With the end of the year rapidly approaching and inclement weather outdoors, my focus in the studio turns to still life sets and flowers. I love to find drama in flowers when I look for something to paint and with my love of Georgia O'Keeffe's work I sometimes think it would be great to paint in her style. However, my own style is what I continue to follow and this Lily was on the agenda last week. Merry Christmas everyone.
When it's gray outside, and the wind cuts through the clothes, it's time to paint indoors. On my many hikes into the Mt. Baker National Forest is a hike to Winchester lookout. It is less than 2 miles long and about 1300 feet elevation gain and the rewards are stunning. We hiked this last year during the fall, me carrying my paint gear. I didn't paint this scene then but I knew I would one day. 16x20 oil on canvas.
Winter brings me indoors searching for compositions and still life opportunities. These sets always provide me with challenges which help me progress in painting. Some of the challenges are how to deal with the background, what do I want the focus point to be, what color combinations to use, placement of objects etc. etc. I wanted my platform to have a shiny surface so right away I drove to the second hand hardware store and found a piece of black granite that was someone's throw away sink. It had broken into the perfect size. I set my objects on that and put up a warm background, then turned on the light. Using transparent red oxide to create the design, I then started adding color. About the same time, it started snowing outside so when it came time to take a break I could look out and see the squirrels and birds foraging for food, and watch the big flakes come down. This work took me 8 hours or so (with interruptions of course). The shine from the oil is still present on the picture but will go away with drying.
When the sunflowers are in bloom, I know that winter is right around the corner. It means it's time to get my still life mind in gear and start setting up my studio for a winter of work indoors! I love sunflowers! They sing the glory that is big and bright and oh so beautiful! Oil on masonite 8x10.
Sometimes a view from high on the mountain top brings new thoughts and perspective. Last week we drove up Little Mountain just outside of Mt. Vernon and parked at the top. High above the hustle and bustle of traffic coming and going below, the Olympic mountains beyond, puget sound and farmlands in the foreground, all congealed into patterns familiar to those who live in the Skagit Valley. I was immediately put off by the vastness of the scene, but after consideration, decided it was worth the effort to paint.
Sometimes it is hard to find something interesting to paint. I was out looking in my neighborhood yesterday and couldn't figure out what was interesting when I came upon this scene. It had the right elements, design, light and opportunities for color. Those 3 elements are so important in painting.
The opportunity to paint in areas beyond western Washington comes when it's time for vacation. Wallowa was the destination this fall and I spent a week there painting, enjoying family and friends. The heat was sometimes overwhelming at 95 degrees during the day and cooling to the low 40's at night, and the scenery was spectacular. This scene was painted on the Iwetem-laykin trail, one of the many areas occupied by the Nez Perce nation.
Well, the Anacortes Art Fair has come and gone. I spent more money than I made but was proud to sell this tug not a day after completion. It was still wet and unframed. Saturday and Sunday we did not see the sun because of fog and smoke in the air. That created an interesting color in the sky which was sort of gray/orange. The boat builders were not at work yet when I started this but it wasn't long before the cranes and materials started moving all over the place. This was a fun painting to put together and a pleasure to sell.
As I continue to explore what I want my paintings to look like I find more interest in deliberate brush strokes that come through in my subjects. Last week on an overcast day, I found this alley in Mt. Vernon, WA that seemed to have the right feel for a painting. Thinking about what my brush stroke with a load of
paint might say as I composed this work, it became clear when I laid down each stroke that I liked what was happening. The objects color stroke became less important than the subject matter and I found satisfaction in this final work. I am going to continue pursuing this method of painting in all scenes, feeling a sense of artistic license to create the scene I want.
So much life is centered around the Skagit River which runs through the heart of old Mount Vernon. The Salish Sea Plein Air group returns to this site annually to refresh our memories and apply our brushes. We got more than we expected this morning with a splash of rain midway through this piece. It is often just as easy by then to remember what needed to be finished and so folding up my easel and paints, took them home to do just that.