Friday, February 27, 2009

Painting "White" Demonstration 2

I have finished the light values on the flowers and the background in this first step. I am starting to develop the mid-tone values of the 2 center flowers using a pink-violet mix. I will try to keep the more neutral violet for the "behind" flowers and warmer violet and details for the forward flowers. For this painting, I have chosen a tetradic spring color scheme. A tetradic color scheme uses 2 pairs of compliments (double compliments); here green with magenta and yellow with violet. The challenge is to keep the painting balanced choosing one color to be the dominant color and subduing the others. At this stage, the yellow-green seems to be the dominant, unifying color.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Pastel Journal's "Creative Spark"

The Matriarch
Every few months, The Pastel Journal hosts a contest called "Creative Spark". The journal presents a challenge in pastel painting and then requests readers to submit images with an explanation of how they handle the subject. In January, the subject was "Grappling with Grays". The Matriarch won "Honorable Mention" and is shown on The Pastel Journal's Blog. My comments...
"I use grays in paintings to give that extra "zing" to the focal colors. Often I will choose a gray that is the visual compliment (not necessarily the mixing compliment) of the focal color. I try to incorporate a full spectrum of warm and cool grays by either glazing, applying the pigments adjacent to each other (which allows the eye to visually mix the colors) or just choosing a neutralized pigment to work as a "gray". I use grays (choosing either a warm or cool, not usually a neutral) for the underpainting or as a harmonizing color to give unity to a painting. I believe using distinctive " grays" add more punch to the pure pigments used in moderation."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Painting "White" Demonstration 1

Above are the two paintings demonstrated in the current "Painting White" watercolor workshop.I have begun the first layer of lightest tones in the flowers using wet-into-wet application of rose madder genuine + winsor violet + viridian + some yellow mix of Aureolin, New Gamboge, and Quin. Gold. The flower area was dampened randomly with clean water, then RMG and WV brushed in and allowed to diffuse. Some Viridian + yellow mixed to make a warm green and added as the half-tone (next-to-lightest value) to compliment some of the pink "white" areas of the pedals. While still damp, the yellows were painted in the centers leaving small dry spots to create some texture.
The "background" flowers were painted slightly darker and more neutral than the forward flowers. I will complete the flowers throughout the painting repeating this first step and then begin the first step of light values in the background.
For the background, I am choosing to use the same color palette as I used for the flowers. (This may change with later glazes/ layers). I first dampen the area of the background to be painted and then brush in my transparent glazing colors; Aureolin, followed by RMG and Viridian. I rotate the paper and allow the pigment to mingle. When doing the background, I consider my initial value sketch, where the light source is coming from and how the background will unify the shapes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Starting the new buffalo

I have decided to go with a textured surface for the buffalo painting in pastel. I think the rough texture will mimic and enhance the woolly, rugged quality of the animal's hair. I am applying the acrylic ground texture to 300lb Arches watercolor paper after coloring it with acrylic paint. I mixed a neutral blue color that will serve as the underpainting. I plan where to concentrate the texture, working the ground around with a palette knife, plastic wrap, or whatever will give me the texture I am looking for. Then I let it dry and sand the surface a little if needed.
I chose a format that will make the image approx. 18X22 (framed 26X30), though really the subject calls to be much, much larger. I then block in the large shapes with a hard NuPastel stick and add a few drawing details to the focal areas (here the eyes and horns). Most of the drawing I will do as I go and the forms begin to take shape. Doesn't look like much now...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Life Unfolding

Life Unfolding
Watercolor on Claybord

And since so many of you have asked; it is a sunflower.

"I found I could say things more with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way- things I didn't have words for."
Georgia O'Keeffe

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life Unfolding, In Progress 3

I have the first layer completed for the pedals and leaves. Usually, I would paint another layer of midtone glazes. However, working on the claybord, I have been able to achieve greater variety in values and intensity in just one step. I am happy with how the shapes and form are developing. So next, I will paint the darker midvalues and darker darks together. Many watercolor artists will apply many (maybe even 50 or more) glazes (layers) to achieve subtle changes in value and to achieve value contrast. My goal is to achieve the right value and intensity with as few layers and brushstrokes (economy of brushwork) as possible to avoid making "mud" and "overworking" the painting; especially if I am using heavier, more opaque pigments (such as the yellows). I prefer the purity of colors with minimal glazing, usually only 3 to 5 layers for the darkest areas.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Buffalo Study in Pastel

Switching gears a little. I am beginning a commission of an American Buffalo in pastel. Not having many buffalo in Northern Virginia (if any) to use for reference, I have chosen an image off a royalty-free photo website. I hope to change the image enough to make it my own. Above is a value and composition study done on gray Velour paper about 8X11. I like the soft effects of the pastel on velour, but can't decide if I want more texture as with the other animals I've done in pastel on watercolor paper. I have a few more days before my supplies arrive and so a few more days to decide.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Painting "White" in Watercolor

In watercolor, we use color to interpret the "white" in a subject. The colors we choose, the temperature of the color, whether we use a compliment, or a "gray" neutral, all affect the mood of the painting and how our eyes see the "white". Below are three watercolor sketches I demonstrated for a beginning techniques workshop.
In this little painting, the "white" is cool pink. I used a warm neutral green to compliment the cool pink.
For this painting, I used a cool green as the half-tone (next to lightest color) to compliment the pink.
Here, the yellowish white and cool violet describe the white form.
All the paintings above were done with the same pigments; Aureolin Yellow, Rose Madder Genuine, New Gamboge/ Quin Gold, Viridian, and Winsor Violet

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Beginnings

I know this isn't art-related, but when else will I have the opportunity to sit on a brand-new operating table.
Yesterday was our first day at the new hospital. Many of the areas are still empty of supplies, equipment, and all the details you need in the hospital to take care of patients. A handful of the paintings have been hung, including 2 of mine in the Intensive Care Unit. Though I knew the paintings would be there, it was still quite a surprise and honor to see them. I have been a critical care nurse for almost 15 years. My other painting will be hung in Admissions.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


This week I have started my job with the new hospital in Stafford. I am honored to be one of the founding employees of the hospital and eager to share the hospital's vision in the community.

This is all the action my paints are getting this week.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Life Unfolding, In Progress

Slow-going. I am very happy with how the light and midvalues have developed in the pedals. Next, I will start the lighter tones on the leaves.