Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Virtual Paintout Challenge: Prince Edward Island

hi there!

this time i finished the virtual paintout before it ended! and it really was a challenge! except for the sailboat painting, i've never done ocean, & few landscapes . . . plus i decided it was time to loosen up!

first, this is the view on prince edward island that i chose:

i liked the simplicity, the opportunity for abstraction, and the play of rosy pinks against purpley blues. here things are, ready to go:

i used a 5x7 canvas board (untoned), put the photo up on the frame, and laid out my palette, using ultramarine, cerulean, sap green, trans yellow oxide, cad yellow light, cad red light, & alizarin:

i tried a new way to organize the paints - i put the white in the upper left corner as usual, but i put the reds & yellows going off to the right on the top & the blues & greens going down the left. i really liked it - seemed a natural way to arrange them for me, & it kept the colors well separated, too! i'll keep trying it this way for a while.

i started to mix the sky color first, using cerulean & white, with a tidbit of alizarin. but before i got the colors really mixed, i thought about using painting knives instead of brushes. i've done only one painting before this with knives only, & loved it! so, just to make this even more of a challenge (mere hours before it was due!) - i decided to do it! here's the sky mix (which i kept marbled instead of mixing it to a consistent color - same with the water mix later on) & the knife (brown handle) i used to put it on:

then i mixed the water color (ultramarine & white) & put that in with the same knife. here is the initial block-in - i've left the canvas blank where the dune was going:

then i mixed up the sand bar color, using alizarin, white, & a smidge of trans yellow. i used this little guy to lay it in - this knife felt like a filbert to me & i thought the shape would work well for putting in that long strip of color - & it did!

then i mixed the dunes mix, using some of the sand bar mix with more white & a touch of cad red light to brighten & warm it up. i used this little triangular knife to lay in all the rest of the painting, including all the details of plants & shadowing, etc that came later:

here're all the blues & pinks in. i didn't put any paint where i was going to put in the largest mass of green for the dune plants: i hadn't done any measurements, & at this point i realized the sand bar was way too wide. so i just used the knife to lift it off & lay in more ocean. then i mixed up four different greens (using my lightest pink for the base of the light greens), some lighter or darker, some purer or greyer. & i realized the sap green wasn't going to cut it for the darkest greens. ooops! got out the olive green & that worked! i also decided the sand colors needed a hint more depth, & added hints of burnt sienna to the bar & the darker dunes. the water behind the sand bar i darkened using anthraquinone blue (if it's ok with you, i may just start calling this 'ant blue' - i'm lazy, & it's fast becoming my favorite blue!)

i then had to put in the clouds. i realized that the horizontal clouds of the photo just wouldn't work - too many horizontals (that sand bar's a whopper, even though it looks better in person than in the photos!). so i decided to go for a fluffy cloud approach. first i mixed up a black to get in the darks. i used the ant blue with alizarin, & a teeny hint of trans yellow oxide - very nice, deeply purple black, just right for the clouds! (this is an awful photo, but it gives you an idea, i hope!). i mixed a small amount of it with white, & worked it in where i wanted clouds.

then i dipped the knife into pure white, strolled it very lightly through the ant blue (leaving a trail behind it!)
and worked in the lighter parts of the clouds. by the way, you can see in the above photo the trail left in the olive green when i slid the knife lightly through it to get just a thin line of paint to make some dark highlights. i love how versatile the knives are, going from smearing on huge masses to fine detail (well, it'd've been finer if my hands didn't shake!).

here's what my palette looked like when i was done. i didn't end up using the cad yellow light at all. i really am finding that the more i paint, the more i experiment with my colors & find out which ones work better for me.
and here it is all finished! (it's hard to get a good photo on this one, since the masses of paint keep picking up &/or shadowing the light!)

i had a lot of fun with this one! it's got that looser, more abstract, interpreted style i feel i want to express in my work, & the painting knives made it easier & even more fun! i really like the clouds - they have volume but are also fluffy - they float as they should! (i have been terrified of trying clouds in the past!) the dunes worked well, along with the plants. the water i'm so-so on - and the sand bar . . . well, i knew it would be hard to get that strong horizontal to work. i think it needed some more variation in color to really pull it off - and a steadier hand to get in the light & dark tones right in the front of it (i tried, but it was too shaky to look very good so i modified it a bit). all in all tho - i like it!

thanks for stopping by - take care till next time!



  1. Wow. I am glad you finished and submitted it! I especially like the sky and the vegetation.

  2. thank you! it was such fun to do! haven't had a chance to go thru all the other submissions yet, but i'm really looking forward to it!

  3. Hi Dusty, I alway look forward to seeing how you do things. Thanks for sharing the cloud technique. I like the sand dune. With enlarged view the clouds look very nice and fluffy.

  4. thank you, angela! i was pretty amazed the clouds worked, especially since i didn't have a guide in the picture for that could type!

  5. Good job. Nice blog. Very informative

  6. thank you! i hope that detailing my struggles will be helpful to other beginner painters!

  7. Loved reading of your whole process like this and the final piece is so lovely! I love palette knife paintings and have been awed by what I've seen the palette knife painters do! Your studio too looks gorgeous!

  8. thank you! i want to keep trying palette knife work - i love the look of the paint that's laid down with a knife - flat, fat, shiny, & thick!


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