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Green, Gold and Sky

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

I recently read that the difference between an artist and a painter is that an artist creates art, while a painter paints pictures. I´m still not sure I know the difference, but as an artist, I´m forever learning and trying different techniques. My life is all about art, colours, images, impressions, communication via palette and brush. Artists as a community generally share freely about their work, and I´m delighted to encourage and share with others.

Since I believe that anyone can start to paint, I was happy during the long lockdown that so many people I know picked up a brush and some paint and had a go. But their first reaction was always ¨"I can´t draw to save my life". You don´t need to draw in order to paint. I am planning to add some video tutorials to my website, but in the mean time I´d like to share some of the techniques I particularly enjoy using.

Gold leaf

As I grew in confidence with acrylics, I began to add texture to my paintings to add interest and depth in order to create a multi- media effect. Gold has been used by artists and craftsmen for centuries to enrich and to gild their work. Using gold leaf in my paintings reflects the light, enhances the other colours, adds shimmer, and a warm glow. Have you ever noticed a glimmer of gold on the pavement, in the sunlight reflected on the water, or from the sunlight behind the trees? I particularly like to use gold leaf in my healing paintings. Gold has been referred to as “the master healer”, as well as symbolising abundance and success.

I buy gold leaf on a roll, and before I apply the adhesive, I wash the canvas with a sand coloured acrylic so that any cracks in the fragile leaf go unnoticed when the painting is finished. I like to prepare several canvases at the same time. I apply the adhesive sparingly with an old brush and leave it until it´s tacky, before gently dropping the gold leaf into place and smoothing it with a careful finger. Spare edges are cut off and saved for next time before I seal the canvas well with lacquer so the acrylic paint does not react with the gold. If that happens, it has an oxidising effect, producing a coppery greeny blue colour. Now the canvas is ready for painting.

The Sky

I´m always fascinated by the sky. I stop my car to stare in awe, or sit for hours on my decking and watch the clouds, observing that although the sky appears to be still, it never is. If I feel down, I only need to look up to feel lifted and connected. I used to think of the summer sky as simply blue, yet if you look closely, you will notice the many different shades of blue, the red, magenta, purple, yellow, orange, and even sandy brown. When the sky appears to be grey, I still see all these colours. The colours I choose to paint the sky are affected by the light, the time of day, sunrise or sunset and the weather: stormy or serene. Below are snapshots from larger canvases including Bournemouth Pier at Sunset and Moody Sunset at Durdle Door. To see these paintings and many more of the skyscapes I love to paint, scroll through the gallery on my website.

Natural Greens for Landscapes

At school I was taught that yellow and blue make green, but I prefer the more muted natural shades produced by mixing one of the many shades of yellow with a little black. The effect is the beautiful, natural shades of green for rolling, grassy hills, leafy lanes, and mossy forest floors. When mixed with black and a little white, citrus yellow makes the gorgeous, vibrant green I associate with spring and new life. Naples yellow and black produces the lovely soft, mossy green I use in many of my Dorset landscapes. Adding white creates a value to the colour, lightening the tone to whatever shade I´m looking for. It creates the highlights on the leaves.

Speaking of adding white, it´s been hot here in Dorset and Sunny´s mane of golden curls needed a trim to make him more comfortable. I took him to the groomer where he behaved impeccably. His golden curls still frame his soulful eyes but the unnoticed white highlights now add value to the coppery, sandy colours in his coat.

I realise that I take so much for granted as I walk through my day, yet when I take the time to notice the explosion of colours in the sky, the myriad shades of green which surround me on this beautiful planet, the gold which shimmers in unexpected places, I experience a sense of awe and a deep inner peace.

Meanwhile, Sunny sleeps on his mat after a hard day´s play with Twiggy, his bossy sister. Both are clearly unimpressed by any added value to the colour of his coat.

Marja Brown

Landscape Artist

Original paintings and prints available from my website, framed or unframed. Commissions undertaken with joy.

The healing painting at the top of the page was a personalised commission.

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