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Summer is not over yet

Wild blooms

Wild blooms, pastel, 12x16 in, plein air, $550 framed.

Afton mountain on a rainy day

Afton mountain on a rainy day, pastel, 16x20 in, $650 framed

Summer is almost over in Virginia but the wild flowers are still blooming profoundly around my house in Crozet. I love to paint them in the sunlight, both in oils and pastels.

As an artist I have been always fascinated by the play of light on any object in a landscape and on flowers too. I love to paint anything outside as I believe that outdoor painting is always so exciting and inspiring. You can see millions of things you may miss when painting from a photo. You may notice new color shades, interesting shapes of in a landscape, challenging contrasts and dynamic compositions.


And I want to give you a general advice on how to paint fast outdoors. Don't go into details. Paint shapes of color, color of light and color of shadow. If you are not certain of color, just paint the values, because if your values are right you can use any color you want. You may sharpen your skills doing a series of plein air black and white sketches. It is a good way to study both values and a composition. The main composition types are well features in a book by American artist and instructor Edgar Payne in "Composition in an outdoor landscapes". Look up the major composition types, like S, O and a diagonal type. S and diagonal make any composition dynamic and inviting. O or a circle composition is more calming and offers ca view to study an object more closely.




The Blue Ridge Mountains in the afternoon light, oil on canvas, 24x36 in $2000, framed

September blooms

September blooms, pastel on paper, 12x16 in, $400 unframed

Wild flowers in the setting sun

Wild flowers in the setting sun, pastel, 16x20 in, $750 framed or $650 unframed.

Delicate flowers in this plein air pastels painting are partially in the shade but some petals are in the sun, which creates a landscape full of light, full of life! The hazy purple mountains add more color to this vivid landscape. The house in the distance seems inviting, though truthfully it is a farmer's red barn. There are myriads of butterflies fluttering in this beautiful place!

Wild flowers at Chiles peach orchard

Wild flowers at Chiles peach orchard, pastel, 12x16 in, $450 unframed or $550 framed.

I always do a series of landscapes from the same place following the changes in light and color. This pastels was created outdoors in the same place, the Chiles peach orchard in Crozet, Virginia. I went for a splash of red and purple colors painting them in the light and some in the shadow. Notice that I painted the dead and dry flowers too, which added more contrast to the sunlit foliage. The warmth of this scene in shown in mostly warm colors which domineer the landscape before the sun disappear behind the mountains.

I also worked with oils this month. We were very happy to have a month of warm and sunny weather in Virginia. It was so warm that lady bugs circled around me and my easel any time I was outside. And they are not as harmless as they seem - they bite like flies. Nevertheless I managed to start and complete several paintings, mostly in the Blue ridge mountains, which are so full of vibrant colors right now. I decided to stay away from dark values and switch to the lighter ones, especially when depicting the grass, flowers, distant trees and moutains.



This is the painting of the field with some bluish flowers and reddish grass, oil, 20x20 in. Plein air. It is a high chroma painting. The main colors of masses are light red, light yellow/green and blue/violet of the mountains. All colors are in fact analogous colors, which are close to each other in the colors wheel – reds, oranges and yellows. I don't use them from the tubes, but mix not more that two of them plus white. For the red of the grass I mixed cad red light (or vermillion), white and cad yellow deep. For the blues in the flowers I went for ultramarine blue, light cad violet and white. The same for the distant mountains, but more blue. For the grass in the foreground and the tree – cad yellow light ( really light), sky blue (like cerulean, but very light in value) – you can find these colors in "Charvin" oils at I use mostly Charvin colors, 150 ml tubes.They have a wide range of light pinks, violets, blues, etc, which can save you white and help you to mix medium and light value colors faster. Keep in mind that I painted the darks of the foreground really dark to create a good contrast with the sunlit grass. I went for a mixture of mauve or warm dark reddish violet (you can also try Purple lake, Mauve of Gamblin and Lukas oil colors); also burnt umber and Paynes gray (which is in fact very dark blue/black).Paynes gray is a great color to mix with if you want to achieve neutral dark colors. Other blues are more saturated. Another option is Indigo. You can mix Paynes gray with any kind of yellow to get dark greens and reds to make your own violets.

Personally I love dark and medium trasparent reds and violets like Alizarin crimson, Mauve, Purple lake, Purple madder, Magenta, Quincidrone Magenta, Quincidrone Red, ThioViolet, Thio Red Rose (by Gamblin). They mix really well with transparent blues like Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Phtalo Blue to create all shades of violets; yellows like burnt sienna, burnt umber, indian yellow, other transparent yellows, like yellow or orange oxide to create oranges and browns. Just remember that the mixing of dark transparent primary colors and white may create beautiful mixtures of secondary colors – green, orange and violet. Transparent colors are very strong and allow to mix more saturated colors. The are good for mixing darks. Opaque colors (ochres, cerulean, all red, blue and yellow cadmiums) are weaker in intensity (there is less pigment in them and a lot of white) and are good for mixing medium value and light value colors, less saturated. For mixing really light values Aurelion (or Cad red light), cad yellow light, cad lemon, naples yellow, light pink and other light value colors may be used. Again look up Charvin and Gamblin colors. Holbein has some great light value colors but on the expensive side. I will start a series a demos on how to mix transparent and opaque colors taking into consideration their temperature and saturation.


Here is another example of light value of fall colors I used in the distance trees along the Blue ridge parkway in Virginia. Oil, 20x16 in. Plein air and studio.


Look at the values at the following gray image. The values are very close. The values range is 1-4. The darkest dark is in the right low corner. The value of the sky, light on the distant trees, light on the road is the same. Using lighter values in a painting helps to make a scene more romantic and gentle.













Please read about this painting in my recent blog post

Here are the photos of my demo done during oil pastel workshop in For Art's Sake gallery in Henrico, Va on March 18. I showed a two hour demo using my own oil painting. The finished oil pastel painting is 16x20 inches on Canvas paper. I also attached the photos os my students. They worked from their own referrence photos and I gave them some advice in the process of creating their works. It was very lovely and we all had a lot of fun! Hope to see you again at my workshop, my dear students!


and the students working avidly on their projects..


Photos from a plein air oil painting workshop in Richmond, Va. The workshop was dedicated to using bold colors in a plein air landscape and palette knife.

Solo show in the Loving cup vineyard in Virginia. 




We had a lot of fun painting the beautiful vista at Veritas vineyard on October 6. We were lucky to have a warm sunny day for plein air painting! In my pastel workshop I explained how to use a color underpainting in a landscape, picking our warm underpainting notes for each mass in a landscape. Here is my choice of initial colors. I lay down pastels on Pastel premier 400 white paper and diluted them with water. Pastel premiere does not like alcohol, so water is the best option. The size is 12x24 inches.  

Then I started adding various shades of green and blue, keeping in mind that cool greens should be in the distance while warm yellow-greens are placed closer to the viewer.

Then I added more blues and purples to the mountains and distant trees and repeated these colors in the shaded parts of the vines in the foreground. I added cooler greesn to the grass behind the houses and warm orange to the place around the houses to the right and yellow-greens to the sunlit parts of the vines.

Here is the final painting "Veritas vineyard in October", pastel on Pastel premiere, 12x24 inches.