Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Meanwhile, Back at the Lake: Creating a Mood With Color

"Twilight in Kayak Cove"

Meanwhile, Back at the Lake

Well I'm back at the lake again--ok I'm really in Windy Hill Studio. But in my heart, I'm back at the lake re-visiting some of my favorite places and times of day.

Kayak Cove is the name I've given to an area on our property where there is just enough space to launch, or beach a few kayaks. You can even fit a couple of canoes in there as well, and with the overhanging trees they are usually sheltered somewhat from the rain. 

Towards the end of the day as the sun is setting, the colors in Kayak Cove are magnificent. The rocks, trees and all other vegetation are bathed in a golden-red light. I love just sitting on the dock looking at the scene. And a couple of weeks ago I finally painted Kayak Cove.

I had some reference photos which I used for the kayaks and canoes. But after placing them (kayaks and canoes) in the scene I discarded the photo and worked mainly from memory. I really played up the reds, especially in the vegetation to portray the sort of rosy glow that everything takes on at sunset. The sunlight on the red kayak casts a rosy reflection on one of the canoes lending a purplish look to it. 

The colors in the woods are mostly warm with a few cooler tones to convey a sense of depth without being too specific with the imagery. 

And At Another Part of the Lake...

"Summer Afternoon in the Narrows"

Way down at the far end of our lake there is an area referred to as "The Narrows". If you are paddling a kayak or canoe you can go way back in to the Narrows where it becomes very shallow and weedy. In the spring the loons nest there, and if you are quiet and bring binoculars you can see the mama loon lying across the nest protecting her offspring.  In the summer you can paddle along watching herons and loons and the occasional eagle.

This image is from about half-way down the Narrows. In this beautiful setting there are usually one or two boats resting there awaiting their next expedition. I painted a version of this scene "Wooded Cove",  about 6 years ago, with a rowboat and canoe in the picture. It's hanging in the living room at camp.

The time of day in this painting is afternoon, and it is hot and sunny. My palette for this painting is different from the one above. (Twilight in Kayak Cove) The colors are muted and less contrasty, more sun-washed. The lines are less distinct, edges are soft, hazy. 

Color: Creating a Mood

The use of color and color temperature (warmness or coolness of each color) is key to setting a time of day in a painting, or a even weather condition. Morning light is usually soft. Afternoon sunlight on a clear day can be harsh. But on a warm hazy day the colors can be muted, shadows are softer and the lines look a bit fuzzy. Late in the day as the sun begins to set, colors will change, contrast occurs, lines become sharper, and shadows grow longer.
The end to another day in paradise.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


"Dragonfly Summer"


I have heard that our lake is the home to over 100 different types of dragonflies. I'm not sure who counted, or how they counted, but the dragonflies are abundant every summer. Except last summer.

I asked one of the year-round residents of the lake about the drop in the dragonfly population and he attributed the cold, rainy weather which came in after an extremely cold Winter and a late Spring. 

I'm not sure if he was right but dragonflies were on my mind enough to want to integrate them in to a few of my paintings. The Dragonfly Series was started last Fall, and then set aside as I needed to get a few Winter themed paintings ready for shows.

So now as Spring is upon us (at least it is on the calendar) it's time to paint the dragonflies again.

"Dragonfly Summer" and "Dragonfly Moon" were both painted with water media.

What's Water Media?

Water Media refers to paints that rely on water to dilute the paint. In this case I started with watercolors and added some luminescent acrylic paint on the dragonflies to give them an extra glow.

Both paintings have the feel of fantasy illustrations which is exactly what I wanted to achieve. To me there is something magical about these delicate creatures and their luminous wings changing colors in the sunlight with every movement as they flit across the lake.

In fact to me the whole lake is magical.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Time to Paint the Boldt Castle---Again

"Daybreak, Heart Island"   JOAN APPLEBAUM

Time To Paint the Castle---Again

Remember that commercial"time to make the donuts"? I find myself saying that as I once again paint Boldt Castle. The castle and its haunting story have captivated Thousand Islands tourists and residents for decades. And all of the artists have painted it from every imaginable angle.

I prefer the other structures on the Island, like the Power House, Playhouse and Entry Arch, so I tend to focus on one of those and paint the castle looming in the background.

The painting  "Daybreak, Heart Island" was done in watercolor taking advantage of the wet-on-wet technique to create a dreamy atmosphere. While I was working on the painting I began to wonder how to capture the same or similar effects in acrylic paint. 

So when I finished the watercolor I started work on the acrylic version. Same view, but different feel to the finished piece. I used a pumice medium to make a texture and give bits of light-colored paint somewhere to hold onto to create an almost 3-d look to the mist. This painting is now on its way to a new home in Alexandria Virginia. From Alexandria Bay to Alexandria Virginia! Rather poetic, or perhaps ironic. 

"Morning Mist, Heart Island"

And One More Time!

When both paintings were finished I drew the Power House and Castle one more time for the Bay House Artisans coloring book which will be available when we re-open Bay House in the Spring. You will find the work of several of our Bay House Artisans in the book.

Another Angle

And just to prove that I don't always paint the castle from the same angle I have included "Winter Closing In", now on display in The Art of Winter at the Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton.