Painting Conversations

This is a dual-meaning title! I’m referring to my latest painting, “Sky and Lake Conversation,” as well as the process of painting it. Here’s what I mean…..

My painting started with this reference photo.

Lovely, isn’t it? I have been drawn to (ha, ha: art joke) these complex skies lately. They are so evocative. Of course, they are also difficult, and when I am painting I am complaining to myself about wanting to paint such complicated clouds. In the painting, I lowered the horizon to further emphasize the sky and added darker colors, even a dark red, to further dramatize the clouds. I painted the clouds with more variation in dark and light than the photo as well.  I saturated the colors somewhat, painting richer blues and exaggerating the salmon colors. I lightened the glow of the unclouded sky, since that was much of what appealed to me in the scene. Here is the initial version of the painting.


At this point in any painting, at least for me, it is time to ignore the reference photo. The photo starts me off and reminds me of the basic shapes and colors, as well as the feeling, of what I want to convey. But once I have that down, there is a conversation between the artist and the painting. This painting still looked too simple to me. It lacked something. The non-cloudy areas of sky somehow seemed too empty. I added more soft colors to the open sky areas. This meant that the lake reflections also needed to be altered. I also slow down at this stage of painting, making a small change and checking the effect before making another. I included very dark greens in the low hills, to soften the almost-black quality there.  I added the tiniest touch of an almost neon orange in the “sweet spot” of the orange glow above the center right hills. Some of the clouds seemed too dark, so I changed that. I went back and forth, sky and lake, air and water. This is the final painting.

Next comes the matter of the title. What am I saying with this painting? It’s about the relationship between the sky and the water, just as it was when I painted it. So I am calling it “Sky and Lake Conversation.”


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5 Responses to Painting Conversations

  1. Karen Grace says:

    I love this Mimi–I think you improved upon the original!

  2. Thank you! Art is always supposed to improve on the original by adding something of the artist. And, of course, something of the viewer!

  3. Gail Anderson says:

    I really enjoy hearing your process of discerning what you do and why, an element I have not experienced before with other artists.The results are pleasing, but ahhh, the recounting of the process really lets me enter the picture with much more intimately. Thank you! Vibrant and
    Thrilling picture.

  4. Michele Clark says:

    As I’ve said before, I really appreciate your discussing your process. The final pictures is a more intense version of the photograph – as if you took the photograph and did an oomph to it.

  5. Michele Clark says:

    You’re really also talking to the photograph as you’re painting. I guess that’s obvious – re: conversations.

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