Thursday, September 18, 2014

Challenge Day 18: The Color of Peace & Joy

"Peaceful Petals" 8x10 oil on linen--in progress
Happy Thursday everyone! I’ve missed posting for a few days but have greatly enjoyed teaching this week, enjoying the gorgeous weather, and getting ready for the many fall art shows on the horizon in Denver.

(Speaking of shows, I’m very happy to report that my Day 1 challenge painting (my Blue River sparrow) was juried in the All Colorado Art Show.)

But today I’m back at the easel and my goal was high key ethereal colors. I’ve always loved this type of painting. (If you like really gentle light colors too you may enjoy my “High Key Heaven” art board on Pinterest.)

On a pigment note, I've been hearing a lot about Gamblin's warm white (which is a mixed white with a little hint of an yellow/orange) and thought it would be interesting to try in this. For those of you who feel your whites get too cool you may enjoy it.

I thought a sunlit peace rose would be a perfect high key subject. Originally cultivated in the 1930’s in France, the trade name "Peace" was publicly announced in the U.S. in April 1945. Later that year peace roses were given to each of the delegations at the UN inaugural meeting with this note: "We hope the 'Peace' rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace".

Interestingly in Italy rose is known as “gioia” or joy—also an apt descriptor for such a blissful and colorful flower.  Wishing you all a peaceful and colorful week as fall approaches!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Challenge Day 14: Reaching for the Sky

Rainy Sky Study--9x12 on linen (study for larger painting)
The sky is the soul of all scenery. It makes the earth lovely at sunrise and splendid at sunset. In the one it breathes over the earth a crystal-like ether, in the other a liquid gold.  American landscape painter Thomas Cole

Almost at the half way point in what feels like a painting marathon but in a good way...

Tomorrow AM I have to have a chipped tooth fixed. I'm lucky that I like my dentist but I’m already hoping I won’t be too uncomfortable to paint afterward.  I’ve already put the appointment off for a few weeks but felt it was time to just get it over with. Also, I didn’t think my dentist would quite understand about the 30 in 30 painting challenge.
Alaskan Sunset Study
In the meantime, I wanted to post a few sky color studies today. Why skies? If you enjoy painting landscapes I think the sky is one of the most interesting places to both study and inject color. On any given day, as Hudson River painter Thomas Cole points out, the sky can display a prism of painting challenges. Skies can be every color on the color wheel especially during unusual weather. So if you're working on a landscape that you feel needs some extra color interest look to the sky.
One of my fav sky photos this summer--double rainbow over Red Rocks
P.S. For all you sky, sunset, and cloud fans you may enjoy more colorful sky paintings on my Pinterest board: The Sky’s the Limit.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Challenge Day 13: The Beauty of Black

"Wise Guy" 30x40 Acrylic on Canvas Private Collection

"Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” Coco Chanel

Happy September Saturday everyone! If there’s one really controversial pigment color for artists it might be black. It seems to be the one pigment artists either love or never use. Which brings me to the question I hear a lot: Is black even a color? 

It’s a good question..If you add white to your black pigment you’ll likely get some kind of gray that leans toward a hue such as blue. So in that case I use black a really dark neutral blue. Here’s an interesting post by the late RobertGenn about using black in art

In most cases, I mix a “chromatic” black meaning I create a really dark pigment that looks blackish. In oil for example, I might use ultramarine and transparent red oxide. This is a very nice dark neutral mix for landscapes or animals. 

In my contemporary owl acrylic painting today I just cut to the chase and used really opaque mars black (which also leans a little warmer). In a painting with more subtle natural colors the black helps add needed contrast especially to the focal area of the eyes. Thanks stopping by--have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Challenge Day 12: Not So Mellow Yellow

"Sour Lemons" 8x8 oil on canvas (unfinished)
What a horrible thing yellow is. (Edgar Degas)

Happy Friday everyone! A few posts ago I honored my favorite color (green). So I thought it only fair to confess my least favorite color. My color “nemesis” if you will.

As a painter it's my "job" work with all the colors everyday. But if I'm being honest I’m with Monsieur Degas-- I just can’t seem to embrace yellow with same joie de vivre. 

My apologies to all you gold, honey, canary, marigold, butter, saffron, ochre, and lemon lovers out there. But I realized the other day I don’t own one piece of yellow clothing. (I think I'm still recovering my dreary mustard high school graduation robe--Not a flattering color on anyone.)
"Sweet Summer Honey" oil on canvas SOLD

Here I tried a an all yellow dominant painting in this little knife painting study of lemons in a plastic bag (unfinished) to help me understand my yellows a little better. When you spend a long time with someone you hopefully understand them a lot better. Still I would have preferred a lime study...

That being said my favorite flowers are sunflowers so of course they are typically yellow. And I enjoyed this study of honey jars in the sun. Some artists really know how to make yellow shine as you can see on my “You Had Me at Yellow” Pinterest board. Do you have a color that challenges you? 

Thanks for all your positive challenge comments--they are greatly appreciated and remembered as I head in to the studio everyday. Have a fantastic fall weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Challenge Day 11: It's a Gray Area...

"Open Mind" 24 x 24 mixed media on canvas--Collection Artist
“The color of truth is gray.” Andre Gide

In a month of challenge painting devoted to color I felt I had to include my love of grays--particularly cool grays. This may seem a little strange coming from a self proclaimed "colorist" painter. But I'm sure you've heard if you really want your high chroma colors to "stay clean" it helps to balance them with some neutrals.

And for those of you who love neutrals (my Mom for example loves ivory) you already know that "gray" painting can be quite stunning and powerful as well--Just look at this iconic example from Whistler.
"Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1" J. Whistler image from Wikipedia

 And of course we've all seen how beautiful art can look on rich charcoal gray gallery or museum walls. I don't have many grays in my house as a I look around but I do love to wear gray--especially in the fall. There's also some rumor that the Pantone color for 2015 (it was orchid this year) will be some kind of gray (I think it will be olive) but that would be an interesting choice.

Once in awhile I like to take break from traditional representational painting and just play. It's kind of like a yoga retreat for my art brain. It's both relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time.

In this mixed media abstract painting which I've been playing with for a while I knew I wanted to work with some variety of grays along with some high key (pastel) colors. So I used both graphite (a gray I particularly like), gray oil pastel and some metallic steel gray Golden acrylic paint. Thanks again for joining me on my art adventure. Have a wonderful rest of your week!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Challenge Day 10: Keepin' it Cool

"Castlewood Shadows" 9x12 oil on linen
Woohoo! We've made it 10 days challenge artists! I've heard there are now more than 1,000 painters who've signed up! So far it's been very motivating and a great excuse to stay in the studio. Is it me or  does the day fly by when you're painting everyday? I feel like I need a few more hours at the end of everyday.

Today in Denver is my absolute favorite weather--It started out little rainy this morning but now it's the perfect late summer day. Sunny and cool. Always reminds me of that first week back on campus that was so exciting and the start of fall colors. So I'm going to make this post speedy so I can take a park break and take some more reference pics.

Yesterday, I posted a mostly warm painting so today I moving over to the cooler part of the wheel--the greens, teals, blues, violets. All my personal favorites. I love the mood that cool colors bring to a landscape. Just like yesterday I've added a few pops of warmer colors for balance and interest.

One of the parks I like to go birding is Castlewood Canyon and it has many enormous boulders and rocks like this. Like many Western painters I also love painting aspen trees since the silvery bark usually reflects the surrounding colors. Plus its fun to paint the unique dark patterns. 

Thanks again and have a wonderful colorful week! Only 20 more to go...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Challenge Day 9: Me and My Shadows

"Vines on Vine St." 8x10 oil on linen
Shadows play an integral role in letting sunlight permeate the scene. They provide a 'setting' that compliments the sun-kissed lights. Often, shadows will have a golden tint, or even a rosy red color that conveys a unique atmospheric glow. (Watercolorist Jeanne Dobie)

That was a close one. Thankfully (and just in time) a giant box of linen canvas panels just landed on my porch from Jerry's--so no running out of panels before the end of the daily challenge! (Yes I do have several art stores close by but unfortunately none of them carry small linen panels like these.)

Now back to painting. There are a couple of color strategies going on in this little pumpkin oil study. One is overall color unity.  There are many ways to achieve color unity (limited palette, mother color, etc.) but one “short cut” method is toned support.

I simply give the canvas (or paper) a quick color “wash” before blocking in my drawing/shapes. In fact, I’ve used this approach for so long it’s almost strange for me to paint on a pure white canvas.

Today, I took my overall color cue from a sunny autumn late afternoon in my neighborhood and used a warm yellow-orange wash. The second goal was have a warmer color dominance (including the shadow patterns) with only a few cool notes. Thanks again for joining me during daily challenge month—I appreciate all your visits and kind comments!