Creating My Grain Elevator Series

My latest paintings of grain elevators are done in watercolor and ink on full 22″ x 30″ sheets of Arches paper and include the deckled edges. It has been an interesting experience painting this large and I enjoy it. It is expensive, but there is nothing cheap about producing art if you use artist quality materials.

While the subjects of my paintings are grain elevators, I consider them to be abstract color field paintings. Colorfield came out of the abstact expressionist movement which began in New York city with artists like Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Barnett Newman.

I know many people don’t really think Rothko’s shapes of color are all that interesting, but most people have never seen a Rothko painting up close. I’ve been fortunate to have seen a number of Rothko’s over the last few years.

Rothko did not make shapes of a single color. They are actually made up of many colors and shades of transparent glazes layered over each other that build-up to the final color. But within that color field are variations where the glazes were thicker or thinner giving the shape a variation of color over its entire area.

My watercolors are also built up from transparent glazes of color layered over each other to reach the final surface color, but all that layering gives each plane of color a large amount of variation over its surface. The structures in all these paintings have eight to twelve layers of glazing on them. In Sentinels 2, I did not mix up a green color to paint the large door on the yellow structure. I painted several layers of three different blues over the yellow to create the green. The yellow of the building is made up of many various hues of yellow and even some red, orange and white.

In some cases, if I didn’t feel a layer was moving the color in the direction I wanted it to go I would gently wash off that layer of glaze. Other times I removed the color right back to the bare paper and started over. Each painting took days to finish while waiting for glazes to dry and periodically flattening the paintings to make it easier to put a flat wash of glaze on a shape. I flattened each painting at least three times while working on it and I flattened Sentinels five times.

Yes, painting is not always an exciting endeavor. Sometimes you just have to wait on the materials to dry so you can continue to work.

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