Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Shoulders back, chest out

oil painting, Shoulders back, chest out a rooster at dawn, pet portrait by karen
A palette knife painting, except for his beak and eye. I was interested in capturing the iridescence in his breast and tail feathers, as well as the colour of dawn. 
I went up to the top of my (long) garden in the very early dawn light with my dog the other morning and was struck by how everything - all the trees, the grass, everything you might expect to be green - was many shades of a violet tinged grey. At the very top of the garden were some larger shapes, much darker, also a violet-tinged grey but with flashes of white. I thought it was curious as those shapes weren't there yesterday. 
All of a sudden, the shapes seemed to shimmer and dissolve, like shapes in one of those kaleidoscopes you held to your eye as a child. And a small herd of deer shimmered across the lawn and over the bank. 
I thought a small, shimmering herd was beyond my powers, so here is a rooster instead.
The concept of painting shapes rather than things is illustrated by this story. I have found it hard to understand how to work this way, although I know this is how all the masters painted. But I am getting a little better. I no longer say 'this beak' or 'this nose': I look at the large shape of whatever it is and then try to paint all the smaller shapes of dark and light within it. It does make for accuracy if you can do it. Maybe one day I might be able to do it well enough to paint a herd of deer shimmering in the dawn. But not yet.

The iridescent blue green was made using Rembrandt Sap Green and Managnese Blue. Fabulous colours, very strong pigments but also transparent. They also take an age to dry. I painted this last week and it is still too sticky to ship.