Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Getting lost in the woods

Last Saturday I went painting with friends on the Van Buren county Riviera, near Pittsburgh (Iowa, that is). Carroll Michalek turned us on to some exposed limestone banks on Chequest creek. Jessica snapped a photo of us, budding fashionistas all. Amazingly, the coordination of our painting ensembles was totally spontaneous: This season the Art Smart Set is wearing shades of gunmetal with accents in ultramarine and claret.

 At the easel, however, I got lost in all the neutral color and woodsy texture. I was kind of happy color wise with what I did but think it could have been simpler: Suggest more texture (not render it) and paint more pattern. Here's the picture on location.

 Here is a studio version next to it  - with what I hope are simplifications and improvements.

I don't paint woodsy subjects enough.  I've learned to simplify a field of soybeans but I got seduced with all the rocks, leaves and branches here. I heard similar complaints from those assembled.
One of the things to be said for painting with friends is that you instantly see major variations on a subject, especially when others are working in different media. Jessica and Carlene painted in oils this outing, Carroll drew and I reveled in the novelty of using watercolors in January without vodka in the water pot. Had I been painting solo I may not have tried to puzzle through these issues and just moved on to other subjects.  I think it's worth going back to and doing some more.


  1. I saved that photo as my desktop background when I noticed our coordinated outfits. I think the cools colors bring out the warm skin tones nicely. It would make a nice graphite drawing with watercolor washes. I like both paintings, maybe the second one a little better.

    1. Wouldn't Deb Baughman be just the person to translate that photo?

  2. I thought it was great how we coordinated unknowingly then posed in a pattern, vest, mock turtle neck, vest, mock turtle neck.
    I like how you simplified the trees in the background. There are things from both paintings that I like. I feel like you really captured the light and the feel of the day in the one you did on location. The studio version has that fresh look to it.
    I didn't know vodka was an option, I may have to paint strictly in watercolour just for the party favours.

    1. Yeah, a lot of people use it (hardy types I guess). PGA or vodka are best, other spirits may contain ingredients or flavorings that might not "cooperate". Apparently wood alcohol isn't as hydrophilic? Paramount or 5 O'clock are fine - keep the good stuff for friends.