Thursday, February 26, 2015

Creating My Perfect Caribbean








If I can't be in Jamaica, I may as well paint it in pastels. I am taking a big risk here showing you my painting as it begins (see original photo at the left corner in each image). As one of my teachers loved to tell us, most pastels don't look remotely attractive until the last ten minutes. So I apologize for the progress images, but I think it is worthwhile to study what colors need to build up to create the rewarding final ten minutes.





A key component of this process is the color wheel. In the early stages of the painting I am laying down approximate tones that are the complementary colors to the final ones I want to achieve. I am a little loose with my choices because I am not looking to create a replica of the scene... but instead, an interpretation. The under painting (which is seared into the sanded paper with alcohol and brush) is what creates the beautifully rich, layered tones that made me fall in love with pastels. Unexpected rusts peek out from underneath the ocean while coral and pink lay softly under the blue sky foreshadowing the sunset just hours away.





















After gently applying many layers of blues in all my favorite permutations, I generated a sky that transports me back to my heavenly gazebo on the sea. As for those pesky clouds in the original photo... not sure how I feel about them interfering with my idyllic Caribbean sky. Stay tuned and watch me decide if the weather in Jamaica will be a cloud-free sunny day or if I will add some white puffy reality to my world.





Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Inside Out



















The arctic winds are blowing (again) and another foot of snow is falling into place (again). Since I can't be outside in my natural habitat I am supremely grateful for my windows. All 28 of them. My house is tiny, but I can see the elusive outdoors from almost anywhere I sit. As claustrophobia and cabin fever edge toward me I snuggle up to the glass, and peer out into the vast white wasteland. Even though visibility is limited I still feel a sense of relief touching the cool glass and hearing the wind whistle by.

Windows have always been my virtual escape. As children we traveled in station wagons, untethered and in motion like Mexican jumping beans. When bored, annoyed or just desperate to escape the chaos... I would lay flat in the back of the car and watch the world pass by upside down. Trees, stars, power lines all stringing themselves out behind me and providing that sweet remove. Even now I much prefer to be passenger rather than driver as I never tire of the show just outside the window. As my children will attest, my roving eyes should have me permanently assigned to riding "shotgun" while someone with better visual control takes the wheel.

Looking out my window at dusk I scan the landscape for clues as to what undertones I might layer into my pastel painting. I spy lilac nestled behind the spruce trees and coral peeking out from beneath the periwinkle sky. Rust is woven throughout the maple trees with amethyst layered softly underneath the snow. But darkness is descending and the colors exit stage left... leaving my winter canvas of white, gray and black. No pastels needed. Charcoal will do just fine.