“Afternoon on Muddy Lake”
(New River ACEC, Oregon Coast)
Oil Sketch on Ampersand Gesso Panel
with an additional Priming Coat of Rublev Lead White in Oil
5” x 7”
After months of preparing to launch this blog, and finally doing so, and sending out an old fashioned mail-shot, by snail-mail, and then testing and tweaking it and Daily Paintworks for a couple more weeks, last week I was able to finally return to painting full time; of course I have to prepare these posts and spend time at the library posting them via their free Wi-Fi, but I’m back to the plan. Summer weather here on this stretch of Oregon coast is usually in the 60s Fº (65º F is about 18.5º C for you in the rest of the World), but with a chill north wind prevailing and making it feel much colder; and I thought Cornwall was windy!
Biding my time for and waiting for those days when the wind might lessen, I discovered the New River ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern), series of four parcels of BLM land (Bureau of Land Management), along the New River a few miles south of Bandon. The wind here, just a few hundred yard from the open beaches, is much reduced and so more manageable. The New River parallels the coast separated from the Pacific Ocean by a few hundred yards of sand dunes before it empties into the sea. On the landward side of the New River, lie several forest lakes situated in the various New River ACECs; two of these are Storm Ranch and Lost Lake, and what a discovery! I’ve spent several days painting at both. Muddy Lake at the Storm Ranch ACEC is depicted above from the observation blind. With the Summer weather the lake level is dropping and so the lily pads are sticking up out of the water; perhaps this annual occurrence is why it is called Muddy Lake. There is a certain amount of birdlife here including a resident Heron and a Great White Egret, both of which tend to work the opposite side of the lake, as they seem to be aware of the occasional viewer at the blind. There are several other trails through other types of terrain at the Storm Ranch ACEC, but so far I’ve been side-tracked by the Muddy Lake; if the wind on the beaches continues to be a problem I may get to sample them, provided the lake doesn’t intervene.
Over the years as I’ve met other artists and the various patrons who have acquired my work, questions arise such as inspiration, materials used and such. Generally this journal is written with them/you in mind, and is why I end each posting with a mention of the materials used, and sometimes a bit more of how I proceeded on a particular work; it also provides a bit of a record of what pigments were used in any particular work. I am painting these sketches, studies and small paintings in Oil, on commercial panels, usually made of an archival hardboard, some of which are covered in a linen canvas, and then coated with layer of a white priming; this primer may be of an acrylic gesso or an oil based primer of titanium pigment. I have also been adding a final layer of a traditional lead in oil primer, as was used by the Old Masters, when I have time o do so; this must be done in advance by several weeks for it to set up properly. The priming layer is also known as the ground. Over this white ground at the beginning of the day’s work, I many times will lay down a thin transparent layer of pigment, and this is called the imprimatura; as a landscape artist I tend to use an earth red pigment, such as Burnt Sienna or Venetian Red. These colours add a warmth to the following paint layers, and if there are spots that are missed by the ensuing brush strokes the warm earth tones showing through just add to the interest of the painting, and being a complementary of the prevailing green of a landscape allow those greens to sing instead of being too overpowering.
And so, Techies, the imprimatura was Burnt Sienna (alkyd), with the pigments used were Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red, Cobalt and Cerulean Blues, & Cremnitz White, and just a little Cadmium Yellow Pale was used for some of the brighter greens. I worked o this over two successive afternoons. The first day the colours seemed a bit too slippery beneath the brush, and I’m thinking it was the Alkyd Burnt Sienna imprimatura that I had applied several days earlier and was thoroughly dry. Alkyd is a synthetic resin that was developed in the 1930s, I believe, and is compatible with Oil Paint, and dries quite rapidly, compared to Oil; I will have to keep this in mind in future to see if this is true. The second day the first layer, which was really just a block-in at this stage, was just a little tacky and so took the paint quite nicely and I rapidly finished it off. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did painting it … well the second afternoon’s work.