I’m now working on my third multipanel series, which I call Earth Red Field. Like Blue Gate and Orange Arc, it’s oil on 14×11 in. panels, and right now I’m planning on 20 panels total. As in the two earlier series, each panel will be a little different in composition and color from every other panel.

It took me quite a while to settle on the right composition and colors. I did around 20 small studies in gouache on Claybord or heavy watercolor paper before I finally developed a design that I love. (If I don’t love it, there’s no way I’ll be able to paint it over and over again!) Some of the studies, which are 8×10 in., may end up in future paintings. But I needed something that would continue the feeling of the first two series, and persistence paid off–I finally found it.

Along the way, I rediscovered how much I like working in gouache (opaque watercolor). For me, gouache is the medium closest to oil–you can paint light over dark, unlike watercolor, and it dries matte, unlike acrylic. I used to do a lot of work in gouache but haven’t for years.

For artists: I’ll put in a plug here for M. Graham gouache: it has a luscious feel, stays wet on the palette for quite a while, even in dry New Mexico climate, and rewets well. The manufacturer says it contains honey rather than sweeteners like corn syrup that are in other brands of gouache, and I’ll believe it (though I don’t intend to taste test). The line is oriented to artists rather than designers, so it uses lightfast pigments and omits the beautiful but fugitive colors of many other brands of gouache. M. Graham is a small artists’ paint manufacturer in West Linn, Oregon; their paints are pretty widely available both in stores and online.

As soon as some panels are dry enough to photograph, I’ll post them on this blog.