Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Two steps forward, one step back... with white.

I know I've been quiet, but I have been busy.

Here's what I've been up to:

  • Painting furiously with white - specifically white roses. That's what this post is about.
  • Investigating ways to re-use old painting panels (paintings that didn't work out or that I have progressed from). I'll leave the details of this for another post.

A neighbour asked me if I would paint a white rose for her. I was happy to oblige since white is something I really want to get to grips with. I figured I'd paint a bunch, let her choose the one she liked and sell the rest or use them for reference.

I initially painted maybe 7 roses, all on small panels. Some of them didn't work. Here are some of the more successful ones:

By the time I finished the last one I'd been looking at paintings of white roses by other artists - some good but a lot of them bad - white is HARD to do! The difficulty is, what color do you make the shadows while keeping the flower still looking white - and the answer I can tell you is not grey! - you just end up with a rose that looks like mud and not looking like a flower at all. White reflects many colours and the shadows can end up very dark - but how dark do you go?

This morning it dawned on me that I have an IKEA canvas with a photo of a white rose on it.
I decided to copy part of it on paper and make notes about the colors I had mixed directly on the drawing.

I made a very loose sketch with burnt umber on a pad of oil paper (made by Arches) and proceeded to fill it it.
My intention had been to just paint part of it and make notes on the paper as I went.
BUT it was going so well, I just ended up painting in the whole thing!

I shocked even myself how close I got the colors and how good the painting was!

Now here's the part where I get to 'two steps forward, one step back'...

For this painting I had read somewhere that zinc white is semi transparent and good for mixing. I had a little tube of zinc white and decided to give it a go. It mixed so much better than my standard Titanium white!
I put the success of this painting down to:
1. Painting with zinc white
2. Painting large and with a big brush
3. The simplicity of the shapes
4. Using a large reference photo to really be able to focus on and narrow down the values and colors.

So then just as I was about to order a large tube of zinc white, I did a little further research...
Zinc white apparently dries extremely brittle - so brittle that if you paint with it on canvas, the paint can crack like glass once dried. So you cannot use it on canvas basically (it's better on board or wood but still not entirely reliable) . Since I do intend doing some larger paintings on canvas, there seems no point pursuing any further use of painting where the predominant base color is based on zinc.

So then I spent the rest of the day researching other whites to see what I could use as a good alternative. I also wrote to Gamblin who have been helpful in the past.

I have ordered some other alternative whites to see if I can achieve the same success with those.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hill to the Lighthouse

Since completing the 31 day challenge, my head wants to go in at least three directions at once.
I'm not sure whether I should tackle them one at a time, or all three simultaneously.

I get very inspired by art I see, read about and by artist interviews I listen to.
A lot of semi-abstract floral art has caught my eye lately.
I'm also hugely inspired to tackle some landscapes - sea scenes, clouds, open landscapes and scenes with strong value contrasts.
I also have a lot of reference material from last summer I want to take another look at - scenes from Italy, France and from Monhegan Island, Maine.

This is a landscape I painted today.
This is actually from a really fuzzy photo that was taken on one of my pre-dawn walks up to Monhegan lighthouse, so the sun hadn't quite made an appearance yet.

Initially I painted the roof much darker but I didn't feel it helped with the appearance of distance, so I lightened it slightly and I think it's much better now. I could probably have gone a touch lighter with the lighthouse as well. I might live with it for a few days to see how I feel about that. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

All 31 Paintings in the 31 day challenge

I forgot that for the Strada Easel Challenge, I'm supposed to post a photo of all 31 paintings. But I sold a few and gave one away in a competition (oops!) so some of these are just a printed out substitute. Another one in this mix is also sold but I'm waiting for it to dry so that I can varnish it, so fortunately it's still here. I'm sure strada easel won't mind.