Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crocker Museum Auction 2011

Bygone Days, 32 x 14, oil on linen sold

This painting was my entry for the annual Crocker Museum Art Auction this year. I wasn't able to attend any of the festivities because I was in Sonoma, but I'd heard that the event was a great success and my painting fetched a respectable price. Whew~ I was a little vexed after last year's auction so I didn't get my hopes up, but it all turned out well. Perhaps the economy is slowly turning around.

The painting, obviously, is very tonalist. The colors are very much influenced by the Early California tonalists, as is the subject matter (the Eucalyptus). Beyond the obvious, what I really wanted to do was to  pay close attention to the application of paint. Specifically, taking full advantage of the canvas texture to create broken, yet distinctive, edges in the focal area. Here the softness is a result of dragging the paint across the tops of the texture, much like drybrushing. Only with a loaded brush–I don't know if that's still considered drybrushing but I tend to think they're different. Shaping the foliage does take considerable back and forth between the tree and the sky, so it's not a one shot deal like (what I think of as) a drybrush stroke. The key is in starting very thin and transparent, and get thicker as I finalize the shape.  My aim was to have an overall soft feel to the contour, but each stroke's broken edges be crisp. In other words, no blending.

By having even softer, some blended edges toward the bottom–together with very close values which also contributes to a softness– the focal area becomes even more emphasized.

There are so many ways to create a soft edge. Sometimes I feel like that's where the true identity of the artist is found... more so than color choices or subject matter. Then again, I'll probably change my mind about that tomorrow.


  1. "true identity of the artist" what a provocative thought. That would indeed be a game changer. Certainly, a characterization of your work; in part why I deeply admire your work.

  2. This is georgeous, with a good lesson too. When you shaped the foliage, do you use a stiff, bristle brush, and do you just use OMS to thin the paint at first? I'm experimenting with different brushes, and am having trouble handling them.
    Thanks, as always!

  3. Christian, thanks! I think may be I should have worded it differently - "the artist's personality really shows up in how he handles the edges" ...or something like that.

    I've just been preoccupied with my edges these few years so my views are myopic :-D

  4. Judy, I use bristle flats. I hardly ever use soft (mongoose, sable, badger) brushes because I can barely feel it touching the canvas. I like the solid response of the bristle brushes.

    To thin, I just use Gamsol or Turpenoid (blue can) I generally stay away from mediums unless I'm using it as varnish or making fluid, abstract marks, in which case I use Liquin.

  5. Beautiful painting! Thanks for the insight.
    Best wishes,