A Deeper Lost by Rachel Joyce

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The piece featured in this blog post is the painting on the bottom right. I am painting on Arches oil paper and was focused on doing small studies in hopes that I would get some exciting pieces that could one day be tackled as larger pieces. While some of them have sparked inspiration for much larger paintings, others have dragged out and have still not been finished almost two years later. This was one of the pieces that was dragged out and only recently finished.

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This shot shows the first two layers of paint put on this piece. I was focused on creating some sort of composition while also beginning to make interesting textures.

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I really tried to use color combinations I didn’t typically use, in retrospect that is probably why I was having a hard time getting it to a place where it felt finished.

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I ended up toning down the pinkish gray color as I wasn’t crazy about it. At this point the piece is feeling a lot better but the initial hard edged shape I put in at the horizon line was starting to feel a little too bold for where the piece was going, and I could feel myself working around it.

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I decided to paint over it, I could always put it back in later if I decided it needed to come back. I added some more blue and black throughout the piece and at this point it is starting to feel better but not complete.

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I wasn’t really sure what else this piece needed to make it finished, but I was also working on another study, Lost Lake at the same time. I actually disliked Lost Lake so much that I ended up totally painting over the initial layers, while this one seemed to be going better I knew that it wasn’t finished. I sat with the study in this phase for quite some time.

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I got pretty tired of looking at the piece in the stage it was in, I kept in out on my work table so that maybe I’d be inspired to do something to it, but when I finally did (above) I ended up not liking it. It’s crazy how something seemingly so simple as adding a large area of light under the focal point can change the piece so much.

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I decided after quite some time that this piece needed a total makeover. I had some leftover pale green from another piece and decided to smear some of it over a large portion of this study. To my surprise, I didn’t hate it.

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I then tried to tone it down/blend it in with the rest of the piece by adding some dark back on top of it. This definitely created some cool and interesting textures but it didn’t necessarily give me the finished look that I was hoping for.

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At this point I’m desperately grasping at anything I can to make this painting be done, but nothing seems to be working. I tried changing the orientation, but wasn’t too crazy about it either. The problem I was having was that, overall each of the completely different paintings that came from this pieces weren’t all that bad but I couldn’t figure out what they needed to give them that wow factor. Out of frustration I ended up taking myself to a point where I felt I just needed to start fresh. Which happened again at this point.

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I went a completely different route and tried to force something that ended up looking totally contrived. There were still some promising textures but I absolutely did not like it at this stage.

As you can see I again ended up covering up most of the horizon area as that seemed to me to be the most unnatural and forced part. I also dragged some of that light color down into the lower parts of the piece but just a few subtle hints of it. Apparently I still wasn’t happy but looking at it now, the foreground actually feels promising. However, Rachel at the time was not having it.

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Once again, I paint over everything!!! As I’m typing this I can’t help but laugh. This might be the most changed piece I’ve ever painted. While I know I paint over a lot of paintings, most of the time it feels justified as the piece is usually not working at all. With this piece however, there were many times where I now feel like it had potential to work as it was, with a few small tweaks; I must have lost patience at each road block.

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After the fourth cover up, I finally felt like I could attempt to create a horizon again. Finally it felt like it was working as a full piece. The only thing that was left bothering me was that the bright spot in the middle felt too bright and competing for attention.

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I ended up dragging a bit of the dark blue over that bright area with a palette knife and it toned it down perfectly. I decided that this piece had been through enough and it was time to call it.

Trance by Rachel Joyce

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This newest oil and cold wax painting was loosely inspired by the photo above that I took while on one of my visits to Mexico. I have had it in my mind to paint this, or something inspired by it since I took the photo in 2016. As you’ll see the biggest piece of inspiration was the cool blue water.

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This piece is my largest completed oil and cold wax piece to date. At 30x36 I wasn’t quite sure how to get this canvas covered efficiently so I decided to start with a brayer (pictured below) I didn’t care too much about how the piece looked at this point, I was mostly focused on getting the board covered with a layer of paint.

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Once the majority of the board is covered with a layer of paint I begin focusing on creating textures and composition. I begin using palette knives to get different marks with the pink paint.

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I then move onto the different blue values to create some depth, still using palette knifes to create different and interesting marks and textures. I usually like to incorporate small bits of color both above and below the “horizon” to create a more unified look throughout the piece.

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At this point I switch back and forth from the brayer to palette knife. I used the brayer to add the violet colors to the sky and foreground. But I use mostly palette knife to add the very dark, almost black color in the foreground, horizon and top edge of the painting. I could tell the piece was starting to feel closer to being done but the more I looked at it the more I realized how bright and distracting the pink in the sky was.

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So I decided to tone it down by using the brayer again to add bits of blue back into the sky. It was the perfect way to tone down the brightness of the pink. I also added a few more touches of the very dark value and decided it was finished!!

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I wanted to include this last photo because it more accurately shows the scale of the painting!

Seventh Circle by Rachel Joyce

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So this was my first ever attempt at painting on Arches Oil Paper. It was during my first oil and cold wax workshop and I was attempting to follow what I had been successfully doing on the wood panels with the wax, but the paper doesn’t take the oil paint in the same way that the boards do. The paint almost absorbs into the paper so I had a really hard time getting the same awesome textures I was getting on the wood. I ended up giving up on the paper and setting it to the side for a long while, possibly a year or so, before I picked it up again.

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Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the phases between that first photo and the second one, but you can still see some of those blue/turquoise hues behind all of the warm orange and red layers I put on top. After some struggle, I ended up deciding that I couldn’t make this piece work as one painting so I decided to cut the paper into three smaller paintings. I finished the other two pieces before finishing this one. I could not figure out where to take this painting. The painting that is featured in this blog is on the right side in the photo above.

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I included a close up just to get an idea of the textures happening.

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The next time I worked on this piece it changed a lot. I pretty much covered up all the layers underneath so much that even I didn’t think that this was the same painting as the photo above! I ended up darkening it quite a bit, and really wasn’t sure that I should keep working on it. So again, I set it to the side and worked on other pieces.

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I ended up finishing this piece, or figuring out how to finish this piece, because lately I have been painting over areas of paintings that I don’t like with the color gray. I happened to be working on a few other paintings at the time and this one happened to surface from a pile of other unfinished duds. I figured I had nothing to lose because I really didn’t like the painting anyway. I hit it first with a dark gray and then added a few dashes of lighter gray and just like that I loved it so much I’m planning to do a much larger version!