“The shape of things”. Painted February 2022. 11″x14″. Acrylic on canvas textured board.
Day 23 of the Opus Daily Practice Challenge. Prompt word “Transformative”.
Yesterday’s exercise was all about discovering and abstracting shapes. Today’s prompt word was “transformative”, so I spent the day transforming the ideas I explored in yesterday’s drawing into a painting based on the same source photo. This photo was taken in the botanical gardens in Buenos Aires. The 17-acre garden is absolutely beautiful, and you can easily spend a day exploring the various theme gardens. There were a large selection of exotic succulents, so I took several photos that focused on the textures, colours and shapes of these plants. Although the painting is true to the photo, the angle that I took the photo and the shapes formed by the cast shadows makes this painting more abstract than representational.
Since I’ve never done any abstract painting before, this was an interesting experience. I enjoyed focusing on the rhythmic forms created by the shape of the leaves and the cast shadows. I also chose a palette with vivid hues, which certainly reminded me of the colourful tropical gardens. I consider this a test painting which is why I chose to use the canvas textured board. At some point I’ll turn this into a legitimate painting.
“In the moment”. Painted February 2022. 10″x10″. Acrylic on cradled wood panel.
I’ve been doing a month long challenge sponsored by the local art supply company Opus. Today’s prompt word was “present”, which I interpreted to mean “being present” or in the moment.
True to my Scottish heritage, I can’t stand wasting paint, so when my stay-wet palette gets a bit too messy I use the remaining paint to lay down some foundation colours on my next canvas. These colours usually don’t represent anything, but it ensures that I start the next painting on a pre-toned canvas and sometimes happy accidents occur.
This time, prompted by the Opus Challenge, I decided to just paint in the moment, letting the painting evolve organically and using whatever paint was on the palette and a very OLD and SCRUFFY brush that I’ve found is good at blending acrylic paint. I also didn’t rinse my brush out between each colour change, which made for some very interesting blends.I usually approach a painting with a plan in mind. In this case, I didn’t have any idea what was emerging, but then I started to think about the pinkish-orange blush that early morning clouds get in the summer, just before the sun peaks over the horizon. I think this would be a great study for a future landscape, although the chances that I could ever recreate it again are slim to nil.
Sweet Reflections. Painted February 2022. 24”x24”. Acrylic on Canvas.
Just a few hundred meters away from the Bluff is a heron rookery, so it is very common to find a heron standing motionless on shoreline rocks near the bottom of our ramp in a perfectly transcendental state. If an animal can exist totally in the moment, at one with the world around them, it would be herons at sunset on the Salish Sea. I would like to believe that they are reflecting on the beauty in front of them, considering great meta-physical questions about life and the universe, although it is more likely that they are just keeping a keen eye out for a slow fat fish to swim by their rock.
I didn’t intend for this painting to be quite as colourful as it turned out to be, but the setting sun was creating a rainbow effect on the clouds, which in turn reflected on the mirror surface of the water and even on the rocks along the shoreline. I decided to open up my palette and just let the colours sing. I’m finally getting a technique that allows me to smoothly blend colours in acrylic paint and achieve the effects I am looking for. Since everything was bathed in a soft evening light, the only hard edges were on the foreground rocks and the heron.
This is my 48th painting and I finally feel like I’m starting to make progress. I am usually not satisfied with a painting when I’m done. There are always several items I would fix or change if I could. I think this is the first time where the results have aligned with my expectations and I’m happy to move on to my next painting. It was an enjoyable painting to paint and I hope it’s going to cheer up any wall on which it is hung.