Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Paintings

Apricots and Violets   - 12 x 16
I know it's a great summer because I'm not getting any blogs done!  
I'm still painting every day, though, squeezing it in between a bumper crop of raspberries to pick and an epic battle that I'm waging against the slugs that are trying to eat my entire garden.  

Lately, my paintings have become about backlighting.  For the past few weeks, my still life set ups are against a window, augmented by a flood (you can just see it at the top of the photo).  There's something magical that happens when you see a subject lit warmly from behind.  The objects are all influenced slightly by a cool tinge and their highlights can be intensely warm.  In the painting, I mixed a good dose of Cad. Yellow Deep with Titanium white and laid it on thickly for the sunlit tablecloth.  It worked believably, especially when contrasted with the blue-grays of the cloth's shadows.  

By keeping the shadows in a midtone range, I increased the sense of illumination.  My first effort had a more Rembrandt-ish chiaroscuro effect with dark shadows and bright lights.  This didn't provide the airy colourful effect that I was after.  It seemed to weigh down the subject.  It also didn't allow me to play with colour interactions as much as I wanted.  Something should dominate: value or colour, and chiaroscuro is all about value.  Since this subject was so richly coloured, my path became clear.  

I used the paint very dryly in this painting - paint consistency is something that I'm also experiment with at the moment.  I like the broken look to the brushstrokes as it increases the feeling of sparkling light; it's a bit like the dust motes that you see in a bright sunbeam.  

I'll continue to explore the possibilities of backlight and have some plein air ideas for it.  If the berries and the slugs give me a break, I'll post them soon.   

Happy painting!