Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunflower Surprise

The first sunflowers painting is done, might glaze it tomorrow. I will do one or more, different perspectives and making a small series. This one got a green garden-like background, it is what kept coming to me, no matter what else I tried, I kept coming back to this. A garden jungle of friends for he sunflowers. I really had fun with the foliage and enjoyed working on it. But the sunflowers I painted began to turn color swiftly yesterday, especially their leaves. Their flowers were not very open before, but have begun to change and open quite rapidly, almost before my eyes ! I have trimmed their stalks and given them fresh water, and they are looking good and ready to pose for the next painting.

And after I finished the painting, I discovered a small surprise in the painting. See if you can find and figure out what it is..... Or read the next post for the answer !

Winston here helps me wish all a Very Happy New Year 2010 ! (but he refuses to wear a party bow or hat for a festive photo shoot). I'll be back with more posts next year ;)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Green Leaves

I did a bit more on the sunflowers today. Mostly work on the leaves. Adding more hues and shades of greens. Brilliant Green, Bright Green, Pthalo Green Hue (mixed with other things), Sap Green, Australian Yellow Green, Hookers Green...and greens made up of these. You can say I had a very green day.

For a bit of excitement, I (accidentally) got paint on Pookie's fur, and his hind flank was smeared in Bright Green ! Must have happened when I moved him from a place he should not have been to a more suitable napping station. I guess wet paint on my apron got on him. He was actually quite understanding while I cleaned the (dried acrylic) paint off his fur with methylated spirits, and then while I washed the white spirits off (so he would not get ill from them). Even though it matched his eyes, he looks better without green painted fur !

Still not sure whether I will finish the sunflowers in oils or not. Now thinking maybe not, because I have some other new things to start and may want to move faster on this for the next sessions....

Sunday, December 27, 2009


It finally felt like vacation, with a short to do list and lots more time today. I got to make a start on painting sunflowers, the ones I bought on Christmas Eve with all the holiday flowers and greenery. I had gotten some sunflowers a few weeks ago, because sometimes you have to get what is available. But I did not have any time to paint them. So today I got to right that :)

I will not be making the painting's background brick colored, but the light was best on them here and there was a good place to paint them from life, with room for my easel and paint supplies in the right places for this. I sketched a rough sketch composition in willow charcoal and applied fixative.

Then I prepared a color chart, just so I could get them right and match to what I saw. I made up my paint table pretty neatly too, and everything was ready (see above).

Here is a simple underpainting, will get lots more work, but has a good start going now. I have made some corrections to the unopened flower, which got painted up out of proportions and I need to do that over again tomorrow. And then start adding definition to the leaves and shapes in the greenery parts.

I am not yet decided whether to use oils over this. But it is quite possible, I am over 50 % inclined to move in that favor. I think the greens especially will look really nice in oils.

More soon !

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

Hi All, hope you enjoyed a lovely Christmas. Here is a small peek at some preparations here, for what has been a whirlwind of holiday hosting I have been so/too busy to post or do anything else !

Lovely Christmas tree, done with a color scheme for decorations this year. Silver, white, and pale greens. Also has small birds, glass ornaments and tiny vintage watch dials for decorations. The top has three small butterflies on it.

It would not feel like Christmas if I did not get flowers to arrange for the holidays. And I decided to work to make a super-nice arrangement, befitting my practice styling flowers of late ! These are in same decorating colors as the tree. There are lime button mums, hypericom berries, dusty miller, white lisianthus, some native pods that look like silvery pinecones, and banksia candles plus some sunflowers.
The hypericom berries and vine leaves plus sunflowers were for other arrangements. Also the banksia candles and some of the like line cones in their own vase. Every thing else went here (see left).

Then I wrapped gifts, this took me all one day it seems. Just lots to do and I did not pace myself, did it all at once. I had a helper for this task, here is silly Pookie, helping me with some ribbon (he loves ribbon).

Merry Christmas to everyone out there, enjoy a lovely holiday :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Encaustics Techniques

A bit late to post, while I finish pre holiday To Do list chores, but here is my update about some encaustics work I did last week at Salon Rouge Gallery in Kapunda, South Australia.

It was scorching hot weather and hot inside the (not insulated) gallery too. The heat pans for the encaustics waxes made things hotter. Like being in a sauna !

We experimented with some new techniques. One involved cutting small squares of the freezer paper the size of our art boards, and dipping into wax and applying to the board in layers. Very interesting. Even more interesting was dipping colored tissue paper into the plain beeswax and layering it on. You might think the tissue paper would rip, but the wax actually seems to have strengthened it ! This was with a single layer of the tissue paper too, so pretty delicate on its own. You do have to be careful, using tongs, or you fingers to dip most of the tissue paper in the wax and remove it in a way not to drip, but fast enough to adhere to your layers in the works. Then you can use a paintbrush in the plain wax to put some wax onto the bit of the tissue paper (corner ?) you were holding, so it gets covered too.

It came out great though ! First, the colored tissue paper retains its color and character and the wax gives it some shape, so it has more structure. Second, it does adhere and bind to the layer before. Doing different colored tissue paper as layers or stripes looks really good. You ca also build up your layers with some dimension and crinkle or fold it, and make it build up not just flat, but with some very interesting structure to it.

I added in some bits of vintage maps, and put clear paraffin wax over the surface of them that was intended to be seen. Beeswax can be opaque and the detail of the map would not show. I do not prefer working with paraffin, I find it cracks and I don't like its lineage (it is a petrochemical product), so I use as little as possible to achieve the result...and I use beeswax around it.

My maps were of Baja California. I was born and grew up in California and have fond memories of travel along or south of the border or listening to radio stations from places like Calexico or Mexicali (good spanish language practice !). One of the maps had some detail I extended in beeswax and pigment and the other board got a similar treatment, but no real map fragment, I just emulated the other.

And I did some other layered pieces in this theme. One has cardboard under the tissue and other paper. So it is taller and it has an interesting side, and has some dimension too. I spilled beeswax and pigment over the side, in sea greens, I liked how that came out. Its companion shown here is a small piece I did with tissue paper and I folded it in accordian pattern before dipping it in the wax...and also folded it to make it look like a wave. Then I painted on the foam on the wave at its edges.

It was a fun little warm up.

Then for bigger things we started working on large boards. See the next post for more about that !

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hot Landscape

I spent the past four days in South Australia, painting at Jacqueline Coates' Salon Rouge Gallery while my daughter Karen and her boyfriend Greg took the hire car and toured the wine country in the Barossa and Clare Valleys there. Karen and Greg are visiting on their break from Norweigian Cruise Lines Pride of America, which sails around the Hawaiian islands and where they work as bar managers. The weather was fine on arrival, but got hot and hotter each day we were there. Working with encaustics in the gallery was a good sort of experience, akin to being in a sauna (dry heat !).

Jacqueline had other people doing encaustics too, so the first two days we spent in a workshop. I stayed on to paint landscapes in oils on Wednesday.

It turns out Wednesday was really hot. 40C at least ! (that is 104 F if you are American, yes, pretty hot). But we prepared things and went out to find a scenic view to paint in the countryside. Here is what we found, a lovely farm scene with some rolling hills in the background, hay bales, an old rusty roofed farm building, and some trees, vineyards, and fields. A fence line in the foreground with some nice purple wild flowers (maybe weeds ?). We set up easels and paints, turps, medium at the shoulder of a country road and worked on painting. Jac works much faster and more confidently than I do...but she has a lot more experience and skill too.

This was a bit of adventure, for me anyway...we got visits from flies (once I started to perspire, they came after my face and neck !), bugs got into the oil paint, on easel and also on painting !, I had some sunscreen and also borrowed a hat for awhile, before its string (to keep it from flying away) broke. Sunnies for sure, it was bright out. And winds were high and at times something to manage in the face of. Occasionally big trucks would whiz by on the road.

I did ok for almost an hour and a half. As you can see from the large pic above (which you can see closer up if you double click it), I used a palette knife and put the paint on thicker in places. And then the heat got to me, I really felt it, started to make some mistakes, and experience some frustration. And I had forgotten to sunscreen my hands and also feet, and one foot got pretty sunburned. Not the plan and I definitely felt it. But my painting was Almost Done, so just small things, for another 10 minutes past that, which felt like forever...but made a good difference. Jac is an excellent teacher and had some good critique and tips for me to finish this off, so we could pack up and escape the heat.

See my finished painting above ! I accentuated the rolling of the hills and also used bolder colors than I might have thought to use, which was a positive thing for me, and was pretty happy with the experience and the result.

The painting is drying at Salon Rouge and will travel here by post when dry enough. You can see we had different vantage points for this painting session. And I can tell you those hay bales are harder to paint than they look, at least they were for me ! Painting landscapes out on location like this is not as easy as it might look...

More tomorrow, with a post on some really interesting encaustics painting I did at Salon Rouge Gallery earlier this week.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Simply Stunning Roses

I thought my flower photo shoots were done. Then a call came through letting me know there were David Austin roses in fine condition were available. In a lovely mid yellow color, with some really pretty character. I made arrangements to pick them up the next day.

The flowers were a really gorgeous bunch, in a rich golden yellow that was very classy looking. Being a hot day, some of the blooms were very open. Leanne of Annette's Florists in Mt Colah sprayed them well with water and wrapped them in brown paper for me to take home. I decided to go straight home and photograph them, because they were looking just perfect.

It did not take me very long to "style" them in a stoneware jug. I then found excellent late afternoon light by a window, with filtered light (sheer curtains at that window). I got the most amazing photos !

The first one here shows the flowers, with the drops of water still on the petals !

The roses had a nice aroma and bouquet. This was noticed by the pussycats, who followed around and watched the flower styling and photoshoot. They interfered a few times too ! Though Pook looks quite sweet and innocent in this picture here.

I have just finished a commission this week and was painting it last weekend in yellows and blues. And the new flower photos of these yellow roses are tempting me to continue that yellow theme and give these a go !

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Season

I have been waiting to source Peonies, and thought their local availability season may have been and gone while I was away, because November here is a good time for them. But my local florist called me to say they thought they could source some and so I picked them up Friday. The florist's source has said this is it, there will not really be any more. What a short season !

But sometimes that is how things go. I have to take what I can get, this is what I have learned about flowers and photoshoots with them. I wanted vivid colored ones, rather than pale and so I got a bunch in quite good order, not yet opened, so they should last a few days as they open up. I did not get to view the color first. The color was rather on the purple side of fuschia, more purple than I wanted. So I mixed in a few things to soften it up, some mid pink lisianthus and some snapdragons plus a bit of greenery with green berries. Very pretty.

On photographing the flowers, I was quite pleased to see they photographed less purple and more pink, very nice indeed. Here they are on day 2 (larger photo above). I will be photographing them each day, as they open up.

I also got some white hydrangeas, just stunning ! Photo here shows only a third of them. And as an impulse buy, some lovely sun flowers. These are three distinct bouquets, for three sets of photos.

In order to ward off the Grazing Felines, I had to bring in some garden roses, which have been chewed happily, and now have very ragged edges to the petals >^..^<