Flowing #1 (Any Suggestions for a Title?)

My “More Sunshine?” painting may still be a work in progress, but here’s another I’ve been working on that I have decided is finished. Which isn’t to say there aren’t things I could do, and am tempted to do, but those ideas will be used in another painting.

This is inspired by one of the many streams that run into the sea around Skye. It doesn’t have a title yet (suggestions welcome in the comments section below!) but will be part of my solo exhibition at Skyeworks over Easter (the working title for the exhibition is “Flowing”; suggestions welcome too!). Scroll down for a detail photo, then a few taken of its progress.

Ebb & Flow Exhibition paintings river
Size: 50x100cm (20×40″)

 

Ebb and Flow Paintings Exhibition

Ebb & Flow Exhibition: River #1 Step by step
1. The underpainting had some vibrant colours; specks of this are still visible in the finished painting. It adds a liveliness. 2. Refining the shapes of the hills and foreground rocks, trying to think big shapes and not get stuck into detail. 3. Muting the colours. 4. Starting to add white rapids to the river. 5. Glazing to put the right-hand bank into shadow. 6. Adding light onto the hills and a little purple-pink heather too me to brushes-down stage.

 

Does This Painting Need “More Sunshine”?

This painting has been in “pondering mode” for a few weeks now as I’ve contemplated where to take it, whether to go further into shadow with backlit trees (more true to the location in autumn) or “add more sunshine”.? I know, artistic license and all that, but the shadows of low autumnal sunshine is one of the beautiful things about this location; then again it was the single, bright yellow tree with its autumnal leaves which caught my eye that day.

Only certainties are that the painting is not where I want it to be (yet) and that I’m inhibited by how much I like parts of it, such as the yellow tree, the river stones at the bottom. What I suspect I’m going to do:

  • Deepen the darks, using perylene green and Prussian blue
  • Add some white-rippled water in the stream, on the left-hand edges of the rocks in the water and at the edge of the bank
  • Glaze over the sky to make it feel less disjointed, wiping off the paint where it goes over the tree trunks
  • Add “sunshine” to the trunks, river bank and stones, as if sunshine is coming from the top right

But perhaps I’ll contemplate it a little more first, and rather continue on some of my other works-in-progress.

Painting In Progress: The Little Yellow Tree
Work in Progress.
Size 1x1m.

Studio Cat Not Impressed by Painting-in-Progress

While I’ve been working on a new big painting, 1×1 metres, studio cat Rascal has been sleeping on the storage heater. He’s a rather vocal cat who generally has a lot to say about what I’m doing (about everything, really), so it’s been blissfully quiet. The painting is inspired by the way the river in Uig turns and disappears, with the banks patterned by trees and shadows, where I was sketching again last week.

Painting-in-Progress: Studio Cat Not Impressed by Stream Progress

I’d done a few thumbnails sketches and pondered it quite a bit before I started sketching the composition on the composition. I tweaked it a bit with pencil, then took a pen to mark my final choice. (Added advantage: it also shows up in a photo! Added disadvantage: shows through transparent layers.)

Painting-in-Progress: Stream Sketch
It’s a minimal composition sketch, to serve as a reminder of an intended destination, not intended to set out the journey in detail.

Next up, lots of texture paste. I’m using Golden’s Light Molding Paste, which I like because it doesn’t shrink too much when it’s dried, it gives a more absorbent working surface and, as the name suggests, doesn’t add significant weight to the painting.

Painting-in-Progress: Stream Texture Paste
I leave texture paste to dry overnight. That way I don’t keep poking at it with a finger to see if it’s dry yet and don’t encounter the problem of painting away then suddenly hitting a spot where it wasn’t fully dry.

First colour on once the paste had dried, Prussian blue. My plan was to be painting dark to light for the first few rounds with this painting. Where it is in the top photo is where I stopped to wait for it to dry completely before resuming. Still a long way to go, but I’m pleased with the sense of the water flowing past rocks in the stream. It’s perhaps a bit too turbulent a flow, but that could be calmed down with some glazing. Tomorrow’s job is to decide whether to or not.

Painting-in-Progress: Stream Texture First Paint Colour
The dark area was painted with from-the-tube paint. The lighter blue was thinned with water and glazing medium and allowed to run down a little into the dark blue.

What Happened Next With ?Magenta Trees? #2

I’ve been vacillating with “Magenta Trees” since I took it to the dark side (see What Happened Next With ?Magenta Trees?), some days liking it as it is and others thinking it needed something more still. In bright light you’d see the variations in colours, but on duller days it was very dark indeed.

Enter iridescent white…

While I like it more, it’s back into pondering mode again as I decide whether there wants to be a touch of opaque white (titanium) over the iridescent. I’m not sure if it’s what it needs or whether I feel like doing it because it’s what I’ve done with another forest painting I’m working on and I like it on there.

Work in progress: pink and purples in the forest

What Happened Next With “Magenta Trees”

Remember the magenta tree painting I started in June? Well it’s been stuck in “pondering stage” as I tried to decide what I would do with it. There were bits I really liked (e.g. the sense of movement behind the tree trunks), bits I didn’t (e.g. harsh darks), and various directions I could take it. About the only certainty was that I wouldn’t add any more paint until I had a definite plan.

After much procrastination pondering I decided I would take it for a walk on the dark side, rather than light, emphasizing shadows rather than sunlight. Why? Perhaps it’s the shorter days, perhaps thoughts about how well people responded to “Listening to Bluebells“, which is quite dark, but I’ve no real explanation other than that’s what I felt most like trying.

So out came a bottle of glazing medium, burnt umber and that favourite, Prussian blue. Why these two colours? Because both are strong darks, brown would enhance the sense of “tree” and blue “sky/rain”. The blue glazed over magenta would also give heathery purples, which that other favourite dark, perelyne green, wouldn’t.?This was the result; overall I’m pleased with the moodiness of it, but will do some more pondering, looking at it in different light conditions. The In-House Art Critic has proposed the title: “Plaid Glade“.

 Plaid Glade tree painting

Painting in Progress: Grazing the Loch

I’m waiting for the paint to dry on this before I have another round with it. My fingers are itching to fix the all-to-neat alignment of the shoreline and sheep heads, but first the paint needs to dry. I also need to decide whether to add a cloud in the sky to cast the shadow on the distant hilltop, or lighten it. Plus all the other additions, tweaks, adjustments, not-yet-put-in-ideas bouncing around my head. And deciding whether it’ll have daisies or buttercups in the foreground. Perhaps a few poppies for a splash of red? Are we there yet? Is it dry yet…?

Work-in-Progress: Grazing the Loch Shore
Work-in-Progress: Grazing the Loch Shore.
Size: 120x60cm
Commissioned painting

Part 2: Are We There Yet?

Painting-in-Progress: Starting with Magenta Trees

Wanting to move away from the blues and greens of recent paintings, I decided I’d start a forest painting with a seriously intense colour, magenta. It does still tie into reality through foxgloves and pink-purple heathers, so there is a little landscape-painting logic behind the choice.

I started with adding some texture in thin vertical strips for tree trunks, then once this has dried I brushed over magenta. I added a little red to this for a bit of variation, then left it to dry before starting to layer in colour that will ultimately read as “tree trunks”. If you’re wondering about the background, I did this at Skyeworks Gallery.

Painting in progress magenta trees
After the magenta/red ground had dried, I added the first tree layer.
Painting in progress magenta trees
Between the first layer of trees, I added blue for sky (which will become blue for water instead).
Then greens for grass/forest undergrowth (which would soon become green for leaves/foliage instead).
Then greens for grass/forest undergrowth (which would soon become green for leaves/foliage instead).
Turned sideways to allow new layer of blues to run, which is where I decide blues will be at bottom of painting not the top, and turn it  "upside down".
Turned sideways to allow new layer of blues to run, which is where I decide blues will be at bottom of painting not the top, and turn it “upside down”.
Masking tape added so that whatever I did next, some of the colours as they are now will be retained. The masking tape is torn in half to give a ragged edge to enhance the feeling of tree trunks.
Masking tape added so that whatever I did next, some of the colours as they are now will be retained. The masking tape is torn in half and the straight edges put together, to give a ragged edge to enhance the feeling of tree trunks.
How it looked the moment before I removed the masking tape.
How it looked the moment before I removed the masking tape.
With the tape removed.
With the tape removed.? Work in progess. Size 100x50cm.

This is still a work-in-progress. I have some idea of where I’ll go next (such as refining the darks), but have left the painting at Skyeworks so I’ll have to see if what I’ve in mind still applies when I see it again on Wednesday.

One comment so far from someone who’s seen it has been that it’s “tweed handbag colours”, referencing the bright pinks popular in modern tweeds. Any other suggestions?

Waiting for the Waterfall

My Painting-in-Progress: Kilt Rock has been moved from my studio to Skyeworks Gallery for my Edges Exhibition. It’s still waiting for me to finish it and as the exhibition opening is tonight it won’t get the waterfall added in time never mind finished. But I thought some people might find it interesting to see a work-in-progress and I’m intrigued to see how people respond to it as it is right now (I consider it no more than two-thirds finished).

Edges Exhibition by Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans at Skyeworks in Portree
My painting-in-progress Kilt Rock on the ‘working easel’ at Skyeworks.

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Work-in-Progress: Sheep Trio

Work in Progress: Sheep Painting with Distant Cliffs
Work-in-Progress. Painting Size: 1x1m

These four photos show this painting-in-progress I was working on yesterday.

Photo 1: Though you can’t see it in the photo, the sheep in the foreground and the cliffs in the distance had been ‘sketched’ in with texture paste, which is why I had put down colour on the sky, hills, and sea only. This having now dried, I started by adding yellow to the foreground, knowing the blue under this would show through, shifting it towards green. I applied the yellow directly to the canvas, then used a brush dipped in clean water and then some glazing medium to spread it around.

Photo 2: Without cleaning the yellow from my brush, I picked up some blue from my palette and let this run down, creating green. I added dark (perylene green) for the sheeps’ heads and legs, and applied a little to the distant hill. Then I started adding white for the sheeps’ wool.

Photo 3: I’ve added more colour to both the foreground and the distant hills. Permanent rose mixed with the leftover blueish colour on my brush/palette, giving a range of pink-purples, suitable heather colour. Then another round of white added to the sheep.

Photo 4: I’ve applied more dark to the faces (running the brush along the texture of the horns), and greens to the background. This wasn’t tube green, but created by mixing quinacridone gold with leftovers on my palette. Now it needs to dry completely before another round, which I’m hoping will get me to the “is it finished yet?” stage.

Flower Frustration & Resolution (Hopefully)

Given Monday’s Motivator to Keep Striving, I thought I’d share work-in-progress photos of one of the paintings I’ve been working on this week, one that’s been testing my resilience. Wildflowers are something that have bounced around my mind’s eye for some time, but a subject I’ve not translated into paint much. “Listening to Trees” was the first time I painted foxgloves to my satisfaction. My idea with this painting was for it to echo myforest paintings, but be only flowers. It’s a large canvas, 1×1 metre (about 39×39 inches).

The first photo shows where the painting was when I downed brushes yesterday. To my mind, very much still a work-in-progress that lacked oomph. It needed more tonal contrast, a stronger sense of sunlight, pinker foxgloves. The last thing I had done was to add a stronger dark tone using a mixture of Prussian blue, burnt umber, and perylene green. It was a bit streaky but once dry my plan was to do something similar with some “sunlight” and “blue sky”, then reassess.

How long would this take? Would it work? Doing it is the only way to know. I might make it worse, but ultimately that’s irrelevant as it’s not right now anyway.

Flower painting with foxgloves and daisies
Work-in-progress. Size: 1x1m.

Awake at four this morning thinking about this painting, I headed back into my studio to give it another go. I dug out some fluid medium, cadmium yellow, phthalo blue, and titanium white, then played around with very fluid paint and gravity. This photo shows where the painting is now. I like it more — it’s less static — but will reassess once it’s daylight. Studio cat seemed to approve though.

Flower painting with foxgloves and daisies
When I put the canvas on the floor to take a photo, studio cat came to help.

Update: I ultimately decided I did like what I’d done and made only minor tweaks.

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