Sunday, June 18, 2017
"Old stone cottage and wildflowers" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
Lest you think I have moved to some remote place, I have not! I was working very diligently on my new art project outreach, "Healing Hearts Thru Art", and getting that all set up. It's a project to gift bereaved parents with a free gift of a 12" x 16" commemorative portrait of their child who has passed on. That took a lot of work getting it all set up, and even though it's up and running, it still needs lots of attention, plus I did 4 portraits in a month along with other work, so I have been a bit swamped. The URL for that community outreach ministry is www.HealingHeartsThruArt.org , should you or someone you know who would like more information about our project.
In the midst of this, I found a little quiet time the other day to do a little plein air work locally. I found a little decrepit stone cottage, on the edge of the cemetery on the outskirts of town, and it was just lovely. All of the purple flowers and other wildflowers were all in bloom on it -- sweet peas, other flowers I don't even know (I will have to look them up) all over it. The saggin doors and window frame, faded and bleached from the sun and weather -- it was just lovely and sad all at the same time.
So, now that Summer is here, I look forward to more outdoor painting, and just lots more work in general!
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
"The quiet creek" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
Here is a little study I did this week, down by the creek that splits off through town. The day was warm, and the kids were all playing by the edges of it, squishing their hands in the mud. It was such a timeless scene, one that could have vaulted back to the 1600's, and still, children would be enjoying their time in the creek. These four girls and little brother in tow, all towheaded and in their play clothes. It was very sweet to watch them enjoying the mud and without a care in the world.
The sunlight was so strong, and the shadows were alive. I had to try to work as quickly as possible, to try and catch that moment. I feel like I was cracking off "my shell" from winter, and trying to get the rust all gone from my mind and hand. It was a wonderful exercise, to be sure.
I am looking to start a new series -- I am officially shelving this summer's project that I was going to move forward with. I am moving in a new direction, and decided, I am not interested in such a big scale project, when in essence, my heart is still here among the local people, the forgotten people of America.
So, that's the direction I'm going to go in, and I will very much love exploring the little towns and people that reside in them.
Friday, April 14, 2017
|"A walk along the canal" by Hilary J. England|
oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
I get depressed when I'm not outside, enjoying nature and the air, feeling the breeze on my face. Oh sure, it's not all moonlight and magnolias when I'm out painting, to be sure -- there are lots of frustrations and problems to be solved, associated with outdoor painting -- but when the day is good, and all the factors fall into place, there is no better experience. And today was one of those days.
I just happened to get a real feeling in my soul for the woman and her little child as they strolled quietly along. I imagined my own conversations with my little ones, explaining the flowers and the butterflies, and the million or so questions they would have over everything, and it brought a tear to my eye, thinking of those days that are gone now. I have new little ones to stroll with, but my original babies are all grown and sometimes, the nostalgia is overwhelming.
So, enjoy this fair, fair day, and here is a little painting to recall your own happy memories with!
Saturday, April 8, 2017
"Study of whole and cut lemons/Zorn palette" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
I wanted to go out and do some painting outdoors today, and this morning, the weather seemed promising. I worked in my garden for a little while, and then when it was time to head out, the wind got very heavy. I went to the store to wait it out, but it never died down, even knocking down a few portions of the fence in my yard that was a little rickety. I decided that today was not a day I wanted to battle the wind, so I would sadly take it back indoors.
I had a lot of lemons -- some ripe, some overripe, and some underripe and I thought I would do a study of them using a modified Zorn palette. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a "Zorn palette" -- it is a palette based on the colors used by the Artist Anders Zorn. He used a very minimal palette of only Ivory black, Yellow ochre, and Crimson, and of course a white. I did not use this exactly -- since I am still waiting on my Ivory black reorder, I was forced to use Lamp black, which is a much flatter less blue hued black, so to compensate, I added some cobalt blue into the palette.
I have to say, this was.a challenging palette to work with, especially when you are not used to such a limitation. Trying to build value, chroma, and contrast with this limited amount of color was a very good exercise, and I think I will do a few more for good measure. It's good to challenge yourself and do things you would not normally do every now and then -- keeps the mind and hand sharp!
So, hopefully in the next few days, the wind dies down, and the rain stays away, and maybe I can get outdoors like I really want to!
But, when life throws you lemons, do a still life of them! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!).
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Here is a little painting I did today, "Red raspberry in space". It was a cold, rainy mess out today, so I just decided to stay in and paint this little raspberry. It was a good model, and tasty too.
I hoped it would have helped the stomach ache I had all day, but not so much. I don't know what's wrong with me today, but hopefully it clears up tonight along with the weather.
I have three more paintings I am working on, studio projects, and tomorrow, will be doing some figure work. I am so looking forward to Saturday, when the weather will be fine and beautiful, and I can go out and get some plein air painting done too.
I have a show coming up in NYC this month, but I will release the information as it comes.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
"Red tail in the winter field" by Hilary J. England
Oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
I painted this one before the blizzard, but with all the bad weather, wasn't photographing much. I really love the peace and serenity of the open, empty winter fields. The cold day gave way to the whiteness of the bleached, winter landscape and then there was the beautiful, contented hawk just sitting there. The bird seemed very undisturbed by the day, or even the human (me) in proximity to him. He just was enjoying the moment too. He sat for quite a bit before quietly gliding away.
The weak winter light makes it hard to capture the scene, because the light can be blinding even in its high weakness. The shadows on the hay were interesting and still pulsating. I had to move fast to capture all the essence of the day, and before my feet froze up too much too. It's always my feet -- my hands seem to be impervious to most of the cold!
Spring should be here next week, and I am very much looking forward to the flowering landscape!!!
Thursday, March 16, 2017
|"Early moonrise over the winter field" by Hilary J. England|
I have been patiently waiting on Spring, as we all are I suppose. I don't mind the change of seasons at all, but when the end of Winter comes, we are usually all ready and chomping at the bit to move into the next season, and I am definitely no exception.
I have been more subdued this season, maybe because the month of February was so raucous with a lot of tumultuous news for me and my family. Things are calming down now a bit, and I find myself just ready to do something: and that simply means more work. More art.
So, I hope you enjoy this little study of the early moonrise over the dead field...with the new life just below the surface of dirt, waiting to spring alive with the first warmth of Spring.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
|"Enchanted forest in PA" by Hilary J. England|
oil on canvas, 12" x 16"
It has been difficult for me to get out regularly this year and paint, and that hurts me deeply. February was an incredibly difficult month, with several very bad, seemingly back-to-back events that happened to people I love, and I was literally rolled as if by a tsunami. I am glad February is gone.
But, on the last day of February, I was able to put the evil month behind me with a soothing painting of the local forest. Sitting in the gentle quiet of the woods, on a soft, rotting stump, watching the light filter through the trees. It healed my soul and made me able to put my armor back on and get back into the swing of things!
So, I think that is what much of art is: a way to voice the voiceless feelings in our soul. The things that wound, and the things that heal. To mourn, and to be grateful. To rage at our powerlessness, but to regain and reclaim a little bit of our control and translate it into something beautiful and comforting.
I look forward to a good year from this point forward :-)
Sunday, February 5, 2017
|"The red cat and his girl" by Hilary J. England|
oil on canvas, 18" x 24" x 2", 2017
The winter always gets me down a little, especially after New Years'. This year was a particularly mean one, with all of the depressing stuff going on in the world, on every news station, 24 hours a day. I have retreated into a quiet zone of Gene Tierney, Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, Tyrone Powers, and friends, and also, decided that a painting of fervent love was necessary. So, I observed our once removed red cat, Dante, and his girl, Maddie. No matter how many kisses Dante receives, he loves them all. Never a complaint, never an angry "meow" -- he loves and loves his kisses and his kiddies. He is a true friend to his loving family.
Initially, I didn't think it much through. I have really been driven by chiaroscuro these days, and more intense light. The backlighting on this pose was just to delicious to resist, and a bit unconventional, so I had to just go with it, good or bad. And, I happen to like the end result--I think the dramatic light worked for the composition, and to show the fervor of their love.
I was once staunchly against the use of black in my paintings, as were the Impressionists, using Van Dyke brown and ultramarine or another combo with Van Dyke brown, if I wanted to achieve a truly dark tone, because I felt black was too flat, and too cold, but I have been employing Ivory black lately, and I feel the warm, brown undertone is really good for dramatic compositions, and so, the ban on black paint is officially over. My obsession with studying light and it's nuances is really piquing now, so look for more to come, at least in my figure work. In my landscapes, I'm still about things being bright and airy...I guess it's just a way of pleasantly looking at the world in a state of hyper beauty!
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
|"Cardinal on the old fence" by Hilary J. England|
Oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
So, again, I was working with a limited palette here of Van Dyke brown, Cad red deep, Ultramarine, Indian yellow, Titanium white, and Burnt Umber. I was able to catch this pretty quickly, and substitute the driving rain (and change it to snow) and the washy white background that was melting fast, and make it into a snow scene. The bird was very cooperative. He basically just sat there, by himself, looking pretty satisfied. Well, I guess he had eaten a lot of seeds and was content.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
|"Cardinals in the snow" by Hilary J. England|
oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
I have been very busy as usual, but not too busy to stop and enjoy the falling snow and the visitors that appeared at the bird feeder right after: a group of social Cardinals. They were so sweet, and seemed to be having a brunch or some sort of little get-together after the snow ended.
It isn't always easy to set up and capture a scene quickly, but you do get used to it after years of practice. I have a very basic pochade box, and I paint very quickly, utilizing a limited palette many times. This time was one of those times. I used only Van Dyke brown, Ultramarine, Cad Red deep, Indian Yellow, and Titanium white. This allows for a rapid study without too many color choices that can become troublesome if you are trying to do a basic study.
I love cardinals--they are one of my favorite native birds, as the are both stout and elegant, and of course, their color. This was a very enjoyable painting for me, and I don't mind painting in the cold. As long as you take certain steps and precautions, painting outdoors in winter is not a miserable experience. Always make sure your head and feet are warm and dry, you keep your medium covered so it doesn't gum up, and work rapidly if it's really cold (your paint can actually get inconsistent and "gloppy"). Other than that, enjoy!. I always do. Be sure to bring a thermos of hot tea, coffee, or whatever you like that's hot. It helps both for your body and your soul <3
Sunday, January 15, 2017
|"Fourth of July" by Hilary J. England|
oil on canvas, 24" x 36" x 2"
I finished this larger studio painting the other day, but the weather was sloppy, and it prohibited me from photoing outdoors, which I prefer, so I had to try to make do with an indoor photo session. My verdict: Not so much, haha.
Anyway, I really enjoyed doing this painting, both from studies, and par Coeur, because it put me into the mindset of warmer days as the snow was falling. I, of course, had to go out and paint in that snow, but I'll post that painting tomorrow. One painting at a time!!! Let me not run away with myself.
Here's to dreaming of warmer days and summer evenings~
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