Welcome to fall!! And welcome back to Art Bite Blog after a brief, yet restful, unplanned hiatus. Continuing my series on the work I made during my Florida Residency, this post covers what is likely the most important work I made while there-my palette paintings. These paintings are important to my studio practice in so many ways, but are important to my teaching as they illustrate so profoundly an aspect of art making that I feel is an absolute necessity: Process.
I came to make the palette paintings because my literal watercolor renditions of the Florida landscape were dismal and frankly, uninspired. It’s important to start somewhere and for me, beginning with a literal copy of the subject and then breaking down from there is how I’ve arrived at almost everything I’ve done that is remotely successful. Color is my go to for a lot of things, so I thought I’d start from there. The very first palette I made had no form, no rhyme or reason. I’ve long been inspired by Ellen Heck’s Color Wheels and love her design, but I wanted something simpler. When one is on a residency in remote Northern Florida, one uses what one has on hand…so I used the top of a moisture eater I purchased for my cabin and a Dasani cap as my templates. Circles and ovals are my faves, these templates fit nicely in my backpack with no weight added and I could change the design at will-it all works!
The next part of the process was to paint the colors I saw before me without getting overwhelmed by all of them. I decided to focus on one small section of the landscape and paint every nuance I saw within it-how the light changes with time, how the wind affects the color, how clouds, sun, storms, etc. also affect the color. In most cases, I jotted notes on the date, time of day, weather conditions and where I was. I suddenly had many variables with which to dissect and study this very large, very dense jungle of a landscape and I was having fun doing it. Even though I consider myself a fairly decent colorist, I was learning so much about really seeing and mixing color, as well as developing a color palette I could call my own, which was one of my loose goals for the residency. With one of my major goals achieved, the palette painting definitely brought everything full circle-no pun intended
I now make a palette painting or two on every hike, honing in on anything from leaves, flowers, rocks, water, lichen, etc. My next venture is to combine the palettes with the drawings I wrote about in this post. Also, I’ve just started to get a bit more complex with the design of the palettes themselves. It’s so fun and freeing to work within parameters, I’m discovering so much and making new work at the same time.
Please peruse the paintings below. I always take care to photograph the source of the palette and the source images are either next to or in the same photo as the palette itself. Also, FYI, almost all of the palettes are painted on my Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book using my Portable Watercolor Set, both of which are available in my Amazon Store. Visit my Hiking, Travel and Portable Art Supplies Idea List on Amazon for more great portable ideas and visit my recent post, 5 More Essential Portable Art Materials for my favorite products.