New Painting: Black and Purple Rainy Canvas

In April 2021, I decided I would resume my art practice. I hadn’t painted a thing since my father’s cancer diagnosis and experiencing the mourning of his eventual death. It had been a hard year. In April, I picked up my paintbrush again, almost reluctantly, but necessarily.

During his care, I didnt have any desire to paint, only to take care of him to the best of my ability and spend as much time with him as I could, as we could as a family. After his death, my grief snatched my paintbrush from me, and anytime I even so much as walked into my studio, I would be reminded of my father.

When I finally did start to paint again on my first painting, it was a little more difficult than I expected. Not just like learning to ride a bike again, where muscle memory takes over, but learning to ride a bike with square wheels – not going anywhere very fast, even if going through the motions. To loosen up, when I taught one of my adult art students, we did a collaborative painting exercise, in which we would each make paint marks on individual canvases, abstract, and then switch canvases after every 4 minutes and do it again. The quick mark making and timed sessions helped to break down some of my hesitancy to even work with paint again, and it filled my studio with the smells of active oil painting again. This helped.

Over several weeks in March 2021, I kept having a recurring image stuck in my mind, an idea for a painting for when I returned to painting. It was of a canvas transitioning from black at the top evenly to a cool purple at the bottom, in the rainy style, but with a burst of white at the bottom right quarter of the canvas. I couldn’t specify exactly at the time what the image was, but I feel like the darker colors may have been influenced some by the sadness and grief I had been experiencing vividly every day.

So, I chose four colors – ivory black, dioxazine purple, cobalt violet, and white. Keeping my palette simple and my concept simple, I dipped my brush to canvas, and placed thick daubs of paint throughout the canvas, and the image in my head vaguely emerged, final so I could confront it visually and face it. The colors surprised me by how collectively dark they were, as I’m usually a bright-and-saturated-happy colors kind of person. But I allowed my brush to move. I cannot say that there weren’t a few quiet tears that emerged as I painted, it’s just become normal now any time I take a step forwards again.

The emerging image eventually had the feel of a cloudy, almost haunting, cloudy full-moon night over some purple mountains. I didn’t hesitate to use big gobs of black paint, as I no longer will shy away from using straight out black paint, which I had intentionally avoided using in past painting years.

Once the canvas was covered, it was time for me to employ my signature “rain” paintbrush application and smearing of paint using stand oil, pressure and gravity. I dipped my brush in the stand oil, and proceeded to drag the brush from top to bottom, mixing and smearing downwards all the paint from top to bottom, removing much of the paint in the process, leaving a somewhat distorted vision of what was previously painted. It felt good to do this process again. And in a way symbolic. This whole year, and especially the last 6 months, had been looked forward to and planned with some level of great precision, and then the storms of Dad’s pancreatic cancer, just destroyed and distorted all that as my world fell.

I let the canvas continue to drip for a few hours, and I returned to it every couple of hours with a brush to blend in some of the drips, to help others drip further, and to edit out some drips, especially the ones that were encroaching on the white paint, in order to maintain the clarity and impact of that part of the painting. I really loved noticing some of the striations and nuances in the detail of the the mixing, dripping, paint when looked at at close range. After a couple days, the paint stopped dripping, and I was left with the finished painting.

I was a bit surprised by just how dominant the application of the black paint ended up being. I removed some paint towards the bottom of the canvas that helps to show some more of the purple a bit better, but visible only in controlled lighting. In my original vision, the gradation from black to purple was much more even and gradual. I’m thinking of possibly painting this composition again, but this time use less-thick daubs of black paint on the top, and bring the purple mountain “horizon” line up more to halfway. I’m satisfied with how the white “light” kind of feels like a flicker, or a glow, picking up some of the purple around it. Reminds me of a match lit in a dark hallway, a light of hope even in darkness sort of thing.

It may not have turned out the way that I had anticipated or planned (isn’t it rare if anything ever actually does?), but I’m so glad that I’ve picked up the paintbrush again and got it moving again. Stay tuned for more upcoming paintings, now that I’ve started the momentum again of painting.

I’m also in need of suggestions for titles for this painting. Let me know if you have any ideas that strike you!

Interested in purchasing this painting? Click here for more info.

Two new paintings for Italy exhibition

During the Memorial Day weekend, rather than spend time with friends and family at various cookouts and barbecues, I spent quality time getting to know two new canvases of my Abstracted Rainy Moments series about to head to Italy. With a two-person show suddenly becoming my one-person solo show, I felt I needed to include a few more large paintings, so I got started on the first one of two.

 

After adding all of the background points of paint, I used stand oil and a progressive smattering of brushwork to help the painting to “rain” on the scene.

Then I set up another canvas on the adjacent easel and started applying colored dots of thick paint daubs to evoke the sensation of mountains and pine trees and a field.

Then I got out the stand oil and my broad brush to “rain” out the paint daubs into drips that I then let continue to drip overnight, only retouching the drips every few hours until nightfall. The next morning I touched them up a bit more.

After the main surface of the two paintings had stopped dripping then I touched up the each of the side panels, and then I let the paintings air out for a week. To help hopefully speed up their drying, I placed an oscillating fan directly in front of them. Then the day came that I had to pack them up for shipment to Italy along with the other 40+ paintings I was sending for a solo exhibition outside of Rome.

 

 

Painting Commission Complete

A family’s painting commission of three panels of one large rainy triptych has now been completed and installed! Check out the photos below to see its process!

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The first stage of applying the first layers of paint to the final large canvases, inspired by the view of sunset seen filtering through the trees of the clients’ backyard

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Side by side comparison of the 8×10″ sketches (foreground) and the final painting (background)

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Finished painting drying on easel after dripping

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Final paintings installed in clients’ living room!

Work in Progress Photos for Beach Rain Triptych May-June 2018

In May-June 2018, I created a triptych inspired by the composition of an earlier painting of a rainy day at the beach. Following are the sequence of how the painting came together, phase by phase.

Day 1: My Truro Art Residency (Monday)

I am spending a two-week artist residency in Truro, MA. I will be blogging throughout the residency. Here is my first post.  Continue reading

The painting process of “Aurora Borealis Rain”

Here are several photos in succession of the phases of the painting process of creating the oil painting “Rainy Moment 16 (Aurora Borealis in Rain”). Continue reading

The process of creating “Sunset Rain Ocean”

Here are a few photos in succession showing several stages in the creation of this painting, nicknamed “Sunset Rain over Ocean” Continue reading

Commissioned Rainy Moments Triptych

Between November & December 2017, I had the experience of being commissioned for a painting by a former superior of mine as a Christmas gift for his wife to hang in their bedroom. They had been following the progression of my “Abstracted Rainy Moments” and wanted to have one of their own for their home. Continue reading

2017 In-Studio Artist Residency Days 10-11: The Mountaintop

After starting the week unable to pick up a paintbrush for fear of what would or would not come out on canvas, these final 48 hours have given me the opportunity for redemption, and to move forward past that redemption.

I’ve envisioned a ‘rainy moment’ painting for awhile to include a mountain lake, but just hadn’t gotten to it (like many good art ideas). I started that idea, and I’m pleased so far with how it’s turning out.

Continue reading

2017 In-Studio Artist Residency Days 8-9: Redemption

As you may have read in a few previous posts about the status of progress for my 2017 in-studio artist residency, you will notice that this period of 10 days started off on a bumpy and somewhat uninspired start (except for the day trip to NYC – that was inspiring).

In the previous two days, progressed onto brushing gesso and inscribing canvas, so my goal for today is to actually start painting another ‘rainy moment’ onto a large canvas. Continue reading

How A Demonstration Painting Turned Out from Plein Air in Park Place Day

On May 20, 2017, I participated in the Pop-up Plein-air Painting in Park Place Pawtucket event. In the afternoon I performed a painting demonstration to a small group of interested people who gathered to watch how one of my “Abstracted Rainy Moments” paintings came to life. I’ve chronicled the process here Continue reading

Commissioned Rain-Style Painting in Progress

During late December/early January I worked on a painting that was commissioned to be in the style of the Abstracted Rainy Moments. Here are a few process photos of this painting commission in progress. Continue reading

Artist Residency: Day 9

For the 9th day of my in-studio artist residency, I approached the studio with a sense of urgency — I had to complete these next two paintings by tonight in order to achieve my goal of 6 paintings, because tomorrow, my artist residency ends. Tomorrow my life returns to the usual obligations, tasks and distractions. I have today…I have right now.

So without hesitation, I jumped into my painting apron, and started right away on touching up the drips on the autumn rain painting — using a fan brush to feather out some of the hard lines as the colors had dripped side by side.

IMG_1315I needed to start in on my 6th canvas, so I moved the spring rain painting, which was mostly dry to the touch (albeit a little sticky), to the drying rack to join its friends winter and summer rains. I began added paint daubs in sunrise colors to this newly blank canvas — oranges, golds, reds, and dark deep purples and ultramarine blue.

It came time to start the “smear campaign” on the sunset painting, as the paint daubs from yesterday were still wet. I dribbled stand oil lightly all over the canvas with a palette knife, then lightly pressed into the painting and dragged downward in vertical lines from top to bottom, cleaning the palette knife in between.

IMG_1305Then I moved to the sunrise rain painting, added stand oil in light drips across its surface all the way from top to bottom. I left the stand oil to drip while I grabbed a quick lunch and finished writing and publishing yesterday’s blog post, then I went to work feathering out the drips on the sunrise and sunset canvases.

I think that sometimes an idea turns out just the way you had envisioned it, and sometimes it doesn’t. The colors looked great for the sunrise rain painting when I had blended in all the colors together using a dry brush technique before applying the stand oil. After a few hours, the stand oil had dragged the navy/ultramarine blue color all the way from the top down to the yellow at the bottom, causing the colors IMG_1313to run muddy, and dark, looking murky and dirty — which is not the effect that I had hoped to achieve. It this were a clay creation, I would have rolled it up into a ball and started kneading it all over — but it is a painting. So the next best option I had was to apply odorless mineral spirits to a rag, and rub away some of the dark muddy paint mixing, much like an eraser. Once those dark drip lines were gone, I was much happier with the outcome. Instead of trying to re-drip the stand oil on this particular canvas, I will instead wait for this layer to dry, then I will apply thicker paint dubs in this colors, and then apply the stand oil and smear. The viscosity of the stand oil has generally keep the colors from mixing in a dark, murky tone.

As this artist residency draws to a close, I have mixed feelings. I’m joyful and blessed that I’ve been able to spend 9-10 days intentionally in my studio to produce the beginning of a solid body of work. I’m thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned in making sure that my paints are taken care of, that my brushes are cleaned each night, and the discipline it’s taken to write a blog post at the end of each day to keep people apprised of the most recent day’s developments. I’m also feeling a little resentful that I can’t always spend this amount of time in the studio every day — I wish I could, and I hope to, at some point. But for the current time, being involved in a variety of different organizations, projects and being part of a community are all good tradeoffs for now. I will schedule another in-studio artist residency at some point again in the next year, as I found that it has reinvigorated my artwork in a way never before experienced — I felt like I was in art school again, working on something every day with a deadline and a fervor of eagerness to create. I’m going to hold on to these inspirational feelings and turn them into motivational actions to be more intentional in my daily art creation going back into my “regular” life.

Thank you for following along with my adventure here on this blog, and thank you for the many words of support and encouragement that I have received along this journey from the people in the blogosphere, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and from my community of friends, family and colleagues. Thank you for supporting and encouraging my art-making.

Artist Residency: Day 8

Day 8 of my in-studio artist residency brought with it a new burst of energy — realizing that my residency is winding down, but knowing that I still have at least two paintings to still make. I shifted my work plan to make sure that I would have enough time in these last two days to finish strong..

My first order of action was to add more paint daubs to the autumn rain painting on the easel, working in more golds and yellow-greens, sap green and some alizarin crimson re, followed by adding in blue gray daubs to the top quarter of the canvas, where the sky will be implied.

IMG_1234Once all the daubs were on and it felt ready, I began smearing the autumn rain colors down the canvas from top to bottom using a combination of palette knife and fan brush. Instead of obsessing over exactly how perfectly I wanted the colors to blend together as they dripped, I chose to walk away from the canvas for a bit, work on something else, and then return after the stand oil drips had dropped a little more, revealing which colors would stand out in the process.

I checked on the winter rain painting, and finding that it was dry enough to a light touch, I moved it from its easel to the drying rack to join its friend, summer rain. This opened up a new easel, upon which I put a blank canvas and started to work on a 5th painting.

I had to take a pause to revisit my sketchbook for the color studies and concepts that I had wanted to explore in this rain series, settling upon a sunset rain to be my next project. So I mixed up warm yellows, golds, pinks and purples and started daubing the canvas.

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During a brief break for lunch and tea, I read an inspiring quote in Professional Artist magazine:

Inspiration is not like free-floating music that one can suddenly tune into — rather it is the result of sustained activity and strong intentions.
–Eric Maisel

This struck me because as many artists, I wish something would just *inspire* me with a marvelous idea — but it’s through constantly working through your artwork that a muse will come. This is how I’ve felt this week, as I’ve been working through the ideas I have for the abstracted rainy moments series.

IMG_1250I revisited the autumn rain painting, noticed how some of the drops had continued their drip, and used a large brush and fan brush to feather the surface and blend the colors together in areas where the surface needed a little adjustment.

Today, I made a resolution that I will finish 6 paintings during my artist residency this week (God-willing, of course), since I was already so very close. Time to continue the sustained push towards the finish line.

I finished applying more paint daubs to the sunset rain canvas, filled up the canvas, and have it ready to start applying the stand oil smearing technique tomorrow.

Artist Residency: Day 7

I can’t believe it’s already day 7 of my artist residency — I’ve been doing this now for one full calendar week, and I still have 2 days left. I started off by checking on the surfaces of the summer, winter and spring paintings — to see that there are no marred areas of the surface, and to check to see how dry/wet the surface still is. When checking the surface, I found that a few tiny bugs were also appreciators of fine art — they had attached themselves and immersed themselves into the art.

 So I took a small flat brush, dug them out of the paint, and then used a fan brush to lightly blend over the mark that their extrusion had created.

I reworked some of the surface of the spring rain painting, adding in some brighter spring colors over the stand oil and blending it in with a mix of paint and stand oil with a fan brush. I’m pleased with how the drips are coming along.

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Since I created the summer rain painting now 7 days ago, I thought it was just dry enough to move from my main canvas to the drying rack. I very carefully moved it from easel to drying rack, being careful of the pools of stand oil that had accumulated on the very bottom of the canvas, where the canvas rested on the easel base. Fortunately, even though it was sticky, it was no longer runny.

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Now I had a blank easel upon which to add a new blank canvas. I put my fourth canvas up on the easel, and toned it with a golden yellow color. This next painting will bring the series around to its seasonal full-circle, back to Autumn Rain (the one that inspired the rest of this series).

While I waited for some of the paint to dry a bit more, I took some time to add the “Art in Interior Spaces” section to my website, a page that shows some simulations for how some of my paintings would look “living” in different types of spaces: living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, offices, etc.

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Having put up 4 canvases for painting this week, it was time to buy more canvas! I took a trip to my local art store and found the 40″x30″ canvases on sale for 50% off! I was so excited about the sale and about the new canvas that I bought all 6 of that size left in stock. While I was there, I also picked up a new, sturdier portable easel that can handle tall paintings.

IMG_1189Upon my return from art-supply shopping bliss, I donned my painting apron and added paint daubs of yellow ochre, yellow-orange, orange-red, cadmium red and alizarin crimson in mixed hues to the autumn rain canvas.

Feeling productive for the day, and also wanting to catch up on the sleep that the lack thereof seemed to ruin yesterday, I cleaned my brushes and went to sleep a bit earlier than the nights prior (after watching a quick episode of Bob Ross on Netflix, of course).