Thursday, June 16, 2011

Peonies from the Garden

"Peonies"
oil painting on linen, 11x14 inches
copyright 2011 MaryAnn Cleary

This painting is of peonies cut from my garden. Since the weather has been rainy, I opted to paint this one outside on my deck in the screened-in area...protected from mosquitoes. Well, almost. There are always a couple of them who seem to find their way into the protected area. One even managed to get stuck in the painting. Mosquitoes are tough little buggers. I wanted to get a picture of this one, but by the time I got back with my camera, the little tough guy had escaped....coated in green paint to whereabouts unknown.

For me, peonies are one of the more difficult flowers to paint. The background used is the green trees and foilage from my yard. A nice backdrop that makes this painting a red-green color combination. However, it also is one of the more difficult combinations to photograph accurately. I photographed this one using RAW and JPG. I then adjusted the RAW image to get accurate as possible to the true colors.

Peonies are such a short lived flower. Most years if I am gone for any period of time, I totally miss seeing them bloom. Thankfully, this year I am busy at home and I am enjoying all the spring flowers.

Last week while I spent time at the Trail Center painting, I seemed to have difficulty getting things to work for my paintings. Coming home, I totally felt frustrated by it all. When this happens, I like to re-think my approach to painting, read about other artists, and look through some of my books.

Like magic, I realized that I had forgotten to do one of the basic tricks to painting from life. Squint. Squinting helps the mind focus on shapes and not all the details. With peonies, I remembered to squint. To keep to the basics.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Trip North

"Birch Trees at Trail Center"
 oil on linen, 10x8 inches
copyright 2011 MaryAnn Cleary

Last week I had to deliver several paintings for a one person art show at the Coho Cafe in Tofte, MN. The show will be at Coho until July 9th. The Coho Cafe sits along the northern side of Lake Superior on Highway 61. All along the northern shore of Lake Superier the drive is spectacular with beautiful views. A favorite.

"Lace Lake"
 pastel, 8x10 inches
copyright 2011 MaryAnn Cleary

Every time that I head North along Lake Superior, I try to go a bit further and head up the Gunflint Trail to a place called the Trail Center. The food is spectacular and the cabins comfortable as home with spectacular views of the lake and privacy. A true gem.

This last time, I did get some painting time in and did a few studies to get my skills set moving in the right direction. The atmosphere there is very conducive to creativity....and eating great food, fishing, hiking, relaxing and more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Glazing .....or What to Do When All Else Fails

The painting on the left is the result after a quick glazing technique over a few areas of a very dry painting. The photo on the right is what the painting looked like before "playing" with it.
"Clementines"  
oil painting on linen, 16x12 inches
copyright Maryann Cleary

This painting has been difficult to photograph and then it also appeared that places that I really wanted darker and to fade did not. This afternoon I tried to get a better photo of the painting, but after many failed attempts I realized that what I wanted dark was not. A trip to the studio and some thin glazing fixed my problem.

Glazing can be a wonderful tool. When in a class, I actually experimented with this technique with a garish looking painting and then magically putting a thin glaze over it and creating something with depth and color. Magic. The painting really needs to be dry, but a unity can be created with a simple glaze over areas. I did this in several places with Clementines and I am truly pleased with the overall result. For me, it appears more uniform and the crock with the dried hydrangeas now fades into the background.

The areas that I glazed are the one clementine shadow, the area behind the crock, the hydrangeas in the background, the shadow of the main hydrangea, and the background on the left. Subtle changes, but I feel that the painting is more uniform now. I used a very thin glaze and then rubbed the edges with a cloth to help blend them in with the rest of the painting.