Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reflection Interrupted

"Reflection Interrupted"  (pastel, 16x16 inches)

As my first post in half a month, I'm happy to be happy about this one. I've been having some annoying "life" stuff distract me from my artwork lately and have had a bit of painter's block on top of it. So last week I tried a completely different technique than I've ever done.

Basically, I played. (Thank you to Dawn Emerson's very inspiring demo for the APS earlier this year!)

The New Braunfels Art League has a special show each month, and June's is called "Water, Water Everywhere." From experience, I've found that a good way to work around painter's block is to let someone else tell you what to paint. So I like doing stuff for these special shows because they always have a theme that can sometimes pick your subject for you; in this case: water!

Since I'm usually very tight and controlled, or at least maniacally organized in my process, I decided to throw all that away and jump in to this project without knowing ahead of time exactly how I would do it. I found a couple of photos that stirred up my imagination, and also had a certain format/viewpoint that would be very difficult to paint in my usual style. I definitely was not in the mood and did not have the patience to render the semi-abstract complexity of this image in perfect detail!


Instinct told me this would have a better impact as a large piece, and I have some 24x24 frames with 16x16 mat openings that I decided to size it to.

I didn't have a plan, but I knew I didn't want to lay all my colors down on a solid ground, so I started with a fast and loose acrylic underpainting direct on my gatorboard. (The acrylics I had were some samples from the Plein Air convention. They were primaries and represented 3 basic values, so that was ok by me.) I liked the semi-transparency of the acrylics on the white board.
Thinking of transparency, I now needed something with pumice for the pastel to stick to, and since the acrylic part was rather cool, and I happened to have a bit of gold-colored pastel primer from an earlier job (made from Golden brand acrylics and fine pumice gel,) I mixed a bit of that with some more clear pumice gel, and added a 'warm' layer on top of the underpainting:

This week I got to work on the pastel part!
 I tried to stay quick and loose with the first colors, and working with the patterns of the underpainting. I wanted to catch the feeling of the patterns of light more than the exactness of the photo.
 I like to check occasionally that the painting will harmonize with the frame/mat.
 I was careful as the painting progressed to build up the colors and values loosely throughout the entire painting, so that no part would get too fussy.
 I stepped back often for an overview.
Finally, with a few added bits of rusty-red color, I felt it was finished!

Thanks for watching! Tell me what you think!
I have another water painting prepped to (try to) finish tomorrow.

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