Shallow Water- New Painting

Shallow Water 8X10 oil on linen

By this time in August, the days are hot and the sun is relentless. The best way to cool off is to get in the water. I was watching this father and son at the shoreline, saw a good shot, and happened to also have the camera with me. Doesn’t always line up that way.

The dad was apparently comfortable in the water but the little guy, not so much. His face showed some displeasure. If he only knew how lucky he was to be living near a beach as pretty as this one.

I tried some new approaches on this painting and you can see the process below. Seeing works in progress when other artists show them has been so helpful. I thought I’d do the same.

First I toned the canvas with a raw sienna wash and while it was still wet, wiped away some areas for lights. Then I did a rough-in with a deeper sienna to position the dark shapes.

I usually sketched my subjects first but I wind up trying to “stay in the lines ” and I wanted to be looser with this and just get the feel for it. The toned canvas is great to give you a value base to relate to. Lights look more luminous and the darks are already pretty much in place.

Now I started to add in the colors, and again tried something new: a limited palette.

Yellow ochre

Alizarin Crimson

Ultramarine Blue

Titanium White

Burnt Sienna

Touch of Black but barely.

And one teeny dab of Cad. Red on swim trunks. I just had to.

It’s a serious exercise in being very precise in the use of color. And challenging.

Without Cad yellows, greens are much softer and cooler. What is it about green? Sheesh, I hate painting them.

So to complete the reverse order of images, this is the original reference.

It’s too hot…. I’m going for a swim. Unlike the little guy, I fully realize how lucky I am.

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38 Responses to “Shallow Water- New Painting”

  1. Carol King Says:

    What a beautiful painting. I can’t wait to come back and visit and go for a dip!

  2. Jo-Ann Says:

    It’s nice to see what’s “behind” the process and development. Great composition and color development, too. Fresh and fun!

  3. S. Le Says:

    Another amazing piece! Brava!

  4. Reggie Says:

    I really like this one Bonnie. It’s more than just the picture … I like the adult role model.

  5. bonnieluria Says:

    Carol- thanks for the good cheer and just remember when you come back, we’re going to practice synchronized swimming! Matt can perform and not just watch.

  6. bonnieluria Says:

    Jo-Ann, I’m having a good time with the medium. I get so much from other blog information that’s helpful to me, it’s good to see it has it’s reciprocal effect for others.
    Thanks so much for checking in.

  7. bonnieluria Says:

    S.Le- like your name, short and to the point. Or period.
    Thank you. Glad you like it.

  8. bonnieluria Says:

    Reggie- It’s always good to get a comment from you- they’re always just right.
    I’m glad to know you check periodically as I do on yours when I need to laugh, share a rant, or learn how to make the best scrambled eggs.

  9. Frank Gardner Says:

    I like seeing your approach to this one bonnie. That working on a mid tone panel worked nicely for you. It sure helps all of the values fall into place quickly.
    There is a lot of feeling in your brushwork.

  10. bonnieluria Says:

    Frank- thanks so much for the encouraging words. Each successive painting teaches me something new.
    And so much information and visual instruction comes from the selective blogs I look at- of course, yours…

    I guess like a writer, the first sentence is the tough one and for me, starting a new painting is the same.
    But they’re getting more familiar and more enjoyable to do.

    I’ve learned to hold the brush differently from the way I did when I painted in acrylic. Oils demand a very light touch which is how I figured out how to put wet on wet.

    Do you put a final coat of varnish on your paintings?
    From what I’ve been reading, it’s a process and shouldn’t be done until 6 months after the paint has settled.
    Hard to do if you have someone buying it after you’ve just done it.
    Any thoughts?

  11. Nava Says:

    Very cool! Love the expressiveness of your brush strokes. For me as a watercolorist (who occasionally flirts with collage), it’s interesting to see the process of oil painting. Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo different than watercolor! who knows, maybe one day I’ll dip my feet in oil.

    The kid looks bummed indeed, and you’ve manage to capture his expression with just a few hints. VERY nice!!

  12. bonnieluria Says:

    Nava- frankly, I think watercolor painters should have an Olympic category started for them.
    Talk about hard and challenging! Yeow.

    It’s unforgiving.
    So you’d already have the foundation for starting with oils since you know where you have to place your brush before you put it on paper.

    Thanks for visiting again- glad you like what’s here.

  13. Frank Gardner Says:

    Hi Bonnie, I use what could be called a re touch varnish. I usually don’t have the paintings around long enough to put a finish varnish.
    What I use is a mix of damar varnish, turpentine and stand linseed oil. About one part damar, one part stand and three or four parts turpentine. It is not as shiny as a final varnish either.
    I have friends that use krylon spray varnish. I think is what it’s called, I’ll check with them.

  14. bonnieluria Says:

    Frank- I really appreciate your taking the time to help me with this.
    I would imagine your paintings don’t wait around collecting dust while varnish is drying. If I purchased one of yours, I’d be carrying it out with me. And holding it on my lap on the plane!

    The one third ratio formula you wrote about above, sounds like the medium I’ve been using to paint wih but where you write stand linseed oil , I got confused.
    Aren’t they two different things?
    I use 1/3 turp, 1/3 damar varnish, 1/3 linseed as my medium.
    Are you saying I can use the same thing as a finishing varnish too?
    Or should it read 1/3 turp, 1/3 damar, 1/3 stand oil?

    I just like the soft glow that the finish gives it……
    The spray idea sounds good too. I don’t know if our local place carries it and we can”t get it shipped here by air.

    I’ll wait to see what you mean and just keep painting!!!!!

    PS- Kathryn Laws’ comment page is pretty funny….

  15. wrjones Says:

    Bonnie – this is a great piece. I find it difficult to stay loose like you have when painting from a photo. I tend to tighten up.

    I took a workshop with Scott Christensen – he uses Liquin to “varnish” his paintings. I have been using it since his class. It gives a slightly glossy finish.

  16. bonnieluria Says:

    Bill- loosening up was made easier when someone suggested i hold the brush more parallel to the canvas as opposed to a 90 degree angle which is how I used to do it with acrylic.

    And those long handle brushes make it feel logical too.
    And…., squinting, or taking off my glasses- helps look for masses and loses the picky details.

    Thanks so much for the suggestion of Liquin- I’ll look into that too and see if our local store can order it for me.

    I also appreciate the compliment…….

  17. nathaliewithanh Says:

    Oh Bonnie, this so beautiful! That little boy could the painting by himself.

    You know what’s weird? I really like the rough-in on the toned canvas. Is that sacrilegious? I bet it is! I don’t care: I love it and I’m sticking to it!

    I wish I had a photograph you’d want to paint. Let me know if something ever tickles your fancy. I have raw files so I can convert any in color.

  18. bonnieluria Says:

    Nathalie – YOU asking if a toned canvas is sacrilegious?
    You’re the Czarina of sepia!!!!!

    I’m taken by your offer to let me use one of your images.
    I do have one that I love from the Ag Fair – of the young woman in white ( her name is Oceana ) clothing with a bag slung over her shoulder.
    It’s very striking.

    I’m glad you liked this one- in any form.
    You know, I knew when I saw them at the water that it would make a stunning photo and then when I saw the photo, I hoped I could translate it into a righteous painting.

    Your new blog identity is totally beyond hysterical- I no longer need to do abdominals…..and all things must pass.
    I’ve doubled over- you are ridiculously, wonderfully over the top and out the other side!

  19. Marian Fortunati Says:

    Gosh I just LOVE looking at how you did this…
    I WISH I could develop that loose style that you have… I just told my husband last night that I start out with this vision of how I want the painting to turn out but my hand just doesn’t do it the same as I’d like it… Practice, practice practice…
    This is lovely and it’s a special treat to see your process. Thank you!!

  20. Frank Gardner Says:

    Hi again Bonnie. Stand oil IS linseed oil just boiled down in a different process. Without exposure to oxygen or something. I’d have to look that up as my little brain is only capable of retaining so much information I am afraid.
    It is thicker and it is supposed to yellow less than the regular linseed oil.
    It Is about the same mix that is used as a painting medium. It can take a while to dry, so I add a little extra turps. Which in turn makes it a little duller.

    I use a 5 part mix 1-1-3 turps. I put one unit of the oil in a jar, then double that with damar, and then add the turps to what I judge is about 3 or so of that first measure. It is just approximate. The stand takes a while to break down, so I stir it with a brush handle for a while then let it sit. After it rests for about ten minutes I’ll stir it again. I stir it a bit each time before I use it. Stirring is better than shaking, as that adds bubbles.

    That is interesting to hear that Christensen uses liquin as a final varnish. I “oil out” dry paintings sometimes with liquin to make the fresh paint adhere better.
    I actually had wondered about using it as a varnish since it looks pretty good when I do that.

    About those comments on Kathy’s blog. I can’t believe that anyone even figured out what I meant by LAME, good for you. You are very quick.

    And about that painting, I think they will make you stow it under the seat in front of you during take off and landing.

  21. bonnieluria Says:

    Marian-I know what you mean about the mind seeing one thing and the eye seeing another. We have to teach them to work and play well together.
    After being a textile designer for many, many years, precision was critical.
    Can I tell you how good it feels to loosen up!!!!

  22. bonnieluria Says:

    Hi Frank- thanks so very much for this mini tutorial on varnishing. Great in depth explanation.
    Some oil colors have more of a sheen when they dry ( ultramarine blue, it seems ) and it’s gives the painting a very lovely glow.
    That’s what made me think that an all over light varnish would add that same patina.

    I’ll wait until the recent ones are tackier/drier to the touch and then give it a try.

    I really appreciate your instruction.

    side note: your anagram was helped by reading the context of the comment. But thanks-

  23. Bill Guffey Says:

    Hi Bonnie. I love this one! Wonderful looseness of brushstrokes, and that palette worked very well for you.

  24. bonnieluria Says:

    Thanks Bill- I see the sense in working with limited colors and the otherwise ensuing mud baths are really eliminated this way.
    I didn’t know it before, but now I do.

    After seeing what you accomplished as well as Frank Gardner and others who have shown examples, how could I not try!

    Thanks for dropping a note here.

  25. Paz Says:

    I love your painting and enjoyed your explanation of the painting process. Really cool. Definitely makes me appreciate the painting even more. Poor little guy. He probably wanted something else and his dad was trying to distract him with a swim. Didn’t work. LOL! That’s my take on the situation. 😉 Hope you enjoyed your swim. Oh, by the way, it’s finally cool here in the city. Thank God! I couldn’t take all that heat and humidity any more. It was torture. I’m sooooo looking forward to Autumn/Fall weather. My favorite. ;-)))


  26. bonnieluria Says:

    Paz- thanks for your in depth comment and assessment.
    Any time a piece of art or a photo can get people to create a story, that’s a success.

    Glad you have some comfortable walking around weather- I loved autumn in NY too.
    To not feel like you’re melting like wax in the subway stations….

  27. nathaliewithanh Says:

    Well Bonnie, that’s really good that you know her because that’s one of my stolen shots (oops!)
    Before painting that one, you may want to ask her. Oh boy, I’m going to get in trouble again!

  28. Dar Says:

    Bonnie, you have revealed gesture and motion beyond the still photo. It’s really great!

  29. w1kkp Says:

    Is limiting your palette colors as a painter like limiting an essay to 500 words for a writer? Engagement springs from discipline? Oi. That sounds like a bumper sticker.

  30. bonnieluria Says:

    Dar- what a nice compliment- thank you for that.

    Pat- yes, in a way, working with fewer colors is like reducing to the essence, the shapes and warms and cools of a subject.

    Bumper stickers – aren’t they also part of your new ” Coakley’s Callings”?

    Feel free………

  31. Barbara Pask Says:

    I love your style. So loose and suggestive. Also really enjoy your subject matter.

  32. w1kkp Says:

    Oooo…good one. Sort of like a Mao reader, you mean?? But, first, we have to do manhole covers. Yes, you heard me. Just posted the call. Hey, its me and Anish Kapoor. He said, (I’m paraphrasing) “My goal is not to make beautiful things…isn’t there enough of THAT already in the world.” Of course, his sculptures are so totally out of this world that they redefine beauty.

  33. bonnieluria Says:

    Hi Barbara- I really appreciate your comment and am glad you enjoyed what you saw.

    Isn’t it so interesting that with so many artists and art blogs, we all seem to have our own signature?

    That’s why I enjoy poking around these sites too!

  34. bonnieluria Says:

    Pat- great, now I’ll walk around with the opposite affliction of birders’ neck, looking down while walking and hopefully not twisting an ankle on the cobblestones of the old streets.

    Who could resist a challenge from YOU!

  35. Paulette Says:

    Hey Bonnie,
    You’ve been busy! I love the new paintings and enjoyed hearing how you did them. I also loved hearing about your local critters, so big and colourful.

  36. bonnieluria Says:

    Paulette- thanks for dropping in here again and so appreciative of the thoughtful comments, as always.

    Funny how some people love the ” critters ” and others run screaming…..

  37. Jack Riddle Says:

    Bonnie–Wow –an awful lot of info came out of this blog–and thanks to everyone about the discussion of “finish.” As a couple of responders do, I use a retouch varnish to even out a painting when it is done. It can be applied as soon as the piece is dry to the touch. But Frank is right–it does take a long time to dry. I use a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of linseed and turp as a medium while I paint, but I am so inconsistent in its application that I get dry and shiny spots. The retouch evens everything out. Thanks for the step-by-step–you ended up with a wonderful painting!

  38. Bonnie Says:

    Jack- thanks for adding your recipe too. This is what makes bloggers so valuable to each other.
    I appreciate your leaving a note here and glad you liked what you saw.

    PS- Your link came up empty- but I did try.

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