Muted Peach

The fourth abstract painting from
the Line & Color series

Roland’s journal entries and photos done while painting this painting. Detailing his aesthetic and painterly objectives, observations and summations in pursuit of creating the abstract painting “Muted Peach”.

By the way, “Muted Peach” was  part of OMA’s (Orlando Museum of Art) Platform Show March  2023. 

Oil on Canvas: 16 x 20 in

Artist's Journal

Started: August 1st, 2022
Finished: August 8th, 2022

16 x 20 inches oil on cotton canvas

The canvas was primed with acrylic gesso tinted with brown latex house paint.


  1. Use first of this series “Symphonic Lines Held in Check” as inspiration.
  2. Reuse the dark thin line work and minimized pallet but make the achromatic gray lines lighter.
  3. Build base line work with charcoal then use fixative when satisfied with composition.
  4. Have lots of open space.
  5.  Use expressive brush strokes. Stay away from thinly painted brush strokes. Especially in the background areas
  6.  Stay visually focused and stay away from cookie cutter painting.

Vine Charcoal Start

First photo of Muted Peach sequence

I am happy with this start. I took more time on this base drawing than I have for the previous paintings in this series. I rubbed out some already drawn line work, which I liked, for the compositional goal of more open space. I feel this drawing can become a painting without much, if any, composition reworking. A big time and frustration saver.

I like the almost vertical lines which I think I will use to make rectangles, or the impressions of a rectangle. I plan to keep the transparent look of some the line work, lines coming to the foreground other lines fading.

More of a Value Study Now

Second photo of Muted Peach sequence

In this phase I ended up with more tones then planned. The result of rubbing out some of the charcoal line work. But I liked the look. It is said that values are more important than color in a painting because they determine the success of the composition. “Value does the work, and color gets the credit”, as the saying goes. I now I have a value template for the colors I will apply. 

As much as I wish I could apply colors spontaneously with inspiration and a finished look I don’t think I’m there. I’m not sure I ever will be. I think my next step will be to apply mineral spirit thinned colors to work out a color scheme. The paint dries much faster with the mineral spirits, though it dulls the color of the paint it allows me move on quickly later painting over this “under painting.” As in my previous pieces of this series I would like to have cool and warm areas in large sections which I think will help the viewer better take in the perspective complexity of this painting.

The Shapes I’m Seeing

  • Repeated horizontal lines, which could work as horizon lines as in landscape, I see as a repeated motif. I read this piece as an abstract landscape. Any horizonal line that extends for a bit can, for me, work as a horizon line. Since this is an abstract piece I think the artist is not limited to just one.
  • A large m or w taking up 3/4 of the piece from left to right made up of the longer almost vertical lines which I mentioned earlier.
    In the first stem of this letter on the left from middle down there are round shapes and this area in general is fairly busy and bubbly for lack of a better word.
    The next two almost vertical line flow from the first line continuing the three-dimensional space with diagonal rounded shapes. The bottom of these two stanzas act as a structured base with broken vertical lines.
  • The far right of the piece, the last quarter, has a layered vertical feel. The top with diagonals flowing into diagonals making fat shapes. This last quarter of the piece visually falls back, in part, for the strong vertical black line defining the last line.
  • I feel this last quarter on the right will have a different unique feel. It has more “open” space enclosed with curved lines. This quarter will help visually bring together the referenced letter with itself to bring unity to the piece.

The edges of the canvas have no defining marks as I’ve done with previous pieces of this series. I’m not sure how I will finish this area. But I like the effect. It gives breathing room and a floating effect to the rectangular composition. 

I could write on and on about the shapes, marks, and colors. The painting.  If the writing was to be only for me it might turn out to be a good resource in the future. But it does take time to write and more to edit and it’s a heavy read. Thank you for getting this far. Reading and editing these notes many months later brings back the painting sessions and the frame of mind I had.  Memories that would have been lost.

Thin Base Colors Added

Third photo of Muted Peach sequence

I am happy with the progress so far but I think I failed in the “lots of open spaces” goal. That failure occurred in the initial drawing since the composition has not changed since then. I am not going to change the composition and go with what I have. 

I think the gray black lines give the painting a dirty look. The dark lined shapes also remind me of comic graphics. I think piece is complex and there are not many places for the eyes to rest. The colors are muted chromatics (colored grays) and I think represent a limited pallet. I also added a muted light green all around the edges of the drawing but it does not show well on the photo. I am liking it’s effect and looking forward to see what embellishments I do to it. There are still a few background areas I’m undecided on what color to have.

Next steps will be to apply thicker paint and mix my colors much more conscientiously for every stroke.

What To Do Next

Fourth Photo of Muted Peach

I am happy with the progress. I’m learning as I go and I consider it a victory at this stage. It is giving me food for thought for paintings to come. I still feel it is a good goal to do a series based on a charcoal line drawing. I’m not applying the paint as thick as I envisioned. Seems I’m not ready for that. If my technique ever comes to that. Up to this point I’ve been using a small bristle flat brush and have been enjoying working the color into the painting, wearing down the brush I am sure. Though I have failed in keeping the pallet simple ( in hind sight I think it is a simple pallet). I also feel that I wanted the colors to be lighter. I’m not sure that the upper right gray blue area is working. I think it too dark and needs better color. Also the irregular border of the drawing on this corner I’m not sure is working.

All Around Embellishing

Fifth photo of Muted Peach

The painting is getting more nuance. I am liking the fleshy peach and the more defined three dimensional space. The greenish color around the outside edges is more visible in this photo.

New Border Color and Struggles

Sixth photo of Muted Peach

I’ve added a muted gray as the border losing, the green. Not sure it’s going to work. It’s turning out to be very complicated the piece. (In hind sight it was complicated from the beginning.)

I think the very dark lines are darkening the piece more than I want. Not sure how to proceed since those lines are the original drawing which I wanted to keep.

I feel there’s a pervasive sort of drab olive green, which was the ground color, coming through and I’m not liking it.

I’ve been struggling with the upper section starting from the left which could be a horizon line with blue sky above it. 

Making More Open Space

Seventh Photo of Muted Peach

I have covered over some of the short vertical lines mostly in the peachy areas. A good thing  since it has given me bigger open spaces, one of my goals. I think I will get rid of at least one or two more vertical lines. It is opening up the center of the piece allowing the viewer to look into it instead of having to figure out the juxtaposition caused by the vertical lines. It also fits my original idea which was to have  an elliptical orange space defining the center of the piece.

Another Border Color

Eighth photo of Muted Peach

The border gets a different peachy color which I find makes the piece too warm.

Calling it Finished

Final photo of Muted Peach

I feel the painting is complex and not a direction I want to go. There are a lot of interesting areas, almost paintings in themselves. I did gain some open space by painting over lines. I also realized the drawn lines make the piece more complicated requiring more visual thinking for the viewer. I did simplify the complicated top right corner which helped open the piece up and give continuity to the piece with a the shared horizon of light blue. 

As a painter I am playing it safe filling in already made shapes defined in the original drawing. Without the drawing it’s one less step. Sounds like I’m talking myself out of starting with a drawing, but I will stick with a it. Next I might try again for bigger open spaces and make the space more atmospheric and possibly use fewer directional lines. Also use more saturated color and lose the feeling of a unified background color.

Dissolve Slide Video of Referenced Photos

Mousing over and off the video, when it is playing,  makes the controls appear or disappear.

Leave a Reply