I have not abandoned the pond project yet- however boredom has motivated me to seek ways of keeping it interesting.  Yes, I have been using more brushwork.  I still begin with a knife for a loose beginning to each painting.  I block in areas of color quickly.  Then, with a small round brush I maneuver the paint on the surface.  The most important application for the brush is capturing the branches.  I am also able to create more detail and subtlety through this hybrid mark making system.  These two paintings were done using the same limited palette of cadmium orange, ultramarine blue, and titanium white.  These images are taken from photograph- two pictures shot just days apart.

Continuing the Pond Project

This most resent piece is based on a photo of the Humboldt Park lily pond taken about a month ago.  This was actually the second time I painted from this photo.  This piece began as a demonstration piece for my intro to oil painting class.  The painting is larger (11″ x 14″).  Also, you will notice that the technique is slightly different.  I used a brush!  I have been using only painting knives in my other pieces, but since this was a painting demonstration I incorporated brushwork,  Going forward I would like to incorporate brushwork a little more into my Chromascape pieces.  While I would like to remain primarily a knife painter, I see no reason not to use a brush for contrast of mark, detail, or finishing touches.  I had a lot of fun with this painting and am happy with the way it turned out!

The Yellow Line

This is a drawing, a chalk pastel, and an oil painting done over the last two weeks.  All reference the same photo    The original photo was taken a few months ago, obviously before fall was in full swing.    The image is titled The Yellow Line after the thick band of sunlight that breaks free of the treeline and runs at an angle across the picture plane.  To me the sunlight is the focal point of this image.  I have drawn and painted this image several times, here are just three examples.  As with the pond series, there is a benefit to focusing on one image or scene for an extended period of time.  This allows the painting process to become more sophisticated and refined with each attempt.  This is also of course why artist do studies to be more familiar with the subject.  However, I have never been comfortable with the word study and consider each of these to be individual works of art.


One thing I don’t think I have ever talked much about is my technique.  So here are some thoughts of process…. Most of my paintings are on panel, though occasionally I use canvas.  Panel, with it’s rigidity, works a little better with the weight of the paint and pressure used while applying it.  I start with a panel primed with acrylic, usually I use a warm orange or red.  With a white pencil I gently sketch out the composition.  In my mind I map out the color relationships based on what I see.  Whether painting en plein air or in the studio, I look for interesting color patterns and plan if there are any I will exaggerate for dramatic effect.

To begin painting, I start with the sky.  I mix the color using a palette knife.  This color is most critical as it sets the tone of the rest of the painting.  I often spend a long time mixing this color until I am satisfied.  Because my work is small, I often pick it up off the easel.  I spread the paint on with a knife, using the knife’s edge to define the horizon.  It is like spreading peanut butter on bread.

I move on to middle ground and foreground, in that order, mixing each color as I go.  I save complicated shrubbery or trees for last.  All is done with a knife.  For detailed pattern I mix the paint directly on the panel.  The paint is often thick and applied with an impasto style.  While holding the painting in my hand I can rotate it freely to get different directions of stroke.  I have to accomplish most of the painting in one go, as it will start to dry within a day.  The textured surface makes it difficult to work on once the drying process starts.  It takes several weeks for the painting to be completely dry.



Image: Chromascape 67, detail