September McGee paints lively, colorful renderings with her innovative Impressionist style. Loaded with unique strokes and texture, her paintings hold a luminous quality inviting viewers to look into her world and observe her impressions of her many subjects. September has an extensive resume of National and International Juried Shows and Awards and hold four Signature Member Honors and two Elected Member Honors with prestigious American Art Societies. She is also a published author.
Friday, March 11, 2016
PAINT OUT LOUD #1
Welcome to my 2016 blog - PAINT OUT LOUD!
PAINT OUT LOUD is an "artumentary" of my new works from beginning to framed.
In this blog series I will be revealing insights and secrets I have learned over the years that help me create my unique impressionistic style I am known for today.
After spraining my ankle early Fall, I was forced to sit at my easel to paint. I generally stand up to paint. Standing helps me stay looser and keep my brushstrokes spirited. I get to dance, pet the cat and stay open to the intuitive promptings that arise as the creative process evolves. Sitting down is definitely a slower process. I generally sit to do fine detailed work. My studio is small and my left ankle had to be propped on a little foot stool that sits to the left of my easel and under the computer stand. My easel is in the center and my tabouret is on my right. A little tricky arrangement, but manageable. When you gotta paint, you find a way. My healing coach JoHanna suggested that sitting down might result in a new style of painting. I do believe everything happens for a reason.
It has been a long process getting my ankle to heal (over four months) and yes, I have been painting sitting down, and yes a newer style has been evolving. I began 2016 painting several pastels, mainly because I hadn't completed a pastel in almost a year. I was pleased with the results. Liking results fuels confidence and encourages more immediate works.
I flipped my studio back to oils. Sometimes I do a painting in both oil and pastel, which is always fun. Over the years, I have learned immeasurable amounts of information about creating art by working in different mediums from oils, pastels, watercolors, mixed media, sculpture, pencil, charcoal, mono prints and sculpture.
I keep file folders in my computer of photos I have taken in hope that some day these photos will become a painting. There are many waiting their turn to become a masterpiece. The photo I used for today's blog was taken on a freezing night in Times Square, NY. This photo has been on my mind for several years and I was finally ready and energized to paint this piece. If I start a painting and the energy is wrong, the painting will never happen, or it will give me so much grief,
it's not worth it.
I have learned to listen. When I listen I am guided to the right subject matter at the right time. Often I work on several paintings at the same time. This keeps the energy flowing. I have also learned, when I get stuck, or just can't seem to get it right, to stop and take a break. If that doesn't work, it's time to move on to another piece, or go play with the cats. You can't fight your way through a painting. Deep breaths, listen for guidance and trust. It's amazing what happens when you get in the place where you leave the critic, judge, jury and doubter out of the mix.
The decision of which substrate to use is critical. I use only the best. Each surface will net a different result and technique. I decided to use a new oil primed archival linen stretched onto kiln dried stretcher bars. I love linen. I used a Faber Castell Pitt Pastel pencil to sketch in the composition. Utilizing water moistened Q-tips, fingers, brushes and paper towels, I blend and soften the pastel image. When I felt I had the sketch in a place I began adding thin washes of oil paint using both raw and burnt umber, ivory black and a little Titanium white to set the tone for the underpainting.
Pastel block in
I added additional thin layers of oil using raw umber, burnt umber, ivory black and white. Notice I changed the composition by moving the figure on the far left foreground over to the right. I believe it gave the painting better symmetry. I kept the strokes loose and expressionistic.
I use my iPhone camera to record my progress as I go. How lucky we are to live in an age with all our "techy" tools!
I paint from my laptop making it easy to access all my images. I compare each sessions progress side by side to decide how the painting is progressing. Sometimes a wipe out here and there is in order. Wipe outs are not going backward.
Often what remains works out perfectly.
It's time to add some color! Using walnut oil to keep it fluid, I begin to add elements of color to set the tone and palette.
Beginning of color (1st photo) Adding more color (photo #2)
I use a lot of spirited brushstrokes and rich textures when I paint. I decided to keep the paint thin until I was certain of the placement of all the components. This is New York at night. The neon signs banners, colors and buildings are so "in your face". I wanted to stay true to this energy and keep it colorful, fun and impressionistic.
I enhanced the color overall, deepened the foreground figures and developed details. I painted the umbrella and added reflections onto the street. I added color to the signs, banners and lights. You can still see the untouched white linen on the left of the painting. I am editing as I go and placing my reds (my favorite color) throughout the piece
to maintain color continuity.
Thicker and more impressionistic strokes have been added with bristle filberts, various brushes and Q-Tips. I removed the blue horizontal stripes above his hat and replace this area with red lights. I adjusted the shapes in the upper left corner. I spent time on the details to the sidewalk sign, which gave me the idea for the name of this painting.
At this point I printed out a color photo on 24 lb. white paper which gives me a new vantage point to see where I am, and decide where I am going. I paint directly onto this print with a small flat brush using medium thick oils of various hues, most of which are left over from my last painting session. The paper grabs the oil nicely and allows me to easily develop ideas and make any other changes on top of the print without messing with the original.
This process helps re-charge my energies and becomes a guide to help me navigate forward.
Having worked out my issues on the color print, I return to the original on linen.
I modified the shapes in the upper left and added a red banner to the middle ground on the far left. I used impressionistic daubs to denote the tail lights and street lamps. I re-designed the color and shapes of several signs on the left. I darkened the left foreground figure and strengthened the reflections on the street. I used linear strokes to define the lamp post, some of the banners and signs.
I added some turquoise blue lights to the buildings in the back, complementing the reds, yellows and blues throughout.
I simplified some of the shapes on the left. Additional hues and shapes are modified as I near completion
and thick textured strokes are added with bristle filberts to make some areas pop.
"Chanel In The City" 24" x 18" oil on linen
Voila! the painting is finished. I would love to tell you which stroke was my last, but unfortunately I can't remember. There comes a time when the brushes need to be put down. I like to let my paintings sit in the studio for several days.
Oils take their own time drying and often hues change by virtue of the medium.
Of course the original is so much richer than this photo indicates.
The painting is now photographed, signed and framed.
"Chanel in the City", oil on archival linen, 18" x 14" framed in Gallery Black Available from my Studio
PAINT OUT LOUD is my way of sharing my creative process with you.
I hope you enjoyed my insights and progressions as this painting evolved.
I am contemplating showing pictures of my painting setup, brushes, paints and special tools on my next
PAINT OUT LOUD blog. The next painting from start to finish will surprise you!
Let me know your thoughts.
If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please add your comments to this blog