Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rouge Bouquet - and Patty's Fabulous Pet Portraits

Rouge Bouquet
Oil on canvas, 18x18

I've always loved paintings that seem to outline their subjects in a dark color. Vincent Van Gogh did it sometimes. A whole group of contemporary artists take this approach, including Jessie Mackay, an artist I discovered during the Piedmont Plein Air Paintout.

It's not outlining, actually, but is the canvas showing through the gaps.  You get it either by buying black canvases, or by using black gesso on your canvases, or by toning your canvases with oil or acrylic paint.

Lots and lots of painters tone their canvases, and one of the reasons they do is to have a color show through the nearly inevitable gaps and skips in the paint. I used to tone my canvases, but have avoided tit for years, for lots of reasons.

For starters, it's more work, and it requires planning and waiting. That paint needs to be dry before you go painting on top of it. You can pick one color and tone all your canvases that color, but according to People Who Know, different colors work better under different paintings. So when I tried this the first time, I tried a variety of colors - and nearly inevitably, the canvas I wanted to use was toned in a color I didn't want to use.

Also, and most important, I believe that the bright white canvas makes the paint colors brighter. Whatever light gets through the paint bounces on white and illuminates the colors more clearly than it would, were the canvas toned.

But I decided to try it again, on black. I do like the black canvas for the depth it brings to shadows and to the dark places. And I have to admit, I really, really like the black outlines around these zinnias.

So I will try some toned canvases, and some more black ones - but my guess is that I will continue to prefer the plain, bright, white, untoned canvas. We shall see!

I'd love to hear any ideas or comments or experience from you! Painters, do you tone your canvases? If so, what color? Buyers and viewers, do you see any difference? Do the differences matter? Please let me know!


MY FRIEND PATTY KIERSTEN lives in Warwick, NY, and is a dear person and a fabulous painter. She and her husband, a photographer, opened their studio to the public last weekend, and Patty put many of her pet portraits on display. Aren't they wonderful? You might have to click on the photo to see them more closely. 

DONT' FORGET about An Occasion for the Arts, this weekend in Williamsburg. I'm in Booth A8, on the Duke of Gloucester Street. Yes, I know, it is supposed to rain on Saturday morning, and be freeeezing on Sunday - but it will add to the fun and adventure! The show takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. See you there! 

Day's End for Days Inn
I SAW THEM hauling the sign away a couple days ago. I haven't been back to see what hotel chain bought the hotel. When we arrived here, it was a Quality Inn. Then it was a Days Inn. Now?

Dog of the Day

I saw this guy in High Point, NC, last weekend. His human said he was part chow, part German shepherd. We had a dog of the same mix, Kaja, and she looked a lot like this, except that she was red with black markings, like a shepherd. 

Want your pet to be Dog of the Day? Send a jpg to me at

THANKS FOR READING! Your support, comments and friendship mean a great deal to me. I'd never be doing this if it weren't for YOU! 

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