"If you look into the past of a successful painter you will find square miles of canvas"
-Charles Hawthorne

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Variation #51 Winter Sunset

'Variation #51'             5x7            pastel
This painting is another experiment with texture. It was done on a piece of Uart 600 grit paper. After my first layer of pastel I sprayed a liberal amount of fixative and while it was still wet I drew into it with the back of a thin paintbrush. When it was almost dry I started to drag soft pastels over the fixed areas. You can see where it skipped the low areas and left pastel on the raised areas. I find that Terry Ludwig pastels work good for this technique because of the softness and the shape.

Friday, October 30, 2009

50 Paintings Completed...Reflections on the Challenge

A month ago when I began this challenge I knew I would enjoy it but I had no idea just how much it would recharge and energize me.  I was a bit concerned that I would run out of ideas by 50 paintings but instead I am filled with ideas I want to try. I am already planning for my next challenge.  I always tell others that the thing that really improved my work was doing a daily painting....in effect starting to accumulate those 'miles of canvas'. I enjoy doing a daily painting but this challenge has given me permission to paint 'outside of the box'. There is no need to worry about creating a good painting. This is for fun...a chance to try new techniques and color combinations. What have I discovered so far?

  • I tend to reach for the same colors though I have tried to get better about this. This challenge has shown me that I haven't really explored new and exciting color combinations.
  • I have been told I paint loose and painterly but I discovered that my usual style still can be fussy. I still want to 'decorate' my trees with leaves and skyholes.  I am enjoying when I do a variation that is less fussy and more abstract. I don't know where I will go with that in my other work but I am having fun with it here.
  • I am enjoying working on a textured surface and building up thick layers of pastel.

Variation #50 Fixative and fingers in the paint!

'Variation #50'                  5x7           pastel
Now this one I really had fun with!  It started out on Uart paper with an oil paint underpainting which was applied very thin and drippy. After I put down a few layers of pastel I sprayed fixative (my can is getting low!) Then while the fixative was wet I went in and spread the pastel around. When it dried I was able to add a few more layers of pastel. I have been choosing my colors in advance for the last few. It helps me keep the flow of the painting if I already have my colors selected.

Paintings of the Evening

Here are variations #12 and #49.  They are my take on evening and night.  I really enjoy painting nocturnes and want to learn even more about them. I need to be more observant in the evening and see how the colors change at night. The version with the moon reminds me of a windy night. Even the moon seems to be blowing in the wind!  Both of these are painted on Uart paper. The one top has a yellow ochre oil paint underpainting.

Variation #6

'Variation # 6'            5x7           pastel
This variation is totally different from my usual style. It is also an earlier painting. I was inspired by the work of Mark Leach for this one. It reminds me that I need to try more like this one...maybe even flatten the landscape even more.

Black & White Variation

One of my earlier variations #10 to be exact. I used only gray black and white pastels for this one which makes it a simple value study of my landscape. I think I will try more like this and perhaps add an accent of color. Look for that soon!

Variation #48

'Variation #48'          5x7         pastel
Now I am getting into texture.  This one was painted on Uart 600 paper. I did a watercolor underpainting using hot pinks. After I put down my first layer of pastel I sprayed the tree area with workable fixative. I added more layers. Then I put some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and sprayed the painting. The alcohol dried quickly but allowed be to keep adding layers. You can see my trees now have trunks!

The Four Seasons

   This set of variations illustrates the four seasons. They are painted on Canson Moonstone color.  I have been using Canson for many of the variations because I have  a lot of scraps. But i am enjoying using it which is a nice thing to discover.  I am finding that my trees are changing them more I paint them. Sometimes they are big bushes and sometimes they are trees. They are supposed to be a stand of tall trees in the distance. I don't mind that they are changing. It helps keep it interesting.

Variation #47

This is variation #47.  It was painted on dark grey LaCarte Pastel Card. I don't usually like to use LaCarte for landscapes but it worked for this painting. I chose these colors from a small aceo size painting I had done. I just liked the pop of red in the tree.

Variation #40 A Rainy Day

'Farm View #40' 5x7 pastel
I am really enjoying the 100 variations challenge. If I could, I would work on them all day long. I have been painitng every day for the last four years but this is different. Never have I felt more excited and energized about painting. Anything and everything goes and I am getting more and more experimental. I am thinking about putting the paintings in a dedicated blog so I can document the techniques I use for each one. I think it will be fun and instructional to see them all together. For this variation I recycled a used pastelbord by brushing on a coat of pumice/gesso mix tinted burgandy. I used fixative in between layers, which I brushed in for additional texture.

The End of Weeks 3 & 4

If you have been following my challenge you can see that I have had a prolific week. I worked on these in the evenings and it seemed like one idea led to yet another idea and I found it hard to stop! It has been a great learning experience and I am enjoying the freedom to try just about anything. I can't wait to get started on the next batch! In case you are a new visitor, my challenge is to paint 100 variations of the same scene. Each painting is 5x7 and done with pastels on a variety of papers.

Variation #35

When I started the 100 variation painting challenge I was afraid I might run out of steam or ideas. Instead just the opposite has happened. The more variations I paint, the more ideas I have. In fact I was dreaming about variations last night! I can't wait for the weekend when I will have more time to devote to doing more. I didn't set a time limit to complete the project but with 35 finished I figure I will be done in another month. I have 14 new paintings to share. I made a collage which I will post tomorrow.

The End of Week Two

Here are the paintings from week two of my 100 variations challenge. Each one is 5x7 and is done on various papers. I am keeping a log of the papers and techniques I am trying for future reference. I have another busy week finishing two commissions but after that I will have more time to devote to the challenge. It is a lot of fun and a great learning experience so far.

The End of the First Week

I found a way to put all of my challenge paintings into one post. Yeah! I actually have three more new ones but they will be a part of week two. The challenge is to paint the same image 100 times. I am having so much fun with this. It is a great opportunity to experiment with techniques and colors that you might not think to try. It is fun to come up with new ways to interpret this scene and it will be interesting to see what happens after say 50! Each painting is 5x7 and are all on different surfaces.

Variation #4 Canson Paper

'Farm View #4' 5x7 pastel
This is my fourth variation on this scene. For this painitng I chose a complementary color scheme of yellow and purple. This one is on Canson paper. I can't wait to paint some more!

Variation #2

'Farm View #2' 5x7 pastel
This is actually the third variation I've completed but since I plan to paint 100, I won't be posting all of them here on my blog. Most likely I will combine each week's paintings into one post. I am also keeping a log in which I will record the type of paper and pastels I use as well as any technique I am trying. This way I can always look back in my log to see how I did a painting....I know I will forget after about 10! I am having fun with these but this weekend is devoted to working on commissions!

The First Painting

'The Farm #1 ' 5x7 pastel
If you haven't read about the Variations on a Theme challenge, check out my post below. This is my first painting of the challenge....99 to go! I looked at the photo for this one but I think in the future I will just look at my notan. I am going to make a list of the possibilities I might try for each one. This is going to be fun! My travel parner vips should recognize this particular farm!
This painting has been sold

The Challenge Begins

I couldn't resist joining this challenge. Over on Wet Canvas in the pastel forum, Deborah Secor has challenged us to join her students as they try to paint 100 variations on the same composition. You may have seen the recent Pastel Journal article about artist Marla Bagetta and her 100 paintings. She is the inspiration for the challenge. Read more about it here. I started by choosing a simple composition and doing some notans or value sketches to see if this will be an interesting enough composition to paint many times. I decided that it was better as a 5x7 rather than a square. I plan to devote no more than 30 minutes for each painting. I'll post my first one later.