Painting End of Spring

Novelist Christy Ann Conlin loves her some Flannery O’Conner! Southern Gothic may not only influence this author’s writing (Heave & Deadtime) but also her photography as evidenced from her shot of a dead robin on a shovel which she so kindly let me paint. It’s the beauty in the ephemeral fleeting nature of life that makes this melancholic image so poignant for me.

Here’s my process of rendering her photo, Sadness of a Gothic Bird, into my oil painting, End of Spring.

End of Spring in progress 1 Marie Cameron 2013

First I blocked in the negative space of the shovel.

End of Spring in progress 2 Marie Cameron 2013

I sketched in a loose grid with thinned oils allowing me to sketch the outline of the bird more accurately.

End of Spring in progress 3 Marie Cameron 2013

I wiped off the grid with a rag damped with mineral spirits so the lines would not show through.


End of Spring in progress 4 Marie Cameron 2013

Using loose washes of paint mixed with lots of mineral spirits and linseed oil I let the pigment drip and spread naturally.

End of Spring in progress 5 Marie Cameron 2013

I used the damp rag once more to pat and wipe the surface for texture. Great technique for pavement and rust!

End of Spring in progress 6 Marie Cameron 2013

More of the same.

End of Spring in progress 7 Marie Cameron 2013

Impatient to start working on the bird I started to block in it’s base colors. In retrospect it would have been more efficient to complete the background completely then overlap the shovel then finish the bird but there is something to be said for the integrity of working the whole at once too.

End of Spring in progress 8 Marie Cameron 2013

As the base is completed I’m starting to explore some of the details.

End of Spring in progress 9 Marie Cameron 2013

I return my attention to the shovel, wanting to achieve a glowing, almost halo effect aganst the dark backdrop.

End of Spring in progress 9 Marie Cameron 2013

Time to bring the bird to life, or as close as possible as though it has just stopped breathing. In this case it’s all about the realism, the deep careful observation of detail. This comes from the stillness of death, in life there would be an impression only.

End of Spring Marie Cameron 2013 40x30 oil on canvas

Dotting the (i)s and crossing the (t)s. In this case it was paying attention to the transition of pavement to shovel to make sure the shovel appeared to be hovering over the pavement instead of appearing as though the pavement was painted around the shovel.
Get out the camera again Christy Ann, I’ll paint ’em and fast as you can shoot ’em!


For more on Christy Ann Conlin’s compelling “Rural Goth”, click on her books below. FWI, I took the photo of the crumbling porch on the jacket cover of Heave. It’s so inspiring when friends share an aesthetic!

Heave by Christy Ann Conlin Dead Time  by Christy Ann Conlin

Coming up Roses

This week I’ve been painting the lovely cupped rose that blooms outside my studio. It’s called  Spirit of Freedom, a David Austin stunner.  Beyond it’s sweet fragrance, I love the hypnotic experience of looking into it’s myriad of petals. That’s why I’m calling this painting Rose Mandala, a meditation circle. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Rose Mandala in Progress 1 Marie Cameron 2013

I’ve loosely sketched in the outlines of the form with oil mixed with mineral spirits.


Rose Mandala in Progress 2 Marie Cameron 2013

Layering in some of the mid-tone pinks using a thicker bodied oil,  leaving some space blank so my colors won’t muddy prematurely.

Rose Mandala in Progress 3 Marie Cameron 2013

Adding some cool toned shadows and roughing in the background.

Rose Mandala in Progress 4 Marie Cameron 2013

Beginning to blend paint where added highlights and shadows meet existing paint.

Rose Mandala in Progress 5 Marie Cameron 2013

Trying to develop the fluid character of the petals.

Rose Mandala in Progress 6 Marie Cameron 2013

Adding more depth to the shadows and further refining the petals.

Rose Mandala Marie Cameron 2013

Satisfied with the balance of the refinement and flow of the petals and the overall form of the rose.



Cherry Blossom Spray in Breath of Spring

Marie Cameron Cherry Blossom Spray 2012 oil on canvas 24" x 24"

Marie Cameron Cherry Blossom Spray 2012 oil on canvas 24″ x 24″

Good News!

I heard today that Cherry Blossom Spray was accepted into the nationally juried exhibition, “Breath of Spring” to be held at the Pacific Art League of Palo Alto for the month of April. It means a lot to me as the show’s juror was George Rivera, Executive Director and Senior Curator of the Triton Museum of Art! There will be a reception Friday April 5 from 5:30 – 8:00 in the Art League’s new temporary digs, next door to 668 Ramona Street.