Last year I wanted to paint some white azaleas, but I didn't have any growing in our yard and I wasn't brave enough to go around the neighborhood asking for some.
This year Spring had a little surprise for me. Out of nowhere I found a small white azalea plant in our back yard, it had about a dozen blooms...oh I was happy.
I cut almost all of them, picked a few purple ones from our neighbor, Ellen's yard and got to work. It took a while to finish - this is the largest still life painting I've completed, but it was so much fun to paint. Here it is:
Another one for some detail:
Thank you for visiting.
The painting process
I've been asked a few times about the thing I miss the most from Nicaragua. Most of the time I say my family, friends or food but if you ask me this time of year, I'd probably say not having to deal with allergies. It all started last year but I had forgotten how bad allergies can be. Ok, now to business...
I wanted to show a little bit of the process that goes into creating a painting. I like to set up my composition and paint directly from life, but sometimes that's just not possible. I worked on the painting here using a series of photographs I took the last time I was in Nicaragua. My brother had brought bananas from my sister's coffee farm (banana plants and other trees are planted among the coffee plants to shade the coffee plants). I set up a still life composition using the bananas and my mother's old wooden box in order to take photos.
Using the digital images, I drew on newsprint and then transferred the image to the canvas. Next, I applied a thin layer of burnt umber to the canvas and let it dry. Then I added the local color to each element in the painting starting with the background, then the wooden box, and finally the bananas, working to get the right values.
Once this step was complete, I began to paint the next layer, adding detail and adjusting the values and colors as needed.
The background is very simple, so I was able to move soon to the wooden box. Because the box does not have many details, it offers a good balance to the detail and movement in the bananas.
After a couple of days spent working on the bananas, I was finished with the painting:
There are different ways to start an oil painting and they all affect the look of the finished piece.
In the first painting (The blue brush) I started with an thin wash of burnt sienna, a dark translucent orange, that gave the finished painting an overall warm look. In the second painting, after adding a few more elements to the composition the same process was followed, with this painting, however, I started with a light blue mixture that resulted in a painting with a cooler feel.
I wish I had taken a few pictures of the process to post here, maybe I'll do it next time.
Self portrait in red
In Nicaragua, an hour from the Honduran Border and surrounded by small mountains is Ciudad Antigua, my hometown.
Ciudad Antigua, originally named the City of the Gentlemen of Segovia by its Spanish founders, was a prosperous town some 350 years ago until it was abandoned due to constant pirates attacks. From that time only the beautiful church remains, and you can still view the ancient nave, adobe blocks and some wooden structures from the original building. Today Ciudad Antigua is a peaceful town or as a good friend of mine put it "a place so quiet that you can hear the silence" a little hyperbolic I think, but not too far from the truth.
The painting above shows the current view from the south of town, I like it because it looks as if there's nothing but trees between you (the viewer) and the mountains in the horizon; then you see the cellphone tower that tells you that there is more to the town than that one house at the left of the painting. If you were to walk up to the hill, from the house (which is actually my uncle Jose's house) you would see the town's cemetery and a few houses surrounded by mango and orange trees; the church's two white towers would appear above the trees and if you turned around, you would see bean and corn farms, cows, more mountains, and probably a few men coming back from a hard day of work.
That's the land where I come from, the land where my parents were born and are growing old, the land of loud music and always smiling people, the land that I call home.