Impasto Paint and My Big Palette Knife

If you read my post from last week, you know that I started taking an abstract painting class. Part of the class includes critique, so students can bring in pieces that they are working on for feedback from the teacher. Also, at the end of the class we all got together and critiqued each other’s work.

It was a very helpful process especially to be able to bring my work and say “what does this need.” Fortunately, the piece that was on my post last week got good feedback from the teacher.

She said it was almost finished and just need two swipes of thicker paint, almost like an impasto. I like to paint thickly especially with my palette knife. I am now trying a very large palette knife about 2 1/2 inches wide and 6 inches long. Needless to say, it can cover a lot of canvas.

She suggested that it be in the same color as what was already on the canvas. That was not too difficult a challenge except mixing paint to the exact color as I did several days previously, always takes patience.

Painting showing impasto paint

The Nature of Water and Air, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 x 1.5 inches. Ann Hart Marquis

I also started a new painting in class that I almost completely painted over once I got home. I was trying to follow her discussion and suggestions without listening to how I wanted to paint.

Next week, I think that I can incorporate her suggestions and still stay true to myself.

Artist Critique Group

If you read my blog with any kind of regularity, you know that I sometimes think a painting is finished, live with it awhile and then decide that it has some kind of major problem. I have just come to the point on the painting below that it is time to just stop and take a long look at it before proceeding.

Ann Hart Marquis painting for artist critique group

Untitled- Ireland, acrylic on canvas, 24x30x1.5 inches. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Fortunately, next week I start an abstract painting class where I can work on what I want including getting feedback from the teacher Janet Bothne. If I feel stuck or think that I don’t know what to do next, I can get advice. So this class sounds perfect for me.

In addition, this class includes a critique time with the whole class where I can get or give feedback. I have been looking for an artist critique group for several years. I am excited about the idea that other people will be giving me opinions about my work.

I have friends who do not like to have their work critiqued. According to artist and blogger Sharon Hicks,Some artists cringe at the mere thought of having their work critiqued. The very word ‘critique’ is based on the word ‘criticism’, and in our culture that word has taken on a negative connotation, since to criticize something usually means to point out its faults.”

According to the dictionary, however, the word critic derives from the idea of someone who judges, evaluates, or analyzes literary or artistic works, dramatic or musical performances. To me this is a neutral statement. Ideally a critic can give both positive and negative responses. It relates to the idea of useful criticism.

For me, good and useful criticism  serves one purpose: to give the creator of the work more perspective and help them make their next set of choices. I like the idea of having a set of choices.

I am also open to critique right now. If anyone has ideas of where this painting needs to go next, I would be delighted to hear them.

My Exposure to Fauvism in Collioure, France

This week has been a frustrating one for me because of trivial obligations like an annual doctor’s appointment and buying food. Activties like this cut into my painting time. So I have not finished the Irish painting that I am working on.

Since I frequently think of my journey from never having painted to now, I thought I would write about a painting that I did three years after my first painting class in France. This time the painting class was again in France, but not where I had originally painted. It was in Collioure on the Mediterranean where it meets the Pyrenees.

painting showing exposure to Fauvism

Collioure, France, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 inches. Ann Hart Marquis

Collioure is a very picturesque small town that has drawn many painters including Matisse, Derain and Dufy. It is referred to as the birth place of the Fauvism movement in painting. This class was taught by the same teacher I first had in Soréze, France. She considered herself an Fauvist painter. She was responsible for my first exposure to Fauvism.

Collioure, France

Collioure, France

As you can see from the above painting, my drawing skills were still lacking as were my use of brush strokes and layering color. I had not yet mastered the idea of perspective. Fortunately, it is a very colorful town so some of the colors were representative of what I saw and some were colors that were already a favorite part of my palette.

This painting was done in plein air, while I was sitting on the steps of a lovely house that looked down into the town and surrounding hills. It was an ideal place to paint.

Although today is the first time that this piece has been photographed, I see it every time I walk into my studio because it is hanging on the side of a cabinet. It reminds me of how I started and how far I have come. I have kept all of my drawings and paintings over the years. The only ones that I don’t have are sold.

It is important to me to be able to look back on all of the work I have done. They always make me smile.

Walking Into a Painting With My Imagination

As I was studying this painting, deciding if it was done and trying to think of a title, I had an interesting experience. I felt pulled into the painting. I wanted to walk through the grass and see the Irish Atlantic Ocean that I imagined was on the other side. I felt like walking into a painting.

Ann hart Marquis showing walking into a painting

A Place in My Imagination, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 14 x 14 x 1.5 inches.

I am sure I have had this experience before with one of my paintings, but I couldn’t remember one that was so compelling to me. I have certainly had similar feelings with other paintings that I have seen. I once found a painting at the Louvre that was so captivating to me that I stood in front of it for 15 minutes.

I think that imagining walking into a painting somehow is related to the general wanderlust I am feeling at this time. It is possible that I need to go back to Ireland—or another Celtic place.

On the practical side of this painting, I approached it differently than my other Irish paintings. I didn’t put any medium on the canvas except black gesso. Previously for added texture, I used some type of molding paste on the others before I painted.

This time the painting had little texture except for paint when it was finished. Since I like texture, I applied an extra heavy gloss gel to the canvas and roughed it up to give the kind of texture that I was looking for. I like the effects although they can’t really be seen in the photograph.

I haven’t used heavy gloss gel much before. It was an experiment. When it is applied it looks like it is going to dry white. However, regardless of how thickly it is applied, it dries totally clear. The gel I was using was Liquitex Super Heavy gloss gel. I like the look and may try it again from time to time.

Tonalism Painting

When I was in California last summer doing an artist residency I was called a tonalist painter for the first time. My work had never been referred to that way before and I recognized what association was being made.

I very frequently will tone down my colors with grays or sometimes with a color’s complement. For example, I don’t like phthalo blue by itself, but I do like it with some value of gray. Here is an example of a painting that I just finished.

Tonalism painting by Ann Hart Marquis

A Song of Wandering, acrylic and ink on canvas, 24x30x1.5-inches. Ann Hart Marquis

Tonalism

Traditionally, tonalism (1880-1915) involved creating a painting permeated by a dominant tone and in a limited color scheme. Often, at least historically, painters worked mostly in earth colors so black would have been a common color on their palettes.

In tonalism, the palette is minimal, characterized by warm hues of brown, soft greens, gauzy yellows and muted grays.

Here is an example of a painting by the tonalist artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903.)

James McNeill Whistler-Nocturn Sun

Nocturn Sun-James Mc Neill Whistler

According to Stapleton Kearns, “Usually the goal of tonalist painting is the production of a mood in a painting rather than the representation of any actual place. The color, design and the mood were the subject rather than a unique and spectacular location.”

Many of my paintings are similar in color to a traditional tonal style.
• I eliminate details for broader brushstrokes and subtle transitions of tone.
• Frequently I use a neutral palette-mainly cool colors: green, blue, mauve, violent, grays, to produce similar tones.
• I also sometimes like high horizons to bring focus to the foreground.
• I like to use glazing techniques, layering thin layers of color over underlying colors
• I like to paint wet on wet.
• I like to start with a warm undertone even if I use black gesso and then layer cool overtones to achieve some tension of color.
• I like the idea of the “lost edge” technique which results in flow of color and atmospheric quality.
• I don’t like to paint specific, recognizable locations, but rather my impressions of a place or scene.

Will I continue to paint in this style? It appears that for my Ireland series I will. After that who knows.