Colorful Fridays-Blow Out Blue

Hummingbird6x6-6/18

If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.”  Paul Gauguin (from Sensational Color)

Phthalo Blue is anything but a soft, peaceful calming blue.  Phthalo Blue will knock the socks off of any mix it comes in contact with.  Phthalo Blue is not for the feeble hearted.  Generally blues are thought to be the color of quietness for soothing the soul.  Or blues can also refer to sadness or depression as in “a case of the blues.”  Whoever coined that phrase clearly had never met the Phthalos.  The Phthalos are anything but soothing or depressing.

Phthalo Blue comes either with red undertones for a bluer blue or green undertones for a strong green.  Winsor Newton first introduced a Phthalo Blue in 1938 known as Winsor Blue to replace “the capricious less reliable Prussian Blue.”  Winsor Newton says Winsor Blue has good tinting properties but cautions to take care when using.  Winsor Blue and Phthalo Blue can quickly “overpower.”  Artist David Rourke says the Phthalo’s are “beautiful, lightfast and high in chroma.”  But he doesn’t use them because “they are too bloody strong.”  Artist Stapleton Kearns finds Phthalo’s “strength a drawback,” but says it also can be used to make “great greens.”

 Sensational Color says, “not all blues are serene and sedate.  Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic—an engaging color that expresses exhilaration.”  Phthalo Blue is the in -your -face blue.  If you must make a statement but just can’t go red, Phthalo Blue can do the trick.  Phthalo Blue will muscle its way in and take over, squeezing out all others.  Most blues drift in wafting around in a whisper sliding carefully over the furniture.  Phthalo Blue charges in knocking down everything in the path.  Sometimes you just want to make a blow-out production that won’t be soon forgotten.  That’s the time to call in the Phthalo Blue.  But look out.  He may take over.

 

(PS: I cannot paint a hummingbird without the Phthalos!)

Chasing Inspiration

Great Blue Heron, oil on canvas

These beautiful wading birds capture my imagination every time I see one. I would love to pinpoint exactly why but can’t. At times, I am awed by the sheer elegance of Great Blues as they take off for flight. Other days they seem to be playing hide and seek. Strutting along the edge of a body of water, they appear arrogant and snobby. I keep chasing them around different bodies of water with my camera. As I click, click, click with the camera, these herons get a little more familiar and I think of more ways I want to paint them.

Great Blur Heron in flight over Kentucky Lake.

The wing span is amazing as this Great Blue flies off over Kentucky Lake. He was fishing on the shore until our boat got too close and he took off. I’d like to watch the take off in slow motion as the wings open the legs bend to push off. As he gains altitude, the legs straighten out behind and he tucks his long neck down with his head and beak in line with the legs. Its a majestic sight. I haven’t painted one in this position yet but will soon!

Great Blue standing by the water at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

This guy looks decidedly grumpy. The scowl on his face is priceless. He didn’t move as I snapped photos but looked like he’d like to tell me what to do with my camera. He’s probably next up on the canvas. I can’t resist that expression!

The painting above was inspired by a Great Blue I encountered on the beach at Alligator Point in Florida. He was hanging out with a few brown pelicans, some Black Skimmers and a gang of Laughing Gulls. After a few minutes of looking out at the water as the sun was going down, he turned and arrogantly sauntered off into the sunset. His beautiful blue head and lighter blue back feathers became more vivid against the back drop of the orange sky reflecting on the sand as the setting sun slowly dropped.

Poetic Musings

Seagull at sunset

“I want to paint the way a bird sings.” Claude Monet

Sometimes I wish I could compose beautiful poetry.  If I could, I’d write some lines about the beauty of a bird in flight, the graceful curve of the wing, the focused determination in the eye, head down, feet up. There is just something magical in the sight of a bird soaring through the air that begs for poetry.

If I could be a storyteller, I’d make up a story about the birds chattering in the trees and swooping down to the feeder to snatch a morsel or two.  I wonder if they talk to each other?  They make funny little noises when they congregate in the trees around the feeder.  I imagine them gossiping about who’s hogging all the seed or who flew off for a few days and didn’t tell the others where they were going or whose feathers were looking a little shabby.  Can cardinals understand the chatter of chickadees? Do finches converse with sparrows?

Since I am not a poet or a storyteller, I paint birds. Sometimes I paint the single bird in a stance I believe to be a pose for the camera.  At other times, I paint them in groups or pairs and arrange them as though they are conversing.  While I paint them, I imagine what they are thinking and what would they say if they could talk? Maybe they do talk. I just don’t understand bird language.

Since joining the American Birding Association, I am learning more about different birds and bird behavior.  My camera has become a constant companion as I wander around searching for subjects to paint.  Every now and then, I capture the image of one I don’t know so I go to the ABA’s bird identification Facebook page, “What’s this Bird?” I post the image. The identification returns quickly and my bird knowledge expands.

As I learn more about which bird is which and why one swoops and another soars, I’ll go on wondering if they talk amongst themselves or if they concentrate on each flight and not on what their companions are doing?  Maybe a story will come to me. Or possibly some lines of poetry will pop into my head.  Perhaps a painting will be a poem one day or possibly tell a story. Paraphrasing Monet, I hope to paint like birds fly. In the meantime, I’ll just keeping painting.

New Year’s Resolution: More Stealing

You stealing from me???

“Good artists copy, great artists steal,” Picasso as quoted from “Real Artists Don’t Starve” by Jeff Goins

A couple of weeks ago, I was standing around in a FedEx Office store waiting for the computer guy to finish my project when in the distance I spotted the word, “Artists” in the title of a book on the rack where there are usually books on sales and other business type information.  “Artists” is never a featured word in the title of sales and business books. It just isn’t done.  Artists aren’t considered business types. We’re too flakey, or whatever, to be taken seriously by the business world.  I moved in for a closer look.

And guess what??? It was a business book, believe it or not, for artists! Oh Glory!  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Of course I had to buy it!  Not just because it was for the business of artists, the title was so intriguing too!  The book is called, “Real Artists Don’t Starve,” and even better, it is written by fellow Nashvillian, Jeff Goins.  So far it is a red meat book for all artists.  I haven’t gone far in the book because I am caught up in Chapter Two.  Most likely, I will re-read this chapter a few times before progressing to Chapter Three, because it is so good. Chapter Two encourages artists to steal from other artists.

Stealing???  I’m shocked! Scare bleu!  (To steal a phrase from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.)  A deeper dive into the second chapter and I find I have been stealing since my very first painting when I was eight years old. That first painting was stolen from Van Gogh and I have been stealing ever since.  After Van Gogh, I have stolen from my other idols like Degas, Bonnard, Wolf Khan and Georgia O’Keefe.  And that’s just for starters!  The list gets really long, when it moves to today’s contemporary artists.

Goins point is, as he quotes from the bible, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  And he’s right.  There isn’t. The wise artist sees that. According to Goins, we spend a lot of wasted time trying to be original without realizing who we are as artists is original!  Unless you are a forger, most likely you are not copying exactly but are taking pieces from another artist, or artists, to create something new. We learn from those who have gone before.  We honor those who inspire us when we spend time copying from them.  More than that, when you follow a teacher’s direction, you are stealing ideas and techniques from that teacher. And that’s a good thing!

This New Year, I am resolving to do more stealing!

Happy stealing, to you, for the coming year!!

You can pick up a copy of “Real Artists Don’t Starve” at Amazon, Barnes and Noble here, or from Goins web site: www.goinswriter.com

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/real-artists-dont-starve-jeff-goins/1125138266

https://goinswriter.com