Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Repeat

Repetitions of colors and shapes give unity to this painting of a marching band. Starting with the underpainting, I established the curvilinear strokes that were echoed in the circles of the bass drum and Sousaphones. Abstract backgrounds can come in aid of shapes, colors, and lines in the subject matter by repeating them.

So repeat after me....."I will repeat, I will repeat.."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Being Expressive

This little drawbridge in Perkins Cove, Maine has always reminded me of a bridge in one of Van Gogh's paintings. The subject matter and the buildings in the background are so complicated that I didn't have a hope of literally reproducing them. My only option was to express my reaction to the busy scene.

My thinking was that color would help that goal, and that small shapes would create a lot of movement around the white bridge. Expressive color trumps grays and neutrals anytime you want to create a vibrant scene. If I had wanted to express a calm and quiet harbor, vivid colors are not the choice I would have made. Also, hard edges demand more attention than soft, wet-in-wet edges.

Expressive colors are invented and certainly not faithful to the local colors. But they can make for a more exciting painting than being literal to both the colors and the objects in the scene. Take a flying leap into expressive color and fall in love with color all over again!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Painter's Friend

Side light ,along with the long shadows it produces, is the painter's best friend. Afternoon shadows often help the design and highlight the warm light of the late day.

Here is another in the town square series. This one is from a sketch I did of the Venetian Plaza at Epcot Village.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Going Negative

Sometimes watercolorists have to think like sculptors. Michaelangelo, when once asked how he could carve a figure out of a block of stone, said, "It's easy. I just carve away everything that is not the figure." In painting, that advice can come in handy. Instead of painting the subject, just paint everything that isn't the subject.

This technique is referred to as painting the negative space. In "Knickercane", study the tree trunk on the left of the mass of trees. After painting an initial wash, I carved out the tree and its branches by painting the space behind the tree.

This painting also helps illustrate problems with large masses of green. Study it for seeing the subtle changes in shades, tints and tones of greens. I never use a green straight from the tube.
I either warm it up or cool it down, trying to mix the colors on the paper to avoid muddying them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I've Been Framed

A while back, I talked of the photographer's framing device: looking over, around or past something in the foreground. Often times, the framing device object becomes as important or more important than the object in the background.

Here is a painting I did on the estate of some friends of mine in Naples, Florida. I painted this little mermaid statue many times, and often framed it with the banana leaves on the shore.

(I did worry about coral snakes, so before I would back up to study the pattern, I would always scatter the foliage on the ground with a stick!)

This painting once again refers to my love of statuary and fountains.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Leaky Light

Last time I urged that painters look for ways to link their darks. This post, I want to remind you that lights should be connected, too. I've called this both "escape routes" and "leaky light."

In this painting, the light flowing across the beach hits the port side of the bow, so I've left the edge of the bow unpainted. Your eye fills in where the boat stops and the beach begins. That builds an interesting shape that a flat horizontal line could not accomplish.

"The Oystermen of Eastpoint" often meet where they launch their boats to discuss the last catch, the latest prices, or whether or not today would be a good day for fishing. Sometimes after thinking about going out for two hours, they'll decide to pack it in and wait 'til tomorrow. I imagine that's what the good ol' boys by the truck are doing. And if they've had to think about it this long, they're probably not going!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Working In A Series

After I painted Franklin Town Square, I wanted to paint more town squares. I started with this very modified scene of the main street in Eufala, Alabama. I based it on the fountain, and for the sake of the painting, exaggerated the height of the buildings. There was a gazebo in the photo I took, but I didn't want it to compete with the fountain, so I reduced it to an umbrella.

You'll also notice that the bottom left edge of the fountain is blurred into the background. It is helpful to connect darks wherever posssible. That is the purpose of the dark figure in the foreground, too. Softening and gradating the hint of trees maintains the silhouette and creates a bit of mystery.

I'm going to look for other town squares to continue the series.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Scipio Creek in Apalachicola harbors the local shrimp boats, so when I saw this tugboat, its color and height stood out.

Just curious....I'm wondering how many folks are reading my blog entries. So I have a request. Would you leave a reaction or comment for this entry? Even if you are a Follower, I'd like to get a sense for how many are regularly reading.

Thanks so much! Carol

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Horizontal lines are restful, calm, and quiet. Vertical lines are formal and rather static. To get a feel of movement and tension, oblique lines work best.

Many people use the word diagonal instead of oblique. Diagonal lines cut things in half. An oblique line is any line that is slanted, whether it divides something in half or not.

The oblique line creates tension and therefore interest. In this painting of lobster traps, oil drums and buoys, oblique lines are everywhere. It is important that near the edges the oblique lines point into and not out of the painting. Shadows, objects, lines, and underpaintings can all provide opportunities for obliques to help circulate the eye through the painting.