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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


Monday, January 31, 2011

Yellow Teapot - SOLD

"Yellow Teapot", 10 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board
This little teapot was another item I got the other day at the antique co-op. Other than mugs, a lot of the still life items I have are pretty colorless, and I like to paint items with intense color. But I really struggled to find color harmony with this painting.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yellow Saucepan

"Yellow Saucepan", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
The other day I went down to our local antique co-op and found some really cool stuff. One was a set of two yellow enamel saucepans--the perfect size for still life painting and a wonderful color. This is one of them.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pots with Green Apple - SOLD

"Pots with Green Apple", 12 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
I am thinking about the end of January, for me the longest month in the year. It is the only month that the guy who mows my lawn gets to do something else, like mulching, because in the Pacific Northwest it is the only month that the grass doesn't really grow. I'm looking forward to the small indications of spring that February brings.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Still Life with Apple Slices

"Still Life with Apple Slices", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
At my latitude, the sun sets 1-2 minutes later each day at this time of year, so I am happy that I can see a difference now in the length of the day from December. Even though I often use a light box for my still life setup, I like to have my easel in the natural light from the skylights.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pots with Spoon

"Pots with Spoon", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
In this painting I went from the palette knife back to the brush. I would like to be able to get some of effects of the palette knife, in particular the distinct modulation of color, with the brush.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Turquoise Mug

"Turquoise Mug", 10 x 10 In, Oil on Panel
This is another painting that started out one way and finished another. After looking at it for a couple of days, I simplified it by scraping out a third object that didn't work and changing the dimensions of the panel. It turned into an exercise that was mostly about color.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cup and Orange

When I did this painting a couple of days ago, I couldn't find my cat and I was really distracted, so it took all day for this painting to get off the ground. I must have scraped it and changed the objects in it three times! So this one is a little rough. I finally just said, "that's it--it's done!" (And I found the cat!)

Someone mentioned in a comment that they couldn't believe I had just started with a palette knife. I am so grateful for everyone's comments but I want to say again what I said originally--that I "rarely paint with palette knife," not that I've never done it before. I went back over saved images and realized that it was about nine years ago that I did a small series of paintings with a palette knife on a trip to France. It may be that painting with a palette knife is like riding a bike--once you get the hang of it, the pathways are still there in the brain even years later. Now I want to learn even more about it.

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Red Dish Red Shaker

"Red Dish Red Shaker", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Museum Board
This painting was an experiment with both brush and palette knife.  It is easier for me to get clear color with a palette knife at least partly because mixing it on the palette is more methodical. Its a lot easier to space out when using a brush.

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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Red Dish with Orange - SOLD

"Red Dish with Orange", 9 x 9 In, Oil on Museum Board SOLD
This is another of my palette knife painting experiments. What I like about using the palette knife is that it forces me to really mix the colors on the palette in large enough quantities to be both nuanced and distinct from other colors.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Zangle Cove Winter Morning

"Zangle Cove Winter Morning", 9 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
This is from a couple of days ago when the clouds lifted and the Cove was bathed in sunlight--another experiment with the palette knife. Using the palette knife has taught me a couple of things: 1) I need to mix piles of color that are big enough to cover areas with the knife and to really mix distinct colors; 2) with the knife it is easier to paint adjacent areas with colors that are slightly modulated, keeping those areas color distinct.

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this series. I'm not quite done showing the palette knife paintings, though a couple of them were complete struggles as I tried to apply some of the palette knife effects to use of the brush. I'm just not sure how that's going to work out--I think I would have to get completely comfortable with the palette knife first. I'll be very interested to hear how others who paint with the palette knife or are trying the PKR palette knife exercise are responding to using the palette knife!

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Red Salt Shaker with Spoon - NSF

"Red Salt Shaker with Spoon", 8 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
One thing I find interesting about using a palette knife is that it is easier to keep values and colors more distinct from one another however close or contrasting they are. I hope I can transfer this to my use of the brush!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

White Pitcher with Lemon

"White Pitcher with Lemon", 9 x 9 In, Oil on Museum Board
With the second of my palette knife experiments I find I am learning some cool stuff--the neurons are connecting. I will try to describe at least some of this at the end of the series. For now what I can say is that one benefit of working with an unfamiliar method of painting pretty much eliminates the worst thoughts about doing it the "right" or "wrong" way.

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Red Pitcher

"Red Pitcher", 12 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
Maybe its appropriate that after my comments about brushwork, I next watched Peggi's DVD about palette knife painting! The lesson is actually about edges and I liked it so much I watched twice so that I wouldn't miss anything. Since I rarely use a palette knife to paint with, this exercise is a lot of fun with many new things to practice and think about. Just like a big brush, a palette knife delivers the mind from obsessing about detail.

Purchase this unframed painting for $165.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yellow Apple

"Yellow Apple", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Panel
This painting is just what it is--I don't have much to say about it. Some days I just paint and see what happens.

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dana Passage Windy Day

"Dana Passage Windy Day", 8 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
It was so beautiful today after the last few days of heavy rain, that I did a couple of warm-up paintings of the view outside my studio window. This is one of them.

A couple of people asked me about the size of the "big brush" I used for the painting yesterday. The one I used yesterday was a beat-up old thick #8 bristle. I've been watching the PKR videos and Peggi generally seems to use #4 and #6 brushes--these seem small to me but are what I've been using the last week because of the lessons. When I take a workshop from Ovanes, I use #8, #10 and #12 bristle brushes. Brushes of different brands seem to also be slightly different depending on how thick they are. But the important thing is that whether you use a smaller or bigger brush, it is loading the brush with paint that will make a difference--its just that a bigger brush forces you to load more paint (if you don't use a lot of medium). If you watch Peggi's videos, she really loads her brush. Ovanes lays out big piles of paint and he really loads the brush. There are so many variables with the question of brush size such as loading the brush, use of medium or no medium, consistency of paint, how you hold the brush--it is a huge topic and one that I am always experimenting with. I read some place that you should hold your brush in a way that feels natural. However, any different way of holding the brush will initially feel unnatural and I've found it worth exploring new ways and creating new habits. For example, I taught myself to be able to hold the brush at the very end with my thumb and first two fingers in order to make a thin line after watching Jove Wang hold his brush like that. When I first tried this, my hand was so unsteady that I was lucky if I got close to the place I wanted to paint. But with practice, now I can do it much more easily.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pitcher and Pear

"Pitcher and Pear", 9 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
Its strange how using a big bristle brush clears the mind.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reds and Purples

"Reds and Purples", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
Still following the idea of working with mainly two pigments and white, this painting uses the purples for the lights and the reds for the shadows. I added in some other colors, but not much. It was interesting to do the actual exercise using four pairs of colors--I reversed the colors for light and shadow for each pair. It really made me think about having a warm/cool color scheme and sticking to it.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yuhu Village Dog - SOLD

"Yuhu Village Dog", 8 x 10, Oil on Museum Board
Carol suggested today that I paint a puppy. I was away most of the day and when I came back late in the afternoon I thought, what the heck! Why not? So I dug out my photos of the two dogs owned by the proprietors of the Yuhu Guest House near Lijiang in Yunnan Province, China, where I traveled two years ago with Barry Raybould and Timothy Tien. We spent nearly a week in this wonderful little village beneath the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain painting the countryside and anyone we could convince to sit for us as a model. I painted the other resident dog from a photo a few months ago. The photo I took of this current painting is not great because I had to use studio lighting rather than the daylight from my skylights so I may try to take a better photo tomorrow. The dog was really small and probably really old--definitely not a puppy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reds and Greens

"Reds and Greens", 12 x 10 In, Oil on Panel
Still working with warms and cools as they relate to light and shadow, I wanted to make this painting more abstract. There are more than two colors in the painting, but it is basically a simplified palette with more or less complementary colors with white.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

White Cup

"White Cup", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
One of my friends commented a couple of days ago that it looked like I was thinking about Giorgio Morandi. I confess it is hard for me not to think about Morandi. In his case, IMO, it would not just be a matter of following his style, because I ask myself, what is his style? More than once I have sat and looked at his paintings and tried to enter his mind as an artist and found it fascinating how he was able to create a feeling of depth perspective with a few lines and little color. The other thing I am totally intrigued by is the relationship of all the objects to each other. They do not follow any type of ordinary still life design.

I am trying to work on a few different things, such as the objects going outside of the picture plane, which is not something Morandi ordinarily did as far as I can see. From my Ovanes experiences I am trying to work with modulation of color, among other things, and from PKR some kind of aesthetic logic related to warms and cools. There are so many things to work on in a still life!

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Four Pots

"Four Pots", 12 x 12 In, Oil on Panel
In this painting I am not using a limited palette, but still trying to apply the logic of Peggi's exercises having to do with warms and cools related to lights and darks. In the past I've mostly operated on the principle of "painting what I see", but to become more sophisticated in design, I think its necessary to understand and apply aesthetic logic. The interesting thing, of course, is that colors are relatively cooler or warmer in relationship to each other, so it is an exercise that both expands the mind and the process of seeing.

Purchase this unframed painting for $165.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Windy Day

"Windy Day", 10 x 8 In, Oil on Museum Board
It got too late to take a photo of the still life I worked on today as the sun, if its even out at all from behind the clouds, is low in the sky and daylight starts to go around 4 pm. So this is a painting I did of the Cove a few days ago on a bright and windy day. You can see why Washington is called the "Evergreen State" as even in the dead of winter, on the west side of the mountains we are inundated by the green. Around my house are huge cedars and firs and though there were a few snowflakes this morning, they rarely last. When the cold wind comes from the north it is usually clear and sunny.  When it comes from the southwest, it is warm and rainy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Small Bean Pot

"Small Bean Pot", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
For those who asked about the Peggi Kroll Roberts DVD's--I bought the first set last year in order to do the exercises before going to Peggi's workshop. The second arrived a few days ago and so far I'm still working on the limited palette variations--two colors with white. I think what Peggi says in the video is true--that you could do color charts to explore the issue of warm/cools/values using a limited palette, but that doing these exercises with a still life setup has more lasting impact. I believe these exercises are totally appropriate for any level of painter because they teach or reinforce basic elements of painting. This painting is not from the exercise--at least not directly.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Still Life with Spoon - SOLD

"Still Life with Spoon", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board SOLD
I am having a lot of fun with these still lifes--with broad brushstrokes, gray colors and lines. There is an interesting edge between what a set-up actually looks like and what the hand delivers.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Idaho Color

"Idaho Color", 8 x 10 In, Oil on Panel
I received the new set of instructional DVD's from Peggi Kroll Roberts the other day and spent today doing the limited palette exercises. Peggi presents exceptional ways to explore specific problems of painting and I am excited to try all of them. Meanwhile, searching for something to post, I discovered a couple of paintings from my Idaho trip in October that were hidden away in a dry box.

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

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Still Life with Pitcher - NFS

"Still Life with Pitcher", 10 x 12, Oil on Museum Board
Fooling around with color and smushing around the paint are the most fun things about this process. The evolution of a painting, from the beginning idea of composition to all the corners turned in execution, is sometimes the most surprising thing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Zangle Cove Storm Light

"Zangle Cove Storm Light", 10 x 8 In, Oil on Panel
This is one of my "extra" paintings I did a couple of weeks ago looking out the window at the Cove on a stormy day when the light broke through for a few moments.

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

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Old Teapot - SOLD

"Old Teapot", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
This is another painting of the old teapot. Besides value, shape and paint application, the other thing I am experimenting with is composition and cropped objects.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Teapot with Spoon

"Teapot with Spoon", 10 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
This is an old teapot without a lid that came from a box in my sister's storage unit and probably belonged to my mother or grandmother. My goal in this painting was simply to work with shapes and values and experiment with paint application.

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Jar and Pear

"Jar and Pear", 8 x 8 In, Oil on Museum Board
I'm going to start my new year of blogging with this modest little painting done late in the day as the natural light from my skylight was diminishing. Ovanes once commented that a student should do 20 or 25 paintings a day and it made me wonder seriously if he had actually ever done that. I think the most I have done (other than quick sketches in a class) was seven small paintings in a day and at the end of that day I was exhausted. But it is good to do a second painting in a day because after the first one, I give a big sigh of relief and realize that now I can do whatever I want! And if both turn out OK, then the next day I will feel even more experimental. Such is the psychology of painting ahead!

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

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Winter Light

"Winter Light", 8 x 12 In, Oil on Museum Board
This is the view I see out my studio window. It changes daily and hourly as the tide rises and falls, the clouds move across the sky, the wind changes from north to southwest and all the seasons bring different colors along with the natural life that abounds here.

I've posted now for an entire year to my daily blog, some 330 paintings! You can read my article, "Lessons from the Daily Blog," that I wrote in March 2010 about the trials of the first three months. Can I get it together to write another article? I'm thinking about it!

Thank you to all of you who have supported me during the last year. I wish you all a productive New Year! Here's to always being on the path of learning!

Purchase this unframed painting for $135.
Contact me if you would like to purchase a plein air frame.