Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Another Theme - Another Variation - Provence Meadow II

                                            3                                              1                                                 2

In May I was plein-air painting here (1) and back in the studio later that day, I painted 2 and 3 based on this particular scene. What had intrigued me about the location was the dappled light through the trees, and the light and dark value pattern on the ground leading back to the dark tree verticals with the light behind. It was a view full of artistic possibilities, and I knew that I would return to it as a subject for further exploration.
After working on several larger canvases this fall I decided to try a larger interpretation of the scene. I began by drawing lines denoting tree shapes and areas to suggest shade and foreground on the white canvas with the intense pencil crayons, then applied water with a brush to soften and obliterate the lines and created a watery effect.  Then I a started to add some acrylic and basically kept painting.
As I painted and at the end added more intense pencil lines where I wanted some graphic emphasis - which you may be able to see in the details below.

The finished painting looks like this - and I was pretty happy with it - having achieved a painterly, abstract, loose version of the field. And I love the colour too.

Provence Meadow II
40" x 30"  acrylic on canvas

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Variation on a Theme: Saignan Valley II

Saignan Valley II
30" x 24"  acrylic on canvas
While working on a larger canvas featuring this same view looking down over the valley from the village of Saignan in Provence, I started this second 'variation'. My idea, once again, was to (try to) keep it loose, painterly and more abstract than the first canvas, which you can see here. 

After doing a very quick drawing in my sketchbook, I roughed in the design on the canvas using Inktense pencil crayons - they are like watercolour pencil crayons but the colours are more intense and permanent once dry. I then painted clear water on the pencil lines achieving the blurry, watery effect you see here. I really liked my start but had no idea what to do next. I knew that I would lose the graphic quality through painting - so I left it alone for a few weeks.
When I finally returned to the work, I added colour and paint, filling in a few area and leaving other parts alone. I began to really enjoy the white parts (actually unpainted canvas) and decided to maintain them, but did add white paint. Slowly I added more colour but kept the shapes big, while playing with perspective.

Knowing that the foreground flowers would be various shades of magenta, I wanted to tone the entire work down with a chromatic grey elsewhere.  And so it went. Final touches were added with the inktense pencils, outlining shapes for emphasis and adding surface detail. 
Fun! And fairly loose and abstract too!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Variations on a Theme: Below Saignan

During the summer I painted several variations of a particular image that I found both intriguing and inspiring. (Truth be told, I have probably always done this.) This fall I  have been re-visiting images and scenes that I have painted in the past - and that has resulted in a number of related works and variations on a theme. 
The first theme or subject was inspired by a particular view looking over the Luberon Valley (in Provence) from the small village of Saignan. I was there is 2014 and painted this watercolour in situ, at the time. 

Of course I also took many photos and thought that I might do another version in acrylic once home. 

Looking around for a subject in October, I re-discovered these photos and decided to try a much larger version of the same scene - and this is how it evolved.

I quite liked what I had by stage 2, however it really didn't look as good as it does here in the photo. I needed to resolve the middle ground, and the foreground flowers - and keep it loose. Easy! Hah!

Stage 3 was tighter, and by stage 4 it felt like a disaster. At that point I felt quite discouraged and ready to white it all out out and forget the whole thing - or - try something really different  - and turn the whole thing into a mixed media work with collage papers and acrylic paint. This approach sounded like a lot more fun, so that is what I did. I have a very large collection of textured Japanese rice and mulberry papers, in various colours and patterns and began to apply them over the painting, leaving lots of painted areas exposed. Then I painted over those papers to blend them into the painted areas and to soften the colours of some of the papers. I continued working this way until it was finished.  The final work looks like this. It has a wonderfully varied and textured surface, protected by several layers of medium and varnish. I am delighted with the result and will definitely do this again.

The Valley Below Saignan I
40" x 30"  - collage papers & acrylic on canvas