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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

January 2015 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

Color Swatches 
Frequently art challenges are organized that encourage artists to create a painting a day.  Normally my paintings take much longer than this, but the point is to get 2015 started with a flurry of new work.  I decided I'd experiment with some new ideas so by the end of the month I could decided if I wanted to explore it more in more complex work.  This challenge was organized by Leslie Saeta. I'll include a link to her blog where you can see the paintings of all the artists who are participating. I received an email from Leslie this morning and apparently there are 810 people participating in the challenge. 

I have done a lot of research and worked out the color schemes for my work and prepared 8" X 8" gallery wrapped paper "canvases" so I am ready to go on January 1st. You can see some of the color scheme in the swatches I assembled in the photograph at right.

I'm not going to share the concept but will tell you that as you follow along there might be some surprises along the way.  I hope you enjoy the journey that begins tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Lit by the Moon" 24" X 18" gallery wrapped fluid acrylic on paper

Fluid acrylic painting by April M Rimpo
Lit by the Moon by April M Rimpo
Since night scenes are not something I’ve done a lot of, I wanted to be sure to capture the colors I used in Lit by the Moon.

Lit by the Moon
Fluid Acrylic
24" X 18" gallery wrapped and varnished paper
$995 for Original Painting

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Contact April regarding shipments outside the United States

All are fluid acrylic except for:
Indigo blue – which is a Da Vinci watercolor pigment - and Coral, which is a Daniel Smith watercolor paint.  Both I mixed with Golden “Fluid Matte Medium” to make my own fluid acrylic.  Daniel Smith Coral is my go to color these days.  It makes wonderful shades of lavender when mixed with just about any blue.  When mixed with blue and yellow, you get great grays.

The Da Vinci fluid acrylics used are:
·        Transparent Raw Sienna
·        Quinacridone Gold (very sparingly)
·        Quinacridone Burnt Orange
·        Pthalo Blue
·        French Ultra Marine Blue (adding some Daniel Smith French Ultra Blue watercolor when I mix with Quinacridone Burnt Orange to create the nearly black darks
·        Titanium White (used mixed with the yellow pigments in the last layer of darks to recover a few of the illusion of clouds when I neglected to leave some of these open.)

I started with masking fluid “sprayed” on the white paper, which becomes the falling snow.  After an initial pale wash I added tiny wisps of tree branches and bits of snow that had stuck to the yet to be painted trees. I also added some masking fluid where I wanted the lit side of evergreens and bushes in the foreground.  And let’s not forget the moon was added in mask at this point so the yellow glow is retained.  I left some openings in the mask on the moon to allow darker hues to create the craters on the moon. Some kosher salt was applied to the bushes in the front in hopes of adding some texture to the snow as a foreground detail. I say "in hopes" because normally I test pigments with salt to be sure the desired granulation will occur, but the salt was a quick decision and timing the addition of salt is critical.

A second medium intensity wash was added to further vary the colors across the painting and to begin to make darker areas in the sky.  I left some of the yellow shining through, especially around the moon since I wanted the moon to glow. When dry this layer was followed by more masking of branches to give the illusion that different branched catch different amounts of the moon light. I added a small amount of dark on top of the dry salt in the foreground bushes to add some variety.  I actually had forgotten to remove the salt and knew I likely lost any subtle granulation in the snow.  These things happen.

Darker combinations of the blues were added in the third layer.  This is also where I used the pale mixture of white and yellow to retain some lighter cloud areas here in there behind the trees. There is a church steeple in the distance and I used some of the light yellow mix around the steeple so it wouldn’t be totally lost.  The steeple was inspired by St Paul’s Church and has the characteristic lighter stripes used to accent the architecture on the steeple, but I intentionally muted these at a later stage so the painting is about the falling snow and the steeple is there for those who really examine the painting in detail.

The trees were adding in dark and medium dark hues while most of the masking was still in place so the limbs catching the light were preserved.  At the end the mask was removed and just a few spots required a dab of darker paint here and there to integrate the branches.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Fresh Snow" 24 X 24" watercolor and fluid acrylic

Fresh Snow by April M Rimpo

Fresh Snow
Watercolor and Acrylic
24" X 24" varnished and gallery wrapped paper

I've always found snow scenes intimidating, but decided to rise to the challenge this year and give it a try.  A fresh snow gives me a sense of calm, provided it is not so deep that I have to go out and shovel it for hours.  I thought back to all the lovely colors I'd been using this year and selected some that I thought had a calming effect on me and thought about which ones would be a good way to capture the light.  

Much of painting snow is really capturing the light since the snow is "white" and is a perfect surface to allow you to see it. Currently we have no snow on the ground so I went back through photographs I have taken the morning after a snow fall and really concentrated on the colors in the snow.  And there they were pale yellows, lavenders, and warm blues.

About a week after completing this painting I was fortunate to attend a talk by Lee Boyton, who studied painting the light with Henry Hensche at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, MA. According the Lee's bio "Henry opened Lee's eyes to the poetry of using color to capture the subtle and ever-changing effects of light." During Lee's demonstration I found out that what I had stumbled upon in this painting was part of the philosophy of the American Impressionists and what was taught at the Cape School of Art.  I think the concept Lee portrayed in his demonstration is one I am innately drawn to and will definitely pursue this more in my work. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Steep Terrain" a 30" X 22" Fluid Acrylic

Steep Terrain
Fluid Acrylic
24" X 18" mounted on 2" deep cradled wood panel

I recently joined Pinterest.  As part of setting up my boards I spent some time looking at art by others and realized a lot of the art I liked most was either abstract or semi-abstract.  The layers of color and textures in these pieces spoke to me.

I have always loved texture and use a variety of techniques to add texture to my watercolor and fluid acrylic paintings, but the pieces I saw by others had achieved so much more by including layers of opaque as well as transparent colors.

I had the beginnings of this painting sitting in my closet for about five years. All I had completed was a wash of three fluid acrylic colors applied at full strength. I set the painting aside because didn't know where to head next.  

This week it finally clicked.  I decided to use the original wash as a base for the steep cliffs.  The first thing I did was wet the paper and add a pale wash of transparent colors over the painting allowing the paint to drip toward the bottom. This created the soft glow of the sky and added some very subtle colors and texture to the the cliffs.  

Once dry I added some white and yellow opaque colors randomly over the cliffs, allowing them to drip from various heights of the cliffs.  After dry I repeated the process but added some pale tints to the white to add more texture and color over the base.  I used pale blue and coral washes along the edges which added some gray and lavender tints along the edges helping to keep my eye inside the painting.

I knew from the start that I wanted to add some abstracted trees to the tops of the cliffs.  When I started to add them I realized they needed to be quite small to help strengthen the height of the cliffs. I started by adding a few trunks and branches in masking fluid, adding color, added more mask branches, more color, repeating these steps as I added darker colors. Once I removed the mask I just had to add a couple lines here and there to finish the trees, but very little editing was needed.

I like the illusion of height and the textures of the cliffs in this semi-abstract painting.  What do you think about the result?  Do you see where this approach might solve problems in paintings you are stuck on?  I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

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