with Five Apples, 24″x 18″, oil on panel.
I’ve begun to think of these drawings as maps, as a linear underlayment that details distance, emphasis, and locates key objects on the plane of what will eventually be a painting.
18 x 24, Four Seals in the Bright White Light of Morning
I hardly recognized my own (very recent) painting in this photo. My current theory, after many fruitless color and hue adjustments, is that the cold winter’s light this afternoon is not kind to the primary pigment here – Permanent Yellow Light. I’ve decided to post it as a record for myself and will document it again the next sunny day I’m home. Fair warning that, given the forecast, it may be March before that confluence of events happens again.
Crabapples and Teapot, 18 x 24 inches, oil on panel, heavy on the P. Yellow Lt.
New oil detail of crab apples in the diffuse white light of the hoop house.
I’ve been experimenting with stiffer paint and a more Zen approach to the application and brush stroke. This is a continuation of the yellow ground/red drawing two posts back.
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:
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:
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:
Here’s a detail. Asters are complicated!
And this is the wash drawing on Bristol paper, 20 x 17, slightly different view of the setup: