Saturday, August 24, 2013

Strung Out - the update

 Strung Out  SOLD
12" x 24"  oil

Quite awhile ago I started this piece and it sat idle for a couple of months while others took the limelight. In between paintings, I thought I'd add more paint to it and see how its resurrection works. Close. Very close to completion.

These are salted cod drying on a clothes line in what was a neighbour's yard when I lived in Pouch Cove. Its an occasional scene one comes across that shows the bones of Newfoundland's heritage and how the salted dried cod, bacalhau to the Portugese, was currency and life in this province for hundreds of years.

Salt cod is an icon in the province and a common source of art in many forms.  I've used it in my gyotaku pieces and workshops as it rehydrates beautifully and with the skin and fins intact, very interesting prints can be made.   

Dried, it mellows to a creamy ochre colour with a variety of colours appearing in the flesh from pinks and purples to greens and blues.  Eating it, its a salt lover's dream.  Even with a day's worth of soaking and changing water, its still very salty and while I adore salt, its a bit much even for me at times.  Its a taste that probably needs to be acquired and is often served in a traditional fish and brewis, which is a "hash" of salt cod, rehydrated hard tack or ship's biscuits, potatoes and topped with a butter and onion translucent sauce (drawn butter), then topped with more heart stopping diced salty fat back pork that has been fried til crispy and known locally as "scruncions".  Like I said, its an acquired taste. 

The dish goes back hundreds of years and points to the way of life at the time.  Lack of refrigeration, limited fresh supplies and salted or dried food being a main source of preservation with dried ship's biscuits rounding out the meal to fill hungry bellies.  This food likely wasn't great nutritionally, but it was cheap and filling for families who depended on fishermen's incomes for subsistence.  For those brave enough to try it and who can access the ingredients, here is a recipe.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Colour matching

One of the challenges that many beginning artists have when painting is getting to grips with colour theory.  It can be daunting with many formulas, favourite primary colours and different colour wheels to choose from.  Too often the concept of colour mixing and determining the correct value and hue is misunderstood and mud happens more than is liked.

I'm determined to simplify the colour process in my workshops by breaking it down into basic colour mixing, understanding just what colours are in some of the primaries and why mud happens.  While there are a number of colours on my palette, some are standards, some come and go.  Here are the most common:

Cadmium yellow light
Cadmium red light or medium
Permanent rose
Alizarin crimson
Ultramarine blue
Phthalo blue
Raw or burnt sienna
Titanium white

From these I can mix pretty much any colour I want using variations of primary secondary and tertiary colours.   One of the exercises that I use in the workshops is getting participants to match colours on paint chips and in common objects.  This helps students explore the paint colours and understand the effects of one colour added to another and everyone really enjoys the challenge.

In the image above, I was matching paints to Mango Madness, a BEHR paint chip.  I don't know if I'd be brave enough to have this colour covering a whole room in my house, but I LOVE the colour.  What do you think?  Did I get it right?  Next time you're in a hardware or paint store, grab some paint chips you love and take them home to try to match the colour in paint.  And don't forget to write down what colours you used to get that hue, along with a paint swatch on paper or canvas. Its a great resource to keep colour swatches and notes about them.

This exercise and lots more will be used in my Painting Realistic Water and Palette Knife Painting workshops that are available this fall and winter from my studio in Flatrock, NL.  Registration is simple, classes are relaxed and learning is guaranteed.  For more details or to register, visit my website.  I'd love to see you in the studio soon.