Watercolor weather journaling could easily become one more of my obsessions.

Just Before the Crack of Dawn

Each morning I wait a little longer for the crack of dawn.  The painting above was done at 6:45 am.  Within thirty minutes the illumination of the morning light as it filtered through the cloud cover transformed the dark purples into forest greens.

Shortly After the Crack of Dawn

By 7:15 am the trees were a dark green, dampened by the morning rain. The cornfield was doing its best to approach yellow ochre. I opted not to include the colors of the dried corn this time around.

Here are a few photos of the monochromatic wall mural in progress:

Monochromatic Dining Room Wall Mural

Left corner of wall mural

Close up of trees

We hope to finish on Wednesday.

Dining Room Wall Mural: painted in latex paint

Nicole and I attended the current Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Grasses and Butterflies by Van Gogh, 1890

Grasses and Butterflies nearly knocked me off my feet.  Though I have seen Van Gogh’s work numerous times, I felt that I was seeing it for the very first time yesterday.  Playing the Color Scheme Day has expanded my experience of color in unexpected ways.  Not only do I see my surrounding differently, I also see other artists’ work through new eyes.  Work I never noticed now screams at me.  Work I previously admired I find lacking.  I have grown.  I can only hope that my work will reflect my growth.

Grasses and Butterflies by Van Gogh in Grayscale mode

Notice how strong Grasses and Butterflies still is when transformed into Grayscale mode.

The exhibit focused on the paintings created during the last few years of Van Gogh’s life.  I will carry the inspiration out into the field as I paint this spring.

As of January 21st I will again be a full-time artist!

The zig-zag of the road

A year and a half ago I sketched the zig-zag of the road and have wanted to do a simple, little oil sketch, en plein air, of the pattern created by the two driveways meeting the road in front of my house.  The first thing I did after sending my notice of leaving my job at the prop shop as of January 20th was to celebrate my return to full-time painting by painting the long overdue oil sketch of sky, land and roads. The pattern of the road, the pattern of clouds in the sky and the pattern of value shapes were my primary concerns.

Color Wheel Five, en plein air

What a great way to begin 2012!

Painting:  oil sketch on stretched canvas

When I lived in Boston I fastened my painting supplies on the rack of my bike and peddled near and far, stopping when something struck me as exciting to paint.

Carp Pond in the Bird Sanctuary outside of Boston, 1975, oil painting en plein air

I find it difficult to add a color scheme label to many of my paintings.  Until recently I never thought about the color scheme, I simply painted in response to the scene in front of me or as a response to the colors I was laying down on the canvas.  In my attempt to improve my color sense I find that I can’t depend on the weather conditions to provide me with exciting color.  Nor can I paint fast enough to capture the quickly changing morning and evening sky that illuminates the landscape with colors I want to see on my canvas.  For that reason I am looking to understand color schemes more clearly.  I want to be able to re-create the lighting conditions that excite me whether or not they are true to the reality of the scene.

I recall painting this little painting.  I was in a playful mood, not caring whether or not I was depicting reality.  I even laughed aloud when I made a mark that simply felt good.  No one was around to pass judgment, only the birds.

Since I am attempting to find color scheme labels I will have to mark this one as expanded analogous colors with the primary color as green extending three spaces on either side which then include the complements orange and blue.

Color variations withing simple value shapes:

A few extra high key shapes make all the difference

before the little high key shapes were added to the dark mass on the left

Before the small high key negative shapes were added between the tree trunk in the dark shape on the left, the eye was abruptly stopped and at the point where the light value, mid distance strip met the first foreground tree trunk on the left.  After adding the small negative shapes between the trees, the eye moves back and forth between the mass on the left and the distant mass of trees, taking in the subtle changes of color within the masses.

I’m experimenting with beginning a painting from reality and allowing it to veer off in another direction while still painting en plein air.

Inspired by the Buddleia Bush

I enjoy playing with the positive and negative shapes when dealing with the complicated overlapping of leaves and branches.  It is a wonderful opportunity to be inventive with color.

Buddleia Bush Number Two is posted on my other blog, Third Time Around.

Color Palette: Cadmium Yellow Pale, Raw Sienna, Vermillion, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Peacock Blue, Thalo Blue, Viridian.

Forty Minute Color Studies in Oil on gessoed panels:

The backyard is becoming a bit too green for playing with color value shapes.  The garden hose presented a nice juxtaposition of linear shapes and curves.

'Randy's House' 5" x 8" oil sketch

The house peaks out from behind the giant pine trees.

Trying to stay out of the path of the chilling wind, I set up between two of our huge pine trees on the west side of the house.  I’ve been trying to get used to painting with the board and palette in my lap as I sit in my folding red chair.  The problem with this, especially when I am cold, is that I don’t walk back and forth to view my painting from a distance.  As a result of not seeing the painting from a distance, I get caught up in detail too soon instead of laying down a strong pattern made up of strong lights and darks as well as various sizes of significantly different shapes.  The image below shows how I lost track of the original treeline shape I had established in the initial blocking in.  My fussing with detail in the hedgerow resulted in a monotonous band of uninteresting trees.  When I packed up my gear to head into the house I saw the painting from a distance and immediately went back into it to redefine a more interesting shape of the trees against the sky.  Boring shapes don’t move through space and movement through space is what I enjoy capturing in paint, both in abstract painting and representational painting.

The basic elements that make a strong work of art often suffer due to the distraction of the reality I see before me.  My hope is that as I strengthen my ability to paint representationally, I will be able to bring that strength into my abstract work.  Likewise, I hope that I can bring more abstraction into my representational work.

Chilly Day in April, 5" x 8" oil sketch

As the cold wind chilled my bones I slipped into frantic mode, dipping here and there with my brush, losing focus as my body fought against the cold.  In April the mercury should be rising, not falling.  Rarely did the sun break through the clouds to add a bit of contrast to the landscape behind my house.  When I squinted at my painting it faded into nothingness.

With little to lose I  stopped looking at the complicated, evenly lit field and trees.  I dipped into clean color and applied it to my painting as a mosaic of shapes and values, disregarding the neutral reality that lay before me.

The palette is still limited; cadmium yellow pale, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium scarlet, alizarin crimson, french ultramarine blue, viridian and permalba white.  I was tempted to try an ultra-limited palette today (yellow ochre, burnt sienna and prussian blue).  Perhaps it would have been a good time to try it out.  Maybe on the next neutral day.  Tomorrow?  The weather prediction is leaning toward a day similar to today.