Friday, July 12, 2013

The scene as it is, not as you think it is

Hidden Creek
10 x 8
I took my trusty pochade box to Kelowna BC recently when I was there to teach a workshop for the Okanagan chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists and to visit family.   The workshop was a success with lots of good portraits painted by the artists who attended, and, wonderfully, I also managed to find the time for an afternoon of plein air painting.  

This little creek was tumbling down right beside a back road, screened by trees so that you'd never guess it was there.  

What struck me was the amount of colour in the water as it tumbled down over rocks and into a calmer stretch of the creek.  I saw an overall ochery-green hue with a lot of lavender in the shadows.  Where the water frothed over rocks, it took on a cool, yellowish tint.  The sheltering foliage cast its colour into the water as did the bits of sky that managed to peek through the
branches overhead. 

 I didn't see these colours all at once; it took a lot of looking and thinking to figure out what my eyes were actually seeing and not what I thought I should be seeing.  Waterfalls and creeks aren't part of my everyday experience and the images of them that I have in my mind are from photos, not life.  So I instinctively wanted to recreate what countless photos had shown me: white foam and blue or brown water. But when I tried that first bit of white on the painting and compared it to the scene in front of my eyes, I realized that white had no place in this painting at all.  The light was warmer than that and the water much more colourful.  

Most of the water was done with a palette knife in order to preserve pure, clean mixtures layered one on top of the other.  I couldn't have kept the colours so fresh if I'd applied them with a brush; they'd have mixed on the canvas and diminished the sense of sparkling light.  The palette knife also created texture that helped to describe the many levels of rocks that broke the water as it flowed downhill.  

This little painting will be a great resource for a future, larger piece.  With all of those accurate colour notes, it should be a snap to re-imagine it in a larger format.   

Happy painting!


Arto Isotalo said...

Beautiful painting!

Ingrid Christensen said...

I'm so pleased that you commented, Arto. Not only is it a lovely comment, but it allowed me to discover your art online. You're a heck of a good painter! I'm a follower of your blog now.

Keep up the superb work.


Bobbi Dunlop said...

Lucious brushwork, Ingrid ... Lovely little painting!

Bobbi Dunlop said...

Lucious brushwork, Ingrid ... Lovely painting!

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks, Bobbi!
It was a fun painting to work on. David was hiking around with his camera and I had such a short time to work before he got back so I slapped the paint on with speed. I should always work under some time constraint.

Arto Isotalo said...

Thank you, Ingrid! I'm really happy to hear that you like my art also, and started following my blog. You're a great painter.