Tuesday, April 20, 2010

All Quiet on the Western Front

4" x 6"   "All Quiet On the Western Front", oil on gallery-wrapped canvas

I spent several hours this weekend working on some small oils, mostly some prosaic
landscapes. The occasional coconut, of course.  The above painting is a view of a
deserted Negril Beach with slightly stormy seas -- a rare sight.
This beach is usually crowded with tourists and the seas typically have as
much wave action as your bathtub.

As far as the other  paintings I started? Nothing too earth shattering,
just some pretty views and a good way to loosen up with oils.
And avoid the several large portraits looming,  virtually staring 
at me, from my studio walls. They need my attention but I've been avoiding the challenge.

These small landscapes give me some immediate gratification. Sometimes I am
just such a lazy painter. I want to paint and have it finished and DONE. 
And soak up the satisfaction on the spot.

But no great thing is created suddenly.

Oils demand waiting time to dry in between layers. Watercolors move so much
more quickly, I've become spoiled. Marks made are marks played, washes of color dry in 
a few minutes, ready for the next. Oils? Not so much.

Patience is not one of my virtues.

The above painting is the only one I consider finished. Here are a few more
in various stages of completion. I juggled several at once, moving on to
another when one simply became too wet and layered with paint
to make any more changes.

Here's another beach view, in stages, from the opposite direction.This
one will have still waters and a handful of figures. It is also 4" x 6".

Next step.......
Going to let this one sit and dry for a few days before I go back to it.

Here is yet another beach view,  IN PROGRESS -- note the big white blob in
the center - which is waiting for me to add some chaise lounges. This is
slightly larger, 6" x 8" on canvas board. My youngest daughter has
first dibs on this one when it is finished:

And, shocking surprise, I worked on some coconuts. I dragged out an
older painting which had just pissed me off and frustrated me. It's an
8"x10" canvas. I last left it in this dreadful state:
I decided to really change it up, use a palette knife and slather on
the bright colors. The coconuts have gotten a little misshapen and
lumpy in the process, but I like the direction it's heading:

 Hard to get a good photo without the lights causing the wet oil to glisten
and create some glare. Here's another shot from the side:

It's funny but I've found that taking photos of these helps me see
the problems I've inadvertently created for myself. I can refer to
an earlier stage of the painting, some of which was correct, and
see where I went down the wrong road and adjust.

I started another painting of the same bunch of coconuts but on a
smaller 4"x6" canvas:

First stage, blocking in shapes:

Then slathering on the high key colors, primarily with a palette knife, but 
the coconuts got lumpy and misshapen again. I just don't
have the control with a knife that I would like:

I mixed these two photos in Photoshop
to see where I lost some of my definition:
It helped me see where I have to define the forms more when I go back to it. 

Well, that was a lot accomplished in one weekend. Or, better said, 
at least I got a lot started. I'll be adding these small oils to my Etsy shop
as soon as they are finished and fully dry. They'll be a nice,
affordable alternative to the other items for sale. 

Let me know what you think!


Sam said...

nice little gift items they can be

Melanie said...

WOW--you have been busy!! I love coconuts!

dinahmow said...

Hah! Pissed off and frustrated - yes, I'm only here right now(with an espresso) because I'm p.o. and f. with my cartoons for some prints.

OK...back to the coal face...

VH McKenzie said...

Yes, Sam, exactly what I was thinking. Own a sweet original painting at an affordable price.

Yes, Melanie - - way busy!

And dear dinahmow, you have my sympathy. My mentor/teacher Beverly (see her link in the blogroll list, Beverly Brodsky) used to tell me that getting pissed off and frustrated was the tell-tale sign of a coming breakthrough! She always said it meant I was about to do something in a new way, learn something new and bust through some old ways of being.

In other words, embrace the frustration. It's a teachable moment!

Shas said...

Beautiful creations. Loved the first one...it looks so calm n serene. The third last looks like ripe, succulent mangoes. Hadn't u mentioned that u were trying to paint coconut i would have thought them to be mangoes.
Looking forward to see many more of ur creations.