Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jay's House

Completed 09-30-2007. 11 x 14, Canvas Board.

I painted this in about four or five Sundays. I only used Cad Yellow, Cad Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue (plus Black and White). I tried to use the black sparingly. I used the grid method to transfer the photo onto the canvas. There were a lot of challenges in this painting. Mostly everything.

The sky in the photo was a washed out nothing. I was going to paint it blue, but my teacher said it was a "vanilla sky". So she mixed a tad of CY with white, and showed me how to make the sky sparkle through the trees.

The house was also difficult. It was white with gray shadows. My teacher told me to mix AC and UB to get various lavenders for the shadows. Then I was out of classes, and on my own.

I spent a whole day on the house shadows, then I dabbled on the trees. They just looked wrong, but I didn't know what the problem was. Finally Julia told me, "Mom, you can't spend hours on the house, and then slop on the trees. You have to spend just as much time on them."

I found out that to paint trees, you have to paint their whole silhouette the color of their shadow, very thinly. Then you carefully build up the middle value of leaves, and then you add the highlight leaves last. Since the house had so many shrubs, I was very careful to give each of them different textures and shades of green so that each bush was separate. That took a couple of Sundays.

As this painting progressed, I grew more confident in mixing colors and controlling the oil paint. I had seen a video clip of an artist painting a big painting, and instead of using big bristle brushes, he painted the whole thing with a tiny sable brush. He did not do Alla Prima, and try to get the whole painting done at once; but by letting it dry, he was able to build the layers of bright colors onto the previous dull colors. This made the new layers pop. Using that approach really helped in this painting.