Saturday, April 29, 2017

Breaking Wave

This is the part I have been waiting for. I love the feel of power, elegance, spontaneity, and movement in a breaking wave.

I just came back from lunch and took a hard look at the painting. The wave is too blue. Yes, it is the ocean but it needs to be warmer. The last aqua section could be throwing me off, but I am going to warm up the breaking wave.
Looking over my greens (sap green is my go-to green and I occasionally use viridian), it is time to break out my rarely touched greens. Grabbing another disposable palette sheet (my original is a mess), I squeeze out some chromium oxide green and some permanent green medium. Mixing each with some naples yellow and liquin, I begin to brush the underside of the wave. The brightest mixture, permanent green medium and naples yellow I save for the "see-through" section of the crest.

I've also added more warm green to the foam of the breaking wave, its reflection, and the flat areas.

It appears to be working. OK. I admit it. I don't believe I could have achieved these colors without the aqua tinted gesso.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Painting Water

There are so many moods to water so I do not tire painting it.
What captured my attention with this scene was the different treatments I could play with in one painting.
There is the distant blue ocean, the crest of the breaking wave, the smooth underneath of the wave, the flat surface between the breaking wave and the broken wave, the foamy broken wave, and the foam remainder from a previous wave which shows sand underneath.

Above is the start of the closest foam section.

The closest section is completed for now. Once I have the rest of the painting blocked in, I'll take a look at this again.

The aqua tinted gesso is still driving me nuts. I can't decide whether to try and work with it (which is the whole point) or ignore it and mix colors like I usually do. Maybe I'll have a better sense of the painting once I move back to the breaking wave.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Several blog posts back, artist Peter Brown inquired about my reasoning for choosing a particular color of gesso for a piece.
This got me thinking about the color of gesso for this next painting.
What if I tinted the gesso an aqua? How would that influence my palette?

Rather than trying the idea on a small piece, figured I'd just go for it. The painting is 24" X 36".
For the tinting I used Turquoise Green and Lake Blue (a little bluer than cerulean blue) and then did a ultramarine blue - paynes gray turpentine wash over my drawing.
Here is the start.

Right now I am at the point of "what was I thinking???!!!!"
This color is throwing me completely off. Usually one sheet of my disposable palette lasts an entire painting. I am only this far and almost the entire sheet is filled with trying this blue combination, then that one.

I am not ready to concede this gesso color was a mistake. The painting will probably take longer but I may find some good surprises with my choice. When I first used the Venetian Red gesso I had no idea that it would push my palette to be more dynamic.
This experiment is going to be a challenge. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Almost There

This painting is almost there. I am going to let it sit for a while. Taking a step back will give me a chance to assess the details which will give it that extra something and finish the piece.

With an upcoming gallery show on Martha's Vineyard, my next oil painting will be a departure. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Since my last post I couldn't help playing around a little with the grasses. There is still more to do but I am ready to move on to the birds.

For me, painting pheasants is a balancing act. There needs to be enough detail so they read as pheasants, but I am not interested in doing a scientific illustration depicting each feather. Often a perfect rendering can leave birds feeling static and this is a painting designed with movement.
Once the feathers are painted, I may even soften their edges by dragging the wet tips into the background.

The red for their heads is a challenge. Cadmium red, cadmium orange, rose madder, and cadmium yellow mixtures are a start.
For the iridescence of their necks I am using several colors which rarely make it to my palette (cobalt violet, cobalt turquoise blue, chromium oxide green) along with ultramarine blue and cerulean blue  To fully accomplish the effect I may need to glaze on some brilliant color once this layer is dry.

Monday, April 10, 2017


With my background blocked in, I work alla prima on the grasses. Alla Prima is Italian for "first attempt." For painting purposes, it defines the method of applying wet paint on top of wet paint rather than waiting for each layer to dry.
I find this method gives me a sense of freedom along with the ease of blending each stroke. My brushes are wiped with a paper towel often so a fresh clean stroke of paint can be applied, avoiding a muddy look.
Not all of the grass will be done this way. Once the birds are painted, I will go back into the grasses and add finishing touches. Some parts of the grasses (the darkest areas) may already be dry.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

New Painting in progress

This next piece is not from my Florida trip but is one I have wanted to do for a while.
After drawing in my subject I start blocking in the background.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Florida reference trip

When I have the opportunity to spend time with animals in their natural habitat, I take it. There is no substitute.
I just returned from a trip to Florida and the main species I wanted to see there was the Roseate spoonbill. Knowing one of the best spots is Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, that was my first stop. It has been 15 years since I have been to Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and this trip certainly exceeded my expectations!
Below is one of the more than 600 reference photos I took of Roseate spoonbills. The other 1400 reference photos are of various wading birds, herons, cranes, and two baby alligators.