Friday, July 12, 2013

What To Do When It Is Ashing Outside

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The Gila Wilderness has been burning and owing to the draught of the mountains and prevailing winds, we have been inundated with thick ash, acrid smoke and noxious fumes for the past three weeks. My reaction? To get sick of course. 

Consequently, for the last three weeks, I have been in the process of getting better rather than getting out in it to paint. Besides who would want a New Mexico landscape with burnt orange to brown skies? Of course life goes on and we even sandwiched in a family reunion in East Texas over the fourth, the better to get away from our dirty skies and air. Even the prospect of driving across the widest parts of Texas was preferable to staying here and breathing that STUFF.

On the few days that I felt half way human (and they were few ), I stayed in the studio which is now air conditioned and somewhat filtered. What to do? I painted a small still life of some flowers in a copper bucket. It’s an 11x14, from life, en filtered air, not plein air.  To go out was self destructive for those three weeks, so I thought you might all understand. It was fun being able to keep a controlled environment for this piece. Kinda like playing the almighty being, not having to track the light as it willfully moved across the scene. This is Flowers in Copper Pot. Real inventive, my naming skills, wouldn’t you say?

Flowers In Copper Pot
oil 11x14

Rublev Chart No.1
I also took the time to do something I try to get all my painting friends to do. I made some color charts. I bought some new Rublev oil colors at the plein air convention, and they seemed far more subdued than my normal palette, and I had wondered at their range as tints. They were quite dark coming out of the tube and it was hard to tell what they would do as I added white. As I am looking for a new portrait palette, I was interested in what would result. So this is the straight tinting chart of the colors that I have bought. I have not tried to do a chart with mixes, though that is my future intention. Knowing a color’s tinting strength is really important when mixing.  Richard Schmid says that he continues to do color charts even at his stage of development as a painter. And hey, if he does them, maybe I should too! I do know that his book Alla Prima goes into some detail about doing the charts and their value if the exercise is not rushed. He even touts doing the charts in his DVDs.

I know that we are habitual animals and predictable color is a normal thing, but one to be guarded against. I know when I told an artist friend about my flowers in a copper pot, she recited her favorite color recipe for copper. It was certainly interesting to me to know that I had not used one of the colors she had cited! We tend to like certain mixes and rely upon them to the neglect of other colors. So when doing a chart, I ask myself “Is this a suitable replacement for a habitual color of mine?”.  It is definitely broadening as far as building color skills are concerned.

Favorite quote:

Most people think painting is a God-given talent. It Isn't. It is a product of hard work and intense mental effort and only those can succeed who have the capacity for work and the necessary intelligence.  

(Frank Benson)

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