Sunday, September 16, 2012

Personality of color

Potted Petunias
Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

Do you have a favorite blue? How about yellow?  

Do you have a favorite color in general? Which color couldn't you give up?

I don't know if I could answer any of these questions. I can tell you some colors I don't like. I can tell you some colors that I love to work together. But a favorite? Oh I love color way too much to pinpoint one as a favorite.

My palette started off fairly simple with 7 colors and white. It was my standard and I used it quite successfully for many years. I still teach it to my beginners. As time went on and my journey sent me exploring richer, fuller colors, I began rummaging the color charts. 

I purchased a few random ones, usually to help capture certain flowers I was struggling with. I think you can all identify with that. No matter what subject you're painting there's often a color present that you have difficulty capturing, so a tube close to the pigment becomes of great use to you. 

My purchases evolved in time. I became fixated on certain color families. I remember beginning with yellow. I bought a whole range of yellows. I didn't go crazy with them all at once. The tubes sat nicely available to me. One by one they got promoted to my palette as I saw necessary. It was a good way to get accustomed to them. I think had I put them all on my palette at once, I would have been overwhelmed. 

This way I learned each one individually. I learned how to work them with my existing colors in a way that harmonized with what I was already doing. I played. Mixing them with each color on the palette to see what little surprise they held. 

You'd be amazed how much I learned doing this. 

I don't squirt all my yellows on the palette at once. I've learned how they can assist me. It's a good feeling to have them at my fingertips and be able to go directly to the right one that will capture what I desire. That said, I don't think I ever use a color directly from the tube. It always gets to play with a friend first.

I did the same with blues. I must have at least 7 blues to choose from. Yes there are the old standbys that always have a permanent spot on the palette. Colors that get mixed into other colors no matter what I'm painting. But how about when I'm painting something blue? The sky, water, or beautiful blue blossoms? Having such a selection at my fingertips is priceless. 

In my quest for complex color, this has been a blessing.

Don't be afraid of color my friends. It's the best tool we've got. 

One of my students keeps remarking on the blues in my paintings lately. How do you get those wonderful blues? 

The answer is simple. Have a variety to play with, mixing them with other colors in your painting and soon you'll have a wonderful array of shades that visually dance together. The trick is to get to know each new addition. Think of them having their own personality. Once you understand them, they can be very useful to you.

I have many friends. Lots of personalities... Sometimes I choose to introduce some to each other, but I'm careful to pick the right blend for the right situation. If I have a boisterous friend I might not invite her to lunch with a quiet, somewhat introverted guest. On the other hand, she might be the perfect invitee at an art opening. Who better than to talk up your work? 

The same is true with your colors. If you're working in a sea of pastels, you might not want to use a really loud pigment with it, or be cautious to add in very small doses. Some personalities just go better together...

Have fun and good luck! 

So what's your favorite color again? What personality would you say it has?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Living with art

Ava in the Garden
Original oil painting  18x14"
by Susan Roux

What is the value of your art?

I don't mean the retail cost of it. No, not at all. I'm talking about how much it's valued by it's owner.

I was talking to my dear artist friend, Svetlana Beattie. I'd like to share with you the story she told me about a particular painting she'd done.

The lady who purchased her painting had become a close friend. She was a gardner among other things and invited Svetlana to come paint in the garden anytime she wished. It became the artist's point of inspiration for a great number of beautiful works. The relationship between the two grew, one loving the garden the other loving the painter's interpretation.

Two artists in their own right, not only appreciating each others creations, but finding stimulation to enhance their work by seeing it through the other's eyes.

The artist came frequently to paint directly in the garden. So often really, that she had almost become a moving sculpture in the landscape. The gardner had trouble seeing the artist's works leave her property. After all, they were an exquisite emotional response to her flowers and landscape. As it turned out, she would purchase many of them directly upon their completion. It was a very good relationship for both.

The artist had an exhibition and because many of her works were never shown in public, due to the gardner buying them instantly, the artists asked permission to show one of the paintings. At first the gardner didn't want to agree to it, but after some reflection and hard coaxing by the artist, she finally agreed to let it be shown.

Two short days after letting her painting go, the gardner came to the artist begging for her painting back. I can't stand it anymore! This big empty wall. I knew I loved your painting, but I never realized just how much it means to me. Every time I glanced over the painting soothed me, relaxed me. Now that it's missing I feel anxious and irritable. I need my painting back, right away!

It was emotional.

When you begin to live with a piece of original art, it may come as a surprise to the buyer, but you'll be affected by it in many ways. Much like a wine continues to grow and change in the bottle, a painting also has a life all it's own. The artist has projected their soul into it. It is impossible to separate the two. The deeper you look into a piece of art, the more you see and feel the artist.

Light changes in the household and each time, the painting changes as well. This is not a quality saved exclusively for Kinkade's work, though he would have liked to make people think so. Oil paintings change with varied light. It's part of the living quality it possesses.

These things, the soul of the artist, the light changing the painting, speak to the buyer. Living with art improves quality of life. It does exude healing properties. It can relax, de-stress and sooth... A buyer falls in love with the painting and each time he/she views it, it's comparable to viewing one's love. Just as your love can grow for your partner, so it can grow for your art.

The emotional attachment is real.

Now artist, go pour yourselves out on canvas! You never know how much it will inspire or affect someone else, so do your best and make it count. Art is a window into your soul. Put all your passion into it and it will reflect back.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thank you

Cape with a View
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux

I'd like to thank everyone who came to the art walk last night. It was a fun evening and your show of support, made it feel extra special. I really liked lingering and chatting with you.

A typical conversation during an opening is finding out what people's favorite painting is. It's easy to see that people have varied taste and you could almost envision their selections matching their personalities. Even my dear friend Ell who said she'd be hard pressed if she had to choose a favorite among them. (She's the type that wouldn't leave anyone out...) How can you beat that?

The art had been up all week and the pub owner let me know about all the wonderful compliments he'd received about my work. He also told me of a client who wanted to buy the entire collection! He said the gentleman would be coming to meet me. Unfortunately he didn't. The thought of someone buying out your entire show is an exciting one indeed! Even if he never came to introduce himself, it still brought a new level of excitement to the night. Perhaps like my friend Ell, he too was hard pressed to choose a favorite.

I have to say, the top contender as favorite was Dream Strolling. 

Dream Strolling  18x24"

I know you've seen it several times before, even as a work in progress, but I keep taking new photos of it to try to capture it better. Sorry to say, this one is still quite shy of capturing the feeling in this piece. It's my favorite in the show as well. I found it comforting to know my judgement was in tune with the vast majority. 

So far no sales from the event... It does stay up for the remainder of the month, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that before it comes down someone will approach me with a sale. After all the entire collection was nearly bought out!

If you missed the event, you can still see it all month at Dock Fore, 336 Fore St. Portland, ME. It's in the Old Port. Stop by and tell Shaun I sent you. 

Earlier in the day, Charlie from the The Wright Gallery contacted me saying he was putting a check in the mail for two paintings he'd sold. All in all, yesterday was a very good day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dock Fore

Sophia in the Garden
Original oil painting  12x16"
by Susan Roux

If you live in Maine, you already know the Portland Art walk is a big deal. It's been in operation for many years and has provided a model for several other cities who've followed suite. The first Friday of the month is reserved for Portland and they continue all year long, even during winter. 

In the beginning it was galleries, studios and the museum open to the public, after hours. It was an opportunity to see artist's at work while sipping wine and nibbling grapes and cheese. The event has grown over the years. Musicians, performers, outdoor vendors and artists have all become part of the action. The streets are filled with every sort of character you can imagine. It's an interesting night out.

I don't live in Portland so being part of the art walk seemed unattainable. Recently I stumbled upon a call to artists who were interested in taking part. I'm happy to say they approved my work and Friday I'll be participating.

The venue is Dock Fore. A nice tiny Irish Pub located at 336 Fore St. in the Old Port. You see it here with the red awning. Shaun McCarthy , the proprietor, has been very nice and welcoming. He'll be more than happy to pour you a brew.

I have 13 pieces hanging around the room. I'll be on location from 5-8, so please do come around to meet me and say hi. It's your opportunity to see my work in person and not through the inferior-quality photos I keep posting for you to see here. My solo exhibit is titled: Scents and Sensuality. It's a combination of figures and floral landscapes.

I hope you stop in. I'll be looking forward to your visit!

Dock Fore
336 Fore St.
Portland, ME

Friday, September 7 from 5-8

Thanks Shaun for this opportunity and to my husband, Mike McAllister, for the photos...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Successful workshop

Sun Kissed
Original oil painting  14x18"
by Susan Roux

I pushed them out of their comfort zone.

Isn't that what a workshop's all about? You don't go there to do what you already do. You go to learn. The color workshop I just finished teaching was in my eyes very successful. The students were open to experimenting and by day three, it was evident they had learned a lot about color.

I have to thank Home Depot for making so many color swatches available. It was a great way to play with color in a tangible way. The first step to loosening up with color is not to fear it. The more you understand about it and how it works, the less fearful you become. Who's afraid of playing with colored squares of paper?

We worked a series of short exercises. These were great reminders of certain basic principles. As the workshop progressed and students struggled, a quick reminder about an exercise that targeted that very thing, instantly put it into perspective for them. 

I found my students eager to play with color and I have to say they seemed pretty fearless in their approach. Understanding that a workshop painting is not intended to be a masterpiece, is important. It's an experiment applying new principles. It can take awhile for new knowledge to take hold. Practice, practice, practice. It's the key to adopting any new knowledge as your own.

Here you can see a students progression from early on to nearing completion. 

The workshop was held in a local Grange Hall. It was well lit, spacious and filled with tables that allowed us to spread our stuff around. 

Some students chose to work on a single piece while others began a few. The beginning stages held the biggest change from their usual approach. It opened opportunities to explode with color. This was their moment to be wildly and spontaneously creative. Follow the gut instinct. Once the painting was in session, those initial choices effect every other color you apply to the canvas.  Of course we didn't neglect the importance of value. It is after all the tool for defining objects. Color on the other hand is the key to emotion...

I opened the workshop with a quote from South African artist, Petru Viljoen. In referring to color, he said:

Now we're entering the world where angels dance... 

I thought it very appropriate for describing poetry in a painting. The world where angels dance. What a lovely, delicate, pure image it brings to mind. 

The top painting, Sun Kissed was the workshop demo on day one. Here you see me finishing Dream Stroller which was posted in progress when I wrote about creative color comparing it to wine. I don't usually develop a painting so much before adding a figure. But this time, it's how it came to be. 

If you're interested in taking a workshop at some point in time, please contact me. I'll be repeating this workshop in the months to come. 

Note: I figured out some of my photography issues with regard to my paintings. Sun Kissed is the perfect example. Some areas have less layers of paint than others. Often my less important distant passages are placed in rather quickly, neutralizing right from the start. Since there is less paint there, the light passes through to the canvas and bounces back to my camera as light. So rather than the background receding as in the actual painting, it appears to leap forward not neutralized at all! Argh, no wonder I've been frustrated... If you really squint at my images, they'll resemble the original a bit more.