It seems I have been licking my wounds for too long and even I was doubting my ability to come back to the world of color. Last year, in the first year of finding my way through the grief of losing two immediate family members, I painted only in black and white. And I loved that experience. Enamored with the subtlety of charcoal grays and barely white whites, I would go into my studio and almost cringe at my older work with the bright, clean color that was my trademark of sorts…just 3 transparent colors and white. Recently I have found my way back to color and here is my “break through” piece. I love it and there are more coming…almost rushing out. Still, the allure of black and white is tugging, especially after a rather overly foggy summer here on the coast. I will be posting my new work in the Paintings page on this site soon. Many thanks to the extraordinary Debbie Gray, website master wunderkind who updated my site and made it functional and easy to use in all formats. If you have a website, or need one, I highly recommend www.deborahgraydesign.com.
This is Sunlit. I have to say it looks better in real life…the luminous pale yellow foreground is buttery in this palette knife oil. More to come….
24″ x 24″ oil on canvas
Thank you to everyone who came to visit my studio for ARTrails these last 2 weekends. I am always so happy to meet new people (from all over the world) and of course to see my collectors and friends. Getting to catch up with everyone, to chat about art and life and to just enjoy the time together is what ARTrails is all about. Yes, getting ready for this event is a huge amount of work, but it is always worth it. I was very happy to find new homes for lots of my work. I even finished a new piece between weekends (Tomales Road Dairy, 24″ x 24″) which just goes to show that selling work inspires artists to continue working…so again, thank you to everyone who came out to Bodega Bay to see me…I am truly grateful.
So here is a rather large painting 24″ x 48″, acrylic, in black and white. I forgot to mention this in my previous post, but I am using a tube black. Really! Most of my students would be shocked since I have always been so vehement about mixing blacks. Using my limited palette of three colors, I am kind of a zealot about mixing. But, as artists we must change and experiment. I am enjoying this adventure with black and white.
Back to the painting…my intention was to glaze transparent color over it, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I really love it the way it is. Painter Tim Schaible was in my studio recently and I mentioned this dilemma to him…he said “leave it the way it is!” Thanks Tim.
I’ve been thinking and talking about painting in just black and white for some time. My initial idea was to glaze transparent color over dry black and white paintings….a technique I use in my classes as an exercise to teach value (dark and light). My initial interest was based on hand-painted black and white photographs…something that my Mom used to do with our old family photos. I have seen other more graphic versions of this technique using flat blocks of transparent color that are more arbitrary than just painting mouths pink and eyes blue on an old portrait. This really appeals to me. My “eight bowls” painting from last year was created this way.
Then along comes a very, very foggy summer in Bodega Bay along with a case of the “blahs” on my part due to some tragic family losses suffered during the last year. I think the fog is a good metaphor for grief. It arrives unpredictably, it puts everything in a dim light and it disperses over time. Thankfully, I found the fog to be not only healing, but also really gorgeous from a painters’ perspective, Maybe it was this particular type of fog…it hung in vertical sheets like curtains across the landscape moving the picture plane forward and back…softening everything in monochromatic simplicity and making only some objects muted color seem exceptionally contrasted.
In my next post I will show my new “fog” series. Some I have glazed with color, others I can’t bring myself to part with the BW. All of these works will be available to see (in the flesh) at ARTrails open studio tour coming up in a couple of weeks.
Fellow painter Thea Goldstine and I are currently showing at Two Embarcadero Center in downtown San Francisco. Our work will be exhibited from May 28th until late July. Thank you to Gary for making this show possible. I’m so grateful to be showing with Thea and for the wonderful response we are getting to our work.
Really, I cannot say it’s sad to see 2012 end…it was a tough year for me personally with the loss of my sister. And I have not been in my studio except to stare blankly at the walls and my half-finished pieces. But I will start up. I am ready. I have splashed a bit of paint around on a couple of occasions and it felt good. Mostly I have been observing the world around me…especially while I was back East.
One image that had stayed with me in a very compelling way is a piece of urban street art on the front of a German bakery in Portsmouth New Hampshire. I LOVE this piece. Some wise young folks suggested it might be Bansky but a little more research has revealed that the artist is Bumblebee, a well-known artist from LA. http://www.unurth.com/The-Bumblebee-Interview
urban street art by Bumblebee
I had to go back several times to see this because it just haunted me, in a good way. Hope you enjoy this and will read more about this artist with the link above.
Here is the second demo I did on the first day of Art at the Source. It was toward the end of a busy first day and I just got into painting on a big white canvas with my charcoal and three colors of acrylics. I like the way this came out and so did some of my visitors…its spoken for…yet not quite done.
Art at the Source has one more weekend coming up…day after tomorrow. I love that the public can see my work space and my work, ask questions, give feedback and just hang out. This is my 7th year!
Not sure what my current fascination with bowls is all about. Some artists have a fall back image that they go to when they aren’t sure what to paint. Pears are common. I did a lot of apples at one time. These bowls are different. I feel like they mean something to me…kind of like barns. Stacking them is new for me…and while I may have originally been influenced by Carol Marine’s stacked bowls, mine are uncommonly dark in value. I actually painted this entire piece (28″ x 22″) in black and white and then glazed it with transparent pigments…all acrylic.
Sketch with charcoal
I thought it would be fun to show the progression of a painting. Normally this would be hard for me to pull off since most of my work evolves as I paint it. But this was part of a larger commission so I was working from an approved color sketch.
This painting was an acrylic and charcoal landscape on a 24″ x 36″ gallery wrap canvas. I started by sketching in the major shapes including shadows. My minimal palette of just three colors plus white is softened by the use of charcoal.
Blocked in the darks and then mid-tone
Here I blocked in my darks first and then proceeded to add the sky and other mid-tones. Since charcoal dissolves into the paint, I need to work carefully in those areas with line work. Sometimes I go back over details with more charcoal. Spray varnish is necessary to fix the final version…but that comes later.
Adding mid-tone color
As I add in more midtone color, I make sure to repeatedly stand back from my easel to see if all the colors and values are working together. People ask how I get a soft, pastel look to my work. I tend to scrub my paints into the canvas to blend them…this works well to simulate the patchy values and color seen in fields and pastures (for me anyway!).
Finish with highlights and detail
I think I fiddled a little more with this afterward, but this is generally what the final piece looks like…The client wanted me to capture the calm, serene feel of our local landscapes…grassy, soft rolling hills of western sonoma county. We were both happy with the result.
ohhh…remember the full moon during the first week of January?
Hoping to catch a peek at it, my husband, dog and I walked along the shore near Bodega Head. The weather was unusually dry and windless. The big gorgeous moon popped up over the dunes and the sky turned pink…reflected in the water. exceptional!
This one is for you sis!