Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Lupine Dreams  9x12 oil en plein air
Now that the apple trees have finished blooming, the lupines have kicked in.  Every year, we have a pretty good crop of them nearby, and I enjoy getting out to paint them before they, too, pass.  We have mostly those deep blue ones, but there are a few pinkish ones always scattered in with them.

With my split-primary palette, it's usually a struggle to get lupine colors just right.  So, I always pull out a few special colors.  This year, I'm trying manganese violet and manganese blue hue.  (All are from Gamblin.)  The blues, violets and pinks that I can mix with my usual palette just get too dull when mixed with white; I can't get a really rich tint for the sunniest flower heads.  With these other colors, however, I can.  The manganese blue hue has a bit of phthalo blue in it, and that helps maintain the chroma.

Lupines by the Sea 9x12 oil en plein air

Whenever I paint landscapes with flowers, I go through my paint supply and select some high-chroma colors with high tinting strength.  I may choose to use these in the studio rather than the field, since I can usually get close enough with my standard palette outdoors.  Under my studio lighting, I can re-evaluate my choices and, if necessary, touch up the flowers with a few dabs of these extra colors.  Sometimes, that's all it takes - just a dab or two of rich color.

To my eyes, the shadowed foliage under the lupines has a great deal of warmth to it.  I like to paint these shadows with a mixture of cadmium  yellow deep and either ultramarine blue or cerulean blue.  Areas that are touched by sunlight I keep cooler with tints of greenish-blues.  Sometimes, to keep the cool passages from being too monotonous, I may start off with an underpainting of a warmer green.  This year, I'm finding Gamblin's green chartreuse to be perfect for this.  You can see spots of this popping through in the first painting, "Backlit Lupine Patch."

All three paintings are currently up at auction.  I hope you'll bid!

Morning Glare and Lupines 9x12 oil en plein air

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