I painted the both works below on Sunday–the first plein air, the second in my studio.  I suppose it’s fair to say it would be difficult for anyone to identify these as coming from the same artist.  This is part of my “split personality”: In the studio, I find it easy to be more inventive than I do while painting in front of my live subject.  This is a problem I need to work on.  I think somewhere between these two perspectives is where I want to be.

The seascape was painted using the “brush in front” technique I’ve written about before.  With the sun behind me, I align my brush in front of the object I’m trying to represent.  This allows me to get a fairly accurate color match.  But to aid in that process, I also use “color separation“, ie, when painting objects of the same general color (eg, the green of the sea, the green of the hills), I purposefully use two completely different base colors.  The hills where mixed with a base of Ultramarine Blue and Hansa Yellow Orange, while the sea is mixed with Cobalt Blue and Yellow Ochre.  Yes, I probably could have mixed a good approximation with, say, just Ultramarine Blue, but there’s something about this approach that I think is a sure fire way to mix color.

I really like this spot, so hope to come back and paint something larger.


Marin Headlands (morning)


This studio painting was approached much differently.  I actually started with a scraped painting (done from the same reference photograph). The previous painting was scraped down using a palette knife (and not towel/solvent), so plenty of the old image remained.  I’d always liked the reference photo, so gave it another shot.  Removing my glasses (to keep the painting loose, and to think in terms of Hawthorne’s “color spots”), I painted over the old work, not covering it, but just adding color spots that I thought where needed to complete the painting.


Sunset (Buena Vista Park), Oil on Canvas, 8×10″


What do you think of these two approaches and the results?


2 thoughts on “Two Sides

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