The warmth and generosity of our Italian hosts is seeping into my palette like fermented Chianti grapes. Full bodied and richly colored, watercolor paint never looked like this from my formerly timid brush.
A traditional Tuscan dinner with guests from Canada and Scotland last night fermented us in the true spirit of Tuscan life. Pheasant Stew with Olives, handmade Florentine Ravioli with Butter Sage, local herbs and sausage antipasti served with gusto and laughter. Can you feel it in the painting? A delicious and colorful evening with new found friends. Gratzi!
I remember Rodger Bechtold talking about the influence of his early watercolors on his oils. I’d never thought about painting translucently in any medium. Rodger said he liked the resonance of a particular Ultramarine sky in one of his paintings. I liked it too.
Rodger’s gallery talk at Glave Kocen Gallery in Richmond this spring opened my mind. I have followed his work for many years. Rodger’s paintings have always felt to me like I was seeing myself in the mirror. The opportunity to hear him speak, a magnet to my heart.
Not caught in the details, Bechtold’s paintings speak with clear earthy simplicity. Something I’ve always tasted before I pick up the paint brush.
Watercolors I began in France two years ago opened a doorway. Light, white paper, white space between colors. Why not white gessoed textured panel peeking through translucent oil paint?
This painting answered my query. Visiting the monastery in Sambuca, I came home with an inspiration to paint the scroll detail, back lit with warm light ~ contrasted by cool light from the open doorway.
Using Venetian Red (which I had just reintroduced into my palette), Ultramarine Blue and Indian Yellow, I limited my palette to just three colors. Cool light from the doorway punctuated by Jim’ figure sitting in darkness of the pew.
I thinned the Venetian Red, a very opaque pigment, with a lot of medium. Without white paint, which would turn the pigment pink, it stayed earthy. It caught in the ridges of heavy-body white gesso I had used to prep the panel, leaving wonderful light and dark patterns in the paint.
Like watercolor, I made it a point to get in and get out without working it to death. A few willow charcoal details, throwbacks to my pastel calligraphy, my connection with earth pigments.
The pediment on the chapel, by the way, read MDII, 1502.
The dream about color field paintings, abstract shapes juxtaposed, shifted my gears. For the last three weeks, images of colorful linens strung from balconies and apartment windows captured my imagination. The dream gave me permission to play with them.
Playing with this one granted my wish to play more. Adding the two flower pots to the railing at first felt like a violation. Freed from my landscape palette, I granted freedom to my notion of wrong-doing. I rather think the flower pots make the painting sing!