Showing posts from November, 2016

Limiting values

I was thinking of Manet's portrait of Victorine Meurent when I painted "Woman in White".

Manet was masterful at simplifying values; eliminating half tones, and grouping everything into either shadow or light.  It made his work powerfully modern and it expressed strong light perfectly.  There are colour changes within each of the major values, but, if you squint, they maintain a simple,  graphic separation between them, reminiscent of the flat, Warhol portraits of 100 years later.

I painted "Woman in White" with a 4 colour palette of blue-black, white, yellow ochre and terra rosa. It's a modified Zorn palette which replaces a high chroma red with an earth red.  The resulting colour range is deliberately muted to stop me from splashing out into colourist territory.  I wanted this to be a purely tonal piece, almost monochromatic but without the sense of an academic exercise that monochrome sometimes projects.

Perhaps my favourite part to work on was the lo…

Meyer lemon still life

Still life has called to me again lately, as has a larger canvas.  Small canvases have the attraction of a speedy output and they allow me to experiment without feeling as though I've lost a lot of time and paint if they don't work out, but they aren't as interesting or challenging as a big surface.  The lessons I learn (and relearn) from these are rich.

This painting has undergone a lot of changes as I've tried to capture the backlit, autumn leaf influenced lighting.  The set up is against a north facing window, but the foliage in front of that window has heavily influenced the temperature of the light making it more warm than expected and creating quite cool shadows.  A lot of cloud cover has acted as a diffuser and created soft edges.

The inspiration for the piece was the intense orange of the meyer lemons.  For some reason, while I don't enjoy painting actual oranges, orange-coloured lemons are great subjects for me.  Probably it has to do with texture; the l…