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Friday, June 12, 2015

Ready When You Are - Tools of the Garden

Ready When You Are, 12x9, oil on linen panel
Monday I was invited to a group day of painting at a friend's house in Conifer. Amazingly, it was a perfect, beautiful spring day in the Colorado High Country. We have had few and far between days in the past several months where we have not had rain, so this was a big deal!  I have not painted plein air since last summer so that was another "big deal."  The place was so green. So naturally Victoria has to be different and paint something so not in keeping with a day painting in the mountains! No aspen trees for this girl. I found that the back wall of Karen and Barney's home had a line up of gardening implements. I mean the whole side of the house had this perfect lineup of tools. I picked these four to concentrate on as I liked the shadows.

The wall was raw wood. I had set myself the task to use as little white as I could possibly get away with. This was a bigger challenge than I thought and definitely took a concerted effort on my part. For instance, to paint the wall I used burnt sienna and a little dab of two yellows (cadmium lemon and Cad yellow medium). Then I grabbed the white! NO! By not adding white to this mixture it meant that the red handles had to be dealt with in a different manner too. They could not read darker than the wall which is in the light. Adding white to red does not make a lighter red, it makes variations of pink. I added a tad of yellow to the red enough to keep the red (and not make orange) and a smidgen of Naples yellow which lightened the mixture but did not weaken the red. It made me realize just how much I rely on white for value shifts. I needed light colors for the other two handles and what is in the light on the metals so I did use white. Keeping white to a minimum makes for a much brighter painting to be sure.

A friend of mine had said my paintings tend to be "chalky" so I took it to heart and am doing my best to address this. That was why I am working on this as my summer project. She is right. I recently added Zinc White to my palette as it is semi-transparent while my normal white, Titanium is opaque. I may try Flake white too. It has lead in it but is also semi-transparent. It helps lighten without deadening the color it is added to. It is my summer project for myself. I rediscovered an artist that I am using for my mentor in this endeavor. Aldro Hibbard. His colors are so vibrant.

It was a fun day. I do like painting outdoors. It was lovely to see some old friends and to meet new ones. It is always a treat to see what others do when you are out with a group of painters.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lazy River, Floating on the Yampa

Lazy River, 24x18, oil on paper, available
Here is one hot off the easel. It is from a rafting trip I took 10 years ago with some friends of mine. You can almost sense the wonder and silence of the scene. This painting is a bit out of my normal realm of subject. I turned my head to Colorado this year and what makes this state so special.

In the spirit of this painting, I am also working on a second piece from another trip down the Yampa that is quite a bit larger than this one so that the majesty of Tiger Wall is shown in perspective to a 2 man raft. The raft in the next painting is tiny, less than an inch. You will have to look for it. Stay tuned!

The rafting trips I went on were with a friend from work. He and his friend were the trip organizers and then a bunch of others would be invited to go along too. I went three times and each time I went, I was on the barge raft. It was the big slow boat that carried the food and much of the extra things like tables, cook stove etc. I had a high perch as I sat on the food locker - really I had a seat, but the food locker was under the seat. My companion was one of the organizers, not my friend from work but his good buddy. One trip we had his 11 year old daughter with us. We had lots of quiet time but also many philosophical discussions as well. He taught me how to read a river map and I was able to find where we were by reading the map. One time I had to get in the river and get the boat unstuck while he worked the oars. I felt more confident doing the outside work rather than manning the oars. It was in a calm and rather low spot so I was in water only to my waist. In this particular photo the front boat has two ex-marines and their wives.