Since I haven’t posted for a while (I’ve been painting a lot and will do better), I’ll try to make up for it by giving you my thoughts about some things which I think are important.
What is a “dry spell?” I’m referring to what can be several different things here. One dry spell could be burnout or “painter’s block” when nothing inspires you to paint. Another, for plein air painters, could be that it’s too darn hot to go out and paint and everything is either green on green on more green, OR all brown and burned up! No color – that’s not inspiring. Another dry spell could be that you’re not selling and you don’t need any more paintings piling up if you aren’t selling what you have.
Let’s take a positive approach to combat this dry spell and do something to improve your painting! The first thing I think of is to get out of your comfort zone by trying something new. I’m not an “experimental” person myself and don’t do things too much out of the ordinary, but one thing that comes to mind that REALLY improves your skills is to use a limited palette on a whole painting. Choose one red, one yellow and one blue (plus white if you are doing an oil) and mix every color in the painting out of those three. You might have disastrous results at first because a.) you need more practice in mixing some of the colors or b.) you might need to change one of your primaries because it might not mix as well as another one does and could give you some ugly colors. You have to find this out! “Summer Light” above (click on the painting to enlarge) was painted using one red, one yellow and one blue. It’s FUN, it’s CHALLENGING, and it’s REWARDING when you accomplish something like this. Now I’m starting to add a few of my “favorites” that are not primaries at the VERY END IF NEEDED. The color unity is already in the painting from using three colors. I sometimes add my favorites, burnt sienna and viridian green (neither one being a primary) to get a little more variety in my greens, for instance.
Another thing I’d recommend is trying to perfect your “working method.” What works and what doesn’t work best? Now you have time to experiment and find out the best way YOU work. Example: Right now in plein air oils I’m experimenting with doing a really wild and colorful underpainting. My theory is that these colors will show through a bit and always influence whatever is put over them. In my next blog post (soon) I’ll show one of these. To further challenge myself, I’m using a limited palette also on these paintings.
I hope this has given you some ideas. I’ve been working on this underpainting thing day after day after day. It’s called practice!
When the economy is down and galleries aren’t selling well a goal could be to get better at what you’re doing and start stockpiling some awesome work for when things do start selling!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I’m sorry I got so wordy! One last thing, this isn’t an aspen painting, but I’m very happy to have gotten my third painting accepted into the American Impressionist Society Juried Exhibit! “Leaving Moab” is below:
Bye until next time! Be sure to check my web site for new paintings I’ve added: http://www.cecyturner.com
In this painting, I very obviously used logs to lead the eye into the painting (lower left side and also lower left at the bottom) then up to the main aspen tree. However, I didn’t stop there – the logs lead the eye from the main aspen tree all the way back into the painting in kind of a zig-zag pattern.
Sometimes simplifying is the best thing an artist can do!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Be sure to double-click on the image to enlarge. And stay tuned for my next post!
You may see lots of aspen paintings in all seasons on my web site, www.cecyturner.com, under Landscapes and also under Plein Air Paintings. Enjoy!
I draw the composition as simply as I can to save time in the light that is always changing. I like to draw with orange; the drawing may be any color, thinned with mineral spirits (I use Gamsol made by Gamblin). I quickly block in some of the shadow color of the trunks and some darker color on the logs.
On this painting, I only used (from left to right) Quinacridone Red, orange mixed from my red and yellow, cadmium yellow, cadmium lemon, viridian green (far right corner), ultramarine blue, and cerulean blue. The mixture to the left of cerulean is a violet mixed from ultramarine and red, with a little yellow to gray it. My titanium white is bottom middle.
This is a photo of the scene – I didn’t paint it this way (after I took the photo I decided to change my perspective a little and add what was on the right of the main tree, moving it to the left in my painting). I was shooting directly into the sun, so couldn’t get a very good photo, but that’s okay – the photo is just to remind me of a few things if I need it; not to paint by.
I didn’t really make any changes to the block-in – just added more paint, detail and a little refining.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I’m making a new year’s resolution to post on my blog more often. I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas, and very Happy New Year! Don’t forget to click on the images to enlarge them, and I’ll be in touch next year!
In this aspen painting, I added my own daughter! She was wearing a black and white dress when she was modeling for me, but I decided to change it because I thought the blue-violet would go better with the yellow-greens of the foliage. To unify her into the painting, I repeated her dress color into the ground in the form of suggested flowers. Also, in the beginning underpainting, I blocked in the most distant trees with violet, which shows through a little and also repeats the blue-violet.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it has given you food for thought! My next post will have a step-by-step aspen painting done en plein air, so stay tuned.
Don’t forget about my three upcoming landscape workshops. The first one is coming up November 8-9th in Rockwall, Texas. See more details on my web site, www.cecyturner.com, under Exhibits, Events and Classes. Besides working on how to “bend a color” to unify paintings, we will also work on “What does the painting need?” How to step back and analyze what will make a successful painting after you have been true to the photo you are painting from. Of course, we will be painting aspen trees one of the two days!
Also, if you are in the Dallas area, don’t miss my oil demonstration for the Richardson Civic Art Society on October 17th at the Richardson Public Library. See details on my web site under Exhibits, Events and Classes. I will be demonstrating an aspen painting in oil.
“Cold Feet” is a good example of unifying the deer with the surrounding aspen trees. In the first place, I used a very limited palette (mainly red, yellow and blue, the primary colors) for the whole painting, so it was unified that way from the beginning. Also, I used the same colors I painted the deer with on most of the aspen trees and also repeated some in the background. Even the highlights on the deer and one the aspen trees are mixed out of the same white and yellows.
This is what we will work on in my three upcoming oil workshops in November and December of this year and January, 2018. I’ll demonstrate what I call “bending a color” to unify paintings. If a painting is unified, it all “goes together” in a pleasing manner to the viewer, and the viewer probably will not even realize why he or she is so attracted to the painting. See list of workshops and locations on my web site, www.cecyturner.com under “Exhibits, Events and Classes.”
I haven’t posted anything about leading the eye around an aspen painting since 2014, so I thought it was about time to address another idea. At that time, I talked about leading the eye around with the foliage, logs, and some other things, but this time I wanted to talk about rocks. This watercolor is a good example. I did not actually see this scene – I first saw only the rocks leading up a hill. I liked the design of them – they zigzagged up the hill and, for the most part, were different sizes (interesting). So, I took the rock idea and added the aspens from another photo I had taken. I also added the suggestion of a path leading through the rocks up to the aspens – so there is another lead in to get you up to the aspens! Notice the one third – two thirds format – one third aspens and background and two thirds foreground/rocks. This makes the lead in more dramatic and also creates more interest by not having equal sizes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it has made you think of some things you hadn’t thought about. Stay tuned for the next one. You may see “Nature’s Reward” under Landscapes on my web site, www.cecyturner.com. I just completed it this month on a trip to Estes Park, Colorado. Thanks for taking a look!
In “Follow the Sun,” I actually changed the time of day by the colors I chose, but how did I emphasize this to the fullest to depict late afternoon? First of all, late afternoon light is very warm and golden. I know this because it’s my favorite lighting (also because I don’t make it up and out to see a lot of sunrises). Therefore, by choosing a golden/orange and complimentary blue palette to “set off” my lighting, even repeating the color in the stream and snow in light, I was able to show what time of day I wanted.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Be sure to click on the painting to enlarge it. See my web site for “Follow the Sun,” plus some other new ones I’ve added! www.cecyturner.com
Since it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t posted on my blog in a while (sorry, it’s been a crazy fall), I thought I’d do a step-by-step that I painted plein air in Endo Valley, Rocky Mountain National Park, in September. If you’re wondering why I post so many fall aspen paintings, it’s because the fall is my favorite time to paint them!
This is a photo of my outdoor palette, an 11×14 Open M Box that I’ve had for years and years, mounted on my tripod.
Step 1: After sketching out my composition on my gessoed panel, I begin blocking in the major shapes with oil paint thinned a little with Gamsol. The tree on the right has two branches that go strongly out to the right, and I mistakenly thought this would turn out all right in the end.
Step 2: I begin blocking in the shadow sides of the trees with a mixture of the primary colors, Rembrandt Red, Cadmium Lemon and Cobalt Blue, to get a gray color. I just keep mixing until I get what I want, still using thinned paint.
Step 3: I refine the trees a little, adding white on the light side of the trees, sometimes mixing a little yellow into it to kill the coolness of the white. I work on the aspen leaves with thicker paint, softening edges into the background a little. I start refining the black on the trunks and add more black markings on the trees. I still have the branch problem I need to fix, plus a rounded half semi-circle of foliage just below the lower branch on the right (bad shape). How do I fix these?
“Autumn’s Entrance” 9×12″ Plein Air Oil
Sometimes what attracted us to a scene just doesn’t work out in a painting – in this case, I loved the two strong branches on the right of the major tree. However, they were just too strong, so I had to detract from them by subduing them by adding more grays on them and making them less of a sharp right angle by redirecting them. I also detracted from my semi-circle foliage by cutting the background into it in a couple of places and also softening it into the background. I added some tiny yellow flowers in the foreground around the lead-in logs to repeat the yellows of the aspen leaves.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this step-by-step and are having a wonderful holiday season! Please email me with any questions about the painting. And remember…it’s always okay to edit what you see out there – especially if it doesn’t work in a painting!
In this watercolor, one of my plein air paintings I entered in Plein Air Rockies, I tried to vary the many greens in nature by 1. subtly adding other colors in with the greens and 2. varying the green mixtures as I was discussing in my last post by mixing some cooler blue-greens as well as warmer yellow-greens. (Click to enlarge the painting so you can better see the violets in the background as well as the variety in the warm and cool greens).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Remember, practice, practice, practice and experiment. I keep scraps of watercolor paper close by to experiment with placing one color over another and also next to it and letting it “merge.”
Don’t forget the Southwestern Watercolor Society’s 53rd Annual Juried Membership Exhibition if you’re in or near the Dallas area. It’s August 31 – September 24 at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, Texas, and is always a good show to see. The juror is Stan Miller, AWS.