Monday, April 29, 2024

Rock Walls & Gates


The background rock wall is "bluer" than the foreground will be. As you can see from the image below, I start with the dark areas first.



From this vantage point of the farm you can see two gates. A common design on Martha's Vineyard is three to four horizontal boards, a middle vertical board for support if it is a wide gate, and an angled board attached to the top of the granite vertical post on the right and at the lowest part of the gate on the left. 



Friday, April 26, 2024

More Greenery



At this stage I really want to leap in to mixing warm greens to balance the cool greens. However, I know  there is plenty of the painting to go which will need the contrast. 

Before I finish for the day I painted the more warm green line in the middle of the painting. Just a touch of warmth to suggest where the greens will go next. 



Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Painting Greens

Near when I first started painting, I hated working with greens. They would be too vivid, too blue, too muddy. They just didn't read real to me. So, I decided to do a piece which was basically shades of green. From a yellow-green to a deep blue-green, I got to experiment. Below is the result.
Shades of Green
Original oil, 2001
16" X 24" 
After this painting greens were no longer a nemesis. Difficult, but I didn't hate them.
I bring this up because this next painting on my easel has a lot of different greens. They are the driving force to the depth of the piece. 
The interior of Martha's Vineyard, an island off the east coast,  has rolling hills and pastoral farms. Rock walls from centuries past cross the landscape. This particular farm has been a favorite of mine. 

 The pond in the distance adds an extra layer of depth and almost a longing to walk in to the scene to go swimming on a warm summer afternoon.
The greens on the right start to add a flavor of warm bright color to the scene. However, the deepest and richest greens are saved for the foreground.


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Finished & coming up with a title


Title - see below
Original oil painting by Linda Besse
14" X 18"
Image above is a scan of the original painting
Sometimes I have a title of a painting before I start. There are paintings in which a title develops while I paint. Then, there are paintings in which the title eludes me, briefly.
I wanted a title which reflected a sense of place and maybe the presence of the Adele penguins. 
So many titles were rejected. Way Down South felt confusing as that is also used for the southern part of the U.S.  I considered Way Cool but it didn't resonate the way I hoped. Shortening Way Cool to Cool! wasn't right either. It wasn't cool, it was cold!
Ah, cold. The title?
Cold Never Bothered Me 
For any who have seen the Disney animated movie Frozen, the last line of the block-buster song Let It Go is the cold never bothered me anyway. While the movie Frozen takes place in the north, the "frozen continent" is Antarctica. I like this title because it is packed with meaning and though it does not specifically name the penguin species, it says everything about them.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Thursday, April 11, 2024


 It is easy to think of Antarctica as lots of white and then throw in the blue water. Yup, two tubes of paint.
But the colors of the ice on a sunny day are so magnificent they can take your breath away.
One of the dangers in painting them is relying solely on one's reference photos. A photo sees the surface but our eyes see through the surface. I like to memorize the colors I see. It even helps to write them down and/or make color marks shortly afterwards. I find this also particularly helpful for northern lights for which I don't have adequate nighttime camera equipment.

On the main block I still have to paint the "white" on the upper side and blend it with the shadowed colors.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024




I was fortunate to have a beautiful scene to work with. While my photos of it might have been picture perfect they were not painting-perfect.

The mid mini-berg in the middle of the right edge extended to the large blocks on the left. This visually cut off the back landscape from the foreground. So, I made a gap.

I cropped the right side of the scene which eliminated one of the background mountains. I didn't feel the painting needed it.

The main block was heftier and was more rounded which gave it a ball-like appearance. This did not seem to fit the angled stratified appearance of the ice so I modified the shape. 

There is a bit of the main ice block sticking out from behind the right penguin. In my reference this piece was very tiny which made it confusing. I enlarged and extended it.

This does not mean I am done making changes. At this point I already see another change to make in what I have already painted.


Friday, April 5, 2024

South, way South

 One of the best trips I have taken was to Antarctica. After a rolling crossing of the Drake Passage with seas up to 48 feet and wind gusts up to 108 knots, our arrival at the continent was greeted by clear skies and crystal water. The light was the purest I have ever seen with a clarity that is hard to describe.

I want this painting to imbue a sense of place and the beauty of this continent.

For this piece I am doing something different in the preparation. In my paintings I use a light turpentine wash with a touch of yellow ochre over my drawing. To try and capture the unique light in Antarctica I thought I might be fighting the underlying warm wash the whole time. So, here my turpentine wash was a mixture of cerulean blue, ultramarine blue deep, and paynes gray.

Our small 100 passenger ship was able to give us two continental landings from zodiacs. The vastness of this place was evident. We climbed a gentle slope of a glacier and the full sun was so warm we could take our coats off and lie in the snow.