Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Friday, July 6, 2012

Recent Studies

When I do these small paintings in the studio, I usually am working out ideas regarding design or abstraction or color or some other specific issue. I tried to get them resolved before I forget that I was thinking about them at all (seems it's becoming easier and easier to forget these days!) 

I have been rather preoccupied with the idea of saying more with less, and the top picture is a pretty good example. Just how much must you describe to communicate what the thing is? Sometimes, not much. In this case, the only thing that's really defined is the barn roof, and may be the one evergreen tree to the right. Everything else is sort of suggested, and defined only by context and association. Of course, colors and values have to still make sense, but very few shapes are necessary. I just think of them as clues to a puzzle or a mystery. Sorta like,  what the heck is this picture? Here's a clue for ya. If you give them too many clues, it's no longer a mystery. It no longer engages the viewer.

That's the idea, anyway.

Tight harmonies, earth tones and a lower key. That was the set of requirements that I gave myself for this little painting. Shaping the tree took a while, as it had to be convincing enough to carry the whole picture. (there are no other clues). I love the "old" look of this palette.

This one, on the other hand, is painted with no earthtones on the palette. The browns and ochres are just mixed from brighter colors. I was interested in doing a more colorful painting than usual, especially in the higher end of the value range. It's richer, but still a little bit subdued. 

Expressing the mountainside abstractly. Just barely separating trees from the dirt, but moving the shapes to show topography. I'm exploring this further.

It's summertime! Remembering the lazy days of summer from childhood. Just sitting around watching the clouds float by. Ah, those were the days. 

I usually touch all three primaries to mix (almost) every color I use on the canvas, but in this painting, I held back on the blue of the sky. I only used blue and white (ultramarine near top, cerulean beneath) to keep  the statement pure and simple. I'm not too comfortable with pure(r)colors, but I'm trying to get used to them in an effort to expand my visual vocabulary. 

All of these are available for purchase (except the top one, which is already sold). Email me if you're interested!


  1. Thank you, Terry. This is a marvelous post as are all of yours. Love the idea of setting objectives (a few) for a painting and working toward that end. These are all excellent paintings, and your explanations of each really help me understand your approach. Thank you for all the guidance you offer through your blog. I know I have learned so much to apply to my efforts!!

  2. Thank YOU for that comment, Carol. I never know if anyone's reading this stuff. It's good to know that I'm not speaking just to hear my voice, as it were. LOL.

    I appreciate your feedback~

  3. I love what you're doing with your studies...trying to say something with the least strokes and your limited palettes. I look forward to seeing more. Just one marketing suggestion, Terry, if I may be so bold. I'm new to your blog and I couldn't remember who was sending me these Studio Notes. Maybe you could put your name somewhere in each post, or a picture of you painting. It might help build name recognition.

  4. I agree with Carol and am reading and enjoying. Your explanations are especially interesting and insightful.
    Ruth Hook Colby

  5. I have to agree with the other posts. I am recently new to Plein air painting and hearing you think out loud is the best instruction I could have. Please don't stop. I'm especially interested in your comments about abstraction. I wish you would reveal more about this on your blog. Thank you so much.

  6. great studies....I love the colors..!!
    excellent paintings

  7. I really enjoyed seeing these Terry. They all have a spontaneous, outdoor look about them, as though done on the spot!

    Can I ask, what palette you were using for these?



  8. Thanks Sue~ I didn't even know that I was "sending" anyone these blog posts. Is it a function of subscribing to the blog? Must be.
    In which case, I'm not sure how to go about changing the information that goes out other than including my name in the content of every post. Hmm. I need to do a little research...

  9. Thanks Ruth, Su Alexander and Jim! It's great to know that you find my blog informative/interesting. Thanks so much for your feedback!

  10. Ruth, I'll try and dig deeper into talking about abstraction. Although I feel as though I'm exploring the realm without a map myself!

  11. Jim, my palette changes from time to time as I try different things. But my basic palette consists of two or three variations of each of the primaries, plus White. So...


    -Reddish Blue (Usually Ultramarine)
    -Greenish Blue (Prussian, Phthalo, or Cerulean, depending on whim.)
    -Low Chroma Blue (Usually Ivory Black)

    -Cool Yellow (Cad Lemon)
    -Warm Yellow(Cad Lemon + Transparent Iron Oxide)
    -Low Chroma Yellow (Yellow Ochre)

    -Warm Red (Permanent Red)
    -Cool Red (Alizarin)
    -Low Chroma Red (Transparent Iron Oxide)

    That's basically it, regardless of subject matter or situation.

    I use a little bit of Liquin, usually when I'm playing with abstraction toward the end of a painting.

    My solvent is Gamsol, both for washes and cleaning.