Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Best Laid Plans...

Coastal Colors  ©Theresa Grillo Laird - 9x15 oil
see it here

Have you ever found yourself in a place where all your goals and plans for the year, so carefully formulated in January, just go to pieces? Elder care issues have brought me far from home and studio for much longer than expected. I can only very briefly leave the house, so even 2 hours for plein air painting is out.

The gears move very slowly in a day of the very elderly. Almost as soon as the duties belonging to one segment of the day have been completed, it's time to start the duties of the next segment. In the bits of time I can snatch between tasks, I've been focusing on things I ordinarily don't use my art time for. Not far from here are farmers fields in new spring green and flowering trees that I can't stop to paint, but from the house windows I see suburban backyards and small homes with roof lines that interrupt the view. Even this limited vista provides shapes that allow me to do small practice pieces of value and color. A block of western sky hemmed in by roofs and tree tops, gives me clouds to practice with daily. These quick studies are no more worth showing off than a musician's scales would be worth hearing on stage, but they aren't time wasted.

I've been using my time too studying the work of artists I like. It's interesting to me to find out what palette of colors artists use.

Beach House © Theresa Grillo Laird - 9x12 Oil
see it Here

My own palette has changed over time. After years of painting with a palette of about 12 or 14 colors, I narrowed it to 6 or 8 colors about 10 years ago. For the past year and a half, I narrowed it further to just Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Lemon and Permanent Red. The paintings in this post were painted with that palette. I've started adding back in a few of my favorites like a reddish brown and a muted orange-red. Both of these colors are useful to vary green mixtures.
You can often determine what the palette of a contemporary artist is by looking at their workshop supply list. Palettes of past masters are a bit harder to research especially when colors are mentioned that aren't in use anymore. I have a notebook where I keep the names and palettes of artists I like. 

Finally, this time of exile from my beach and my studio, has given me time to think about where I really want to go and how I might get there. I've been discarding the routes that take me from my own personal path, and fine tuning what is left.
Who knows? Maybe my best laid plans of January really weren't what I most needed.

Water Rising © Theresa Grillo Laird - 12x16 Oil
see it Here


  1. It is always hard caring for loved ones and takes strength and courage. Good for you for using the time to reflect and study. I am sure it will pay off big time, while in the meantime, you are engaged in a labor of love.
    Sending many good thoughts your way.

    1. Renee what a beautiful reply! You lifted my spirits today!


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