Paint with Realism and Expression

by Lisa Larrabee

A Quiet Reminder
Oil  18"x 24"
artist Lisa Larrabee

It has been a constant challenge for me to paint with... paint.  I would load up my brush with paint, lay it down on the surface with bold intention and then eventually smear it around until it was smooth and blended.  

This past summer, I took a workshop with an incredible artist, Henry Yan.  He told me my palette was starving.  I added more paint.  Would you believe that more paint on your pallet can translate to more paint on your painting?  It sounds too simple.

I started this painting very loose.  The paint is thin, but the application is expressive.  I realized immediately that I had to slow down and concentrate to make the shapes of the tree accurate.  I began building the branches in relationship to each other, paying careful attention to the spaces and shapes between the branches.  I pre-mixed a range of colors within the tree so that I could easily adjust the color as I moved from branch to branch.

With the tree blocked in, I began painting with thicker paint in the background.  Each brushstroke required loading more paint onto the brush.  Loading each brushstroke is really important if you don't want to blend it smooth.  I have discovered that I love using Rosemary & Co long handle chunking egbert brushes.  They are stiff long-haired brushes that allow me to lay down thick impasto paint.

I am not a master of wielding thick paint, but I have made progress using more expressive brushwork while maintaining a sense of realism.  There is so much still to learn!  It makes each painting an adventure.

~ Lisa


Portrait Painted General to Specific

by Lisa Larrabee

Gabriella Study

9"x12"  Oil
artist Lisa Larrabee

This oil study was for a painting demonstration.  I wanted to begin the portrait with general shapes.  I did not start with any preliminary drawings.  Initially, I laid down even simpler general shapes with Transparent Earth Red thinned with OMS.  This image shows the portrait after basic color shapes were added with thicker paint.

When the overall shapes felt like they were in relationship with each other, I began working out smaller shape relationships within the larger ones.  It is important to continuously assess and correct as you go.

I am still learning when to stop.  There are some areas where I could keep tweaking, but I captured what I intended, so I'm letting go.

~ Lisa


Make an Impact with Color and Light

by Lisa Larrabee

Nature's Compliment
Oil  36" x 24"
artist Lisa Larrabee

A color is enhanced by the contrast of it's compliment.
So is the calm after the storm.

My first step was to block in the general shapes and color.  Everything is painted in a mid value range.

Next, I blocked in my lightest values in the sky and added contrast with the darkest values of the field.

With the foundation dry, I was able to repaint over the entire painting knowing that I had already established the dark and light contrast.  I was able to focus on the relationship between the complimentary blue and orange hues and on finding a balance between detail and simplicity.

~ Lisa