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Archive for the ‘Oil Painting’ Category

Ice Tea again

It is often said that artists can create the world the way they wish it would be!  This may be true of most of the arts, and many crafts as well—where one is fashioning beauty from ashes—or victory in the midst of something that seems like defeat.  In my poetry, I have often featured the presence of light in apparently dark circumstances.

Without getting more ponderous, when indeed my mood is upbeat as I share with you, the above painting is the world the way I’m eager to experience it—and will in a few weeks.  Having lived in Wisconsin for all but three of my eighty-four years, I should know (and do!) that April in my home state is not like “April in Paris”.

Sometimes we get teased a bit with warm splashes, and these are meant to be savored but not viewed as the permanent seasonal weather change.  Meanwhile, we can paint (sing, write, dance) whatever weather we want—thereby creating our own reality:  our own private world.  A case in point is this painting, titled “Ice Tea Again”, reflecting a pastime which is HUGE in my estimation:  drinking ice tea on our patio beside our pretty little patio garden, while watching the birds and chipmunks that enjoy the hospitality of our feeders.

I have done many ice tea type paintings, but this one is unique.  Were you to actually see the painting, now framed in a 16″ by 20″ softly gilded frame, you would probably observe that something new has been added:  touches of mixed medium accents which add texture and individuality to the piece.

At this moment two amazing British artists—Ann Blockley and Soraya French—are vitalizing, coaching, and inspiring me via books and (in Ann’s case) DVDs to experiment with mixed media.  So “extras” have been added to this watercolor and gouache rendering, including areas of enhanced color on and around the flower shapes made with hard pastel pencils and Derwent Inktense sticks.  The winding vines were formed by streaking India ink from a pipette and letting it ooze around on the damp paper.  You may notice the sketchy lines drawn by oil pastels* in areas alongside the vines.  And, as always, thick applications of gouache have covered a plethora of boo-boos.

The above-mentioned artists, and many others, stress the importance of playing with the mediums, learning what they can do and not worrying about the outcome.  JUST PLAY!  This really appeals to me after a rather dragged out autumn and winter beginning with the loss of my beloved corgi in October and adding a challenging shoulder replacement to the mix.  I intend to play, while drinking volumes of ice tea!

Included in the “play”, is the fact that I am diving into water soluble oils.  This is happening at my newly acquired hardwood easel.  The easel doesn’t work for watercolor painting, as there is not room enough in the bedroom studio to flatten out the surface.  But oils can be done on a tilt.  While watercolors, gouache, and mixed medium play happens at my dining room studio, oils are slowly drying and developing on the easel.

Margaret L Been — April 14th, 2008

*When I received my order from DICK BLICK of a beautiful, magenta colored wood box of 60 oil pastels (Van Gogh brand) I reverted to childhood.  I can’t express the wonder and joy of running my fingers over the surface of these sticks, marveling at the gorgeous color gradations.

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More Rose up a FountainGarden in GouacheOn the Edgeblue and old pottery 2Out Back

These a only a few of my watercolor paintings which have been enhanced with gouache, a water soluble medium which is opaque unless greatly thinned with water.  Gouache does not dry permanently, as does acrylic paint; thus it really is a watercolor and it needs to be preserved behind glass.  But gouache adds heft and body, when desired.  In fact, gouache is also called “body color”.

More and more, I am adding some gouache to my foundation of transparent watercolors:  either a touch here and there, or larger areas built up to accentuate texture and brushstrokes.  My goal is to achieve a resemblance to the richness of oils.

I do have water-soluble oil paints, and have used them on occasion.  But the lengthy drying time puts me off, as I don’t have a lot of excess space in which to store works in progress.  Also, I don’t want to completely abandon transparency.  So transparent watercolors and gouache are the perfect combination for me.  And I think I have fallen in love with gouache!

Margaret L. Been — January 26, 2016

Red Cabin in Winter

Old Town

Proud

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The Softness of Dawn I

Recently my husband and I were treated to a visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum, where an exhibition of Rembrandts was on display.  My art museum experience is limited, so I was the quintessential country bumpkin—totally awed and “wow-ed” by the size and richness of Rembrandt’s paintings.  (However, most of them were self-portraits.  One portrayal of Rembrandt goes a long way!)

Obviously, there is nothing like the medium of oils to capture depth and complexity of texture.  Acrylics may mock the effect, yet somehow they look “so acrylic”!  Meanwhile due to the fumes and my dicky pulmonary tubes, oils were never a consideration for me when I began my love affair with art. 

But I have no regrets!  I’m totally besotted with my watercolors—more and more as time passes and I become more versant in the beautiful language of transparency.   

The above rendering was achieved effortlessly—in fact all I did was charge transparent paint onto wet paper.  The water and paint did the rest.  This technique is intensely satisfying.  There can never be a duplication or a knock off, when an artist steps back while letting the materials make the art. 

This humbling experience reminds me that maybe I’m not really an artist at all—but rather just a facilitator.  Obviously, Rembrandt and others of his genius—past and present—really have been and are artists.  But for me, I’m thoroughly delighted with “The Gift to Be Simple”!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

NOTE:  Although most water soluble paints (including acrylics and gouache) can be thinned to a modicum of semi-transparency, some watercolors are highly transparent.  Any watercolor starting with the word “Quinacridone” will be transparent, as will many of the Winsor & Newton paints.  As well as Winsor & Newton, I also use (the very affordable, professional quality) American Journey Paints.  American Journey has a gorgeous bluey-greenish transparent color called “June Bug”.  

Regardless of brand Permanent Magenta, Alizarin Crimson, Dioxazine Purple, Indigo, and French Ultramarine are normally transparent.  Gamboge (a gloriously rich yellow) is semi-transparent.  These, along with June Bug, are major players in most of my paintings.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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I have been doing some fascinating GOOGLING, on the subject of the revered Old Masters of art.  According to one well-known contemporary British artist*, the Old Masters were not really masters at all:  they were just a bunch of tricksters.  This critic claims that they only pretended to paint by “eyeballing” live subjects in their studios, that no human could ever paint like the Masters appeared to paint from observation—and that instead they achieved their art by means of secret pre-camera optical devices, boxes with pinpoint holes in them, etc.

How ridiculous, to the point of being sick!  The claim that the Masters were tricksters is as outrageous as to say that Bach didn’t really compose his classic works from his innate genius and disciplined musical studies, but rather that he used some kind of pre-electronic musical gimmick.  Such buffoonery ranks with the spurious “experts” who expound that Shakespeare didn’t really write all of his plays—a claim which drives us lovers of classical literature nearly off the wall with anger.

One cogent writer on the issue of debunking the Old Masters states that denying the reality of genius (in any field) reflects the current trend to bring every human down to the same level.  This trend is a denial of the truth that we are made in the image of a Creative God—and a mockery of the fact that each one of us is unique.  We are not stamped out of the same mold, randomly produced by a chaotic Big Bang!

I respect and acknowledge the genuis behind the Old Masters of art just as I acknowledge the genuis of Shakespeare and Milton, Bach and Mozart, Da Vinci and Einstein.  And it should not take a genuis to realize that there are exceptional individuals in every arena of human endeavor, manifested in diverse areas from the galleries of Le Louvre to the playing field of the Green Bay Packers!  (This Wisconsin person had to put that in!  🙂 )

Having said all that, I’ll move from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Unlike the Old Masters, my art is a bag of tricks.  Whereas there is such a thing as genius in art, there is also such a thing as folk art and simply having fun.  Art is big! Fortunately there’s room for anyone who wants to grab a paint brush and go for it.

The above “not masterpiece” is full of fun tricks which anyone can perform:  1)  The speckles (on the gold background and in the reddish flowers) were created by rubbing water soluble colored pencils on an emery board nail file and letting the grit fall on wet paint.  2)  Colored pencils were also used to shade around the letters, inside the handle of the jug on the right, between flower petals, etc.  Then a wet brush loaded with paint of a similar-in-range color transformed the pencil marks and blended them into the actual paint.  3)  Those charming blotches on the (presumed to be) teapot at the left were achieved by dabbing a balled-up tissue on parts of the wet paint.  4)  The letters were templates from a child’s magnetic alphabet.  5)  The bird’s nest type thingy on the lower right of the painting was formed by that completely no-brain device known as a stencil.

So you see, I am not an Old Master (although I am fairly “old”).  I’m just a happy folk artist with a bag of tricks!”

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*For more on the ridiculous mockery of the Old Masters, you can GOOGLE:  “Why David Hockney Should Not Be Taken Seriously”, by Brian Yoder.

And here is yet another “artist in training” at my dining room table atelier:  our great-grandson James.  Who knows?  Perhaps he’ll move beyond the tricks and become one of the “greats”!  ↓  Human potential is an awesome thing!

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I wonder if there ever could be a more widely known and beloved painter than Monet!  Throughout the ages and centuries of Western Civilization art, some of the Renaissance masterpieces comprise what we could term the highest art—due to their richness, representation of genius, complexity, the variety of surfaces on which they were painted, and the Biblical themes they depict.  But when it comes to a universal love for paintings that we can live with, I believe the artist of choice would be Claude Monet.

Considered the “father” of Impressionism, that 19th century movement which revolutionized the art community in Paris and throughout Europe and America, Monet differed radically from some of his also famous contemporaries such as Manet, Renoir, and Degas in that—as he developed—Monet concentrated mainly on landscapes, water, and gardens while his fellow artists painted social gatherings at Parisian cafés, ballerinas, and nudes.

In his early years Monet traveled and painted around France, particularly to areas bordering the sea.  He evacuated for a brief period to London, during the Franco-Prussian war, and London became his favorite European city—perhaps partly due to the ever changing nuances of light and fog on the River Thames. 

In variance with his gregarious artist friends, Monet was a solitude-loving family man.  He is most widely remembered for his home and the gardens which he created at Giverny, about forty miles northwest of Paris, where he lived for forty some years.  The gardens deteriorated over the decades after Monet’s death in 1926, but since the late 1970s they have been restored to their former glory.  Monet was a master gardener who loved every inch of his turf as well as the ponds and Japanese foot bridge which he designed.  His plantings were conceived and arranged with his palette in mind, and he has left gardeners and art lovers a treasure of tranquil beauty.  

How many homes, perhaps some without even realizing it, contain traces of this artist/genius who helped to move the art mentality from a penchant for rigid, detailed reality to the more illusive and painterly qualities of color analysis and intricacy?  Below, you will find my tribute to a painter whom I love, an umbrella with a Monet print hanging from our living room ceiling—to the puzzlement of the little folks who visit here; they have never seen such unusual interior decorating in any other home. ↓ 

I love Monet for his Impressionistic mark, and even more for later pioneering the subsequent phases of art history—Post Impressionism and the beginnings of Abstract Expressionism.  Unlike some later Abstract painters who had an agenda (either political, social, or personal) to shock or debunk, Monet produced work that was life affirming.  He painted the scenes around his home and land, over and over—recording the times of day and changing seasons in haystacks, surrounding fields, and the famous ponds and gardens of Giverny.

Margaret L. Been

Note:  I am adding to my “Simply Art” page—trying to remember to add something at least once a week.  Today’s addition is my very latest watercolor on Yupo paper, titled “Country Roads”.  Now is the time of year when those roads beckon us and lead us into months of wonderful surprises and advenures!

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