Sunday, November 30, 2008

Light and Dark

original landscape painting in acrylic by atul pande
Readers of this blog might think I never do a painting without setting a challenge. Perhaps so. But isn't self-imposed challenge essential to self-guided learning? All of art theory I know comes from reading cheap art books and visiting lots of museums! Thus, the only way of improving technique is for me to take a 'reductionistic' approach (hmm, perhaps something to do with a lifetime of working in the sciences?) and practice each one of the artistic elements that more skilled artists can effortlessly incorporate into their masterpieces.

Light and Dark is one of my earlier attempts at a landscape in which I tried to obtain a sense of distance just by ever so slightly varying the tone while using the fewest colors possible. This painting uses no warm colors at all. Normally the foreground would be brought closer by adding in a touch of a warm color such as a sienna or red.

In fact, Light and Dark has only cool colors -- even the yellow is a yellow-green. Despite these limitations, the darkness of the trees in the foreground does help give them substance and a sense of proximity. The trees in the background are lighter and, though of nearly the same size as those in the front, they seem to recede just enough for a three-dimensional feel.

Light and Dark, Acrylic on canvas board, 5"x7", Not for sale

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blazing Sunset

acrylic abstract painting of a sunset by Atul Pande
The third and last in a series of knife paintings, Blazing Sunset was a challenge because of the complexity of colors I wanted to use. The challenge came from my wish to keep the colors as pure as possible and allow some optical mixing to occur on the paper without letting them get muddy. I also wanted to create some sense of movement that is often typical of fiery sunsets as they get to their peak. Keeping the knife strokes in the sky at a diagonal enhanced the feeling of movement such as might happen in a real sunset.

Blazing Sunset, Acrylic on 300lb watercolor paper, 11"x14", $75 (unframed)

Monday, November 24, 2008


acrylic abstract painting of poppies at high noon by atul pande
Poppyfield at High Noon is another knife painting in the same series as Sunrise. The technique here was similar to that I used for Sunrise with one exception. Most of the painting was done in one session but the highlights in the sky and the red of the poppies were added after the first layer had completely dried. Inevitably, once the thickly applied paint had dried the next layer could only be applied to the bumps and ridges of the previous layer. This shows well in the rather random appearance of the highlights in the sky.

Upon stepping back from this painting I liked the effect -- and left it alone. I guess while the artist attempts to control the medium and technique, the medium can sometimes control the art.

Poppyfield at High Noon, Acrylic on 300lb watercolor paper, 11"x14", $75 (unframed)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunrise in Abstract

abstract acrylic landscape painting of sunrise by Atul PandeKnives are a fun tool for acrylic painting particularly when using the wet-on-wet technique. Paints can be dragged across the canvas to create interesting mixtures that allow for optical blending that might otherwise take hours of work with a brush.

I started Sunrise at the horizon with the lighter color and then worked upward and downward into the darker colors. By using minimal strokes I was able to keep the colors clean yet achieved the highlights in the sky. The trick to brilliant highlights when working wet-on-wet is to gradually make the knife strokes lighter and lighter to avoid moving the darker paint layer underneath. Seems like an obvious thing but took me a while to discover this for myself!

Sunrise, Acrylic on 300lb watercolor paper, 11"x14", $70 (unframed)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day's End

Sunsets are always fun to paint because they offer an opportunity to play around with colors to heart's content. When I was into photography some years ago, sunsets were my favorite topic. Waiting and watching to capture the exact moment on film had an educational side to it that I only realized years later when I started painting. The stages of an evolving sunset -- the unpredictable inter-play of light, clouds, wind and atmospheric temperature, and the final moments to the climactic scene -- became so familiar that my very first painting was a sunset. Sadly, it turned out to be a hideous caricature of colorful blobs on canvas. I am not sure I even have it any more!

Marsh Sunset is inspired by various photographs I took of sunsets and marshes when we lived in Connecticut. The paints are applied thinly and it took several glazes to get the colors right where I was satisfied with them.

Marsh Sunset, Acrylic on Canvas Board, 16"x20", $120 (framed)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Humble Inspiration

rural landscape in acrylic by atul pande
Some years ago while I was living in Michigan, every day I would drive by a patch of country road that went through swampland that had been created as a result of housing developments all around. Hardwood trees that had died from waterlogging still stood tall and majestic, now home to woodland birds and other creatures.

A mental sketch of those swampy scenes has hung around in memory and was the source for Dead Woodland. There is nothing special about the technique here, although I was able to use my (only) recently refined skill in the use of the liner brush to create the tree branches.

Dead Woodland, Acrylic on canvas board, 16"x20", $100 (unframed)