"Calm" will soon be in the hands of a Covid-19 front line doctor who spends her days saving lives and risking her own. It is only the second oil painting I've posted here, even though I do many seascape oils and enjoy every minute. Years ago, I thought oil painting would be much more difficult than watercolor. So, I delayed. After all, I hadn't had any training in oil painting. But one day I decided to give it a try. I haven't turned back. The beauty and movement of the clouds and sea achievable with oil has smitten me. Having PD, I find large oils challenging as they require upper body movement but it is possible, even necessary, to take breaks. In fact, since oils tend to become richer with layers, letting them sit while you rest or do other things allows the emergence of suggestions for moving forward. It may just be a small bit of cloud or a wave-like movement created by the brush that encourages you toward a calm or wild sea.
This painting is on a gesso board, which I find one of the best surfaces for creating seascapes. I often start oils by painting on a layer of white gesso or acrylic. Let that dry. Often I do this even if the surface has been treated. Before you start, decide where you'd like your horizon. I have the tendency to create horizons that dip on the left. So, I make a light paint or pencil horizon mark on both sides of the board or canvas. You can also make a tentative line of paint connecting those points. Remember, horizons sometimes look perfect but generally not. So, don't worry about that - not yet. Then, choose the blue or blues you'll want to use to mix with white. I tend to use Titanium White. It's possible to mix the colors on the board or canvas to see what impressions emerge that you might later expand upon. One thing about oil painting is that unlike watercolors, if something goes wrong you can paint over it. So, relax. You can mix colors beforehand, especially if you want to create a single color background. Then, there is the option of putting the color or colors and white on your brush and mixing them as you paint, seeing if clouds emerge as you start from the top brushing from side to side. In "Calm" above, I left areas to paint white. These areas can be defined later, so don't spend much time on them early on. For now, enjoy applying paint. If you're already skilled, you likely have your own approach. We'll stop here for now. I'll be back!
While in lockdown, I've invited friends and family to tell me of people dear to them who are in the front lines of the battle against Covid-19 and who might like a thank-you painting. And so, this post is about making some of those paintings. Here is a brief introduction to the task inviting you to participate - in painting or in also doing paintings for people putting themselves at risk to help others.
So, here we go. The colors I used are indigo blue, dioxazine violet and cobalt turquoise light for the sky and yellow ochre, burnt umber and burnt sienna for the beach. Finally, peach black for the seagulls. If you don't have one or more of these, improvising is fine.
The reflections in this painting require leaving a lot of white on the page. So as you'll see in the next video, I started by wetting the fine-grained Aquarelle paper where clouds might be started and dropping in color - in this case indigo. Notice that the clouds start to form even without my help -- especially if a little luck is your companion. I'm doing this with one hand while holding the camera, so any precision I might have preferred is challenged, but the idea is to enjoy.
So, now we're ready to drop in some dioxazine violet. The process is the same. We wet the paper and drop in the color. It takes some experimentation to learn how much to drop in, but it's possible to wipe away too much color in most cases. So, see what works for you.
TMuch of the rest of the painting is a matter of wetting the paper, dropping in color, moving it around with a brush, sponge, paper towel or lifting the paper and letting some flow of color happen that you can stop with your sponge or paper towel if it starts to get out of control. Or pull the extra color upward.
In the next short video, we begin the sea with a smaller brush. I'm using a number 5 sable brush here and a good amount of indigo with very little water. If you don't want to lose the white in the sea and sand, you can paint on some masking fluid before painting near those sections. Peel it off when you're ready to put some light blue lines as waves into the white areas or bits of yellow ochre or burnt sienna in the sand. The darker bits in the sand, are burnt sienna, creating a textured look using a beautiful accent color that actually can be seen on beaches. Remember, we're creating an impression with this painting, not reality. Yet, even impressions benefit from a likeness with the scene - even as we take artistic liberties to create a painting with passion.
After painting today, I listened to Professor Ellen Langer talk to members of the International Women's Forum about mindfulness. She discussed how we can make what seems mundane while we're secluded in our homes due to Covid-19 into novel ways of looking at our lives. Rather than get cabin fever, we can take up painting or gardening, for example. She mentioned that the idea is to not think in terms of a large project, but in terms of smaller bits. It's a rare author who writes a book in a day. Nearly the same is true for painting.
You can complete a watercolor like the one we're working on in one sitting. But it could be tiring. Besides, letting a section or layer dry may allow you to return with a whole different perspective. So, let's stop here unless you want to keep going on your own, working away on the sky or sea. Whatever brings pleasure is the main thing. Langer also mentioned that mindfulness involves seeing our surroundings differently or making subtle changes in our routines. Activities are not mindful or not mindful, what we bring to them makes all the difference. So, paint for enjoyment. These paintings are being done for people who are doing wonderful things to keep others safe and alive during the pandemic we're facing. If we enjoy the painting, find novelty in each stroke, they'll feel and see that when the paintings are in their hands.
I was busy writing and publishing my new crime mystery novel, Damned If She Does, so I haven't been posting paintings lately. My apologies if you've been stopping by and seeing nothing new. One thing I find with Parkinson's is that multi-tasking is difficult. If I've had a great night's sleep, writing and painting in the same day can work. But that's not usual. And posting takes an additional step.
So, having finished the book, I'm determined to post more paintings. If you like crime mysteries, I hope you'll check it out. This is not the greatest time to have published a book given the coronavirus. Book clubs and speaking at bookshops and other venues are out of the question. But the most important thing for all of us right now is staying safe and keeping others safe too. I am working with two very talented people on the audio version of the book, but that shouldn't get in the way of painting. So, here we go!
This painting was inspired by artists who allow water to do much of the work. I painted it a while back and donated it to help send two teenagers to do charity work for their high school project. A local framer donated a beautiful frame and the painting sold quickly. In fact, people wanted more of them. So, you may find the same thing happens.
The primary colors used are indigo blue in varying intensities, sky blue (light) and bright yellow. You can test your colors on a separate paper to be sure they are what you want before starting.
It's a simple palette painting, sticking with a few colors. And key, as we discussed before, is making sure the white is not lost as you paint because it provides the reflections.
In this painting, I decided to let the sea come above the halfway point of the painting. Usually, I choose to have the horizon lower than the halfway point -- about one third of the way up or even less. You can make a very light pencil line where you plan to have the horizon. That way, you can work on the sky and know not to go near that line in order to leave light along the horizon. The paper can be rough or smooth, depending on your preference. This paper was made in India and is slightly off white and somewhat rough. It came in individual sheets. It's 11" x 14" and if you're lucky you may find a pad of such paper, but likely in an art-dedicated shop. Don't let that stop you from experimenting!
I began at the top right with a number 12 brush by first applying an amount of water that would allow me to tilt the painting upward and from side to side encouraging the color, once applied, to flow and create the impression of clouds. With a second brush, right after the water has been applied, drop in color -- in this case indigo. Have a sponge or paper towel ready to catch the flow if it gets out of control and to dab at will. You can soak up some water and remove color if it runs, but you have to be quick. The entire painting is done by wetting the paper, dropping in color and letting the color flow downward or upward by tilting the paper.
Using this process, it's easy to accidentally paint over the white areas. And you need white areas for the yellows too. So, before painting you could use masking paste to protect areas you want to remain white. It peels off paper. Or you can take your chances. Either is fine. I didn't use masking on this painting, but I have on others. I was feeling experimental the day this painting developed. And I had the sponge and paper towel ready to quickly fix out-of-control flow. Not all days are lucky ones though!
You can create some of the upward wisps in the sky by letting the water with color flow upward and then use your brush to dramatize those wisps. If you're fortunate or very skilled, the water will do this for you, but don't hesitate to wisp further to your taste.
I hope you enjoy Reflective Sea. I'll be back. Kathleen
In way of introduction, you'll want to see the "About" page by clicking on that above. In short, this site is sharing ways to paint and maybe we'll get into writing as well sometimes. I'm a professor emerita of business and preventive medicine, author of nonfiction books on politics, negotiation and communication. And, since the early onset of Parkinson's, I've become an artist and a fiction author. Many of the paintings are of West Cork, Ireland where I live. My debut novel, Shadow Campus, is a fast-paced mystery thriller described by Forbes as a "masterful debut." The second crime mystery novel is Damned If She Does (2020) described by Kirkus Reviews as "informed and searing" and "a page-turning success." I hope you'll enjoy this site as it emerges and we paint together whether you have PD or not. I'll do my best to share what I've learned and continue to learn. We'll start with some watercolors and then introduce oils as well. Thanks for coming by. Kathleen Kelley Reardon