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Mars Burnell Reviews Carol Marine


Bug in Shadow - Carol Marine

Bug In Shadow – Carol Marine

What is the purpose of a watercolorist reviewing oil painter – Carol Marine?

Carol Marine is a contemporary oil painter… with a unique style. So captivating that it seems what ever she exhibits… sells. And sometimes… you won’t get the feel of the mastery behind a painting… until you try your hand at it. So here goes.

Carol Marine’s oil painting – Bug In Shadow is a good place to start dissecting what she does with an everyday subject. The VW Bug… so ubiquitous… so unassuming that most people would wonder out loud… ‘what could you possibly do with this un-stylish auto?’ It has no fins. It has no wide stance like the Pontiac Catalina. For sure the subject is not a muscle car like the Mustang or the Corvette. If you are going to knock yourself out painting an auto why not the Bentley?

Bug In Shadow in Carol Marine’s hands is a wonder to behold. For starters… she paints this car in the high contrast of day-light and shadow. Right there – a lot of artists would paint something else. Why? Because day light is one thing… but how do handle the shadows? You need to know what the colors will do… as they transition from light to shadow. Adding shades of grey is not an option. How do you keep the shadows luminous? How many values will you need to make the painting work? Between cast shadows and reflected light… you could empty out a bottle of aspirin… and you would be just starting. You will have to pull out your complementary color tables. How do you make this bland design… stand out?

The Bug is full of sweeping rounded curves … a ‘number 8 Round’ brush will simply not be up to the challenge. You’ll most likely need a liner, a #1 sable, a filbert and a flat. Oh boy.

Carol Marine … is a master of highlight placement. Just drawing the image and slapping on the color will mean nothing unless you consider beforehand where to place your highlights. Highlights direct the eye of the viewer into and around your image. The bug is such an elegantly simple design… you must plan your highlights to make this bland form… interesting.

And what salad fixings will you use… to show off the form of The Bug? If the basic bug is your most interesting form, the subject of your painting… what will you do to create excitement… around your image… without overwhelming your admittedly … underwhelming subject?

The Bug - Mars Burnell

The Bug – Mars Burnell

Let’s start with Compositional elements. 1- Color choices, 2- line, 3- Angle, 4- Light versus darks, 5- Perspective and 6- edge treatments.

1- Color Choice … Red will always stop traffic. But how do handle red as it transits from shadow to light? How do you stay out of the ‘muddy’ trap of color mixing?

With oil painting – you just paint over any mis-cues. Watercolor on the other hand suggests … you start with a red ‘transparent’ color… like Rose Madder. But I started with a Stain Color – Cadmiumium Red. I watered it way down… because I wanted that bright red as an under-painting. Red (Rose Madder) as wonderful as it is… goes to grey or purple too quickly when overlaid with Veridian Green or Cobalt Blue.

For the foreground left side car shadow… I applied a number of washes of Cobalt Blue (a cool blue)…mixed with Thalo Blue (a warm blue). And I waited for those individual washes to dry before I proceeded. I wanted a left side shadow that would ‘bounce’ or vibrate between warm and cool. For the foreground right side car shadow I applied a series of washes of Thalo Blue and over that… a Cadmium Red wash. I wanted the right side shadow to stay sun shiny warm.

The left door shadow has a wash of Cobalt Blue and Daniel Smith Moonglow (purple).

The base tone of the windshield is a mix of Thalo Blue, Moonglow and Transparent Brown Oxide.

The Front Bumper has a base tone of Cadmium Orange, Thalo Blue and Cadmium Red.

2- Line… a #1 Sable fills the bill. This is a soft brush with a really sharp point. Some might be tempted to use a fine point Water Color Pen. The downside of that… is should you apply a wash over the pen… the pen color will bleed and you lose your sharp affect. I used this brush for the shadows under the right side fender orange signal-light, the sharp shadows along the bumper, the front tires, the right side driver’s mirror, the headlight interior shadows, the hood lines, the sidewalk gutter lines and the white highlights.

3- Angle. In photography if you take a picture of a skyscraper… sometimes you have to adjust for the print where the really tall building seems to slightly list to the right or the left. In the Bug… Carol Marine lists the auto at a 3-4% left leaning angle. This is so subtle you might miss it at first. This is a master stroke within a painting. Your eye wants to ‘level’ the image. But the image resists being leveled… because it is forever within the painting… at an angle. This is akin to the enigmatic smile in the Mona Lisa. This little technique will force a viewer to stand back or sit back … unconcsiously – and attempt to understand what is going on in this picture. And the longer a viewer looks at a picture… the viewer becomes engaged with that picture. This is what an artist really wants… a picture that pulls the viewer in… by any means necessary.

4- Light Versus Dark… is one of Carol Marine’s favorite compositional elements. This allows the artist to directly engage the viewer and draw them deep into the picture. Imagine the hands of a clock as your eye makes the journey into this picture.

Start at 12 noon. The pale Cerrulean Blue sky bumps at 1 PM against the dark building shadow, immediately jumps to the small white rectangle (a car in the background), hops down at 1:15 PM to the dark beneath the orange car, drops to the tinted Moonglow of the street, at 1:20 PM, hits the light of the yellow street strip, is pulled into the main subject (The Bug) at the dark of the driver’s side mirror, immediately jumps to the light of the mirror arm, which hops to the light of the Cadmium Red windshield frame. And there is more…

Now the artist has you beneath the periphery of this picture. You are into the image. And you are drawn either upwards to the light red of the roof line or downwards along the light red of the cowling area beneath the windshield. Either way… you are about to travel the light-dark road-map around and across The Bug.

Let’s take the high road… along the roof line. As you follow the brilliant Cadmium Red you bump into an opaque light blue at the upper left corner of the roof. And this light blue cocoons a dark shadow area over the corner of the windshield. And if that is not enough… now your eye drops into the murky dark of the windshield. And boom… a titanium white reflection on the windshield rockets downdwards towards the hood.

Now Ms. Marine has you where she wants you. The white spot at the rear of the hood drops to a muted blue along the hood center chrome … which immediately leads you to a white high-light at the front of the hood. Now you are at 6 PM on the clock face. A really dark line above the license plate sends your eye towards 7 PM and the left head light swirls you upwards to the shadowy dark of the left fender and before you know it… the orange of the fender light has you moving along the door line… as your eye is sandwiched between the dark of the upper door and the light along the body crease. I think you get the picture… or the picture has got you.

Perspective… draws you in… no pun intended. The accentuated wideness of the dog-house, an auto body term for the front of an automobile… from front fender all the way back stopping at the far end of the hood… begins to funnel your eye backwards into an imaginary distant point behind The Bug. Moving backwards … the lesser wide muted white van and the darker vehicle behind the van… suggests to the viewer’s mind… a street that keeps moving deeper and away. The smaller vehicles along the upper right area of the picture reinforce the perspective lines towards moving backwards … towards a vanishing point. However… as you move backwards… the cloudless pale blue sky bounces your attention like a mirror … back to the auto … and you rest along the roof life of The Bug. Only to have your eye grabbed again by the light-dark symphony of color within the bug. And around you go… again.

Edge Treatments – I have accentuated the edge treatments in my version of this picture. The Yellow-Green edges along the roof and sunny side of the vehicle are not in the original. I added the thin yellow-green line to play with a color concept called Vibration. The idea here is to bounce the eye from one color to it’s complement. The larger red area against the smaller green area will cause the eye and the brain to rock back and forth…as the eye seeks to come to rest on one color or the other. But the eye cannot rest… because the complementary colors force it to continuously shift from one color to the other.

The Veridian Green and Yellow-Green at the shadow side rear of the auto are not in the original. However the hood lines, fender edges, windshield edges… some finely done with a #1 sable should give you pause. These edges – some fine and others not so finely drawn .. are another technique to engage and direct the eye around your image.

As you dissect this picture and study the techniques of it’s construction… you will be amazed at how a simple form like The Bug – can be artistically manipulated into a little masterpiece. And I will share a little tid-bit with you. What originally drew me into this picture… was the marvelous glowing bolt of red on the sunny side of the hood. What about you?

At the end… I considered a transparent yellow (Aureolin) wash… but that is for another time. Maybe a yellow wash mixed with Opera (a gorgeous red tint). Or maybe – not. Wonder what New Gambogee would do? Come to think of it… this composition with a yellow car… would really make your hair stand up. Because you would have to change everything. Time to get the complementary and tertiary color charts out.

Enjoy. Mars Burnell

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