Monday, March 10, 2014

Stretch Your Boundaries - Create A Series!

After a few weeks of recovery I finally got my "juice" back but quickly discovered that I had only at most two hours of concentration time a day and then was wiped out. However, my mind didn't stop and I painted in my mind what became the paintings on the left.

I love cactus plants and find in their shapes an infinite range of colors and shapes. I don't think any artist could ask for much more!
Palette Knife Cactus Series by Alan Krug
I woke up one morning all ready to paint and the first one of the series was top left. I talked about that earlier and when completed considered what I had done and if I wanted to continue. I did. This was my first painting using primarily a palette knife and I liked the freedom it gave me from fussy details.

Next I created the bottom left painting using the palette knife to take reds and oranges down to yellows and whites. The cactus was an amazing contrast of yellow greens, purples thick with thorns sitting on top of an older grey green branch whose thorns were long gone. Finally, I added hints of the cactus that surrounded my subject but not too much to take away from the wild and dramatic look it created. You can just about feel those thorns. I noticed that I hold the painting on the edges...just in case!

The red saguaro cactus was the creation of several memories, one visiting Saguaro National Park and the other seeing the setting sun hitting a cactus in a red light creating an otherworldly effect that until you see it, makes you question what a painter was smoking when you see such paintings the first time! When my mother moved to Albuquerque, NM the first sunset illuminating the Sandia Mountains behind the city made me understand exactly what western artists were painting. It really looked like that. Red mountains and deep purple shadows! Sandia means watermelon I later found out. The colors are breathtaking.

I added a cobalt to turquoise sky against the red saguaro, a moon and yellow meteor streaks for dramatic effect. If you have ever been in the middle of the desert on a dark night, you rarely have to wait long for a streak to race across the sky.

The final painting in the "Cactus Quartet" took a whole collection of the red fruit contrasted against the green cactus with a lavender and blue textured sky. The effect is dramatic and is much more pronounced seen in person. Colors twist and turn from reds fading to yellow greens, deeper greens to lighter yellow greens all stretching into the lavender sky. Like it or not, each panel or the four taken together create quite a tableau of color and design. The common theme is cactus!

The author of an article I recently read also suggested that you create a series. Just as I learned the panels change and each one becomes a wonderful way to study ideas and techniques. If nothing else, they take the techniques you used before and when you add another gives that new panel a new dimension. I recommend at least a series of four. By the fourth you now have a kind of repertoire learned from the rest of the series and this possibly is the starting point to create yet another series! The axiom learn and try or die is the same for all artists. Never be afraid to try something new. While it can be safe to paint the same thing or style over and over, every great artist was never afraid to add something new to each of their work. Art, music, stories, you need to keep trying learning, stretching your comfort zone.

To see more of these paintings, please visit While they are quartet each one can be purchased separately!  Thank you for visiting.

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