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Friday, March 7, 2014

Taking chances

Winter Lambing, 48X36, oil on canvas, by little ol' me.
Critiquing a painting this week, I focused on the concrete: there isn’t any texture in the background, the yellows are too cool, the vase is too busy. A few hours later, my student looked at my Winter Lambing and said, “I’m playing it too safe, aren’t I?”

This is taking a chance: obliterating the structure of a painting and starting again.
When I started my painting of the Aurora Borealis, I’d wanted the full gamut of color in those crazy lights. However, for some reason, we usually see green ones, so I went with the green phase.

Not finished, but an improvement on the prior iteration, I think.
Last week, Britain was lit up by an amazing display of Northern Lights. Considering that a gift, I immediately decided to restructure my painting. That involved redoing an already-realized underpainting, but a good rule of painting is, “If you could paint it once, you can paint it again.”

Wet brush in the left hand, soft dry brush in the right hand.
The Northern Lights are, by and large, soft, ethereal, and edge-free. I’m painting them two-fisted: one hand holds a wet brush with a soft slurry of color; the other has a dry brush with which I blend the edges.  This is time-consuming, but I hope it will be realistic when I’m finished. No paint can match the colors of the Northern Lights, so the problem will be making them work with the colors I have. 

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! 

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