Thursday, July 28, 2016

Capturing Atmosphere With Color

"Sun-Soaked Afternoon" watercolor

"Invitation" acrylic

Same Scene, Different Mood

Whenever I am kayaking on the lake I stop by this scene just to take in the natural beauty and the man-made additions which just seem to invite us to stop and take a break. And since I'm usually tired from paddling I do stop. Sometimes I take a few pictures, other times I have sketched this scene.

The two paintings above inspired by this scene are very different in mood. "Invitation" was painted in acrylic using a full palette of color. And it was under-painted in complementary colors to give an extra depth to the painting. The red chair on the dock is in real life a white chair, but I painted it red because I felt that the scene needed a bright warm color to draw attention to the focal point. The reds in the trees and on the ground create a balance of warm colors throughout the painting, leading our eyes around the composition.

"Sun-Soaked Afternoon" a watercolor, is less about depth and detail and more about creating a mood: a hot, sunny, somewhat hazy day. The limited palette of harmonious colors (all lying next to each other on the color wheel) and lack of detail create a dreamy atmosphere. I omitted the hammock in this painting because I wanted less details in the composition. Color, especially the push and pull of warm and cool colors becomes more important than details when trying to set a mood. The fade in/fade out quality of the wet-on-wet watercolor technique lends itself nicely to the subtle blend of colors giving an overall dreamy, hazy feel to the piece.

Related post on limited color palette:

Related post on painting atmosphere:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Art Along the Way: the Pacific Northwest

Art Along the Way--Seattle

My husband and I recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle & Bellingham, WA and Vancouver, BC. Along the way we encountered so much wonderful art.

In Seattle the Chihuly Glass Garden and Museum was nothing short of breathtaking. I became a fan of  Dale Chihuly's work after reading an article about him in National Geographic. When his "Seaforms" exhibit was shown at the Everson Museum in Syracuse back in the 90's I made it a point to go and see the show. I was delighted  by the colorful undulating forms illuminated from below and displayed against a black background. The Chihuly Museum in Seattle utilized the same presentation.

As we made our way from Seattle to Bellingham we saw the work of many other glass artists in various gift shops and galleries. Some had studied with Chihuly; his influence seemed to be everywhere.

Art Along the Way--Bellingham

In Bellingham we discovered the Lightcatcher Building which is part of the Whatcome Museum Complex. There was an installation of large scale works by 4 different artists with color as the uniting theme. Pictured below are sections of two of the installations--I had to get those complementary colors in the same picture! And below that, an abstraction of water, sky and sun.

In Bellingham we also saw these charming sculptures on the campus of Western Washington University.

Art Along the Way--Vancouver

We saw Totem Poles or Story Poles from Seattle to Vancouver. The ones pictured here are from Capilano Suspension Bridge Park outside of the city of Vancouver and Stanley Park in the city of Vancouver. 

I was happy to see my favorite character: the Raven. I have used the stories of Raven The Trickster in some of the art lessons with my students at the YMCA Arts Studio. How the Raven Made the Tide was my favorite lesson, integrating art, music and storytelling. And Raven the Trickster tricked us by turning our black tempera paint a funny greenish black. The kids were enchanted by the idea of the Raven tricking us. I didn't have the heart to tell them that it was just the paint going bad.

The real star of the Pacific Northwest is the natural beauty of the area, but I've gotta say we saw some really fabulous man-made art too!