These spiky shrubs are palmettos – kind of like a palm tree without the trunk. They’re everywhere here on my Florida island, growing wild and taking over great dunes of sand.
I started by creating a quick oil painting study on a small scale – my study is only 5″ x 5″; big enough to get the gist of color and composition.
Then I spent a few weeks painting Palmetto Shadows in a slightly larger size – 14″ x 18″ … Usually it doesn’t take me that long to paint something that size, but these palmettos are just so darned complicated! The more detailed, the more time it takes to paint and get right. This is the result . Palmetto Shadows edges on realism, yet it’s soft and impressionistic, and pulls me into the peace of deep woods laced with shady palmettos in the sand.
See these and more at maryhubley.com. I’d also love to sell you a painting! Just contact me for pricing.
Just got back from a few days attending the opening of the 2017 Oil Painters of America (OPA) Eastern Regional show. This event included several days of plein air painting around St. Simons Island, Georgia; and watching demos by some of the master artists – Marc Hanson, Howard Friedland, Katie Dobson Cundiff, and OPA president John Michael Carter.
Of course they were inspirational. Masterful. The best at what they do. And that’s why I’m always surprised that they are so down to earth. And they love to laugh. A lot.
It started with a lovely little yellow paint tube I received in my goodie bag at registration. I didn’t recognize the maker. So I looked closer. I was surprised to see it was an acrylic. Made me think. Was this some new technique the oil painting group was exploring? Were they mixing acrylic and oil somehow? Probably not. But I had to ask. The OPA exec, Kathryn, answered with a gut-wrenching guffaw. “Did we give you an acrylic tube? So sorry! I didn’t know we had these!” She replaced it with a proper sample tube of Gamblin Ultramarine.
I giggled throughout the demos. These master artists sure know how to hold an audience. Oh, and they painted well, too. And the last evening a few of us sat outside by the fire, and belly laughed for a couple of hours about nothing important. Awesome.
You know my biggest takeaway from this experience, don’t you? Laugh more often!
I live through artist eyes in a world of vivid color and abstract shapes. My mind breathes in a transcendent tangle similar to Alice’s Wonderland. My mind perceives people as super-animated, grays as radiant purple, and trees actually dancing.
I dwell in this alternate reality when I paint every day. Regular practice keeps me completely engaged with a living surrealism. Here, blank white canvases are not intimidating, but inviting. Rather than being sucked in by mundane distractions of clothing that goes unwashed and tonight’s dinner potatoes still unbought, I pick up the brush and jump single-mindedly down the rabbit hole.
The Big Jump
When I begin my painting frenzy, the landscape vibrates with invisible brilliance as it plays out across the canvas. While I’m so completely engrossed, it’s a trick to not go overboard. I try to capture raw intensity while keeping it from being distracting. I balance perfection with hodgepodge. As my painting emerges over the next few days, I observe before-unnoticed nuances; this is when I soften overenthusiastic edges, fix unfortunate shapes, and tone down the purples and oranges.
The Wonderland of the Mundane
The magic lives on when I come up for air. I notice exotic tree contours as I drive to the supermarket for tonight’s potatoes. Unusual color combinations insinuate themselves as I fold the wash. Few of my non-painting friends understand my strange consciousness. They call it eccentric. It could be madness.
Sometimes, I find myself staring at a bush or a sidewalk. It’s the color. Or the shadow/light.
If you’re an artist, I’ll bet you know what I mean.
Last week, I painted in the gardens of the historic Fatio House in downtown St. Augustine, Florida – a museum surrounded by beautiful Spanish Colonial-style buildings. I often paint small when I’m in the field to get the basics quickly. If I like the painting after I get back to my home studio, I’ll often repaint it in a larger size. Here’s my progress on a tiny study: