Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunflower Fields at Petit Rousset

"Sunflower Fields at Petit Rousset"
Dordogne region of France
11" x 14"
Welcome to several people who recently became followers of this blog: Benjamin Rowan from Australia, Marie Theron of South Africa, Mary Lou Arnold, and Chris Casey from Tasmania. What an international group of artists!

Today was my second and final private lesson on acrylics with Joyce Barron Leopardo. I learned about using acrylics as watermedia. I had watched Stephen Quiller's DVD on the same subject, loaned to me by Joyce last week, so I had an idea of what can be done with acrylics. Joyce selected a subject dear to our hearts, our 2007 trip to France with master artist Mike Bailey. We stayed at a beautiful old farm house used for educational vacations. We lucked out with weather -- we got the only two good weeks that summer in France, and the sunflowers were in full bloom behind the house. We could see a farm across the sunflowers and the rolling hills of the Dordogne region.

Joyce had already done our sketches to save us time, as I was there to learn acrylics, not sketching. We painted together. She limited our palette to a triad, a frequently used Quiller method, and I selected Azo yellow, cobalt blue, and cadmium red medium. However, I ended up also using just a bit of a deeper yellow that Joyce was using. We wanted to suggest the warm haze over the countryside. We developed the painting by first laying in color on the barn and then glazing the paper with an underpainting of yellow. Everytime we added a layer of paint and allowed the mingling that we wanted, we would use a hairdryer to completely dry the surface. The major difference between acrylics and watercolor at this point was the fact that acylics, once dry, don't lift, so it's easy to glaze over the underlayers. One has to remember that they dry very quickly so you must work fast.

We wanted the sunflowers on the left to predominate, so those I painted more distinctly. The remainder are very subtley suggested. At one point, we glazed some yellow on a diagonal from the upper right corner to the lower left corner. After darkening the barn, and major trees left and right, I added the hint of trees in the receding background by wetting the paper and letting the colors mingle and drip. Finally, we glazed the sky with the red and yellow and spritzed it with water to allow the color to flow over the countryside, unifying the painting. Joyce finished the piece by matting it and putting it in a glacine bag. Joyce is such a wonderful teacher and she kept talking design and value throughout the lesson.

When I finished this painting and showed it to Bob, he asked if it was acrylics as it looks like watercolor. Joyce loaned me a Quiller book (I have one, but not this one), and I want to try his techniques where he creates transparent, translucent, and opaque areas for maximum glow. The painting we did today is mostly transparent with small passage of opaque color. I did not use any translucent paints, which you make by mixing color with white before applying it to the paper. I found the acrylic colors to be more saturated than watercolor.

I received word that the owner of the commissioned painting, "Autumn at the Paquet Family Farm," received the painting in Connecticut, and she and her family are very pleased with the piece.


Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, This is lovely! It has a watercolor feel to it. The mood makes me want to be there.

Kathy said...

You know Mike! Me, too. He's inspirational and lots of fun. I like the atmospheric effect of your painting!

Claire M said...

Lovely painting! Interesting to try different materials.

Megha Chhatbar said...

Hey Mary! Nice to see you enjoying the art! Really fantastic painting and I love the colors too...

Mary Paquet said...

Thanks to everyone who checked in. Joyce is such a great teacher and she really guided my thought process on this one. The real test is to continue successfully on my own. I am rereading my Quiller book on acrylics now.

Christiane Kingsley said...

What an interesting post! Thank you for sharing your experience and experiments with acrylic.
Your painting is very lovely and I love how you suggested the background.

Mary Paquet said...

Christiane, thanks for your encouragement. I do like the suggested background. The negative painting was also fun to do in the lower left corner.

Marie Theron said...

A lovely technique, I like how you just emphasize some aspects of the work very lightly. The flowers complete the work well and the eye is never bored.

Mary I love your comments about my wheatfield painting, and the description of cycling through such fields in the States.

Mary Paquet said...

Marie, thanks for the encouragement on this piece. You are a wonderful artist and I am enjoying your blog.