Monday, February 11, 2019

15 minute increments

When I work in pastel, I paint one painting at a time. My favorite method is paint it, photograph it, frame it, move on to the next one.

However, when I work in oil, it is slower for me not just because it is wet but because my color choices are more involved. I can't just reach for pastel stick in the hue closest to the color I am imagining. I have to mix the color, test it, maybe remix. Then, there is that wet thing. I like to let a painting sit for a day or two to dry a little and for me to distance myself emotionally from it so I can see it with fresh eyes.

I have one painting in progress, "Orange." While it is drying and I am thinking about it, I want to start a second still life. Here we go...I gather up objects: A dying flower arrangement, two slightly withered apples found in the refrigerator, a yellow cup, the new Trader Joe's tea towel with blue stripes and a garage sale muted green plate. I arrange these items next to my easel and turn on a spot light as well as the overhead LED track lighting you see reflected in the quartz counter surface. I take a photo of this (there it is, above). Then I crop the photo to the one you see below. That will be my reference to paint from in a couple days when the flowers are really dry and dead.

The photo reference for still life

Color study, pastel mini, 5.5 x 3.5 inches

But, before the flowers shatter and fall, I quickly paint a pastel mini color study to acquaint myself with the subject, color and value choices. I will use this mini pastel as a reference as I paint this still life in oil. The following images were taken in 15 minute increments (I found my timer).

Now I set it aside to dry a little. I look forward to coming back to it in a few days.

Saturday, February 9, 2019


I'm starting on a series of oil still life paintings in preparation for a fall group show. There is a "look" or genre I'm working toward. A maturity of color choices, wisdom in lost (and found) edges and above all, staying true to my vision. Meanwhile, I get distracted by sales and approval. This is the color study I'm using for a larger oil painting. It is fresh, loose and bold. Now my challenge is to translate this to my larger work in oil.

This is how it began. I saw the orange teapot at the Goodwill store and purchased it. I cut a cardboard box up, draped it with blue fabric and put the teapot, a candle and an orange near my oil easel. The photo above shows my first hour of painting. I blocked the objects in thinking this would be a practice piece, never to be seen outside the studio but after one hour of painting I already wanted to see it as a finished piece.

I continued painting and improved the composition by indicating a vase of flowers. This is about 3 hours worth of painting. I could see where I was headed and felt I would get lost without a map to remind me of my vision.

Next I made a map for myself. A mini pastel, 5.5 x 3.3 inches. The paper is so small and the pastel sticks so large in comparison that it was easy to get a loose, spontaneous feeling...exactly what I'm after in my oil work.

This is where I am now. The mini pastel sits on my oil easel next to the 14 x 11 inch oil painting I'm working on. I'm making progress but have a long way to go. Stay tuned...