Welcome to my Studio!


Daily Oil Paintings of Kathryn Townsend. The paintings posted on this blog are a journal of process. Daily practice, exploration and experimentation are the life blood of the artist's way.

All images are copyright of Kathryn Townsend Website: http://KathrynTownsend.com

“A man learns to skate by staggering around making a fool of
himself: indeed he progresses in all things by making a fool of
himself.” --George Bernard Shaw


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Pot

3/31/10 "Green Pot", 10" x 10", Oil
This painting is an exercise in trying to harmonize greens and yellows.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Red Pitcher - NFS

3/30/10 "Red Pitcher", 10" x 10", Oil  NFS
Robert Genn's recent article, Birth Notice, gives an excellent rationale for putting your work out there.  It pretty much coincides with my experience about daily painting.  Let me know if you want to be "daily painting buddies!"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pitcher with Yellow Apples

3/29/10 "Pitcher with Yellow Apples", 9" x 9", Oil
The challenge of this painting was to try out a new canvas--an inexpensive but good quality acrylic primed cotton canvas made here in the USA--I'm trying to buy US-made products when I can.  However unfortunately, the canvas has no grab at all--it is pretty non-absorbent. So I'm still looking for a good quality pre-primed canvas that has some absorbent properties, if anyone knows of any.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Yellow Apple

3/28/10 "Yellow Apple", 8" x 10", Oil
Artists who are really good at drawing can create the perfect oval of a bowl or jar in one sweep of the brush.  The rest of us resort to mirrors to see the image in reverse to determine where we have gone wrong.  I have a tendency to slant just about everything, so I have to be careful about this and by reversing the image, especially on the computer, the error is sometimes dramatic and obvious.  The oval of this bowl is not perfect, but it is better than the first one I tried!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Early Spring, Nisqually

3/27/10 "Early Spring, Nisqually", 10" x 8", Oil
Because of a back problem, my trip to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge today for a Plein Air Washington paintout was short lived. But the colors were beautiful there, very pale, and I wanted to try doing a painting from memory back in my studio.  So this is a studio painting with hopefully a plein air flavor.  I was trying to capture the feeling of the place, not any exact location.  I think painting from memory is an excellent exercise and has all sorts of possibilities for interesting experiments.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Two Pears One Apple

3/26/10 "Two Pears One Apple", 10" x 8", Oil
I have a stack of panels that have a non-absorbent gesso--the "ordering mistake" gesso.  But I thought I'd try painting on these just for the experience.  Its a little like painting on plastic--the brush pulls off paint as easily as it puts in on.  So I had to work at laying on the paint.

BTW--I've written an article on my main website blog about what I've learned so far from this daily blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yellow Roses Green Apples

3/25/10 "Yellow Roses Green Apples", 16" x 12", Oil 
This painting went through many iterations related to the color/value of the table top and the color/value of the background.  This is the latest one.  If I'd had more daylight, I might have experimented more.  At one point I completely lost contrast between the table top and the background, which is in itself is not a bad thing, but both were too close in value and color to the vase, so it just didn't work.  I also used fake green apples and the color was hard to harmonize.  Have to get some more real apples!  The colors are so much better.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reading

3/24/10 "Reading", 11" x 14" Oil
This painting was a challenge all the way around and I'll probably wake up tomorrow and look at it and want to "fix it."  But challenges are what make painting so interesting and also fun.  Yesterday I took slides of the painting as I went along and created my first video.  So if you want to see how I muddle through a painting--it is posted on the blog--and for those of you who know one of my favorite models--a clip of her music that is fabulous.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Girl with a Yellow Scarf - NFS

3/23/10 "Girl with a Yellow Scarf", 14" x 11", Oil  NFS
I purposely left parts of this painting sketchy because it is more interesting to me.  Because of peripheral vision, the eye does not focus on everything equally.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Girl with Long Hair

3/22/10 "Girl with Long Hair", 14" x 11", Oil
One of the approaches that some artists take is to "stay as loose as you can, as long as you can."  This sometimes means that, especially at the beginning, you draw the brush across edges rather that up to edges.  This is the approach that I experimented with in this painting and I'm planning on doing more of this type of experiment.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

San Miguel Cathedral in Fog - NFS

2/15/10 "San Miguel Cathedral in Fog", 8" x 10", Oil NFS
I spent the whole day working on a slide show project for my daughter's graduation and I didn't paint at all.  I learned a new skill--how to put a slide show into a movie with music, and I am quite pleased with myself!  This painting is another of the series of roof top paintings that I did in San Miguel in February.  One morning the entire valley was covered in mist and fog and the colors were extraordinary.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Liz in Pink

3/20/10 "Liz in Pink", 10" x 10", Oil
This is an experiment with a different palette for the skin tones--more yellows, though I'm not sure the photo really shows that.  I tried to make this portrait more simplified.

 Detail of "Liz in Pink".  Everything is very soft about this portrait, because it was from a photo of my daughter at a younger age--middle school age.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Girl with Pony Tail

3/19/10 "Girl With Pony Tail", 10" x 12", Oil
It is always interesting to me that some days the painting goes pretty well and other days it is a complete struggle.  Maybe not so oddly, it is often the painting that is a struggle that provides the motivation for the next painting, while one that seems to paint itself creates a kind of lessening of interest.  This painting was a struggle.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Contemplation - NFS

3/17/10 "Contemplation", 10" x 10", Oil NFS
This is a study of a tilted head.  The amazing thing about painting is that there are so many different things to try and experiment with. I'm also beginning to enjoy using the linen with the less absorbent surface.  This is a #12 Claessens oil primed canvas.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Girl In Pink

3/17/10 "Girl In Pink", 12" x 10", Oil
I'd rather paint models from life, but this one is from a photograph.  This painting and the one from yesterday are like wading into the water to get my feet wet--trying to orient myself to a different subject matter.  I painted this on primed linen canvas rather than the museum board and the ground is less absorbent, so that was also something I had to deal with.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Liz with Gray Scarf

3/16/10 "Liz with Gray Scarf", 14" x 11", Oil
Since I am getting sick of still lifes, and since my daughter is home, I decided to try a portrait, something I haven't done many of for a few years.  Portraits are hard!  I'm going to have to do more of them in order to get to a place where I feel like I'm going in the right direction.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bottle

3/15/10 "Bottle", 6" x 6", Oil
I didn't have much time today, so my goal was to see if I could make something of a really simple setup.  Not sure I succeeded, but sometimes you just have to paint and see what happens.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Still Life with Bananas - NFS

3/14/10 "Still life with Bananas", 10" x 12", Oil NFS
This is actually a still life I did in San Miguel de Allende on a rainy, windy day.  We decided to set up a still life indoors.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pitcher

3/13/10 "Pitcher", 12" x 10", Oil
This is a simple composition and another attempt to paint the light coming from the opaque skylight.  I left the background dark and transparent.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oranges

3/12/10 "Oranges", 9" x 9", Oil
A quote from my small red book on Sergei Bongart:  "Still life set up...just a departure; an excuse for design and color."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bottle Bananas Apples

3/11/10 "Bottle Bananas Apples", 12" x 8", Oil
I decided to try this one again with a slightly different composition.  The bananas now are really ripe and will have to go, but they were fun to paint!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grand Marnier and Bananas

3/10/10 "Grand Marnier and Bananas", 12" x 10", Oil
I decided to put a timer on this painting in order to focus my attention better. Its easier for me to focus when painting out of doors because the light changes so quickly I am forced into it. In the studio, there are more distractions. I'm not sure I like the white bottle--I like the color as contrast, but maybe not the fact that it is sticking up out of the painting--an experiment in cropping.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Custard Dish and Spoon

3/9/10 "Custard Dish with Spoon", 8" x 8", Oil
I'm not actually sure this is a custard dish, but it was fun to paint.  This painting is a little abstract and I was having fun with saturated color.

One of my subscribers asked me about how I prep the panels, what kind of gesso I use and how I lay in the paint.  I either use cut pre-primed linen for these smaller paintings, or more frequently, panels made from 4-ply all cotton rag museum board.  I get the museum board in 32 x 40 sheets and seal them on both sides with Gamblin PVA glue.  Then I roll on (with fine white roller) three coats of Basic Liquitex Gesso (not Liquitex Pro) to one side of the sheet.  Then sometimes I put an imprimatura (transparent toned ground) on the entire sheet.  Lately I've been using ivory black/ultramarine mixture diluted in Gamsol.  I put this on with a large foam brush.  Then I cut the panels with my mat cutter.  Of course everything has to dry in between layers.

I usually start the painting with a rough structural sketch (meaning placement/design rather than detail), then a thin layer of paint (not diluted with turp or spirits) using a big brush such as a #10 filbert or #10 round bristle brush) with big flat shapes of color to develop the value structure of the design and the color structure of the design.  Then I go back with thicker paint to work and finish the painting.  It doesn't always go like this from start to finish--if something is not working, then I may scrape off paint or redefine the design with structural lines.  This is just a general outline.

Hope this answers the questions!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Red Vase

3/7/10 "Red Vase", 12" x 10", Oil
Painting red is a challenge--and photographing it to get all the nuances of red is also a challenge and doesn't always work.

Friday, March 5, 2010

White Bowl with Orange

3/5/10 "White Bowl with Orange", 10" x 10", Oil
The thing I probably like the most about painting is finding color harmonies.  This one is about yellow/orange and its complement, blue/violet.

Purchase this unframed painting for $115.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two Apples

3/4/10 "Two Apples", 9" x 9", Oil
This was a quick study under a studio light.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Green Mug with Orange -- SOLD

3/3/10 "Green Mug with Orange", 12" x 9", Oil
I've been working on set ups with close values, so here was trying to get more value contrast.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Roses with Apple -- SOLD

3/2/10 "Roses with Apple", 12" x 12", Oil
This is similar to a painting I did a few days ago--I like painting these roses and I like the square format.  Values are close because of the natural light from the skylight, so that was the challenge.  Another quote I like from my small book on Sergei Bongart:  "A painting is not finished when every blade of grass on a field is painted...or every leaf on a tree.  A painting is complete when the artist feels he has expressed what he wants to express."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Liz in Green

3/1/10 "Liz in Green", 12" x 8", Oil
I couldn't bring myself to paint another still life today and in fact, wasn't sure I could paint at all!  Then in the afternoon I got a second wind and thought I'd try a simple portrait sketch.  When my daughters are at home, they will sit for me, but they are at school, so I painted from a black and white photo.  Its more fun to paint from a black and white photo because I can avoid having to interpret the completely inaccurate and inharmonious color of a color photograph.