Finding the Colour in a Scene and Trying for a Looser Style: From the Wilson Street Studio Blog

Helen here today.
Some of my art students are struggling with (at least) two things: Finding the colours in a scene where they aren't all that apparent, and loosening up their painting style. For some reason, it's not all that easy to loosen up; I said to one person, you'd think we'd been asked to bungee jump when all we're doing is just pushing paint around on a canvas. Her friend retorted, it's more like jumping without the bungee. Yet we continue to aspire to a looser rendering, not trusting the result.
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The rock and pine scene, above, faced us across the water as we set up our easels at a boat launch in Haliburton, Ontario on the first drizzly morning of A Brush With the Highlands, an annual weekend plein air festival.  
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Mostly done when I took the shot, Keith's red underpainting shimmers through his shapes, giving an otherwise grey-green scene a spark of vitality and warmth, though you can still appreciate the cool, overcast elements.
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What to do? I could see that the rocks had some blue in them, so I laid down some quick blue strokes. I made the blue more intense, keeping the value correct. Working loose and fast I intensified the surrounding colours to keep in harmony with the new, more vibrant blue rocks. 

To get past tightness and fussiness I find the faster I work, the better the result. 

However, there are times when the best plan is to walk away rather than to linger, "finishing" and "fixing". Better to say, "My work here is done" and heed the siren call of the hot chocolate at the cafe down the road.
Helen Walter
Wilson Street Studio

Views: 105

Tags: color, colour, painting, plein-air, post-impressionism

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Comment by Judi Myers on May 16, 2012 at 7:23am

Thank you, Helen, for the inspiring work and words. I've been firmly anchored to my artist's block for months and am only starting to venture out to paint. Your words re. working loose and fast, and Alana's re. taking the glasses off to paint...I'm going out there and just doing it.

Comment by Pam Cunningham on May 11, 2012 at 10:34pm

I like the spontaneity Helen.....something I am still working at achieving.And, I also find that the more quickly i work, means that I feel more inspired and am more likely to have ,what I consider a successful painting. The longer I linger at something....well.....it just means more fussing....

Comment by Laurel McBrine on May 11, 2012 at 7:59am

Nice! Thanks, Helen. I faced a similar situation (and here is a tip for my fellow myopics) and was getting frustrated, so I whipped off my glasses, squinted a little and just started slashing in whatever I saw in patches of color. I ended up with something more brushy and appealing than my usual approach.

Comment by Jane Boyd on May 10, 2012 at 6:37am

Seeing the scene suggested by you and Keith was interesting.... love the direction you are both taking in your work. Helen the water reflections are lovely and that red under painting in Keith's sings! Thanks for sharing..............

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