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.


  1. Hi Rita, I LOVE it when you post a little series of photos demoing your process. Your work is wonderful. Thanks!

  2. Water reflections are one of my favorite this! Beautiful!

  3. Thank you, Rita, for posting the series of photos that show the process as you journey through the painting. It is so inspiring. I like hearing about your struggles and seeing how things progress. Love it!