I have always loved Claude Monet's "Haystack" paintings - a series of paintings studying the effects of light on the piles of hay on his property in Giverny, France. When I travel in farm country, I am always looking for painting locations with bales of hay in the fields. Sometimes the bales are rolled and round, and other times they are cubed. But this summer, I was quite dismayed to find bales of hay shrink wrapped in white plastic. It's not a look that makes for a painting I want to paint! Here's a hay painting I did, called "Sonoma Hay." The original was sold, but prints are available. I am headed to Sonoma this week for a day or two of painting. I will be on the hunt for unwrapped hay bales before they disappear from the landscape!
Several months ago, I commented on a Facebook friend's picture of her three beautiful children on a beach, "I would LOVE to paint that."
What a thrill and surprise to get a message a few weeks ago asking if I would be interested and able to paint the image as a Christmas gift for the children's father.
Painting on an inch-thick birch panel treated with traditional gesso (marble dust and rabbit-skin glue), with brush and palette knife, allows the juicy texture of the paint brushstrokes to show on the surface.
It's an impressionistic landscape portrait that was a joy to paint. If you have a favorite image or location you would like captured and interpreted in oil paint, I'd be happy to discuss a commission with you!
I learned my color palette from a lineage of artists that traces its roots to Claude Monet.
It was a thrill to see his actual palette on display at the Musee Monet Marmottan in Paris. (I found out photos were not permitted AFTER I took this one. Luckily my camera was not confiscated, and none of the museum attendants caught me photographing ALL the paintings downstairs.)
I could see the familiar hues of yellow, red and blue -- though their names have changed over time. But what thrilled me was the mixtures they created. And what surprised me was the paint mixtures on the ages old palette seemed so untouched, uncleaned, and yet so fresh!
When I finish painting at the end of a day, I scrape my palette and save the pure colors and then I scrape up all the bits of color with a palette knife into new mixtures and save them for another day. Though I don't have anything particular in mind for them, I am always amazed at how the same limited number of colors I use can make so many different shades.
In today's batch alone, I came up with 7 different greens! When artists use the same consistent color paints, the finished painting has a color harmony.
So when people say to me, "I love your color!" it's because it all comes from the same colors.
I wonder if Monet kept his palette scrapings?
I came to touch the time-worn railings and floor, to smell the turpentine, to flick the brushes and stare at the jars of pigments -- to walk and shop in the same art supply store as Cezanne and Picasso. This is Sennelier, housed on the Left Bank of the River Seine in Paris, directly across from the Louvre museum.
My recent trip to France provided lots of visual inspiration - the flowers at Giverny, the countryside of Normandy, the seaside towns of Deauville, Trouville, Honfleur and Entretat. Everywhere I went, the beloved Impressionist artists had been before.
But visiting Sennelier, a family-owned business since 1887 - that was retail heaven!