I finally met up with my artist friend, Randall Tipton. I haven’t seen him since 2016- so much has changed since. He and a group of his friends paint plein air style every week.
He drove me to this spot on the Lake Oswego – Tualatin border on the Tualatin River. I struggled a bit because I didn’t really feel like there was anything compositionally for me to grab onto.
I did like the undulating colors in the water:
So I just decided to let go and have fun. I was mainly trying to capture the cool rippling effect in the water and then I decided to make the mud of the painting a dark red! I don’ t think it was my best effort but it was fun!
I completed another blue painting of quince flowers inspired by the tonalist works of Whistler and Inness. I used thick cobalt blue to mark the petals. Cobalt blue is really pretty and I will have to use it again soon as a standalone color. This was painted on oil primed linen that I got on clearance from Blick. It’s a pricey, but wonderful support to paint on.
Previously I posted that I loved the look of raw linen and the universe heard me… Nancy Cuevas shared with me this product that Jerry’s Artarama sells of clear primed linen.
The weave isn’t quite as nice as the first one but it’s an interesting challenge to preserve the beauty of the raw linen as a ground. Here’s one that I’m going to call “Footprint Still Life”. It’s a much quicker study and I accidentally stepped on it. I think I like it as is but stay tuned I may play with it some more.
I finally completed the small oil painting of my trip to Bandon Beach this past summer. These last two paintings are on canvas board, probably the least fun support to paint on but it’s nice to having something that is ready to go to prevent procrastination.
This last painting is a gift and inspired by my trip to Lake George in upstate New York. Lake George was immortalized by the great Georgia O’Keeffe. This painting comes nowhere near her genius but I was able to explore colors that I had not used before and glazing pastels on top of other bright colors without any underpaintings.
Here is a oil painting sketch of Moolack beach where I’m trying to capture the wind blowing across the sands while reflecting the sky during low tide. I’m using Arches oil paper which in theory should be awesome. As someone with a full time job outside of art, time for art is always limited. I have been looking and trying various supports that will simplify the task of art production (prepping canvases or boards until I win the lottery and can pay for my own studio assistant) and give me more time to paint. Unfortunately the Arches oil paper is as unappealing to me as their watercolor paper. It has the texture of a bounty paper towel and it is WAY too absorbent—it somehow doesn’t let me to remove any paint off the paper which for me is one of the defining characteristics of the oil paint medium—it’s malleability and wiping-off ease. So anyways for this study, I’m not even trying to do much glazing or thin layers. I’m aiming for bold, thick layers which I would never do on a canvas or linen but I almost have to do on this oil paper. I also did an under layer of acrylic. Actually I think this paper should be marketed as acrylic paper because it is thick and it is pretty decent for acrylics. But the paper is way too expensive to use for just that purpose.
So far this painting is too aggressive and chaotic to me. On this paper it’s hard to make the subtle blends that the location really calls for. This painting just goes to show you how hard it is to paint simply. I’ve been admiring Katherine Bradford‘s oil painting work for a long time. Her work uses the icons and imagery of children’s art….superheroes, boats, and simplified human forms..but the work is decidedly not childish…it’s beautiful and masterfully done. All the haters that look at this type of work and say I could do that…trust me it’s not as easy as it looks.
I also did another oil painting study of Bandon beach. We went down to the southern Oregon coast earlier this month. I haven’t posted about that trip but stay tuned. It was AWESOME!!!
It’s at a stage where I like the looseness and softness (and the maroon color glazes) and I debate if I should continue and risk losing what I’ve already done by potentially overworking it. I’ll probably just keep going.
Emily Henderson, writer of the design blog I read everyday, says that in the early stage of a creative career, it’s quantity over quality that matters. So in that spirit no point in being a perfectionist and being scared to ruin this painting….right now it’s about learning and exploring.
I’m working on an oil painting landscape of Lake George at sunset. My goal was to use more vivid colors instead of the classic burnt umber understudy as the first layer in the hopes of capturing more glow and reflection. I also wanted to use darker transparent colors that I have not yet used before to ‘bridge’ the midtone, similar to the sweet pea study that I did a couple weeks ago.
There I painted the flower petals a bright lavender first. Then I glazed with a darker transparent color over it to build the mid tone bridge. This process is different than the slow build of dark to light. We’ll see how it turns out for this landscape.
In the first layer I used montserrat orange by Williamsburg mixed with naples yellow. Even though the trees are going to be this fabulous green orange dusky color, I used this amazing purple called dioxazine purple as the base color, it’s dark, transparent, and fairly balanced between red and blue. It’s like the sap green of purples.
In my second layer I brought out the sap green and a darker green mix made of sap green, burnt umber, and ultramarine blue.
At this point I was really hesitant to go over with paint for the fear of overworking what I already liked going on. But as I ‘ve been listening to inspirational words over the past year, you can’t be afraid to ruin it and I just need to treat this as a study, not as a masterpiece. If it’s ruined oh well I’ll just paint over it.
Being bold with the darks really helped ground the painting and I’m glad I did that. I also was lent this amazing maroon dark purple shade- not really sure what color it is but I’ll have to find a way to mix that. I love using dark maroons and purples in watercolors too.
For the orangey glow of dusk kissing the leaves I started mixing the transparent red oxide and the brown madder in with my sap green.
Road’s End State Park caught me by surprise. It was a last minute addition to my Memorial Day trip and it quickly earned itself a place in my top 5 locations to the Oregon Coast. Impressive.
This beach is very long, and a large stretch is very windy. Bring your hat and sunscreen. Plan on walking over a mile to get to the best part, Road’s End Point. It’s well worth the trip. There the sand turns into a floor of kelp covered rocks.
I remember the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California as one of my favorite childhood trips because of their great interactive exhibits of tide pools. At Road’s End, you can see real tide pools up close. They form in between the rocks and crevices and you can see kelp, barnacles, mussels, crabs, and schools of tiny fish. The only thing missing were starfish.
There’s another beach that’s tucked behind the cove that you need to climb across boulders to get to. I’d recommend making the trip during low tide.
This beach is made of these perfectly tiny pebbles, so smooth and fine grained, like a nice exfoliant.
There were also collections of larger rocks that reminded me of my trips to the rock store in the NJ mall.
So many piles of shiny black rocks, jasper, agate, and other unknown rocks to sift through. I so wished I had a giant excavator to grab all of these great river rock for my front yard.
I actually found Randall, a Portland area artist, through his blog, Painter’s Process. I seriously consider him one of the top contemporary landscape painters, I mean why isn’t this dude in MoMA?
He graciously has shared some of his tips and wisdom with me. My favorite piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ruin it (artwork). It reminds me of what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, to take art seriously but not seriously. He also inspired me to start writing this blog!
I absolutely adore the colors in this one: the cold, dark maroons and greys. He so wonderfully captures the quality of light in winter. It’s muted without being muddy, and somehow glowing. Incredible!
It’s all a matter of pushing the paint, scrapping, pouring, tilting, blotting, and wiping as I try to build my idea. The studies are where I can try something out in a manageable space, but I take them seriously as paintings. My goals are the same for any size. I want a rich, painterly image which represents my view, my regard, my understanding of paint and nature. For myself. I`m trying to paint the paintings I want to see.
Interview with Randall David Tipton The second to last sentence is so good- maybe the best artist statement I’ve read in a long while. Don’t get me started about artist statements…
It’s crazy that he paints largely from memory. Look how keenly he observes the subtleties of nature. He so convincingly captures the reflection of clouds and the movement of grassy wetlands.
Look at that cloud reflection! And this one is a watercolor. People it’s incredibly difficult to have both that freedom and control in watercolor. He is a master!
He has elevated Yupo, a plastic watercolor paper, as an artist medium. If you google or go on Pinterest, most of the stuff you’ll see painted on Yupo is amateurish and features extremely garish, saturated colors. It’s not surprising- Yupo is slick and even more difficult to control than normal watercolor paper. You can see how he takes the unique pooling and puddling texture that paint forms on Yupo and makes it work wonderfully to depict water and sky. I love the transition from the blue sky into the ambiguous forms of the tree. Lovely.
More free flowing textures on Yupo. This is all very, very difficult to do well.
He is wonderfully irreverent of “proper” art techniques- no underpainting or drawing, he’ll use black straight from the tube, he’ll use white watercolor, he won’t clean his brushes after use, he’ll use cheap brushes, he’ll use non-brushes as brushes. He’ll paint right over an older painting without second thought. I asked if he sands it first before painting over it. He said he supposes he should. He asked me, “What’s gouache?” He normally purchases canvases that have been pre primed with gesso, explaining that he doesn’t have the time for it. I like it! That is a very good lesson (I mean I’m already lazy and messy enough so I guess I am extremely biased here) but I think it is true that we all have so limited time, if we can afford to take shortcuts, why not outsource the awful, boring parts?
He credits his tenacity for pulling many pieces together. Hopefully I can be just as tenacious and keep working through paintings that are a struggle and that I’m down on.
Art, Photography, Flowers- all images are my own unless specified