Friday, April 29, 2011

A Perfect Day

"A Perfect Day" - Oil - 24" x 18"

"Inspired partly by our first warm day and, also, by the lovely Susan Boyle performance of "A Perfect Day" on her latest CD, I set this arrangement in sunlight and laid on the color. Painting it lifted my heart." --- SFG

More info


Freshly picked.

I grouped the objects and allowed room at the bottom of the canvas for the edge of the table to show.

Here, I link the darks and create a variety of greens.

Before I can go further, I add the background since it will influence all subsequent colors.

Now I move to the lights of the tabletop, judging value and temperature. Notice how I indicate where the drape falls over the edge of the table by a darker value and cooler temperature. It takes both to show a plane change.

I painted the pear to the left of the vase a "hotter" color intentionally. Sometimes greens can be overpowering. By pushing the color as far from green as possible, I add range to the variety of greens I can use in a painting. I will adjust it in the next step to fine tune the harmony, but will not completely lose those vibrating tones.

It's time to develop the lit areas of the graceful lilac blooms. The lavender ones vary slightly in color from one to another. Note the warm reflection on the underside of the white fronds.

Adding some of the folds and stripes gives more movement to the foreground so it serves the purpose of a foreground, to lead the eye into the painting. They were needed, also, to balance the action of the other objects.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Lilacs 2011"

"Lilacs 2011" - Oil - 9" x 12"

"During lilac week in my garden, I paint outdoors and in the studio with great motivation since lilacs bloom for such a short time. The strong sunlight and background shadows on this painting, done directly "from the bush", were a joy to work with." --- SFG

More info


Finally, we have a warm spring day instead of the weeks of rain that have characterized this spring in my part of California. The lilacs are in full bloom, so I'm setting up next my largest bush.

I elect to paint these clusters near the top of the bush. The shadow on the right in the background gives me the element that created the darks in the background of the painting.

When plein air painting, I use fewer colors and smaller canvases. Not only is it difficult to complete a larger canvas (24" x 30" and larger) before the light changes, but the panel can turn into a sail if the wind whips up.

I place the main elements, being sure that they are not repetitious in size or shape. I make sure that they are not in the middle of the painting.

I add subordinate shapes and indicate the shadow across the background.

And wash in that dark shape.

Here, I indicate the shadow side of the blooms and vary their color accordingly.

Lastly, for this covering-the-canvas stage, I add the darks of the leaves as a mass connected to the blooms and the background shadow.

When I mass the lit areas of the background, I'm careful to vary the colors of the foreground versus the background, making the top lighter and cooler.

At this stage, I have added detail to the leaves, blooms, and branches. The contrast between the shadow and lights in the flowers makes the sparkle.

Even though this is a smaller palette than the one in my studio, I still use the same mixing method and scrape it often to have clean color.

When I returned to the easel after lunch, I did not like the V-shape of the branch of the lilac bush and decided to darken the left side, merging the shapes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ocean Fire

"Ocean Fire" - Oil - 6" x 8"

"This marvelous display warmed the evening even though the effect was temporal. Remembering and capturing such shows are an irresistible challenge." --- SFG."


Fleeting subjects like this are unpredictable, changing and passing within minutes. Have your canvas, palette, and several small panels ready and work like a madman. For insurance, keep your camera handy, too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Redding Rooftops"

"Redding Rooftops" - Oil - 8" x 10"

"So often, when painting on location, the better subject turns out to be behind me. After I had finished my first painting of the day, I turned around and saw this composition that did not register when I first arrived at the site. I peered through the foreground trees to see the enough to execute the work." --- SFG.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Wisteria Cascade"

"Wisteria Cascade" - Oil - 9" x 12"

"Light and airy. The abundance of blooms on the arbor in a local park inspired a sketchy, color-filled approach. I look forward each year to the spring blooms and set aside those weeks to visit my favorite plantings." -- SFG


So often, the surface dictates the result. I used a very absorbent panel, so the oils behaved more like acrylics, setting edges quickly and lacking the ability to make color changes by blending with the earlier color on the panel. Using these qualities to advantage can give a sparkle as the white of the gesso shines through. I could have piled on the paint until those elements were eliminated, but I decided to seize on what was unfolding before me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"My Imaginary Friend"

"My Imaginary Friend" - Oil - 9" x 12"

"This wisteria trellis is in full bloom and I hoped to have a model to paint. The subject just called for a lady in a sunhat ... or one with a basket... or one sitting in a wicker chair with mint julep waiting nearby. Unfortunately, the plan didn't work out. This figure is imagined." --- SFG