This is the same model, done during the same session as this post. You will notice that the robe she is lying on has no red in it. The red has been placed around her. Each painting presents its own needs and that includes the placement of color. In this instance, since this is a reclining pose, the robe is not as prominently displayed and take up much less space in relation to the figure. It does not cry out for red in the same way as other post. Once I had introduced the green of the back ground the red became much more important as a foil to the green.
Color scares a lot of artists or they are just not interested in color or color effect. But all the elements of good color usage are present even with an extremely reduced color intensity. Some traces of hue and temperature remain, even when it is a whisper. Those whispers of color can be played against each to beautiful effect.
While I was out of town I spent some time with my friend making art. We’d go to drop in studio sessions, set up our stuff, and paint. I did this still life at one of those sessions. Once again pattern and color possessed me. When the summer landscape opportunities have been ended by bad weather, I will concentrate on still life.
Models will not be regularly available to me unless I begin my own figure painting and drawing sessions. I want to schedule long poses so a finished work can be produced. I really miss such sessions. It’s just too costly to hire a model just for me. Besides there is a social aspect that is just as important. I can spend hours alone in a studio. Eventually, i need some social contact. It just gets too lonely. By starting regular sessions of my own, I can have the best of both situations.
The still life paintings I am thinking of will be a little more bizarre. I am going to include items not usually included among still life items. I have already done a few of these. Now I will concentrate my focus. The more I work the more ideas I will get. Working always generates more ideas than I could ever execute.
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10.5×3.375″
As a painter i consider myself to be a colorist. I have worked very hard to learn about how to make color work for me. The only way to learn about color is to paint. All artists learn with each piece made. My most recent work is the culmination of the experience of all the work that came before. All the failures, partial failures, half successes and successes were the learning experiences for the piece I make today and all the ‘todays’ which follow. So, dear reader, when you ask and artist how long it took to make a piece, you are asking the wrong question. Ask an artist how long the artist has been working with a medium.
Matisse once told a client who asked the former question about a quick, simplified drawing. M.Mattisse said “Ten minutes plus 25 years.”
This little watercolor took me 30 minutes plus 30 years to make. This is the same model from this post. She has taken the same beautiful gesture with her hand on her shoulder. I added the red to the fabric she is sitting on. It carries the redness of the flesh into it to unify it with the whole and to contrast with the green on the upper left. The cobalt turquoise on the right also is a contrast to the color of the flesh. These are all very conscious decisions though, at times, it seems I’m on auto-pilot. I just do it. Thirty years of painting makes it as natural as breathing. But nothing is by accident. It’s all very deliberate. Even the abstract expressionists left nothing to chance. Yes there is serendipity but they chose what serendipitous passages to keep or obliterate. The more you look, the more you’ll see it.
I have just returned from visiting friends in Florida. We have regularly visited in March or May to accommodate my teaching schedule. I am now retired and could have visited anytime but it turns we visited in May anyway. I don’t think Florida has the most interesting landscape but the salt marshes are beautiful especially after some rain. The marsh grasses turn green, yellow green, and then golden. The cloud formations are dramatic as they form from the water just dropped and then evaporated to continue the water vapor cycle.
We had taken a boat tour through the marshes captained by some one very familiar with all the channels and little seen areas. It was delightful. This painting was done from memory of a place seen along the way. I prefer to do these from memory rather than from a photo because it prevents fussiness. One can become slavish to a photo. Photos are inadequate in capturing color and are usually too tiny to really serve as a complete reference. One needs a study for color and composition in addition to the photo.
What I remembered was the color and a generalized memory of the scene. I did do a small sketch just to know what the placement of the elements should be. Then of course that changed again in the execution. I remembered the green gold against a gray blue violet of the water and how striking the color contrast was. That was what I wanted. Without a photo to interfere, I was free to invent and exaggerate what had been stamped on my memory, however vague.