This is an interesting studio shot for a host of reasons. Next to the easel and re-purposed for studio use is an old hospital table. It works perfectly at either the drafting table or my easel. I even use the hospital table as a stable platform for a camera when I don’t feel like setting up a tripod for studio photography. The height is adjustable—it is on casters and has an open arm design which means I can have it close to any work area. Another interesting accoutrement is a stack of wet panel boxes my woodworker husband Don Mazurick made. Seen here in use in the upper left, the panel boxes are modular, stackable and portable. Each panel box holds four paintings nicely separated so there is adequate air circulation. I generally have as many as six oil paintings in progress so these panel boxes are awesome in my studio. In the studio when I paint with oil my approach generally involves building layers of texture and transparent colour before doing opaque, scumbled or maybe more textured layers. It is a slow process. Pictured on the easel is an as yet untitled painting in progress. In this case the painting is from my CFB Esquimalt dockyard series and has just received its second transparent layer. If you are curious about the small metal cups upturned on the palette these are simply restaurant supply cups I use to cover blobs of paint when I don’t feel like cleaning the glass palette between sessions.
I was challenged by an artist-friend in the Calgary Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists to join other members in a daily painting challenge during January. The 32 small oils I completed last month are all to varying degrees, abstracted landscapes made with just a palette knife, using six premixed colours. A valuable colour exercise it proved to be – forcing me to think about colour relationships more deeply. If you paint or draw in colour, try this or a similar exercise to shake up your notions of colour.
I picked up designer paint chips from the local home improvement store. Each paint chip displayed three colours in combinations suggested by professional designers. I used two paint chips for each session. In other words, six colours. I premixed as closely as possible to match the paint chips and applied the six colours to describe landscapes – choosing a dominant, sub-dominant ranking down to accent colour notes. My rules were that I needed to use all six colour mixtures in each painting without tints, shades or blending. I allowed the white ground to show in some cases. However, as I continued it became more challenging to ignore white and explore direct relationships among the six colours. Since the designer colours rarely corresponded to a natural landscape I was also compelled to think more creatively and explore the gamut of colour characteristics. As seen below, it was also interesting to compare the difference made by my choice of which colours should dominate in cases where I painted two or more panels with the same colour mixtures. Some of the colour combinations proved to be unusual but quite lovely.