Rose Moon and Vibrating Color June 03, 2017 08:18

My most recent painting began as a landscape but then morphed. I feel more satisfaction with the result than I have since Moon Vessel. I think my paintings were getting a little too complicated and frankly too realist. In Spirit of Rose Moon, I let myself play with color a lot more. I worked hard with many layers of glazing to get a good gradation in the sky area of pale yellow to pink to blue. My efforts paid off, I think, and now I feel I can do a good gradation when I need to.

A fuchsia underpainting really turned the glow on the trees in the middle ground, but then I was troubled by the shapes of the trees, which I diligently covered up with with glazes. They just were rudimentary and too similar to each other. 

I suddenly had an image of a central figure that would represent a Moon spirit--a kind of soft white petal-like thing. I went ahead and painted that, leaving the troublesome tree area of the foreground until later, like an unwanted vegetable side dish. 

I kept putting off those foreground trees, afraid I would mess up the painting when I got there, but finally I plunged in. And by accident I found a good way for me to paint them, using about ten layers of four different colors and a couple different sizes of filbert and round brushes. This worked better than anything I have ever come up with for masses of trees, which generally look like wads of chenille when I paint them. This time they looked like trees. Such a simple thing, but for me, hard to do. 

I'm pleased with the painting. It is exactly the kind of dreamy landscape plus weird added image I have been striving for in my painting. I like where I went with the color and hope to experiment a lot more along those lines. 

To that end, I picked up a book by a painter who seems pretty good at combining unusual colors: Brian Keeler's Dramatic Color in the Landscape: Painting Land and Light in Oil and Pastel. I've found that even though I use acrylics, I can get a lot out of oil painting books (and I've been thinking about giving pastel books a try also to see if they are similarly useful in terms of technique). It was odd to find out that Keeler often paints the area where I used to live in upstate NY. The book kind of reiterated what I already knew about using "vibration" in color (which I learned from an old book on landscape painting by Birge Harrison), but it had a lot of good examples of it. It inspired me to go ahead and try it with this most recent painting. I'd like to do a lot more of this sort of thing, combining orange and blue, green and red, yellow and purple, and my favorite, pink and pale blue and pale yellow. The latter are colors I've combined since I first tried to get the kind of vibration I saw in Monet paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago.