Venice Italy – Walking in the Rain

Three Men Three Umbrellas 12×16 Oil on Panel

I enjoyed taking photos of life in Venice – mostly, I loved images of people with their colorful umbrellas walking in the rain. I’ve created many paintings from them which no doubt will continue. The painting above is new. I I liked the varied focus and directions of the walkers, but all with umbrellas which unified the scene. The two paintings below were painted a few months ago but I was not happy with them.

As with relationships, some paintings become stronger over time, while others become weaker. I substantially altered the two paintings below after I looked at them for a while. I often post an image of a painting immediately after I first paint it – not a really good idea. I need to place a painting convenient to glance at it for a week or so before deciding if it’s really finished. It makes a HUGE difference to do this. Some paintings might require only minor adjustments, others major. There are other paintings I scrap completely and sand down the panels for in the future.

Two Ladies – One Red Umbrella 12×16 Oil on Panel by Winifred Whitfield

Often there is no rain actually visible in my reference photo. It is often only the reflections on the pavement and big umbrellas which signal there is rain. In the painting above, I decided to paint more visible indications of rain.

The reference photo for the painting below was very calm with the subject walking past a smooth pink building wall. I wanted to shift to a higher energy. I added the white drips to the big blue umbrella edge, kicked up raindrops in the pavement and added lots of texture and movement throughout. It’s much more colorful and fun.

Blue Umbrella in Murano Italy 12×16 Oil Painting – by Winifred Whitfield

Comments: Some of you make a comment about a painting. I always reply but I’ve recently been told that you can’t see my responses and do not receive notification of my reply. I was also asked how you can access the comment section of the blog. I will inform Jon about this to see how this might be managed. Thank you for your interest. Winifred

Venice Italy – Gondola Under Canal Bridge

Couple in Gondola Under Canal Bridge – 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

The reference image I took and used for this painting, I found to have a very different look from most Venice canal oil paintings. One reason is that it was taken of a gondola under a bridge – not out in open daylight on the canal. I looked at many other images online, there are thousands and thousands of them but I saw nothing like this one. Another reason I like it is that it has a portrait look to it – as well as looking rather stifly posed. It reminds me of Grant Wood’s portrait of the man and his daughter with the pitch fork – we all know it. My painting is actually not posed. I found the light and warm colors of the wood mooring pretty and loved the glow of outside light hitting the ceiling of the bridge – all of which give it a rather vintage look. These are the first water waves I’ve ever attempted. Not too bad! It’s my first Gondola painting also. I have many other canal images I can choose from for future paintings – many very nice images but nothing else quite like this one.

It’s not an excuse when I tell you that most often the digital files I post just don’t do the actual paintings justice at all – particularly when there are a great deal of texture/hence tiny detail in the panel and painting. The files looks more pixelated. Smooth paintings photograph and present much more accurately and attractively – but I love texture so I struggle with it. I’ve done the best here I can do. This painting represents a finished first draft. I have more work to do. I will wait a week and come back to it. At that time needed changes will just jump off the page. I also think I will give the driver an often seen sunhat and add stripes to his shirt. I’ll let you know if I make significant changes. Thanks for viewing. Winifred

The Sleeping Cat

The Sleeping Cat 12×16 Oil Painting on Textured Panel by Winifred

The painting was completely from imagination – except for the cat! I couldn’t sufficiently visualize cat anatomy in the curled sleeping position. I found a photo and loosely sketched it’s form and then painted it. The flowers didn’t start out as tulips. My sketch had bulbous shapes at the end of a stem. That would have been fine also, but I began to see tulips, so tulips they became. 

This still life painting was as much fun to paint as it appears. I made a sketch from imagination and then painted it. My surface is a very textured panel I created, then painted with a thin rich yellow underpainting.   I mixed my other paint colors with a medium I made to thicken and strengthen the paint layer I would apply. This product would also isolate the paint layers to keep addition paint application from readily mixing thereby keeping the paint colors very rich.  I could brush various colors over the  underpainting  and the new paint would attach only to the peaks of the panel texture – depending on brush pressure.  

Another thing different about this painting is the brushes I used to create addition texture variability. Notice the kitty and the fringed rug the kitty is lying on.  Normal brushes don’t easily make marks like those. I took otherwise perfectly good bristle brushes and cut/chopped the bristles to create irregular configurations.  This made a big difference in brush marks throughout.  I have created a whole set of these strange brushes in varying sizes and shapes.
I don’t normally spend so much time talking about my paintings on my blog but I’ve done so because I find this to be such a fun joyful painting with a different kind of look. Hope you enjoy!

The Vintage Tray

Roses on Vintage Tray 12×16 Oil on Panel

Roses are beautiful but complex to paint. It’s been a few months now, that I focused on painting roses. I started by painting single roses which I enjoy, but I also wanted to paint rose bouquets and to paint roses abstractly without a visual reference. This required that I understand the flower structure and be able to visualize the petals/flowers and lighting as the flower is turned.


I love the vintage tray the vase is sitting on.  I purchase most of my still life elements at Goodwill or at Poulsbo Antiques. On this one occasion, I walked into Goodwill and immediately spotted this tray – actually a removable table top.  You can’t see much of the tray in this painting, but it really is beautiful.  It was $175.00.  I had no place to use it as a table and it was far too expensive to use as an occasional still life prop – so I walked away – reluctantly.  The next time I was there it was $75.00. “WOW”, I thought, but I still walked away.  The next time, I was there it was $15.00!!!  This item had been in the floor so long that the cashier further reduced it to $11.00. We all love a good deal!!
Hope you enjoy this painting.  Next week I will post a very different style of painting – for me, and painted completely from imagination – no roses involved.

Taking Chances

Impressionistic Peach Roses with Fruit 12×16 Oil Painting on Panel by Winifred

 I place a high value on taking chances.  In fact, I don’t really believe taking chances is a risk, I believe the risk occurs if you don’t. If I choose a safe path, one I believe will keep me from “messing up my painting, for sure this will inhibit my growth.  I’m thinking now about  thoughts which went through my mind with these two paintings – both of which presented me with opportunities to “mess up” – but I took a chance anyway.

I don’t find it particularly difficult “to paint what I see” from a reference photo or from a still life I set up.  For the most part, however, my interest is not realistic paintings  – except portraits.  I’m interested in “interpreting” or abstracting away from realistic visual references. This is much more interesting and exciting for me.

I find this more challenging because it means, I have to “make up things that aren’t there”.  I have to eliminate part of the content which is there. I have to create elements, colors, textures which are not present.  I have to make up brushstrokes which alter the surface of my reference.  I might “mess up” – I often think as I commence some of my more abstracted or elaborate processes!  This thought regularly enters my mind and I have to pause to “talk” to my mind about it.  “You can’t mess up” –  I tell my mind. In fact, I tell my mind that imagining/abstracting new content – new ways to express the elements being observed “ is its only job” – and the only way to build new skills, confidence and creativity – no matter the outcome!  

 I want to have ideas – receive ideas but to try not to tightly control the process expression.  By doing this with each painting – even in small steps, I know my creativity and confidence grows.  I believe both of the above paintings are examples of being a bit “out of control”. It doesn’t even matter whether they’re good paintings or not. The only thing that really matters to me is that I tried something new which caused some discomfort and I did it anyway. I hope to continue this practice throughout this new year.  

I think the saying is – “feel the fear and do it anyway! 2020!!

Feel the Sun

16×16 Oil Painting “Apple and Orange” by Winifred

I enjoy the boldness of this painting emitting such strong shapes, color and contrast. In so many ways it is abstract in form, but otherwise NOT! It’s a real POW to the senses.

It’s almost New Years and I wish you and all those in your life a very Happy New Year. Somehow we will get to the other side of what purports to be a challenging political year.

This Time of the Year

‘Stopping for a Margarita” 16×20 Oil Painting on Panel by Winifred Whitfield

I admit, this is not an image reflective of the Holidays. I thought I would have time to paint a holiday image – but I didn’t.

My painting reference is a photo I took in a Mexican restaurant in Ajijic, Mexico. I was struck by the foliage, that large leaf lit by a streak of sunlight. The chairs and tables were actually very colorful. There was a beautiful mural on the wall. Other than the mural, however, the walls were off white.

I wish you the merry and healthy holiday season, and get some rest, 2020 promises to challenge our PEACE! Winifred

Abundance

Winifred Paints Roses in Vase with Fruit Still Life 16×20

With my large format printer removed from my very long table, I have a new place I can set up to shoot still lifes with ease. The wall is a rich burgundy and I have a source of both natural and artificial light available to create reference photos from which I can paint. Often I don’t have a great deal of fruit in the house, but at the time I created this reference photo, I had abundance of fruit in the house – as well as artificial flowers. I used an electric coffee maker as my vase. My arrangements always take a while to create but ultimately, everything came together nicely.

Abundance – Initial color sketch 16×20 – by Winifred

Above, I liked the rough color/value sketch. It’s a loose painting style, some of which I hoped I would maintain in my final painting – but I failed to do so. In fact, I will soon create a painting where this painting style is the style for the painting. I like the fact that I can now, so quickly create shapes recognizable as a roses – which are complex to paint.

Below is a painting from my initial still life set up in the new location. I will soon purchase new silk roses with new colors and rose types.

6 Roses in Turquoise Vase – 11×14 panel.

I do love the turquoise and vivid magenta hues together. Thank you for observing my progress. Winifred

Bouquets of Roses

Roses are hard to paint – I think I said that before. I wanted to become more comfortable painting them – hence, I continue. I’ll change subjects pretty soon.

Rose Bouquet with Apples – 16×20 Oil Painting on Panel by Winifred

Above, the challenge was to paint a variety of different roses but to maintain a consistent painting style. For me, that required a great deal of discipline. I often like to paint in the “style of the moment”. By working to create a consistent style, some of the spontaneity was removed from the process – a type of “freeness” in hand movement I value. Even the fact that it is a 16×20 – not a small painting, increased the challenge.

Red Roses with Shadows on Stairs – 12×16 Oil on Canvas Panel

Above: I planned to take this vase of silk roses upstairs but set them on the landing temporarily. When I did, I immediately noticed the very interesting pattern of light on the roses but particularly the shadows reflected onto the landing. One rarely paints a still life using overhead light but this was special. I snapped several photos, one of which I would certainly later use as a painting references.

Below: Painting sketch from imagination. My challenge to myself – could I convey in only only a few quick brushstrokes the kind of flower I intended. This was fun! No laboring for hours or days to create this. It was quick, colorful and fun. I hope you recognize the flower!!!

Rose Bouquet 6×8 Sketch – by Winifred