64. Belleisle Grenada

•2019/12/13 • Leave a Comment

Belleisle Grenada, oil pastels on paper ©Delfino Cornali 2019

Michele & I traveled to the island of Grenada in January 2019. We stayed in the home of our friend Chase, in the rural village of Belleisle. Chase’s house sits at the top of a ridge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Strong, pounding waves boomed against the cliffs most days. I’d set out from here on my morning runs high into the rainforest interior of the island, climbing the steep, rural roads through groves of nutmeg, cacao and grapefruit trees. By mid-afternoon, strong sea breezes would whistle through the trees. The hour before sunset brought on the “airshow” – falcons and owls on the hunt.

Chase helped me set-up my art studio in the apartment. I promised him to send him a painting of his island paradise home.  Chase, here you go.  Thanks for all the great memories of our time on Grenada: our Sunday afternoon outings to Rocky’s on BBC Beach; Diego’s birthday party; but most of all, those peaceful late afternoons in Belleisle.

In this piece, I continue to experiment with the palette knife on oil pastels, using it to blend colors, create strong lines and textures. There are lots of verticals here, the sky textures, the foreground grasses and foliage.

Original Art Specifications

  • Medium Sennelier oil pastels on Arches Huile oil paper, 300gm
  • Dimensions 8″ x 10″, mounted with double-matte (off-white & gold, as shown), 11″ x 14″, unframed, cello-bagged

63. Tyne Pilot

•2019/12/08 • Leave a Comment

In the spring of 2019, my good friend David asked me to do a commission piece, of him on his sailboat. We arranged to meet at his home on Lake Union in the heart of Seattle. David had spent the previous weeks scrubbing the boat, kitting it out with its full complement of sails. David set off from his houseboat dock, and proceeded to make several passes of the lake. I took several photographs as he passed by from various vantage points along the lake shore.

Back at my studio, I made several attempts on a small study piece using oil pastels. I didn’t like the results. I found that the oils were too bold for the subject matter.  They gave the sky and water too much depth and texture – they made a pleasant, sunny June morning on Lake Union feel like a stormy ocean.

So I decided to try softer pastels – Sennelier’s L’Ecu pastels.  These seemed to be better suited in capturing the more muted colors and “flatter” textures the piece needed.

Specifications

  • Medium Sennelier L’Ecu pastels on Arches Huile Grain Fin, 300gm
  • Dimensions 16″ x 20″, mounted, single-matte, 18″ x 22″, unframed, cello-bagged
  • Status Commissioned piece, delivered

Palette Knife for Oil Pastel Textures

•2019/10/22 • Leave a Comment

Textures for sky and sails by using a palette knife

This week I began experimenting with how to use a palette knife to create textures in oil pastels. In the past, I’ve relied on other techniques, most notably:

  • Fingertips – to flatten colors to a uniform finish, for calm water, reflections, etc.; and
  • Paper stubs – for combining colors, drawing lines through colors, building raised areas.

I knew that oil painters use the palette knife with canvas, but I wanted to determine whether it would work for oil pastels on paper.

Scraping the oil pastel evenly across the paper works well to combine different colors into a very flat surface.  It also can suggest a uniform surface, for example, the texture of a canvas sail.  For the mainsail, I combine luminous yellow (Sennelier 233) with white & charcoal.  By dragging the flat edge of the palette knife across the paper, I create the horizontal lines of a canvas texture.  The vertical strand of pure white down the mainsail suggests a concave sail.

But as I gained more confidence, I learned that substantial papers – in the above case, Arches 140-lb. Oil Paper – can withstand serious pressure.  I can create both raised areas (e.g. cloud surfaces), as well as “negative areas”, where I create a depression against the paper that gives the image depth.  In the above example, I needed to avoid creating a lifeless, placid sky.  Sailboats move through (invisible) wind – my work needs to suggest moving air, so I wanted to suggest dynamic movement. Although close examination looks quite “busy”, that appearance dissolves when the viewer takes in the image as a whole, from a distance.  At that point, the viewer sees a very three-dimensional sky.  The small wisps of white become distant clouds, the greys draw the eye back towards the horizon, so that the boat & sail can pop into the foreground.

62. Garden Mosaic

•2019/09/05 • Comments Off on 62. Garden Mosaic

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“Garden Stepping Stone”, marble mosaic, 17″ x 9″, ©Delfino Cornali 2019

My first experimentation with pigmented grout using marble tesserae. I mixed ochre, bluefields with sanded grout (3-to-1 ochre to bluefields; 5-2 grout-to-pigment).

The effect was to cast an olive patina over the marble surfaces, which gives the final piece a weathered look.

61. Seward Park Trail

•2019/05/16 • Comments Off on 61. Seward Park Trail

 

Seward Park Trail, oil pastel by Delfino Cornali

“Seward Park Trail”, oil pastels on aquarelle rag, 20cm x 25cm ©Delfino Cornali 2019

This piece shows one of my favorite spots in Seward Park. We’re looking north along the Spine Trail which runs along the center of the peninsula. This spot is deep in the forest. I often spot bald eagles here, their nest is perched high in the canopy nearby. On the trail to the left, I’ve spotted adult Pileated woodpeckers. This is a truly magical spot in the park.

Technique

In the late afternoon, sunlight filters down through the canopy of native alder, madrone, cedar and Douglas fir.  In this piece, I try to capture the contrast of light and shadow typical of a mature Pacific Northwest rainforest. The forest floor can be a dark place, even on a sunny day. But when sunlight does penetrate, its effect is transformative. Low-angle afternoon light brings golds and reds into places that, moments before, were deep green and brown.

#ArtForGood

This piece is part of my #ArtForGood project, where all proceeds from art sales are donated to a good cause. For this piece, I will donate funds to a youth ultimate team from south Seattle – SOUF – who recently qualified for the 2019 USA Ultimate Regional playoffs.  My teammates and I are helping to defray the travel expenses for these young players.

Specifications

  • Medium Sennelier oil pastels on Canson Aquarelle Rag, 240gm
  • Dimensions 8″ x 10″, mounted, double-matte (in colors, as shown), 11″ x 14″, unframed, cello-bagged
  • Donation US$100, excludes shipping, preference to Seattle-local sales
  • Status SOLD.

 

 

60. My Retired Walking Friends

•2019/03/19 • Comments Off on 60. My Retired Walking Friends
My Retired Walking Friends, oil pastels on Aquarelle Rag, 20cm x 25cm, ©Delfino Cornali 2019

I was exploring the hiking trails around the village of Tsagarada, Greece when I came across a stone hut nestled in a grove of chestnut trees. The Pelion peninsula – about two hours north of Athens – has amazing hiking. Thick groves of enormous chestnut trees cover the steep hillsides. As you descend, the forests give way to stony groves of gnarled olive trees, tamarisks and lemons, until you finally arrive by the sea.

The owner of this hut (and these shoes) at some point felt compelled to dry out their old walking shoes on the stone sill of the hut. The shoes are beyond redemption as footwear. I recognize the emotion – your old shoes that had become your closest companions, and I cannot bear to throw them away. So instead, the owners old friends reign here, on a dry, sunny window sill beneath a canopy of ancient chestnut trees, while the elements of sun, wind and rain gradually dissolve them into dust.

Technique

This work intrigued me on many levels. How to blend the colors that would become the texture of wood. The texture of pitted stone, as it varies between glaringly bright light, and the mottled shadow of chestnut leaves above the hut. I know the actual stone’s texture doesn’t vary between sun and and shadow. Since there’s no sharp divide between light and shade, I relied on some intermediate tones – sienna, rose, grays – to suggest the shadow.

#ArtForGood

This piece is part of my #ArtForGood project, where all proceeds from the sale of this piece are donated to a good cause. For this piece, I will donate funds to a youth ultimate team from south Seattle – SOUF – who recently qualified for the 2019 USA Ultimate Regional playoffs.  My teammates and I are helping to defray the travel expenses for these young players.

Specifications – Original Art

  • Medium Sennelier oil pastels on Canson Aquarelle Rag, 240gm
  • Dimensions 8″ x 10″, mounted, double-matte (in colors, as shown), 11″ x 14″, unframed, cello-bagged
  • Donation US$75, excludes shipping
  • Availability Date September 12, 2019
  • Status UNSOLD

59. Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec City

•2019/02/28 • 1 Comment

Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec City, oil pastels on aquarelle rag, 25cm x 20cm, ©2019 Delfino Cornali

On our travels through Quebec last year, my partner and I were exploring the Saint-Jean Baptiste neighborhood of Quebec City. Late one September afternoon, just as the lights of the city were coming on, we came across a charming storefront – a grocery called “J.A. Moisan”. Something about the scene caught my eye. The green awnings, the orange brickwork, the flower planters in bloom, the bustle of people window shopping down the sidewalks. It was one of those moments travelers experience where the wonder of being in a place opens up something inside of yourself. I took the photo, always with the idea to try to capture the magic of moment in art.

Technique

I’m continuing to experiment with brushwork with this piece, something new for me, and is uncommon when working with pastels. I smudge (a mix of several) oil pastels onto a piece of plexiglass; then I load the brush with enough mineral spirits to stir into the smudges, making a mixture with the consistency of ink. The brush lets me paint much finer lines than I could otherwise draw using paper stumps.

#ArtForGood

This piece is part of my #ArtForGood project, where all proceeds from the sale of this piece are donated to a good cause. For this piece, I will donate funds to a youth ultimate team from south Seattle – SOUF – who recently qualified for the 2019 USA Ultimate Regional playoffs.  My teammates and I are helping to defray the travel expenses for these young players.

Specifications

  • Medium Sennelier oil pastels on Canson Aquarelle Rag, 240gm
  • Dimensions 10″ x 8″, mounted, double-matte (in colors, as shown), 11″ x 14″, unframed, cello-bagged
  • Donation US$75, excludes shipping
  • Availability Date September 12, 2019
  • Status SOLD to a private collector

57. Turtles of Edwards Bay

•2019/01/18 • 1 Comment

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Seward Park, Seattle, boasts a colony of box turtles on Andrews Bay. On most sunny afternoons, they clamber aboard a fallen Douglas Fir tree to sunbathe. The water lilies that line the shores of Andrews Bay begin to bloom at the start of summer. On summer afternoons, this vignette casts a magical spell on the park visitors – including myself.

In this piece, I wanted to capture the delicate light reflecting off the lily pads. The concentric ripples on the water’s surface. The images of turtle heads reflected onto the water. The single water lily flower just on the verge of opening, a torch of dazzling white light.

During the summer, I swim in Lake Washington (well away from the turtles and their protective ring of water lilies.) I’d been training daily, in preparation for the Seattle Children’s Hospital fundraiser swim – a 1.3-mile event across Lake Washington at the end of August. On one memorable swim, my head down surveying the lake bottom, one of these box turtles zooms past, ten feet below me along the bottom of the lake. Turtles are not the slow, languorous beings our culture believes them to be.

This piece represents the first of the #ArtForGood series, where all proceeds from sales are donated to a non-profit appropriate to the piece. Proceeds will be donated to Friends of Seward Park, a group of citizens working to preserve the unique habitat and cultural legacy of this historic park.

Original Art Specifications

  • Medium Sennelier oil pastels on Canson Aquarelle Rag, 240gm
  • Dimensions 8″ x 10″, mounted, double-matte (in colors, as shown), 11″ x 14″, unframed, cello-bagged
  • Donation $75.00 SOLD

Reproductions

  • 20 numbered & signed prints
  • More information to follow…

#ArtForGood – Community Building through Art

•2018/12/26 • Comments Off on #ArtForGood – Community Building through Art

I’ve always believed that art has the power to inspire people. It has the ability to move us into new and sometimes unexpected directions. But I think art can do more. We can convert simple inspiration into the necessary resources to support the common good. Because I believe when people possess art which we dedicate to a cause, we – the community, the artist and the art’s new-found owner – imbue that art with the power of social change.

I’d tried donating artwork (e.g. for fund raisers) unsuccessfully. So here’s my idea how to convert art into community resources. As I complete the next series of my art pieces (inspired by images from places and causes in which I believe), I’ll place these for sale on the One Hundred Paintings site. All proceeds are donated to the cause paired with that piece. Buyers may elect to dedicate the donation in honor of a family member or friend they wish to recognize.

fernFrostFragment_from_IMG_0041Here’s an example of how I see this working. I volunteer at local park as a forest steward, where I coordinate volunteers on reforestation projects. Over the last several years, the park’s magnificent Sword Fern population is under threat from an unknown pathogen. Here’s a recent photo of mine on the right – a Sword Fern coated in frost. I plan to create an oil pastel piece based on this photo.  When I’ve completed it, I’ll post the completed piece onto this site with the hashtag #ArtForGood. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to Friends of Seward Park, a non-profit organization which is working with the city to find solutions to Sword Fern die off.

I have selected a series of a dozen or so photos which I plan to work into art pieces over the next several months.  Each piece will benefit a non-profit organization.

Organizations to Benefit from #ArtForGood

Friends of Seward Park – the piece Water Lilies and Turtles was purchased in February 2019

Sierra Club Foundation – the piece entitled Bench Lake Sunset was purchased in March 2019

Gage Academy of Art – see Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec City

Washington Trails Association

Forterra

56. Mist over Vela Luka

•2018/11/26 • Comments Off on 56. Mist over Vela Luka

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Mist over Vela Luka – oil pastels on paper, 39cm x 29cm, by Delfino Cornali ©2018

On a misty October morning in 2009, I snapped the photo on which this piece is based. I’d hopped an early morning bus from Korçula’s main town across the island to the port town of Vela Luka. The crew aboard a blue fishing boat made its preparations before heading out to sea.

What prompted me to snap this photo was the unusual reflection on the water’s surface. The entire port was bathed in silver light, probably due to the refracted sunlight as it penetrated the low band of fog that hung over the hills above the town. The water reflected back that glow, diffusing it in all directions. It was truly magical – within moments, the fog bank dissolved completely.

In this piece, I attempt to capture the effects that the fog bank had created on that day.  I deepened the colors in the hills just above the town – I think this was caused by the fog’s shadow. Notice that the tops of the hills above the fog bank were in full sun. A light breeze ruffled the surface of the water just slightly, which distorted the reflections of the houses and boats.

I made use of the Sennelier oil pastels “Transparent Blue” and “Aluminum” to accentuate the reflected light on the water’s surface.  To create the illusion of still water, I blended Mars Grey with Indigo Light and French Ultramarine.

55. View from Iceberg Point

•2018/08/22 • Comments Off on 55. View from Iceberg Point

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View from Iceberg Point – oil pastels on paper, 8″ x 10″, ″ by Delfino Cornali ©2018

In July of 2018 Michele and I took a midweek trip to Lopez Island, a quiet island in the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound. On our first morning jaunt, we visited Iceberg Point on the southern tip of the island. A morning fog had just lifted, a light breeze suffused the hillside in sea-cooled air that smelled of salt spray, spruce and kelp.

I took a dozen or so photos that morning. The one which became the basis for this piece is my favorite. I love the depths in this image. It’s as if the image leads your eye progressively deeper into the image, from one depth plane to the next. When I’d taken the photo I hadn’t noticed the reflections on the water.  Yet the photo showed them unmistakably, despite the waves’ distortions.

While I was working on this piece, I had been reading a book about Gustav Klimt’s landscape paintings.  Klimt was an Austrian artist better known for his portrait work.  A color plate of Schönbrunner Schlosspark 1916 struck me.  It amazed me how he’d abstracted the shapes & textures of trees into thousands of parallel lines of color.

So I focused on reproducing a similar abstraction, especially on the foreground grasses.

Special thanks to Carol, our Airbnb host, who’d suggested we visit Iceberg Point that morning.

 

 

54. Seascape, Cafe Levanat

•2018/07/09 • Comments Off on 54. Seascape, Cafe Levanat

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Seascape, Cafe Levanat – oil pastels on paper, 11″x14″ by Delfino Cornali ©2018

On the last day of a vacation along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia in 2009, we discovered a small cafe overlooking the Adriatic.  It was a breezy October afternoon in the outskirts of Dubrovnik. The sun filtered onto the table through the leaves of the bottle brush trees that lay between the table and the cliff on which the cafe rested. Despite being in a big city, we’d found a quiet spot away from the city noise.  The wind blew the sea into a frothy texture. I snapped the photo of that textured sea, framed by a stone wall mottled in sun & shade.  Nine years later, I rediscovered that photo and resolved to attempt to capture the image in pastels.

The first issue with which I struggled was to duplicate the color of the sea. I didn’t have the “perfect” shade of blue in my pastel collection that matched the photo. I describe how I solved this issue in my previous blog.

I studied the photo’s details, especially the mottled texture of the tree trunk.  Although the trunk hides mostly in shadow (so therefore the texture should be more muted), I knew firsthand that people can see textures that cameras cannot.

What fascinates me about this piece is how those two textures – sea & tree – meld into their respective images as we step away from the painting. Up close, our eyes see blobs and lines of color.  But at a distance, our brains “mix” the colors – a process over which we have zero control.

 

 

Flat Seascapes in oil pastels

•2018/06/23 • 1 Comment

Working with oil pastels has its limitations.  While working on my latest piece – an Adriatic seascape – I discovered I didn’t have the “exact” color match from my blue oil pastels to the shade of blue I needed for the seascape.  The photo from which I was working suggested little variation in the sea.  I tried mixing several colors directly onto the paper, but I didn’t like the end result.

IMG_2010

color mix on plexiglass palette

What I came up with was to use a small piece of plexiglass as a palette. I selected the five colors which I wanted to blend (white, grey, violet, medium blue, ultramarine), and forced a bolus of oil pastel onto the plexiglass.

Then I pulled the colors I wanted to blend onto a fine-pointed paper stub. In most cases I blended just two or three colors at a time.

For the seascape, I wanted to make the surface of water appear more lively, to suggest a seascape where the afternoon breeze is stirring the water’s surface, but not so much as to suggest a storm.

I created a cross-hatched texture by making small ‘x’ and ‘y’ marks with the stub.  I made the effect more pronounced in the foreground, less so in the distance.  I deliberately chose a distinct texture for the leaves/branches in the foreground.

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sea texture using grey, white, violet & blues

Here is a sample of using the above technique.  The next posting will show the completed piece.

 

11.Tassajara Lantern

•2009/02/11 • Comments Off on 11.Tassajara Lantern

Tassajara Lantern, chalk pastels on paper, 2004

Tassajara Lantern, chalk pastels on paper, 2004

I came to know Tassajara from my interest in cooking.  Years ago, I was introduced to bread making through Edward Aspe Brown’s (1960s-classic) Tassajara Bread Book.  I wouldn’t physically visit Tassajara until twenty years later.  Tassajara – a Zen Buddhist monastery-retreat in the mountains of central California – is miles from the nearest patch of pavement, cell phone tower or telephone pole.  When evening comes, a designated resident dutifully lights a handful of these blue kerosene lanterns.  This one hangs at the entrance of one of the communal bathrooms.

I love that, in the background, blurred and out-of-focus, is a walking staff, at the ready for someone to pick up and use.  I love the grey smudge of kerosene soot on the inside of the glass.  I love the flecks of Coleman paint chipped off the finish.  And I love the strong, harsh California sunlight that blazes hot white and pitch black.

I realize it would have been a much more challenging piece to capture the lantern at night, at “work”, to try to capture the yellow glow the lantern casts onto the dusty path. Instead, I chose to show the lantern “at rest.”  To me, this is like the night worker asleep at mid-afternoon, resting for what will be a long, illuminating and useful night.  But without the rest, there can be no work.  Aren’t we all just two sleep-deprived nights away from madness?  I know from my years of competitive running that the “work” of becoming fitter happens at night, while we’re asleep.

So this is how this faded blue Coleman lantern with the smudged glass speaks to me – it’s reminding me that it’s quite impossible to be “on” all the time.  We all need the balance, the darkness and the light, to be useful. Nor do we need to be fancy, burnished copper, highly polished without a trace of soot – that therein lies the beauty of Utility.

I donated this piece to the Kline Galland Home, Seattle in June 2018.

9. The Conductor

•2009/01/07 • Comments Off on 9. The Conductor

The Conductor, oil pastels on paper, 2007

The Conductor, oil pastels on paper, 2007

No matter how hard our techno-logical society tries to banish (or at least diminish the power of) myths, our nature as human beings prevents it.  We are storytellers, and modern mythology lives in our collective consciousness to help us bridge between the known and the unknown.

I was captivated reading Stephen Kotler’s book West of Jesus about the modern, surfer-borne myth of “The Conductor”, a supernatural being capable of creating weather, wind and waves by waving a human bone above his head.  The existence of  the Conductor is a moot point.  That surfers (and I) feel drawn to this modern myth speaks volumes about our need to navigate the bridge into that part of the real world that remains unknown to us.

I traveled to an “Ends of the Earth” several years ago–the Native American settlement of La Push, on the Olympic Peninsula on the far northwestern corner of the Continental U.S.  I photographed this trunk of driftwood, raised vertically into the damp grey sand.  In my mind, it was simple to bring this mythological being to life.  An eye.  The line of muscled arms.  A swirl of clouds that form at his beckoning.

For me, this piece has become a touchstone to remind myself that the wild and unknowable parts of our world are just as important to our psyches as the known & easily explained.

#ArtForGood

This piece is part of my #ArtForGood project, where all proceeds from the sale are donated to a nonprofit organization. For this piece, the buyer has donated funds to Forterra, the organization which (among many other projects) sponsors the Green Seattle Partnership program, pairing Seattle City Parks with volunteer forest stewards (myself included) and support (funding, plant biologists…).

Specifications

  • Medium Sennelier oil pastels on paper
  • Dimensions 14″ x 11″, mounted, double-matte, 20″ x 16″, unframed
  • Donation US$75, excludes shipping
  • Availability Date  December 8, 2019
  • Status SOLD to a private collector
 
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