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Friday, March 7, 2014

Impressionist Painting Technique Demonstration

Spring blooms are appearing every day along coastal Alabama making me excited to grab a brush and catch them on canvas.  I have been on a Monet binge lately and wanted to paint a flowering tree using his impressionist technique.  I used acrylics for my painting Blooms and Bluebird for the sake of drying time.  The painting was completed in one session.
Here is the photo of the tree that caught my attention yesterday while I was out and about.  I took a quick shot with my android phone because I was spending the day taking care of non-art business and didn't have time to sketch or do anything on site.  But I had to paint this tree!

I was only interested in the lovely tree and its graceful shape.  I knew that I would do liberal editing and leave out all the oil barrels, electrical lines and the shed.  I also knew that I would amp up the colors from this grey day photo.
Here is my easel set up.  Canvas is 7 inches by 5 inches.  Toilet paper roll on the left for wiping brushes, "Masterson sta-wet" palette and water on the right.  My lap top (not shown) is on the left.  I have my photo reference on the lap top.  It looks more three dimensional to me on a screen than on paper.
Now I sketch only the most basic shape of the tree on my toned canvas (yellow ochre acrylic is used as a tone for all my canvases) with a round brush and a dark mix of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue.   I put blue painters tape (go to any hardware store or place that sells house painting supplies to get this) on the top handle and bottom tray of the easel to keep the canvas gallery wrapped edges free of old, built up paint.  I change the tape when I change to a new painting.

Now I proceed over the next series of stages to simply add strokes of color.  I avoid keeping things outlined because I want that dreamy soft look that Monet achieved.  I also build up a lot of different colors to add interest and richness to the painting.  There are many mixtures of blues, greens, purples, pinks, yellow and white added and re-added as the painting progresses.

Paintings always go through a "messy" stage that frequently scares me, but I have learned to soldier on to a finished piece.




Here is the final version of Blooms and Bluebird.  I think I kept true to the shape of the tree and the sparkle of its blooms.  I added the bluebird just because I have been seeing a lot of them flitting around my yard.  They are also a symbol of Spring to me.
Copyright Mona Vivar, Blooms and Bluebird, 7 inches by 5 inches, acrylic on canvas

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