This morning I started painting the 2 tree trunks. Laid down greys and neutrals as I wanted. Not precious about it very much. Just felt my way around both in applying the paint and mixing colors on the palette. Moving the brush very rapidly on the palette from one color to the next. Trying to harmonise the palette with similar base colors if grey and burnt umber. I wanted the effect to seem random and abstract in appearance. I have enough information now to be able to consider the rest if the painting. I have to keep in mind the pushing back of certain areas and colors to not jump out and compromise the trunks. Also I'm thinking about not making the fireground and middle ground too busy with brushstrokes or too many tones because it will detract from the subject of the trunks.
In this second session I wanted to work on the sky and define the contours if the background trees. I mixed burnt umber with Turquoise, white and grey. It's as dark as I want it. Brooding but atmospheric with hints of reds, blues and greens. Similar palette as the little studies I did almost a year ago on paper. You can see the blog posts in the archives so you know what Im talking about.
The trees in the background so far are shaped but need further work. I've mixed and applied some Prussian Blue and Van Dyke Brown. Next I want to work a little on the main tree trunks and that will help me decide on the right action to take on the middle and foreground.
I started this new painting a few days ago. It's oil on marine ply which is a hardy good quality board. I gave it 2 coats of the best quality acrylic primer, sealer & undercoat.
I recently was in Camberwell for a job and was walking down Burke Road near the hardware store. I passed a tree which I really took a fancy to. When I say tree, it was really just the trunk which attracted my attention. It looked so abstract and I liked its color scheme. Pale yellows and greyish tints. I stopped immediately and took a photo of it on my IPhone. I often do this but rarely end up using them for paintings down the track. But this time I felt somehow compelled to use it as inspiration. I think it's the grey color which I'm interested in as I've started to use it recently.
So I've started with 2 tree trunks. One is very straight and the other is leaning away. The background has trees in the distance. The foreground is divided into two parts. Not sure if I want it to represent a road or a river at this stage.
The base color all over is Burnt Umber. I'm planning to mix colors with browns and grey (mixed from Ivory Black and Zinc White). In the middle ground I'm considering having a line of figures standing around.
I haven't finished the previous new landscape painting but it is time now to let it rest and for me to just stare at it a bit more before I set to work on it again. It's a good idea to work on a new picture and that process helps to review the previous picture and if something is lacking. The process is like taking a leap forward and taking the new information and lessons learnt back and reinvigorating the previous painting. Sounds weird I know, but there is a method to the madness so to speak. I only hope I'm explaining it okay for those reading this to understand.
Anyway, I'm happy with the start I've made and can't wait to work on the sky. I'm thinking something darkish in color.
Had a great 6th working session on this landscape. As I mentioned previously, I wanted to neutralise some of the colors to push them back. I mixed up Ivory black and white to make a grey. With this as my starting color, I could mix all subsequent colors to tone them down. Desaturate the intensity of a color. I also daringly used the grey straight and painted a few areas as solid shapes, particularly around the figures and in the left foreground. Still always feeling my way around the canvas, dabbing here and there. Keeping the whole picture in mind and not getting bogged down. This session was productive as I worked on the trees and the sky. The cloud on the left was a bit unresolved in my mind, so I needed to give it a revamp. Be bold and gutsy. I've added a brighter purple area which plays well with its complementary yellow-orange.
In defining the trees, I wanted to introduce a warmer palette of reds and browns. Combined blues to contrast such as Prussian blue and cerulean. I must say that for many years I haven't used Paynes Grey. I forgot exactly what it looked like when mixed with other colors. It's a color that when mixed with white is a kind of neutral blue in hue. It's a unique color and is very useful in mixing with brown and red to make an interesting and intense black. Also great for making a dark purple violet. Used with yellow it makes a dark tone green. Adding white is another fantastic gamut of lighter tones. In the next session I will try to mix some interesting green tones using Paynes Grey and Ivory Black. Also I need to pay more attention to the figures on either side of the picture. I'm still considering what the attitude should be. At this stage I'm still keeping everything fluid and open for reworking if need be. Remember at the beginning I wanted to keep a lot of the white areas as white ? Well, as you can see in the process, I needed to reconsider that idea as certain areas in the picture just didn't work as unpainted or painted white especially in the background. Too jumpy and distracting I felt. I like the idea of the painting as having no shadows in a traditional sense at the base of the tree trunks. They instead shoot up from a white ground and seem to abstractly pop up.
I've been looking at the painting a lot over a few days and i just didn't like the sky. Too jumpy and unresolved. So a few days ago I reworked it. Painted over the orange areas which dominated the area way too much. Sometimes in the working process, I like to intuitively place strange shapes or colors to trigger a reaction even from myself. Strange as it sounds, painting does create a unique excitement and it needs to be surprising to be interesting to me. Too much planing and I might as well be dead.
Anyway at this new stage I now need to consider the play of colors in terms of saturation. Meaning, I need to cool some colors to push them back and grey them off. Also in the same time consider warming some colors to bring them forward and saturate them, make them brighter or cleaner.
Painting going ok this evening. Still considering sky. Added orange over yellow shapes. See if I'm happy with it over next few days. Also worked on foreground to add a tapestry of hues from yellow-greens, to blues-greens. Working over whole painting picking places to highlight or tone down. At this stage I'm almost ready to consider re-drawing the tree and figures.
Worked a little more on this oil on canvas this morning. Still defining the image and working out color relationships. Pushing back some parts and warming up some foreground sections. Added some reds and pinks to trigger some contrst wirh the impure greens. Not thinking too much and basically using leftover paint from palette. Working on entire surface and not getting bogged down on one particular section. Did some work to sky too. Added some cerulean blue and scumbled the left part of sky. I'm not really convinced about the sky at the moment. I don't really like it and ill see how I feel about it later.
Worked on this new painting this morning. Progressing well I think. Developing the structure and adding some more definition. I like the group of trees in the centre to appear as one massive tree. Still want to keep the picture looking fleeting and spontaneous.
Today I started a new painting on canvas. I've had a really long break from work with a trip overseas and just settling back slowly. I don't feel the urgency to work sometimes and actually trying to give up smoking makes me feel a bit down. But this morning I just had to do something like painting to just feel the paint and unpreciously move it around. My idea is to paint a landscape with a tree or several trees. I wanted to approach it differently. I started with Prussian blue mixed with an Indian red and van dyke brown and applied the paint with a palette knife. I just hit the surface very confidently and moved the paint around. Then kind of felt my way around drawing you could say, shapes and branch-like shapes. Then just scraped the knife over the paint and surface. Not to cover all the canvas, but rather just scumble some colour here and there. Why ? Well, that way, when I begin adding other colours, they too will be mixed with the base colour I put on with the palette knife. A good way to harmonise the color scheme.
The painting now is at a stage where I can see what it is and I've added figures on both sides. I'm deciding now to possibly leave a lot of bare canvas show instead of painting everything in detail filling the entire surface. I kind of like the rough look of it now. It's something I'd never do in the past. I've over-painted so many pictures over the years ! I just need to know when to stop and let the suggestive quality of an image take over. I will let it rest and see it with fresh eyes in a few days. I definitely like the way the painting seems to have a transient look about it. I want it to appear as if its about to change in front of the viewer like a wind or a cloud covering the sun just as you are about to take a photo of something outside.
I should also mention that for this painting I will not be using any medium at all. Also a new thing for me. Just turpentine for initial under painting in some parts, but from here on none at all. Interesting feeling how dry and tacky the oil paint is without medium or linseed oil. I like it so far.
Artist living and working in Melbourne, Australia. Paintings, works on paper. Mostly creates monotypes and monoprints