Monthly Archives: June 2014

Making friends with green

French Lick Creek, final, oil on canvas, 24x30, Kit Miracle

French Lick Creek, final, oil on canvas, 24×30, Kit Miracle

Green is one of the most difficult colors for most artists to handle.  However, if you’re going to paint landscapes, you’d better make friends with green.  I think the biggest mistake inexperienced artists make is not really looking at the color.  Green comes in many varieties – yellowish, orangey, silver, blue, purple.  Even just looking closely and slightly emphasizing what you see will help you immensely.  To learn more about the painting above and to see a demo, check out the page French Lick Creek, making friends with green, demonstration.

FrenchLickCreek,detail1 FrenchLickCreek,detail2 FrenchLickCreek,detail3 FrenchLickCreek,detail4

Simplify your backgrounds

Often, when we venture into the great outdoors to paint, we are assaulted with visual overload.  There’s just too much out there!  I find that a good way to approach the problem of too much is to simplify my backgrounds.  In this recent plein air painting of June lilies, I could have added a lot of trees and stuff in the background but decided to emphasize the flowers instead.  I chose to do this by painting the background with a muted variety of purples and blues.  As you can see, this really makes the flowers pop.  By the way, the orange day lilies grow wild in great masses along the country roads this time of year.

June Day Lilies, oil on canvas, 12x16, Kit Miracle

June Day Lilies, oil on canvas, 12×16, Kit Miracle

The original area with a busy background.

The original area with a busy background.

Felling a giant

Memory of a giant

Memory of a giant

Several years ago, I did a painting called “Saturday Morning.”  It basically depicted men working together on, yes, Saturday morning.  This is what people do here in the country.  You cannot do everything yourself so you pitch in and help the neighbor, or he you when you need it.

This morning we had to say goodbye to an old friend.  We have a giant elm which  was here since we bought the place over 25 years ago.  Everyone marveled at its beautiful shape and how it had magically escaped elm disease.  Unfortunately, it began dying last year and we had to take our old friend down today.  It was very close to the house and would have been a real danger during the next big storm.

Taking down the elm which was leaning one way while we wanted to fell it in another was challenging and not without risk.  Fortunately, these two guys have felled many trees but anything can happen.  I documented this not only for my old tree friend but to let you know of some of the dangers.  If you don’t know anything about taking down a tree, hire an expert.

Painting Main Street

Main Street House #1, oil on canvas, 12x16, Kit Miracle

Main Street House #1, oil on canvas, 12×16, Kit Miracle

I went out painting this past Sunday morning in town.  Sundays are usually pretty quiet if you’re painting an urban setting.  There is a row of old houses on Main Street which have been renovated and provide some pretty interesting subject matter.  The first house, with all the gingerbread and roses is almost too saccharine but I thought I’d give it a stab.  I was actually planning to paint it from the other side (south) but since I arrived pretty early, I caught this morning light on the north side. There are some who would like to see every little detail but I believe that you should let the viewer’s eye fill in some of the details.  If I tried to paint a photo-realist painting…what IS the point, eh? …then I think the painting would have lost a lot.

Main Street House #1 en plein air, Kit Miracle

Main Street House #1 en plein air, Kit Miracle



















Main Street House #2, oil on canvas, 12x16, Kit Miracle

Main Street House #2, oil on canvas, 12×16, Kit Miracle

A friend went with me this morning but she had other obligations and had to leave.  I wasn’t ready to pack up so I turned around and then painted the neighboring house.  I really like the light in both of them.  I could probably find subject matter for several paintings in a few blocks of Main Street, especially if I come back at different times of day.

What does YOUR Main Street look like?

Main Street House #2, en plein air

Main Street House #2, en plein air

Spring flowers

June Roses by the Woodshed, 12x16, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

June Roses by the Woodshed, 12×16, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Spring flowers are almost a cliche.  It’s difficult to paint them without getting too saccharine.  But that is why we love them, isn’t it?  Part of my spring busyness, as mentioned in an earlier post, is that I get carried away when I’m at the nursery.  I always buy too much and then have to plant everything.  This particular flowerbed is out by our woodshed and is probably the oldest one on the property.  I think the rock wall was actually a base for a chicken coop, if I remember correctly what the former owner told us.  The yucca and the weigila were already there but I’ve planted everything else.  It’s always a fight between me and the wild critters who have eaten plenty of expensive perennials over the years.  Since this flowerbed is furthest from the house, it generally gets the least attention so the plants have to be pretty hardy.

I painted this 12 x 16 oil yesterday morning.  I love the strathing light.  There was a nice breeze and low humidity so it was a pleasure to be at the easel again.