These are a few of the many mini paintings I have been working on over the past few months. I love the quick changes of color I can make on a smallscale. Usually I keep a stack of small panels next to my easel. When I have leftover paint on my palette from another painting I am working on, I apply some of it to one of my small panels. As these colors build up I start making more thoughtful decisions about which panels need which colors. It is not long before an idea of final touches emerges. Many of the mini paintings become color models for larger works. However I do not think of them as merely studies. I enjoy them as small works for themselves.
Winter is an exciting time for painting. Yes, summer is full of bright colors, lush greens, and dramatic florals. But winter offers some unique color situations as well. In winter, the colors are cooler and the air seems thinner. More importantly, when the snow falls everything is reflective. The white snow and shimmery ice pick up all of the colors of the sky. White snow is never really white as the surounding landscape bounces off of it. These subtle reflections allow for so many possibilities beyond the standard earth and sky relationship. I am fascinated and inspired by the season in exploring the colors of winter.
Image: Winter Colors, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″
Wolf Kahn is one of my absolute favorite artists. I am drawn to his simple, brilliant colors in landscape. He works in both oil and pastel to create whimsical yet powerful images. This library book currently sits on my coffee table. I might just have to buy it. There are some fascinating essays about Kahn’s life. The author, Justin Spring, helps provide perspective to Kahn’s evolution as an artist. This book is full color and is truly stunning.
Wolf Kahn, Justin Spring, Abrams, NY, 2011
I am working my way through Color by Victoria Finlay. This book explores the historical background of colors. I have thus far enjoyed the histories of ochre, brown, black, and white. Finlay does a nice job balancing between history and anecdote to make it an entertaining read. The book is dense at times, truthfully this is my second attempt at it. None the less, I find it well worth the effort. For example- I didn’t know yellow pencils were painted yellow because the graphite originated in China and the color yellow made them look “oriental” . I also just finished a section on how white lead paint was used in the early days for both painting and makeup. As we now know, many pale young women died of lead poisoning.
Color, Victoria Finlay, 2002, The Ballantine Publishing Group
I know I seem to be painting a lot of sunrises and sunsets lately, I just really enjoy the sharp colors found in those few minutes each day!
8″ x 12″
pastel on paper
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$5.00 shipping within US
This is an excerpt from the notes I am keeping for the Color Project (working title). I am trying to understand the colors I see through multiple mediums. Painting is important, but describing the colors through writing helps me understand the perception on a different level.
“The air is invigorating. Energy from the day’s storms is charging everything around me. I walk quickly, as the sun is minutes from setting and I want to catch all the drama. The colors are absolutely vibrant throughout the park. I take lots of pictures- everything I see amazes me. Sharp bands of early evening light dance off of the tree trunks like fire. The greens of the trees are made razor sharp by the lingering moisture in the air. A gentle purple has settled over everything and is complimented by a flickering yellow sunset.”
I have already taken several pictures of the nearby pond for reference in photos. I have also been drawing the location regularly to become more intimately familiar with it. By observing the same place day after day I take ownership of it. It somehow becomes mine in a way and I feel responsible for it. I notice details about it that I would otherwise overlook. In a sense, it is much like getting to know a person. I have seen oranges emerge subtly in the last few days. I have seen the lily pads fade away. I have seen the way that the sky and time of day shift the palette harmony of the entire scene. There is much calm in watching. There is a peace to just observing, painting, and observing again with no definitive end result.
Driving down the road today on my way to work I was struck by the subtle color changes that have occurred in the Wisconsin landscape over the last month. Summer now in full swing, the landscape has filled in with vibrant greens. However, a rather dry few weeks is making many of the grassy areas in Mitchell Park turn yellow. The color relationships fascinate me. When I observe a panorama I am quickly struck by the horizontal color bands of earth and sky. Tree lines are often a dramatic transition on the horizon. These relationships are really what drive my work. I often paint the same scene more than once- manipulating, enhancing, and tweaking the colors each time. I have taken hundred of pictures, often from my car. These pictures inform most of my paintings.