Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Blue--what's your temperature?

Warning: this is deep in the weeds for any artist for morning, so if you're reading this before noon, make sure your coffee is close! 

In my last post I showed you a "study" I put together to increase my knowledge of my blue pigments and various mediums. Update on that soon. At the end, I mentioned the post by Carol McIntyre that shows something like I've done in the above photo to help me judge the relative temperatures of cobalt and ultramarine blues. On the first row, squares of cobalt are surrounded by ultramarine, and on row 2 it is the reverse. I used Vasari paints in column 1 and Gamblin in column 2.

In Carol's post, she asks readers to tell her which blue jumps forward to them. Which does to you? I am almost firmly convinced there is no right or wrong, only a bias each of us has for feeling that red or yellow is warmer. Cobalt leans more green (therefore has more yellow) and Ultramarine leans red, so if you think red is warmer, feel it is warmer, ultramarine will logically seem warmer to you, and the reverse is true. Gamblin's site also states that Ultramarine is warm. I have run into many artists I respect that think the opposite is true, but there are arguments on both sides. I have used Ultramarine as a cool blue years ago, and switched to using it as my warm blue a while back. Based on this study, though, and several other factors, it's now migrated back to the cool side of my palette.

It is important to note in this that all color is relative, and compared to another blue, ultramarine may be warm, but as compared to cobalt, my current assessment is that it is cooler. There is a little variation in intensity of the colors in my study, which I did my best to avoid, but the cobalt advanced to me more in Carol's post and here. That surprised me, but it stands to reason (and I struggled with that until I saw Carol's study and became a believer). As we know, yellow drops out first as colors recede, and we're taught that warm colors advance and cool colors recede. John Sloan, in his book On Drawing and Painting, states that "The most projecting point on the spectrum is yellow-orange; the most receding, blue-purple." So the yellow in cobalt would mean that it advances over ultramarine, which has less yellow and more red (feeling that blue-purple thing). Additionally, why is it that I would use ultramarine for the intense blue of the sky above, but cobalt closer to the horizon (where it seems all things go to be warm)? 

I know there are other points on both sides out there (I've put links to three articles on the subject below), and I'd love to hear any you have for the sake of completeness. For now, through this and my other study, I've determined that I want to push cobalt off my palette for the time being, subbing in Cerulean (a much more obviously yellow-blue) like my friend, David Boyd, and see where that takes me. I still have many tubes of cobalt and it's too pricey a color to go to waste, but it'll keep.

-julie davis

To further confuse you, find three interesting articles on the subject:
1. Sharon Hick's interesting take here
2. and Bob Bohr's article here 
3. and Lisa Marder of ThoughtCo.'s writeup here

*I'll get an update on the study of my blue pigments and mediums in my next post--too much to cover in one post!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Getting the Blues

Pigment Study of Blues

Let's just get it out of the way. I'm an over-preparer. I don't think I am, but according to my brilliant and patient husband, to whom most things come easily, I overthink and over-prepare. So in light of my upcoming (and first I might add) workshop in Kerrville, I began preparing when I agreed to teach it, back in February! It's in November--not a minute too soon, right? It's given me the fantastic opportunity and the drive to reread everything I've ever learned, and to dive more deeply than I ever have into some areas that I've found newly mysterious or about which I've always had lingering questions.

One of these areas is the temperature relationships and color biases of blue pigments. Another is the effect of different mediums (dry time, how they might dilute the strength of a given pigment, etc.). Lastly, I want to see how the brands I use compare to one another over time. The exercise I did yesterday will (hopefully) show me all this in time. 

I probably should have done this on a larger board (this is 10 x 10) and left some blank spots to add future blues I might want to test, but for now, this will do. I looked at Vasari Cobalt and Ultramarine, Gamblin Cobalt and Ultramarine, and Michael Harding Cobalt and Cerulean (a rarely used color for me -- but I'm liking like it). The Ultramarines are across the top so I can compare them easily, the Cerulean and the Cobalts across the bottom.

Along the left side I labeled:

   Paint only
+ Neo Megilp
+ Linseed oil (refined)
+ Liquin
+ White

I'm new to using Neo Megilp, and for the past couple of years have really used nothing but paint. I've tried Liquin and am not a huge fan due to the quick dry time and vapors, but I included both of those so I'll know how the Neo Megilp compares in dry time and how it affects any gloss of a given paint. I began using Linseed oil, and still do on occasion, but it's rare.

I then set about with a bunch of no. 6 brushes, and put down a sample of each color with the mediums (and white at the end for fun to test relative temperature/bias). I look forward to seeing how the mediums compare each day. A couple of observations already:  1) this morning the Neo Megilp and Linseed were still plenty wet while the Liquin samples were well on their way to drying to touch, and 2) the Vasari paints already have plenty of oil in them (one reason I like them so much) so the added linseed is just too much for these pigments. I'm hoping to see that the Neo Megilp stays wet a good bit longer than Liquin.

The second thing I'm looking at is how the different brands dry, both in length of time and how much gloss they retain (hand in hand with when they actually "dry") and how the brushstrokes hold up both with different mediums and with the paint only.

Lastly, and one of the real reasons I did this study, is that I wanted to see how Cobalt and Ultramarine and Cerulean appear near one another to see their relative temperatures and biases (do they lean more red or more green and which brands do what). I have done extensive digging for information on whether ultramarine is a "warm" blue as Gamblin's site claims, or whether it is cooler (as many more sources tend to agree). I have used it as both, and I am realizing that I, along with many others, have an inherent red bias (see/feel it as warmer than yellow) when on the spectrum, really the most advancing and warm colors are the yellow-oranges. I am now leaning to using Ultramarine as my cool blue again, dropping cobalt (as I pretty much now agree with my friend David Boyd that it works as a lighter value of Ultramarine), and using Cerulean as my warmer blue. If your head is spinning now, it's my fault. Just walk away slowly.....

-julie davis

* I have another way to demonstrate the relative temperatures of Cobalt and Ultramarine that I can post soon, or look up Carol McIntyre's version here. (the squares with cobalt inside and ultramarine out and vice versa are what were demonstrative to me).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hurricane Harvey fundraiser for Rockport Center for the Arts

Hillside Study, 8 x 6 in., oil on panel
donated for fundraiser - purchase here

As many of you know, the beloved Texas coastal town of Rockport was devastated by Hurricane Harvey on August 25th. Like so many homes and businesses there, the Rockport Center for the Arts suffered extreme damage from the high winds and rain Harvey wrought. 

Two of our hardworking Plein Air Austin members, Robin Cheers and V...Vaughn, have organized a fundraiser to raise $10,000 for the center to help them rebuild. They reached out to artist friends across Texas and the country for 100 donations of unframed art, and are selling the works for $100 each. I've got a few in the bunch and they're adding more as they come in -- 100% of your purchase price will be sent to the Rockport Center for the Arts to help them rebuild. You will receive a receipt for your charitable contribution from Plein Air Austin/Rockport Center for the Arts.

See and purchase the artwork here! And thank you, Robin and V!

-julie davis

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Head in the Clouds

untitled study
9 x 12 in., oil on panel

You may already know I've been on a cloud kick for the past couple of weeks. The study above was Wednesday's effort. I'm a little ashamed I didn't jump into this long ago like I did when I studied trees for a solid year, but better late than never! It's been surprising to me how much I'm enjoying it and how much I've learned by reading and studying color and painting clouds from the balcony view of my 'studio in the sky.' Now I find as much inspiration in painting clouds as much as I do trees - like trees, they each have their own shape and color, and are constantly evolving, only much more quickly! 

I hope to be offering a few 6 x 8 in. cloud studies for sale here in the coming weeks, as the larger ones will be part of a series that is still 'evolving!' Have a good weekend!

-julie davis

*if you haven't yet, and are inclined, sign up for my newsletter here. The fall issue will be coming out September 1.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fun news to share!

If you follow me on Instagram you already know this, but this month's Southwest Art magazine has hit the stands, and I'm more than a little excited about being an 'Editor's Choice Artist to Watch' in the September issue! A big thanks to Kim Agricola for writing it and to Southwest Art magazine and Editor Kristin Hoerth for the nod. I'm up to my ears in happy. 

To read the full article, grab a copy off the stands, or go to the Southwest Art magazine site, click here. A pleasant surprise was that one of my big influences, Jill Carver, has a feature in the same issue, and the cover is a piece by the esteemed late Edgar Payne, no less. I'm calling it a win!

-julie davis

*note -- my 'End of Summer Sale' will be, well, ending, at the end of this month. So, make your picks before Sept. 1!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

End of Summer Small Works Sale--ends Aug. 31!

If you're like me, the end of summer isn't your favorite time of year. It does, however, often lead me to reorganizing and getting ready for fall, which is a good thing! 

On that note, usually these are $120, but I need to make room for new studies and new work in my studio. So until Labor Day, twenty of my studies will be 25% off. That is $90 plus tax (if you're in Texas) and $20 shipping. Some are new and some are old. Many  have never been posted for sale. Below are a few of them.

IMPORTANT: Look for the tab at the top of the blog that reads "END OF SUMMER SMALL WORKS SALE." Find your favorites!

8 x 6 in., oil on panel
sold in Hurricane Harvey fundraiser for the Rockport Center for the Arts

6 x 8 in., oil on panel

Tree Study, Golf Course
6 x 8, oil on panel
sold in Hurricane Harvey fundraiser for the Rockport Center for the Arts

Low Country
6 x 8 in., oil on panel

The One with the Barrel
6 x 8 in., oil on panel

Monday, July 10, 2017

R A D I A N T - Davis Gallery Summer Group Show, AIS Show, AWA Show

Shuttered, 11 x 14 in, oil on panel

Waco Taxi Co., 9 x 12 in., oil on panel

El Cobertizo, San Miguel, 9 x 12 in., oil on panel

I'm happy to invite anyone who will be in the area this weekend to stop by and share a glass of wine with me at the Davis Gallery summer group show opening reception. Davis represents a talented group of artists, many of whom will be attending the opening. We always love to see friends and supporters at openings! The three new pieces above are available and will be in the show.

This year the exhibition focuses on "radial compositions, luminescent surfaces, circular shapes, and all things Radiant. The goal of the exhibit is to invite the audience to explore the importance of form, composition, and tone, by studying how each piece fits into the show's parameters."

My take on the Radiant concept was to select sunlit structures and/or create compositions with a radiating lines to lead the eye into and around the painting. I hope you'll stop in Saturday night--I'd love to see you.

Opening reception: Saturday, July 15th from 7-9pm 
The show will run from July 15th through August 19th.


American Impressionist Society 18th Annual 
National Juried Exhibition
September 28 - October 29
Montgomery-Lee Fine Art
Park City, Utah

Grandmother's Porch, 9 x 12 in., oil on panel
available, contact Montgomery-Lee Fine Art

I was notified this week that Grandmother's Porch was juried into the AIS annual show--a big honor for me, as there were 175 pieces accepted out of over 1400. I will be shipping this piece off to Montgomery-Lee Gallery in Park City for the show early this fall.


American Women Artists 2017 Annual Master and Signature Members' Show
 and National Juried Exhibition
Tucson Desert Art Museum, Tucson, AZ
October 13 - December 3
The Feed Mill, Marfa, 11 x 14 in., oil on panel
available through Tucson Desert Art Museum

Additionally, The Feed Mill, Marfa, was accepted into American Women Artists' 2017 Annual show--I'm super excited about both of these juried exhibitions, and will hopefully be able to attend at least one of them!

That's a long blog post, so that's it, but please stop by and see the Davis show and say hello if you're in the Austin area!

-julie davis

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Workshop Announcement and "The Feed Mill, Marfa, study"

Workshop: The Language of the Landscape 

This is BIG for me. I'm naturally a bit on the reserved side, but I'm stepping outside my comfort zone and have agreed to teach my first workshop this fall! It will be held November 3rd and 4th in Kerrville, Texas, and will be hosted by the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center. 

The workshop is entitled The Language of the Landscape, and in it I'll share the practices and techniques I use to successfully translate the complexity of the landscape into a strong painting. I'll teach tools for efficiently gathering information outside, review composition and design, and reinforce values and the importance of simplifying. $275 for two days--the link to register is below. I would love to see new and familiar faces, so come paint with me! Register here.

The Feed Mill, Marfa, study
6 x 8 in., oil on panel

A larger version of this little study was just accepted into this year's American Women Artists Tucson Desert Art Museum show, Under a Vast Sky. That's pretty exciting news for me, as it's another national show, and is also AWA's inaugural museum show for it's members. They've set the goal of securing 25 museum exhibitions in 25 years. The rationale is that "work by women artists makes up only 5% of the permanent holdings of art museums in America." AWA is working to improve that statistic. And...with over 680 images submitted for the show just 63 were selected, so that makes me feel pretty good! Under a Vast Sky will be held October 13 through December 3, 2017, and the opening will be November 3 from 5:30-8 p.m.

Therefore this study goes down as one of my recent favorites! :)

-julie davis

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Texas Capitol Building

Texas Capitol Building
6 x 8 in., oil on panel

After living here in Austin for nearly fourteen years and painting for over half of them, I finally took the opportunity to get out and paint the Texas Capitol building last month. On site I did a little bit larger version, but I wanted a "pocket-sized" one for fun. Here it is. :)

-julie davis

Monday, April 24, 2017


6 x 8 in., oil on panel

My apologies for the inconsistent posts lately! I've been hard at work all spring behind the scenes. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've taken two workshops, one with Randall Sexton and Plein Air Austin here in the city, and one in Kerrville with Matt Smith through Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center. Both workshops have kept me trying new techniques reinventing some old, and renewing some of my equipment and supplies. Spring is a time of renewal, and I'm on board. :)

This little guy is a tree out on a golf course in Bastrop, Texas. I spent a couple of days out there following my youngest at her tournament, and sketched and photographed more than a few trees in the process. Despite the overcast skies, I got some fun study material.  This painting sold to a dear friend of one of my daughters. She's just finishing college, but is already an art lover and a collector! 

-julie davis

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tall Grass

Tall Grass
8 x 6 in., oil on panel

This is another small piece that came from my trip out to Cypress Mill, Texas on that cold fall day. This barn and old trailer were on the property, and I walked all around through the grass and between the fenceposts taking photos and eventually working up a sketch. I finally painted it this week.

-julie davis

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Value of Color Studies

I first began to create color studies on a regular basis after a workshop given by Jill Carver in Texas in 2015. I'd done them before, but never in the lightning-quick manner Jill had us doing them, and never as my primary means of gathering information outdoors. Jill opened an entirely new practice to me that week, and I owe her a debt of gratitude. Because I often sell my 6 x 8 studies on this blog, I'd always felt decent pressure to make even my studies excellent. Attempting perfection, needless to say, isn't the most productive way to "study."

Above are some studies I completed this morning in my studio using sketches I did outdoors and photo references I took while on site. Notice they're all on one board, which was divided into four sections with painter's tape while I painted (the color difference under the tape is due to the panel I used being an old one that was half-toned). This way I can't sell them--the pressure is gone. (It's certainly possible that I could cut them apart later if one is so amazing I just have to post it for sale).  :)

Below are some quick (like stream-of consciousness-quick) thoughts on the value of doing these studies. Color studies are:

*A natural bridge between a thumbnail sketch and starting a refined, finished painting
*A great way to gather lots of information outdoors in a short time (perfect for times when you're painting outside and the light or weather is changing rapidly)
*Practice for mixing the colors you'll eventually use in the larger painting
*A simple, fast way to get accurate color notes when painting en plein air
*An efficient way to "brainstorm" in paint time-wise and space-wise. Set time limits on yourself (no more than 30 minutes to an hour on each). Also, you can easily get four or six on one panel.
*A way to affirm that you're being productive when all else fails!
*A tool for trying various compositions if you can't decide based on thumbnail sketches
*A good way to stay loose and produce the painterly look that you might want to use in your larger painting
*A great exercise in painting quickly if you're trying to get faster
*Perfect for painting a scene you're in love with but only had time for a sketch and a quick photo (like the amazing scene you discovered after you packed up and were heading to your car, or the one you got a photo of while with your family and had only your phone and sketchbook in hand).
*Freedom to relax--you're not aiming for a finished painting, but the bonus is that sometimes you get one!

Color studies work out the kinks, let you know if your idea has the potential to translate into a successful painting, and keep you at ease while accomplishing both. 

-julie davis

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hill Country Cold Front

Hill Country Cold Front
8 x 6 in., oil on panel

This piece came from a venture out to Wenmoh's Ranch in Cypress Mill, Texas last fall. Though the cold front came through right as we arrived to paint, we were able to brave it for long enough to get several short studies in before we succumbed (I think temps went from 70F to roughly 45F for all you tougher souls from up North). I painted this piece this week from one of those studies.

-julie davis 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hill Country Cold Front

12 x 16 in., oil on panel

Picking up where I left off...:) As I mentioned a post or two back, I've been building my more daily presence on Instagram (@juliedavisstudio) rather than here on my blog, but going forward I'll continue to post small works (6 x 8 and under) for sale here. I may post some larger ones, but those will end up for sale in galleries or shows, and like this one, will not be for sale online. 

2016 held a ton of changes for me personally, and I won't get into all of them, but a high school graduation, a move, and a remodel are just a few. So I put on my mom/wife/house manager hat for a while, and haven't been able to paint as consistently as I would like. I believe I'm finally getting a crack at consistency as of this week (!!), so look for posts several times a month here, and several times a week on Instagram.

This piece I worked up in the studio from a plein air study I did in November at Wenmoh's Ranch near Austin. A cold front blew in just as we drove up--the beautiful blue skies gave way to gray, and temps dropped instantly--but it was welcomed cold weather in this unseasonably warm winter!