|Dining al Fresco, Venice – 12″X18″ Pastel ©2014 Niki Gulley|
Pastel 24” x 36”
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Water pounds its way down the falls: cascading, rushing, charging into the riverbed — flowing over rocks, swiftly moving forward. Untamed, the surge finds its way over, under, around the boulder-strewn river. Tumbling waters drive up mists above the falls, the rhythmic sounds create a soothing harmony below. Autumn’s low light casts long lines through the Aspen trees and glowing verge.
I decided it would be a fun challenge to create an extremely large painting, and I wanted the final piece to be very uplifting, colorful and full of energy. Opting for warm colors and working with extremely thick paint and palette knives, I chose this lily pond reference from our visit to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, France. The grounds were breathtaking and I could actually see his paintings come to life. I was drawn to the energetic flow and yet calming serenity in this view, and I positioned the water lilies and my paint strokes in a curving pattern to add to that mood. The morning light peeking through the distant foliage added to a sense of mystery and promise that I wanted to capture in paint, and share with you that feeling of hope.
I love the first signs of fall – the crisp feel in the air, the crunching of leaves underfoot, the beautiful autumn colors, and being totally immersed in nature in the middle of a forest without a care in the world. In Fire and Gold I wanted to recreate that joyful feeling, choosing warm reds and yellows of autumn and using energetic strokes with my paint to heighten that mood. Building up first thin transparent layers and then thick textured layers of oil paint also add to a certain glow and magic in the final piece.
That afternoon we chose another back canal to paint while the photographers covered off the beaten path parts of the island. I liked the way the sunlight reflected across the water’s surface, and I really wanted to capture a gondola in the distance, but since they move so quickly that was no easy task! Luckily there was a steady stream of gondolas passing by our location late in the day. I found myself painting as quickly as I could while one came into my composition, and if I didn’t capture it in time, fortunately another vessel would come into view shortly afterwards, and I was pleased with the results.
Just Finished - For this commissioned painting, my collector asked me to create a Tuscan landscape, loaded with vivid red poppies and yellow wildflowers on a bright sunny summer day. Created with thick oil paint and palette knives, this canvas is loaded with texture, movement and energy and the colors leap to life!