Three Perspectives

How choice of medium and underpainting color can influence the painting of the same subject.  Here’s the same marsh on the same day painted three different ways.

“Little Sippewissett” Soft Pastel on White Paper 9×12
“Little Sippewissett” Soft Pastel on Black Sanded Paper 9×12
“Little Sippewissett” Oil on Canvas 12×16

More on Spinning the Merino/Tencel

This is a follow-up to my March 11th post on spinning the slippery and shiny Merino/Tencel top.  I spun the singles quite fine, and the resulting two ply looks to be an acceptable sport sized yarn.  Now I have to decide what to knit from this slippery and fairly nonelastic yarn.  I wonder if something in a lace pattern will be more successful than regular stockinette stitch.

More Underpainting

The two oil paintings below are painted with palette knife and straight oil paint.  Both were done over underpaintings of bright colors in matching values.  The first is Nobska Lighthouse in late afternoon sun (16×20 on board).  The second (12×16 on canvas) depicts a saiboat race in stormy seas; the underpainting for the sailboat painting was pictured in a previous post.  In both paintings you can see the effect of the underpainting.
“Nobska Late Light” Oil on Board, 16×20
“Stormy Sail” Oil on Canvas, 12×16

Such Beautiful Music

Over the past few weeks I have been learning, and now am memorizing, the Sarabande from Bach’s First Suite for Violoncello.  This is a shorter movement than the first three that I have been learning and memorizing this year, but it is perhaps the biggest challenge.  The slow tempo requires perfect intonation and exact meter.  The chords have to be perfectly tuned.  But the resulting music, when you get close to what it should sound like, is heavenly.  Such beautiful harmonies.  Playing this music, filled with these harmonies and sadness, nevertheless brings a smile to my face.

Here’s a link to a performance of this Sarabande by Yo-Yo Ma from this March, part of a performance dedicated to the people of Japan:

Pastel on Black Backgrounds

I spent Saturday at the local Artists Guild at a workshop on pastel painting on dark (black) backgrounds (The workshop was given by Betsy Payne Cooke, a local pastel artist.).  The morning part of the workshop started with doing a small sketch of a photograph to be painted. I chose a photograph of a view of Little Sippewissett Marsh.  The object of the morning exercise was to do the identical pastel painting (with identical pastel colors) first on a 8×10 white sheet of Canson paper and then repeating the painting using a similar sheet of black Canson paper.  The object was to see the difference the background color made and also see how the black paper allowed for using negative space to represent dark areas of the painting.  Here, side by side are the two paintings:

Identical scenes, identical colors.
On the left is black Canson paper, on the right is white Canson paper.

Also, here is a cropped photo of the Marsh Painting done on the black background:

Little Sippewissett Marsh – 9×6 pastel on black Canson paper

The afternoon of the workshop was devoted to doing another pastel painting, this time using a 9×12 piece of Black Art Spectrum sanded paper, a paper which holds more of the pastel pigment and allows a more painterly approach.  I used a photograph from a visit to the Poore Family Farm Museum in Colebrook, NH; I chose the photograph because of the wonderful dark areas of the photograph that lent themselves to using the dark background.  Here’s the painting of the porch of the museum; the building really is tilting as depicted in the painting.

At the Poore Family Farm Museum 9×12 Pastel on Black Sanded Paper

Painting with black backgrounds is an interesting technique, one I hope to use more when I am depicting scenes that have interesting dark areas.  The dark paper really does enhance the colors that are used as well.  What an interesting and profitable workshop!

Underpainting and the palette knife

Several painting friends have encouraged me to try the underpainting techniques described by Lois Griffel in her book “Painting the Impressionist Landscape”; in the book she describes this technique, which was used by the Cape Cod School of Art under Henry Hensche.

Unlike more traditional underpainting techniques, which might use a single color or may use a value painting done in that color with thinned paint, this technique starts with the white gessoed canvas or board and proceeds to a value painting of the major value forms (“light keys”) done with palette knife and various colors of paint chosen to represent the values present in the scene to be painted.  Then the final colors are painted gradually and carefully on top of the underpainting, often leaving some of the underpainting to show through.  I like this technique because of it’s focus on both value and color and the beautiful vibrant light effects that result in the final painting

“Two in the Snow”, Oil on board 11×14

This week I did a painting of two horses in a snowy field using this underpainting technique.  I started with an underpainting that used dark purple and blue for the background trees, bright dark orange for the barn, yellow for the horses and a light blue for the snow.  Working from the background, I applied the final colors on top of the underpainting.  There is a depth to the colors that I don’t think would be there if the underpainting colors were not there.

I’ve started a painting of a sailing race; the sky will eventually be stormy and grey, and the water dark with white caps.  But the underpainting is done in different colors, still reflecting the values that will be in the final painting.  I really like this technique and look forward to using it in many of my paintings.

Underpainting for sailing race painting

Unfinished Projects

I’ve joined the knitting site called Ravelry (; it not only offers lots of information about knitting, patterns, yarns, and connections with other knitters and spinners, but it allows you to catalog information and photos of projects and stashed yarn.  What a joy to make some sense of the boxes of yarn from years past.

In doing this cataloging, I came across three projects that I had never finished.  One is a complicated pattern that I gave up on after knitting the body; I have to think about whether to make that a vest or finish the sleeves.  A second project was a cardigan that I partially finished: I did the two fronts and back and started the sleeves; it was at the point that I learned circular knitting and I just put the project aside.  The third project was a cashmere cardigan that I realized when I got to the sleeves that I didn’t have enough yarn to finish them.  So there all these projects sat for YEARS!

Thanks to my organization for Ravelry, I’ve dug these projects out and am going to finish them.  Last night at the Woods Hole Knitting Group, I finished the Cashmere piece as a vest with little cap sleeves.  I just have to weave in the yarn ends and sew on buttons.  It looks great!

Above is a photo of the project after I finished one cap sleeve; the second was finished last night.
The next project I will finish is the cardigan sweater.  This one needs to have the sleeves finished and the front bands and neck edging knitted.  That shouldn’t take too long.  It feels very satisfying to go back and finish two of these projects started so many years ago!