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When I was a youngster I roamed the prairies, the river bottoms and the back roads. Today my paintings are nearly all about those kinds of places. My
impressionist style is about bigger brush strokes, softer edges and less detail allowing me to capture the essence of my subject without saying too much.
When someone looks at one of my paintings I’d like them to be able to add their experience to what I’ve done and feel the small tug inside that says, “I think I’ve been there.” When I’ve made that kind of connection I’m happy.
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This is the start of a landscape I’ve been trying to get to for a while.
What I concentrated on most with the upper area was painting space and getting the landscape to go as far into the distance as I could get it to go. I began with the darks of the pine trees close up and painted them lighter and a little more gray as they went back into the picture plane. Beyond that, in the row of trees further back and the hill sides, I painted with a lot less detail and a lot of grayed color to keep things going away into the distance. I brushed in the sky and clouds even more pale but fairly light as the sky in that area holds the light source for this piece.
Then I pulled back and painted the brush along the river banks. The color here is warmer and I’ll keep painting warm as I get back closer to the foreground. The red/brown shadows of the pine tree are my first intrusion into this area.
This bright blue (cobalt + white) area in the water is warmed with a bit of alizarine crimson and brushed in pretty quickly. This passage is going to give me something to paint into (wet into wet) with some of the sky color a little later.
I also darkened those shadows on the water cast by the pine trees. The light source is behind the trees and the trees are casting a shadow onto the water. When the light source is directly behind an object, in this case the pine trees, a shadow is cast into the foreground. The shadows cast on to water blocks a reflection from the sky and lets someone from this point of view see down into the water to the bottom of the river bed. The color here seems to be very warm and rusty. Also I laid in the foliage lower right keeping the same concept in mind of warmer color up front, cooler in the distance.
The above three details show how I worked my way across the sand bar. Up close it simply looks a little lacy but takes on shape and detail as the viewer gets further away from the piece. I used a round to do the detail in this are. (I’ve only recently found that a flat isn’t the only brush in the world.)
About Janet Zeh
Hi, I'm Janet. Since you have come to this page to find out about me, I'll tell you a bit. Your first question is maybe something like this: "How long have you been an artist?" Well my answer is pretty standard as far as artists go and that is: for a long time; for as long as I can remember! Really, as soon as I could hold a crayon in my chubby little fist, nothing with a flat surface was safe. For instance, when there was no paper available, I drew on the wallpaper. Windowsills were even better, because I could close the curtains to hide the evidence (I really thought that would work). My parents claim I somehow even got high enough to color near the ceiling in the hopes that no one would see.
The autumn landscape is such an inspiration in New England! Today, I got out one of the many canvases stashed in my supply room and got to work.
A rocky stream surrounded by brilliant foliage is the goal for this 16x20 inch painting. I will work in broad impressionistic strokes to convey the vigor and energy that comes with the autumn air and the bubbling mountain stream.
First of all, I mix a deep purple to outline the composition with quick strokes.
Next, the sky area is painted with pale French Ultramarine and Windsor Blue mixed with white. I make sure to add some impressions of wispy clouds.
I will use a flat 1" brush with short bristles (a bright) for the entire piece except for one or two details of branches at the end.
Normally, I like to start with the farthest areas since the colors are paler, bluer and duller. But this time, I painted one of the foreground trees first just to get a sense of the contrast
between near and far.
Then I went to the background with duller colors. Can you already see the difference? The foreground tree pops out.
The only son of an artist father, William Whitaker grew up in the special world of the working artist. He had access to the finest art materials and was painting in watercolor and oil at the age of six. His fondest early memories are of the sights sounds and smells of the art studio.
The art world of his childhood and youth was the brave new world of abstract expressionism and until he was well out of college his natural inclination to draw accurately and his love for traditional realism was a source of inner conflict. Nevertheless he was fortunate, starting at age 17, to receive a thorough grounding in academic figure drawing and painting from the portrait painter Alvin Gittins at the University of Utah, and after exploring other styles he followed his heart into traditional art.
He has been a professional artist since 1965, during which time he has conducted workshops and been a university art professor. He continues to work with one or two advanced student artists for fun. He paints about three or four hours every day ands spends the rest of the time trying not to ruin any good work he's done
Elfin Cove Oil Painting by William Whitaker
I prepared a hardboard quarter inch panel by applying at least six coats of acrylic gesso with a brush. After letting it dry for a week, I wet sanded the surface until it was flawlessly smooth. I toned the panel with raw umber oil paint to which I added a bit of alkyd medium and a little turpentine. I rubbed the surface down with a rag until the surface was a medium light value. I let it dry a few days. I started to paint directly, without any preliminary drawing. I concentrated on the central figure.
The little figure was less than six inches high. I had so much fun with it that I finished it first. I used both hogs bristle brushes and sable brushes in this painting. My best sable was either a Winsor & Newton or a Daniel Smith number four. A new kolinsky sable is a wonderful tool, but in spite of careful cleaning they begin to lose their quality in a week or two. As painting medium I used linseed oil that I thickened with lead in the sun out behind my warehouse studio. The paint worked wonderfully well.
This painting was inspired by a visit to the Alaska panhandle. I called it Elfin Cove after the fishing village on Chichagof Island. It actually looks nothing like Elfin Cove except for the typical boardwalk. By this stage I'd laid in just about everything. I continued to have a lovely time with the wood textures. The smooth panel made it easy to create visual texture.
I have lots of prop dresses for my models. I got this one in Mexico. I never saw anybody in Alaska wear anything like this. I painted this work in 1983. My eyes were much better then. To paint a figure this size now (about 5 and a half inches), I have to wear close-up glasses as thick as the bottom of old coke bottles.
Kenn Erroll Backhaus Born 1951
Kenn was born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and spent much of his childhood on the family farm near Burnett, Wisconsin. His fondness for nature became the catalyst for his art. Kenn’s parents encouraged his artistic education and following High School, he attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a commercial designer and illustrator Kenn received many awards at both local and national levels, which included acceptance in the 30th Annual Society of Illustrators Show in New York City. Although Kenn took pride in his commercial successes, his heart always belonged to the fine art of outdoor painting...
Media: Oil/linen (Claessens oil, single primed no. 15)
Palette: Winsor Newton brand oil paint
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
This painting was completed in July during the Sixth Annual Laguna Plein Air event in Laguna Beach, CA. I used a digital camera on-location to capture the painting during its various stages. I have various starts to my paintings. Depending upon the intricacy of the scene I may start with a more refined sketch or in this case I started with a loose oil paint/mineral spirits wash to define the masses. This beginning stage sets the pace as to the view point of the scene, the light and shadow masses and the positive and negative areas of the scene. The artist also needs to develop the focal point very soon or at least know where this will happen in the composition.
This second stage is very important; I have to develop the areas that are in shadow in relation to the areas that are in light. This area will be the secondary focal area of the painting. I already know where the main focal point will be, I just do not have time at this point to put it in. The plein air painter has to concern him or herself with the constant moving light. What is in shadow now may in ten minutes or less become filled with light so the artist needs to develop the painting with this in mind. Here I start to place paint in a more opaque fashion over the initial wash areas of light and shadow to establish the correct value and color temperature. The water area surrounding the rocks, are also given attention.
From the very beginning one of the things that caught my interest in this scene was the occasional wave action against the far rocks. This will be my main focal point, so in this stage I observe the waves for awhile to determine at what stage of the wave hitting the rocks, I want to portray. This is placed in along with developing the foundation of the ocean with the horizon line and placing in some of the sky value and color.
This is a refinement stage; my eyes continually scan the scene to see the harmony in the scene and to be sure of retaining that harmony in the painting. The sky is developed further with not value changes but subtle color temperature changes. More delicate attention to the subtle ocean colors with the suggestion of movement of waves. I also make understated additions to the rock area. Observing my tide chart I notice that the tide is going out so I will be aware of more rocks that will start to be exposed, this may be helpful in the finished composition.
Here I give final attention to edges, softening some like the wave splash, giving the suggestion of wind and spray of the water. I review other areas to determine the edge quality and contrast of value, especial at the focal point. I develop more definition of rocks further out in the ocean as that tide recedes and a few indications of waves further out. The shadow area of the foreground is finished in the lower right hand corner. The very last stage is getting away from the painting for a while and looking at it with a fresh eye the next morning. Observing the painting in the studio away from the source allows me to see the painting for what it is. At this point I should have all the visceral response from the scene I need. Any refinements now are more design decisions, either simplifying or stating more boldly various areas of the painting. Sign it! and you’re off to start another.
Paul Rupert is a Canadian artist and an elected member of the Canadian Society of Artists. He was born in Ottawa and grew up and studied fine art in Montreal. The artist's earliest works were done mainly in charcoal and in ink. However, Paul was into his early teens when he became aware of the dramatic effects which could be achieved by using a palette knife and oil paints. It was not long before the artist realized that he had found a form of expression ideally suited for his personality and talent.
I often travel to the Rocky Mountains and have been inspired by the endless vistas these majestic mountains have to offer. Lake Louise is easily accessible being only about an hours drive outside of Calgary, Alberta.
The summer views of Lake Louise seem to offer the most colorful time of the year - contrasting the glistening white snow fields with the varying shades of browns and greens in the valley below. This canvas is 24" x 36" and I have started with a rough sketch of the mountains and snow fields and have indicated some reflections in the lake below. I have also laid in some of the base for the areas of blue sky that will appear through the clouds.
I work from the top to the bottom and from left to right on all my canvases. The stretched canvas is laid on the edge of a large table in my studio and I work sitting down with the canvas tilted
on the edge of the table and the bottom edge usually resting on my knee. In this position I can steady my hand by actually resting it on the canvas. My hand does not (usually) get into the paint
because I am working top to bottom and left to right. The under lying drawing does tend to get smeared a bit but using a fairly hard graphite pencil tends to keep the canvas relatively
The image to the right shows how I have started to lay in the clouds after extending the area of blue sky.
The blending techniques I use are done only with the knife. It involves a scraping motion with the edge of the knife and you can see from the transition of the picture to the right and the next image below that the clouds have softened and are starting to take on a more puffy look. There is not a lot of paint on the canvas in fact I have taken some paint off the canvas that was applied in the initial laying in of the clouds. The 'scraping off' of the paint leaves more of a stained effect and the result is a softened look.
It is often hard to feel where your painting is going when you have only worked on a relatively small area. One of the more difficult things for many artists, is to learn how to see the overall canvas and visualize the direction you want your painting to take. I try to look at the canvas in an unfocused way from time to time while I am working (seeing the image but not really focusing on the surface of the canvas nor on any one spot. This approach helps me get a feel for how things are coming together. If something is not quite right it tends to jump out and the eye will focus automatically on that spot.
The palette knife is a natural for laying in the rocky surfaces of the mountains. Working with both the edge and the flat part of the knife, I can lay down base colors and then lightly drag draker color over top to create textures. Controlling these effects is what takes time and a lot of pratice to learn. It is all about using the palette knife enough to get a feel for what it can do.
Painting is all about contrasts - keeping the background colors a little more muted helps to enhance the mountains in the foreground and sets off the greens in the tree lines.
I have started to put in some of the same color from the foreground mountains where the water is indicated - following the pattern created by the mountains above to bring out a reflective look. Once the water has been knifed in with a thin layer of paint I start scraping the canvas with my knife to blend the lake area. The scraping technique creates a more reflective look.
Caroline Jasper was born 1948 in Baltimore. She has an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. During over thirty years of teaching experience, Jasper has been high school art department chair, Maryland College of Art and design Admissions Advisory Board member, exhibition juror, gallery and college lecturer. She currently teaches in art workshop venues nationwide.
With the canvas already colored, there is no need to cover every centimeter of it. Colors are less likely to become muddied by mixing as they touch. Ground color can separate different colors painted wet next to wet, avoiding unwanted mixing. Red which is medium in value provides contrast with whites/highlight colors as well as contrast with darker shadow colors. Red is especially suitable in landscape and water scenes. It contrasts opposing greens and cerulean blues creating visual vibration effects, most effective in foreground areas. The color ground, allowed to consistently show through between painted brush marks, gives an overall sense of unity to the finished painting.
* Sky: White mixed with a little Cerulean Blue; gradually lighter down toward horizon
* Lightest background areas: Sunlit midground - White with Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Lemon Yellow in varied proportion mixtures of blue/yellow; areas painted separately.
Tip: Follow the "fat over lean" rule... add little (preferably no) linseed oil to the first paint applied in all areas.
* Distant trees: White mixed with small amounts of Ultramarine Blue, Viridian and Permanent Violet
Tip: Paint lighter areas first leaving the slightly darker/closer trees blank (still red). Paint remaining tree shapes using less white.
Tip: Cover all of the red canvas to eliminate any hint of color intensity or warmth in the background. Cool and low contrast/dull colors force the background to visually recede.
* Backlit close tree foliage: Cadmium Yellow Lemon both unmixed and mixed with Sap Green
* Transition between light midground and foreground shadow: Mixtures of Cadmium Yellow Lemon and Sap Green, increasing Sap Green toward the front.
Tip: Visually project the foreground by allowing red canvas to show through. Repeatedly skip little spaces between leaf and grass shapes creating strong color contrasts and visual vibration effects.
* Darker foreground areas: Viridian and mixtures of Viridian with Sap Green, Ultramarine Blue and/or Indigo to create the darkest foliage and land masses in the foreground.
* Tree trunks and branches: Ultramarine Blue mixed with Burnt Umber and/or Burnt Sienna
Tip: Continue to leave bits of unpainted red canvas increasing brightness and visual projection of the foreground.
* Tree and grass dark/light detail: Add Indigo shadows to tree trunk/branch sections to suggest dimensionality. Using Sap Green and Cadmium Yellow, both straight from the tube and mixed, add lighter leaf clumps over dark foliage masses. Add dashes of Cadmium Yellow as well as Indigo to foreground grass plus a few touches of white for increased brightness contrast.
Tip: Unmixed colors remain true producing the strongest version of whatever their character. Colors straight from the tube are therefore most effective in the foreground.
* Foreground darkness: Apply glazes of Ultramarine blue and/or Indigo to strengthen ground shadows.
* Background haze: Apply glazes of White, or with a little Ultramarine Blue added, over distant trees thus dimming the background and softening any line separations between horizon and sky.
Tip: Glazing works ONLY over paint that is dry to the touch. I consists of mostly oil medium with a tiny amount of paint mixed in.
DOUGLAS PURDON was born in Toronto, Canada and graduated from the Ontario College of Art (AOCA) and is a
full-time painter living in Toronto, Canada.
His preferred medium is oil, but he also works in watercolour and acrylic. In 1998, he wrote the best seller Color Secrets for Glowing Oil Paintings, published by North Light publications. His work has appeared in International Artist Magazine and numerous other publications. He is an elected member of The Society of Canadian Artists (SCA), The Ontario Society of Artists OSA. and an Associate Member of the American Watercolor Society.
As educational and technical advisor for Winsor & Newton, he lectures on painting materials and techniques at colleges and universities. His popular workshops are given at the University of Toronto - School of Continuing Studies, Loyalist College and for private art groups and societies. Doug also serves on the Fine Arts Studio advisory committee at Centennial College, Toronto
In 2005, Doug won the Museum Purchase Award at the 26th Annual Mystic International Marine Painting Exhibition. In 2007 his solo exhibition, Doug Purdon and the Legend of Landscape opened at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. His oil painting Breaking Waves - Grimsby was selected for the cover of Canadian Brushstroke Magazine in September 2009.
His work is exhibited at The Gallery at Mystic Seaport and galleries in the Canada and the US. His paintings are in the permanent collections of Mystic Seaport, Scottish National Tourist Board, Toronto Public Library, City of Toronto and Sears Canada.
I first block in the painting loosely with Alkyd paint. Alkyd is fast drying oil paint that will be dry enough for me to paint over in 18 – 24 hours. I use it in the early stages of a painting to speed things up. NEVER use alkyd on top of traditional oils as serious technical problems can occur. Don’t get caught up in details when blocking a painting in; only be concerned with the large shapes and overall composition. There is plenty of time to add details later. When the Alkyd block-in is dry I give the canvas a thin stain of Raw Sienna Alkyd to tone the canvas.
Once the stain is dry I start working on the under-painting. During this stage paint is applied thinly, but I don’t use a lot of medium or thinner at this point. I prefer to take advantage of the ability of oils to be brushed out. This keeps this paint layer "lean". I will be using more medium in the following layers. If oil paint is over thinned it is difficult to work with and the colours lose their brilliance.
The sky and background water will be close to completion when I finish this stage, but I keep the middle and foreground areas darker. In some areas I am setting up colours that will be enhanced by glazing later. Zinc white is used for mixing colours in the foreground as it is more translucent and has less strength than Titanium and will not overpower subtle colours.
I add detail and adjust the colours and values that were established during the under painting. To achieve the effect of light on the spray, the whites in the rest of the painting are kept darker and cooler. Titanium White is a cold white so I warm it up with a small amount of Cadmium Yellow and Orange. When paint is dry glazes of Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Sap Green and Perylene Black are applied to adjust colour and value. I start to refine the patterns of foam in the foreground and add highlights to the rocks.
As the painting progresses more layers of transparent, translucent and opaque colours are added to the rocks, water and foam.
When the painting is finished it is signed and put away for a week or so. Then I take a final look to see if there are any adjustments needed and make any changes if required.
One of the reasons I chose to do a study for the larger painting was that I wanted to experiment with some of the new pigments that have recently become available. Most of these new pigments are very transparent and are excellent for glazing. Ten colours were used in the initial stages of the painting. Two of these colours however, Cadmium Yellow and Orange were only used to warm the whites. In the early stages of a painting I try to limit the number of colours used so as to avoid muddy mixtures.