Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Watercolorist Reunites With Oil Paint!

For the past few years, I had been intrigued by advertisements for water mixable oil paint.  My brain kept telling me to forget it, that I would have to invest in a lot of new paint, canvas, brushes, a suitable easel and other supplies to add oil painting into the "mix" of my art studio.  I put that idea on hold indefinitely because my passion for art was firmly fixed in plein air painting and transparent watercolor. 

However, since moving to Oregon, my ability to paint plein air twice a week or more came to a screeching halt between the months of October through April 2016 because of rain, fog, mist and overcast skies. This was the shocking reality of my new life and the fact that not only did it rain for months on end, but the lack of the sunshine caused a Vitamin D deficiency that I never experienced in my life. 

So what was an artist to do?  My husband installed lots of bulbs in my art studio to create natural lighting on those dreary rainy days.  But it wasn't quite the same as California sunshine and oranges on the trees in December. I realize now what a spoiled artist I was for all those years.  During the Spring and Summer in Oregon, the air is not as dry but the sun is just as hot as Santa Clara County.  Our house and small ranch in  McMinnville is in the heart of Oregon Wine Country where the climate is similar to Napa, Sonoma and San Marco dei Cavoti in Italy where my grandfather's family made red wine and pressed olives for oil.

Living in wine country made me think of the reasons why I should start drinking wine while painting, but also why I don't like having to clean up after using oil. So where am I going with all this?   

PUMPKIN DELIGHT  5 x 7  Oil on Archival Linen Panel

In late August,  I made the decision to put plein air watercolors on hold to try something new.  I purchased water mixable paint - Lucas Berlin, along with all the supplies necessary to reunite myself with painting in this medium.  It was a bit challenging to wrap my brain around painting with techniques that were very different from transparent watercolor.  I admit that I was frustrated as it had been nearly 40 years (high school art classes) since I used oil paint. 

Nevertheless, I pushed myself to keep at it despite being confused about how to mix the paint with just the right amount of "special" water soluble oil, water, drying medium, etc. Even though I invested in videos on how to paint with water mixable oils, I know that it will take a least a year or more of practice and determination to be comfortable with it.  Bucket of Sunflowers (below) was my first oil painting in 40 years, and Pumpkin Delight (above) was the second.

BUCKET OF SUNFLOWERS   5 x 7  Linen Panel
On September 1st, I also started a painting challenge hosted by an artist from Southern California, the same challenge I took in January 2016 -- Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days!  My goal was to use one reference photo to create a finished piece of artwork in three different mediums (oil, pastel and watercolor) for three consecutive days.

RIPE FOR PICKING   8 x 10 Oil on Linen Panel

10 x 14 Transparent Watercolor

BUCKET OF SUNFLOWERS  10 x 14 Transparent Watercolor

PLUMS ON THE VINE   10 x 14 Transparent Watercolor

After only 10 days into the challenge, I started to rethink my plan to continue alternating between mediums.  I ended up painting exclusively in watercolors, ending the challenge with a series of whimsical scarecrows (a future blog post). 

As I write this today, the month of October has already set rainfall records in Oregon.  It has rained 26 days out of the last 29 days. My goal during the rainy season will be paint in whatever medium suits my mood.  Look for some abstract paintings with some wild colors in the future.

---  Artist Anna Jacke

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