Over the last few days I’ve been using my hot bubble gum pink gessoed manila dividers for my tonalist landscape project. You may be wondering, “How’s that working out?”
Well, it’s been interesting. Now and then it’s proved a bit challenging, and overall I think it’s led to a better understanding of how I want to use colors in my landscape paintings. Generally, I’ve always been a cool color painter. My personal favorites are blues and greens with occasional touches of a cool-based violet. I prefer cool grays to warm. Even with yellow — my new favorite color for 2020 — I prefer a cool lemon yellow for my landscape painting.
So, needless to say, having not simply a warm but a downright hot color covering my little index cards took me aback when I first when I went to my easel to do the next five paintings (16 through 20) in my series. The “inspirational” paintings I was working with were ones with cool colors. That meant I had to give a bit of thought to how I wanted to approach my palette.
I should point out again that I’m not attempting to copy or duplicate the paintings I’m using as inspiration. I freely change colors, change compositions, and sometimes change my own intentions for a painting while I’m painting it! This is meant to be a fun project — and, believe me, it is.
I’ve actually enjoyed working with my hot pink cards, and here — for your, ahem, viewing pleasure — are the first four of the five. Note: You’ll be seeing the fifth soon after the first of the year.
Here, I’ve tried putting four of the paintings on a dark background in hopes of getting a fairly good photo.
Still not a good photo, but you can see — and maybe feel — a bit of warmth emanating from these images, even where I’ve painted with cooler colors.
My blues, of course, are now leaning a bit more toward lavender, and the warm colors I have used — a bit of orange here and there — have either increased in intensity or, in places where I softened them with a bit of white, have mellowed and faded.
Let me try now to share the paintings individually. Again, not good photographs, but you can get the idea of the colors and the effect of the hot pink toning on each card.
Sunset View was my first hot pink experience. To create the sky, I knew I’d need a lot of orange and yellow. At first, I was surprised — and even a bit dismayed — at how much of the hot pink came through. But, one reason I’m doing this project is to experiment with different approaches to painting and to learn more about light, shadow, and color. I decided to stop fighting the pink, and I allowed it to show through the entire little painting. Definitely not how my usual color palette looks, but it’s good to know how to create this “soft, fuzzy warmth” — which is how I see this landscape.
Before going on, I should point out that for these paintings I’m still using works by Charles Warren Eaton. I do like his compositional style, and I like a sort of “scratchiness” I see in his brushstrokes. I tend to paint with textural brushstrokes, so I’ve had fun playing with little scratch marks here and there as I work with Eaton’s landscapes.
Here, I wanted to stay away from orange skies — except for the sunlight. I used a lot of blue, let it fade into a soft lavender, then focused on getting the light and some of the trees reflected in the water.
In a recent “Getting Sketchy” session, artist Ashley Bane Hurst spoke a bit about sources of light. It is always difficult, he said, to get the right effect when we’re painting the actual source of light, be it light from a candle, a street lamp, the moon, or the sun. I find that quite true! While some artists do show very “rounded” shapes for the moon or the sun, my attempts at doing that always seem to look a bit primitive. I’m blending my lights into the sky a bit more, diffusing it through a bit of cloud cover. I like the effects of having a burst of light in the sky.
This may be my favorite of the four, probably because it shows more of the coolness I like in my palette. The hot pink is toned down a bit here with white, once again creating a spot of light in the sky — I see this as another twilight scene — with that light spilling out onto the landscape a bit.
And finally, there’s this one:
This isn’t a favorite, and obviously I spent very little time on it. Again, the warmth from the hot pink gesso clearly “heats up” this painting. It put me in the mind of a hot summer’s day, and a weary path through the countryside.
Now, having experimented with hot pink tones, will I be apt to use that color again? Probably not. While I had fun playing with bubble gum hot pink, and while I managed to create landscapes each day with reasonable colors — I think — all of these paintings have more warmth than I usually want in my landscape paintings. I’m not a fan of scorching summer sun and blisteringly hot temperatures. To me, warm and hot colors are too harsh, too glaring, too uncomfortable.
But, certainly, there may be times when that’s exactly what I want to convey in a painting. Or, more likely, there will be times when I want to add warmth to the light in a landscape scene, and I think now, having done this series of paintings, I’ll have a better idea of how to create those effects.