Painting Sumachs

It’s been raining here for a few days so it was wonderful to see the sun today. It is lovely to go outside again to capture this sumach scene in front of our house.

The reds, oranges and greens are stunning.

Just like painting other plant out of doors, the time to capture this brilliant display of colour is just a few short weeks.

I start the drawing on canvas with watercolour crayons.
Next, I fix the drawing with matt medium.
My set-up was on-the-fly so I sat on the ground and leaned my canvas against a tree stump. That way, I was ‘in’ the sumachs. I felt a bit like Alice (in Wonderland).
Painting detail showing my sgraffito marks.
I like the dark patterning that goes through the painting. When this is dry, I’ll have a better idea about how much of the original crayon colour is showing. Then, I’ll make my final changes.  Painting by Flora Doehler, 2012. acrylic. 36″ x 36″

I narrowed my pallet of Golden fluid acrylics down to yellow, green-gold, purple, pyrole red, and a cerulean blue mixed with white.

I can’t wait to work on this tomorrow and to finish another Sumach painting that I started ‘in season’ last fall and is waiting to be finished this week.

Painting with Slow Drying Mediums

This summer we’ve had very hot weather which made painting difficult. Acrylic paintings I worked on dried faster than I wanted them to. So, I’ve been using gel mediums that are formulated to slow down the drying time of acrylic paint. This allows me a longer time to apply the paint and to draw into my work revealing the canvas underneath.

Let me show you the steps I take.

Brilliant yellow golden globe flowers were one of the inspirations for this painting.

First I paint the medium on the entire canvas. I used a combination of a pouring medium from Golden Acrylics and a thicker one from Liquitex. For the background colour I dripped Liquitex inks into the medium.

Canvas with wet gel and ink.

Then I blended the ink into the gel with a brush. This will be the background and will help to unify the painting.

Canvas with wet gel and ink.

Next, I studied my reference materials…in this case flowers from my garden that have bravely weathered this summer’s drought!

Then, using broad strokes, I painted a suggestion of flowers onto the canvas.

Painting detail.

I try to lay in the colour with single strokes. This way, the gel allows every brushstroke to show. I like the freshness of painting this way.

Painting in broad strokes.

Sometimes I put two colours on the brush to add to the surprise and spontaneity of the brush stroke. I mostly paint with Golden Fluid Acrylics and I keep them in small plastic containers.

I use lots of brushes and rubber-tipped shapers.

Finally, I draw the scene using a rubber tipped shaper. This technique is called sgraffito.  I add a few more colours and at this point it is a push and pull effort. I try to keep the freshness of the colours as well as building up a contrast and creating a pattern of colour that goes through the entire painting.

painting by Flora Doehler
Acrylic painting by Flora Doehler. 2012. 16″ x 16″

I can only get this effect by using gels and the slower drying mediums/gels allow me to work for several hours on the painting.

I am happy with my result. It totally reflects the joy I felt in looking at my garden flowers on a hot day in August.