Thursday, December 8, 2011

Transformation of the landscape

 Joshua Tree
graphite and colored pencil

Tree Line
colored pencil

Golden Leaves

Oh, the many ways to paint a landscape. As you know I've recently gotten back to painting landscapes again. I love them, always have. In the early years of painting most of my work looks similar in technique to the way the Joshua Tree piece is done - very controlled, precise, smooth tones, careful pencil strokes. After many years of working in colored pencil and graphite I got to a point where I felt the need to loosen up a bit, and speed it up too. I just don't have the patience I did back then. I started working with colored pencil and mineral spirits, using the spirits with a brush to transform the pencil strokes into paint strokes. Then I discovered heat as a tool for making the colored pencil soft and creamy. That's what I did for the Tree Line painting in the middle. It's a fun way to work the pencils but working with a heat gun or griddle can get uncomfortable, and warm.... I live in Florida so for most of the year, adding more heat to my studio is not a good thing.

So now, as you've seen in the previous posts, I'm using acrylic - I love it. I love the juiciness, the layering, the texture, the ability to change things on a whim. I love using a contrasting color for an underpainting. I love being able to adjust and change what I'm doing. I love getting bolder with color. I just plain love the look and feel of working this way. 

Sometimes I get comments from people about my older work and how much they love it compared to the newer work. My older work was more realistic and photographic looking. That may appeal to a lot of people but for me I prefer seeing the loose brushwork, the uneven edges, the soft edges, the impressionistic feel. To me the newer work is more "me". That's the transformation. In the beginning there was learning and  precise copying of images. In the middle there was the confidence building and exploration of techniques. Now, in this phase (no, it's not the end. It won't be the end until I die - maybe it's just another part of the middle.) it's all about the vision and part of the vision is expressing my feeling about the landscape. Aren't we supposed to get more comfortable in our own skins as we get older? I think we get more comfortable on the canvas too. There's still so much to learn about painting but I think getting more comfortable makes it easier to express not only what I've learned but allows me to put more of "me" in the painting.