5x7 oil on canvas board
Last week I joined a group of painters for three days at the Senior Center in Fitchburg. Most were people I have known for several years, mostly folks who work exclusively in watercolors. I wanted to paint there to see them, get some feedback on my work, and to have a cool place to work. I emailed ahead to see if I could use my water mixable oils, since the cleanup only requires soap and water, no stinky solvents. I got the OK, so I packed up my kit and headed out for three days.
This little painting of my brother-in-law is based on a snapshot I took of him about ten years ago. He loves his tractors, and it showed in the picture. I did a monotype of this image, even framed it, but over time I've come to like that version less and less, and wanted something I liked better to replace the monotype. This is what I have so far. I think the face needs to be darker, hidden under the hat as it is, so I think I'll need to go back in later, though I mostly don't like to keep fiddling with oils. I do like the simple shapes and colors in this.
5x7 inches, oil on canvas board
This is another interpretation of an old snapshot of my mother seated at the picnic table by the farmhouse where we lived when I was growing up. I think what attracted me was her voluminous skirt, tailored blouse, and heels. She must have been headed out somewhere, maybe to meet up with one of her high school girlfriends who lived in Elkhorn. This had to be in the 1950s, since by the 1960s she mostly wore slacks and tops, and wore her hair shorter.
I approached both of these little paintings the same way, drawing out the figures first in pencil, then painting the image in gray scale in acrylic, to work out the values and make adjustments. Then I went in with oils and added the color. The lightest lights and darkest darks were already worked out, so that made the oil painting straightforward and fun.
I like painting this way, working from photos of people I know, making adjustments in composition, painting out thinks that are distractions, like the lawn chairs that cluttered up the original photo of Mother. It pleases me to look at these photos carefully, and put them in paintings that are a bit nostalgic for other people as well as myself.