Artist Sandra Cashman uses a limited palette in her oil paintings to create inspired scenes of nature. Enjoy more of her work by visiting her website.
I am a landscape painter, and have recently have expanded my repertoire to include people and animals. I choose subjects that touch my heart, or maybe more accurately, they choose me!
I paint with a limited palette, often with as few as three colors—red, yellow and blue—plus white, of course. Some people are surprised to learn I don’t even own a tube of green paint! I prefer to mix my own greens, getting the right shades of warms and cools to convey light and shadow. I believe that using a limited palette brings harmony to my work. Whether you see it or not, the source colors are used in pretty much every stroke, and the color feels like it belongs together.
If the scene is “warm” I often start by covering my canvas with an orange or red tone and then make the painting over that, leaving little bits of the underpaint color to peek through in places; this helps the scene to vibrate and come alive.
I divide my painting time between painting outdoors—en plein air—and working in my studio, which is where I spend more of my painting time.
Plein air paintings, by nature, are done quickly in one sitting. Because the light and shadows are constantly changing, it requires deep concentration. I would describe my plein air paintings as more impressionistic than my studio paintings.
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Due to the intense engagement of the plein air process, I feel that some of these are my more successful works. When I look back at one of my plein air pieces, I can once again feel the breeze, hear the birds and remember the kayak that passed by. Living in the moment when painting creates an indelible memory that lasts forever, and is somehow good for the soul.
In the studio, I can take my time. After twenty-eight years in the fast paced world of advertising where everything is on a deadline, I love the feeling of no time pressure! I can put love and care into every brush stroke and get it right.
People often comment, “that looks like a photograph!” If one of my studio works looks like a photo from a distance, step up closer—you can see the brush work and realize it’s a painting.
While photorealism is not my objective, I am trying to carefully convey the strong emotional response that I have to the subject. If it comes across in a way that appeals to someone else, then I have made a successful connection.
My goal is to be a continual lifelong learner as I seek to express and share my appreciation for the often overlooked beauty around us.
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