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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, June 30, 2010

Girl with Yellow Umbrella - NFS

6/30/10 "Girl With Yellow Umbrella", 10" x 8", Oil
Its a good thing I am documenting these exercises, because already my memory is failing--which painting on which day and what concept was I attempting?  However, this painting illustrates at least one concept that Peggi talked about over and over--the idea that the shadow in a light area is always darker than the light in a dark area.  So in this case, the shadow of the dress which was very light in local color/value was darker than the sunlight on the grass, which as a local color was much darker be begin with.  In another later exercise there was a major exception to this rule which I will talk about in a future post. If I remember correctly, this was a 40 minute exercise.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Massing Shadows #1 - NFS

6/29/10 "Massing Shadows #1",  8.5" x 7", Oil
This 20 minute exercise was to mass all the shadows with the same arbitrary dark color.  This type of exercise is kind of a revelation--in fact, the thing about Peggi that is so inspirational is her prodigious work ethic and drive to master and teach visual concepts through these types of exercises.  As a learning tool, I love the the 20 minute time limit because it so focuses the mind.  This morning I painted three small 10 minute sketches of the Cove, and that's about all the time it takes for the light to dramatically change and the wind to pick up.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three-Value Color Study - NFS

6/28/10 "Three-value Color Study", 12" x 8", Oil
This is another 20 minute value study from Peggi's workshop. The exercise was to do a black and white three value study and then do the same sketch in color.  I almost succeeded in keeping strictly to three values--its trickier with color.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two-Value Studies in Black and White - NFS

6/27/10 "Two-Value Studies in Black and White", Oil
I was so energized by the Peggi Kroll Roberts workshop that I got up this morning and painted three small landscapes before breakfast. But first I want to show you what we did at the workshop--not because my paintings are incredible, which they are not, but because doing these types of modest exercises are so basic to getting the foundations of painting into my head and I want to keep a record of the experience. It is so easy to forget and go back to the old way of doing things. So the first morning we started off with 10 minute (I think they were 10 minute--my mind is already forgetting) quick sketches using two values in black and white.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hawk Creek Trail -- Sold

6/24/10 "Hawk Creek Trail", 9" x 9", Oil
Now I'm really going back to find something to post this week while I am gone.  This was one of the Eastern Washington paintings from the beginning of May.  We came out to this creek--the light was pretty flat, everything seemed pretty gray and I was thinking there was nothing to paint, until I turned around and looked up creek and the sun lit up the path to the falls, which I didn't paint, because this was the spot.  I probably won't be posting again for a couple of days because I will be traveling.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Zangle Cove #20

6/22/10 "Zangle Cove #20", 5" x 9"
Limited Palette: Ultramarine Blue, Venetian Red, Titantium White.
This is another small sketch with big brush strokes, this time with a limited palette.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Zangle Cove #19

6/22/10 "Zangle Cove #19", 8" x 10", Oil
I am trying to study all of the moods of the Cove.  This was a still day, with only a little breeze and mostly overcast sky--flat light.  I'm in California at Peggi's workshop and I didn't bring a good camera to take photos of the exercises.  Will post some next week.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Zangle Moon - SOLD


6/21/10 "Zangle Moon",  10" x 12", Oil  SOLD
Sometimes the full moon is amazingly big as it rises over the Cove. In celebration of the summer solstice, this is a memory piece, not a painting of even the particular landscape of the Cove, but more about the feeling of it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Zangle Cove #18

6/20/10 "Zangle Cove #18", 5" x 7", Oil
This is a very small painting done on one of the days last week when the sun was out.  Sometimes it is cathartic to just take a big brush and make big marks--not change anything, not go over anything--just make the marks and let it be what it is.  I remember somebody saying that bold, even if inaccurate, is better than too careful and completely accurate (or something like that)--so that is what this is--the joy of a big brush stroke.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Meg in White Blouse - NFS

6/19/10 "Meg in White Blouse", 16" x 12", Oil
I didn't paint today because I was getting ready for my trip to California.  This was one of the sketches I did last Saturday when the sun was actually shining and I set my daughter up outside on the patio.  But alas, about an hour after starting the guys with the lawn mower and weed whacker came, we retreated inside and never did get back to working on it--the sun had changed too much.  So this is a "before" and hopefully when Peggi's workshop is over there will be some "afters" and I will have learned something new.  Meanwhile, I have a few extra paintings from the last week to post but when those run out, I will be taking a break from posting until the beginning of next week.

I've had this wicker rocking chair for years--I think I bought it in Germany in 1985.  The other day I found a painting by Sorolla in one of his books with a young woman sitting in a chair that looks exactly like this one. 

Thank you so much to all of you who voted for me on the Daily Painters contest.  I didn't win, but I did come in 4th, which was way beyond my expectations.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Zangle Cove #17

6/18/10 "Zangle Cove #17", 12" x 12", Oil
This painting may not look like much, but it was an important lesson.  After thrashing around with it for awhile, scraping it down and re-painting, it inadvertently ended up with green in every color.  It reminded me of the Appenda in Edgar Payne's book "Composition of Outdoor Painting" written by his daughter Evelyn Payne Hatcher, where she talks about the "soup method." This is where a single color with white (in this case green) is added to every other color used.  I can see many interesting possibilities for color harmony using this type of method--something I had read in the book many times, but had never tried.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Zangle Cove #16

6/17/10 "Zangle Cove #16", 8" x 10", Oil
Another early morning quick sketch of Zangle Cove.  The is a high-key painting.  It is as instructive to limit the values on the palette as well as the colors, because the values can convey the mood of the light.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pot with Apple

6/16/10 "Pot with Apple", 10" x 8", Oil
It was difficult to photograph the colors in this painting as the pot is multi-colored. But I felt lucky that the sun was out for about an hour before the cloud cover closed up again.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Zangle Cove #15

6/15/10 "Zangle Cove #15", 12" x 12", Oil
Another morning on Zangle Cove, a little earlier than yesterday, just when the water was beginning to recede from high tide and just as the wind began to pick up and cause ripples on the surface of the water--a condition that dramatically changes everything.  The light was cooler than yesterday because of the earlier time and partly overcast sky but the reflection of the underside of the green trees and bushes on the water creates the contrasting warmth where the sun hits the water from behind.  It is easy to get use to a particular size canvas, so I purposefully used a bigger one (not much bigger but a little bigger) with the same time span, 30-40 minutes, the outside limit before the light changes too much to continue.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Zangle Cove #14

6/14/10 "Zangle Cove #14", 8" x 8", Oil
I realized this morning that the tension around being in the Daily Painters Contest for so many days was causing me to veer off into being too careful.  So this is a not-so-careful painting, and by that I mean painting with a big brush--a #10 bristle, a lot of paint, in a short period of time--about 30 to 40 minutes.  One thing I admire about painters like Sorolla, is the tactile quality of the paint surface--and that seems to be partly because he painted fast.

This painting is a snapshot of the light in the Cove and the height of the tide this morning from about 9:15 to 9:45 am.  The tidal variations are a fact of life here--they vary approximately from a high of +14 to a low  of -4.  The lowest tides during the summer occur during the day. During the winter the lowest tides occur during the night.  Because we live on a small pocket estuary, when the tide goes out there are mud flats--and it is teaming with life.  Yesterday I saw some crows harassing a bald eagle.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Zangle Cove #13

6/13/10 "Zangle Cove #13", 8" x 10", Oil
I painted this little sketch of the Cove at 7 am this morning, when the sun was hitting the water and the shoreline was bathed in shadow. About 7:15 the sunlight began to filter onto the near bank so I quit. Later when I looked at it, there were some things that I wanted to change and so I worked on it a little more. I'm not sure if I made it better or worse, but the Cove is definitely a wonderful subject for study of light.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Zangle Cove #12

6/12/10 "Zangle Cove #12", 10" x 12", Oil
Once the fog lifted by mid-morning, there was full sun for the first time in weeks. The misty light lasted for about a half an hour, so that's how long I painted on this sketch. Painting in a key this high is not something I usually do, so it was an interesting exercise.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zangle Cove #11

6/11/10 "Zangle Cove #11", 8" x 8", Oil
This was a quick 40 minute sketch with the goal of making color notations.  The tide was going out this morning with bright but overcast skies.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Zangle Cove #10

6/10/10 "Zangle Cove #10", 10" x 12", Oil
I am always trying to find new ways to express the moods of the Cove, mostly through color and abstraction.  Sometimes everything about the Cove is misty and ambiguous.  Other times there is great clarity in the air.  Sometimes the water is emerald, other times violet.  This was a violet water day.

Miraculously, I made it into the top 5 on the Daily Painters Contest. I'm still not sure how the voting works--some people say you can vote again in a new round. Thank you for your support and words of encouragement!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Still Life with Orange

6/8/10 "Still Life with Orange", Oil, 12" x 10"
Yesterday I took the day off with one of my daughters to hike up the Carbon River Road on Mt. Rainier.  We use to be able to drive up this road to the campground below the glacier, but the road was washed out in a storm years ago and never repaired.  Now it serves for us as an early summer hiking destination as the alpine meadows at Sunrise and Paradise don't open sometimes until July because of the snow pack.  Anyway, I'd done this painting a few days ago out on the deck when the sun wasn't sure if it would shine for long.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Late Afternoon Light

6/7/10 "Late Afternoon Light", 9" x 9", Oil
At last, a warm sunny day.  I did a lot of these outdoor still lifes last summer, and even though I know a lot more now, I still feel like I'm starting all over again.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Zangle Cove #9

6/6/10 "Zangle Cove #9", 9" x 9", Oil
Limited Palette--Analogous:  Cadmium Yellow, Permanent Green Light, Cadmium Orange, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Titanium White

Who would have thought that a palette of yellows would more nearly approximate the colors of the Cove on a cloudy, misty day than greens and blues and grays?  And who would have thought that raw umber could look blue?  The blue in the water is raw umber and white.  These types of palette experiments show without a doubt that color is relative.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Zangle Cove #8

6/5/10 "Zangle Cove #7", 9" x 9", Oil
Limited Palette--Analogous: Dioxine Purple, Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Permanent Green Light, Titanium White, Ivory Black

My view out the back is so green and blue, I decided to try an analogous color scheme with cool colors, permanent green light being the warmest. It is still a matter of finding the warm/cool contrasts.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Zangle Cove #7

6/4/10 "Zangle Cove #7", 8" x 8", Oil
Limited Palette--Triadic:  Viridian, Dioxine Purple, Cadmium Orange, Titanium White

For a landscape painting like this, the limited palette of secondaries is interesting.  Beautiful blues can be made from purple and green, interesting reds from orange and purple, and muted yellows from orange and green, turning the idea of "primaries" somewhat on its head.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zangle Cove #6

6/3/10 "Zangle Cove #6", Oil, 5" x 9"
Limited Palette: Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Green Light, Titanium White, Ivory Black

The limited palette sketches of Zangle Cove are all exercises in finding new ways to paint a familiar subject.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Zangle Cove #5

6/2/10 "Zangle Cove #5, 5" x 9", Oil
Limited palette:  yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, cadmium red light, cadmium yellow light, titanium white, ivory black.

Common sense says that artists paint the colors they see. But somewhere I read that artists see the colors they paint, so it is interesting to paint with color mixtures that I really don't see right off in the scene in front of me.  At the very least, its a way of thinking about color in the landscape that can bring new inspiration and break habits.  This is one of the lessons and benefits of painting with a limited palette.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Limited Palette Studies - NFS

6/1/10 Zangle Cove #1, 5" x 7", Oil
Ivory Black and Titanium White
These four small sketches are a response to a limited palette challenge on a network I belong to. I chose a simple subject--the opposite bank of the Cove I live on in the southern part of Puget Sound. When I started with this one, it was overcast and the tide was going out.

6/1/10 Zangle Cove #2, 5" x 7", Oil
Ultramarine Blue, Venetian Red, Titanium White.
I had forgotten how well ultramarine blue harmonizes with venetian red. 

6/1/10 Zangle Cove #3, 5" x 9", Oil
Ultramarine Blue, Cad Yellow Light, Venetian Red and Titanium White.
When I started this sketch, the tide had gone out pretty far, thus the different composition. By this time it was drizzling and I was painting from my big studio window.

6/1/10 "Zangle Cove #4, 5" x 7", Oil
Cad Red Light, Yellow Ochre, Titanium White, Ivory Black
I painted this sketch in the late afternoon when the tide had come back in. This one proved to me again how much I like using ivory black--it is luminous and beautiful greens can be created with different yellows and black.