Above the Arroyo
We all have our pet peeves, things we would rather not have to deal with. Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where they finally open the tomb and the floor is moving. Indian Jones rolls away from the entrance and says, "Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"
Well, this morning I had to paint in my worst case scenario. Wind. Why'd it have to be wind? I can paint in the snow, the rain, when it is freezing at 12 degrees or in the sweltering heat with heat waves rising from the sidewalks. None of those environments can stop me from painting. But I can't take the wind. It isn't often that there are large billowy clouds in Southern California, so despite the cold wind, I painted a lot of information on the canvas before I finally packed up to leave. I managed to capture the morning light with good values, achieved a sampling of the local color and blocked in all the shapes. When I got home it was relatively easy to complete the painting in the comfort of my studio.
I apologize to the Thursday painting group for leaving before the critique at lunch but why jump into the snake pit when you don't have to. The group always comes up with wonderful locations to paint and this was no exception. The home where we painted is on the cliffs above the Arroyo Seco with views of the Pasadena City Hall and the Pasadena Bridge. It is a lovely sight with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.Comment on or Share this Article →
I have another show coming up, so I am in the process of working up yet a different group of paintings. The theme is California's Bounty. I envision plenty of oranges, still lifes of fruit and farmers markets. By approaching this theme through my love of landscapes, I will be exploring the bounty of the land and sea and hope I will be a little different.
This lovely vineyard nestled against the mountains was found during one of my road trips. The trees planted for a windbreak perfectly silhouetted the grapevines. I screeched to a stop, backed up into the driveway and got out to paint. I took several photos trying to find the right angle but could only find this upward view from the road. I do not recommend setting up an easel on the road. That is a no, no. So I didn't paint this plein air but instead stashed the photos to my computer only to take it out last week for this studio painting.Comment on or Share this Article →
Side Door at Carmel Mission
Whether on location or in the studio, painting is always challenging. I have been inside for several weeks working on my series, The Great Art of Doors, for Gallery Elite in Carmel. It has been fun, frustrating, exhilarating, boring, easy, difficult and of course a learning experience.
"Side Door at Carmel Mission" is a wonderful example of how a little extra effort transforms a painting. Below is a photo taken after working on this 24x24 work for about ten days. I thought it was pretty good and nearly finished but the response I received from the gallery was not as enthusiastic as I had hoped. This led me to examine the painting more carefully and realizing that there were several areas that could be improved.
I am told bullets are good to use so I will highlight my changes using them.
- First, I darkened the side wall where the Bougainvillea comes up the wall. But I didn't just add a darker adobe color, I played with adding blue to the shadows.
- Next, I decided the entire building needed a small color change so I glazed the wall with a burnt sienna mix.
- I then darkened the green plants on the other wall. They were too prominent and needed more depth.
- With that change it became obvious that wall behind that same plant needed to be changed so again I added both a darker adobe color and blue shadows.
- That led to the corner of the building above the door needing to be darkened also.
- Now that I had more balance of color in the painting, the ground in front of the door looked too blue so I then added a putty color with a few more detail elements thrown in.
- Getting close now, I added some pure color to the Bougainvillea to make the flowers pop.
- The final touch was giving the door knob a stronger highlight.
A critical look resulted in a much improved painting (see top photo). Happy with the changes, I sent the work off to the gallery yesterday and am hoping that someone will see all the thought I poured into this piece.
If you would like to purchase "Side Door at Carmel Mission" contact Teresa at Gallery Elite in Carmel by phone 831-625-2233 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been busy painting in the studio on a group of five paintings. I still have two more to paint but I thought I would give you a sneak peek before I send them off to Gallery Elite in Carmel. It has been a great experience working on a theme, while still making sure that each individual painting stands on its own merit. I have always had a soft spot for architecture; specifically doors so when I was asked to paint a group of doors I knew it would be a rewarding and fun experience. I have taken several studies and used them as the starting point for two of the paintings.
Faded Door has always been one of my favorite compositions and the predominantly warm colors of the painting radiate the warmth of summer. I refined the stairs, improved the grist wheel and added the flowers to the larger piece. Liking the original painting as much as I did, it took several passes and a lot of thought to improve on the study but I finally achieved my goal.
Faded Door at the Mission, 16x20, Oil on Linen Panel
If you would like to own Faded Door at the Mission please contact Teresa at Gallery Elite, San Carlos, between 5th and 6th in Carmel, California at 831-625-2233 or throught her email at email@example.comComment on or Share this Article →
The colors in the afternoon are very different from the early morning light. In the morning, the shadows are blue and there is a lot of yellow in the sky which is reflected everything. By contrast, the late afternoon light tints the world in purple and orange. Recently, I have painted almost exclusively in the morning so I needed to paint some afternoon light.
I traveled out to the farms in Camarillo and found the prettiest farm nestled against the mountains. After taking hundreds of photos, I set up to paint a 12x12 gesso board. I am so glad I tried this before going to Carmel because I found the board very different and not in a good way. The paint slid around like greasy spaghetti sauce. I struggled with it for about 2 hours not finding anything working right and wiped the entire mess off at about 3:30.
Luckily, I also had a little 8x10 linen panel with me and with a few hours of remaining sun I started another painting. The difference was amazing. The paint spread onto the canvas with a smooth and creamy texture. There are artists who use the ultra smooth surfaces to paint on but I discovered, I am not one of them. I like the texture of linen and the way paint sticks to it. If anyone wants two 12x12 gesso boards I'll sell them to you cheap.Comment on or Share this Article →
In a quiet neighborhood in Pasadena a group of local residents decided to take over an empty lot and plant a garden. This project is an inspiring example of how a group of ordinary people (I should say extraordinary people) came together with the city of Pasadena to do something incredible; Arlington Garden.
Spring in the garden is a colorful adventure with a burst of irises, poppies, jasmine, and every variety of flowers you can think of. But they didn't just make a beautiful garden. It is also a water wise garden designed with the mediterranean climate of Southern California in mind. The grounds include fountains, seating areas, Roman columns and architectural features, cacti, sculptured shrubs and so much more. Painting there today, walking on the many paths, enjoying the beauty around me, I couldn't help but feel good.
Last year the local residents organized a fundraiser and invited artists to sell their paintings of the Arlington Garden with a percentage going directly to the maintenance and care of the garden. They are repeating this event again this year and I will be showing my paintings along with many other talented artists on April 30 at the Arlington Garden at Arlington and S. Pasadena Streets in Pasadena from 9:30 to 2:00. Come out and see the profusion of spring flowers before they are gone.Comment on or Share this Article →
Since the beginning of the year I have had a blast painting boats, so I convinced fellow artist Margie Murray to go to Marina del Rey to continue my boat streak. Last Thursday was a great day, warm and sunny. It took an extra effort to find what I was looking for but the nearby docks provided us with some wonderful afternoon shadows and fun reflections in the water. I set up right in the parking lot and spotted The Sailboat at the End of the Dock.
The sunshine highlighting the blue top and cover, caught my attention but it was the tall mast doubled in the water that changed how I saw the scene and led to the dramatic cropping. Experimentation sometimes works, sometimes not. I took some time painting the park across the water and blocked in the colors of the harbor but it wasn't till I painted the sailboat that I knew that the painting would work. Boats are quickly going to the top of my list of favorite things to paint.Comment on or Share this Article →
March is cold or it is warm, but in Southern California, either way the flowers are in full bloom. So if you want to paint flowers, now is the time to get out there and do it.
I was lucky to be at the Old Mill in San Marino last weekend and saw the lovely pale yellow roses cascading down the wall around the back door. I didn't waste any time and came back to capture the flowers before they started to fade. The dark wood door and window provided the anchors for the painting. The pale yellow of the flowers contrasted beautifully against the hunter green of the leaves. There were so many different textures; the ragged wall, the soft flowers, the sharp windows, the shaded back patio of the Old Mill provided a cornucopia of delights to paint.Comment on or Share this Article →
The hot sun mirrored the boats reflection in the quiet waters as a juvenile heron (I think it is a heron) strolled the dock. He only stayed a moment before taking to the sky in search of a meal. Thinking back to that day I recall the smell of the ocean, the still water lapping softly against the boats, the sounds of seagulls calling to each other. After witnessing the scenes of destruction in Japan, I am grateful for the chance to enjoy days like this and thankful for my very good fortune.
Recently, I have been successfully painting lakes and their reflections so I found a wonderful spot looking toward a finger of land which extended into the lake. With its profusion of palm trees, it formed an interesting shape against the sky and that shape was mirrored in the lake. I could also see some of the surrounding city in the background and through the trees. The buildings would add some interesting accents of color.
As I was painting, not only the birds came by to see what I was doing but many locals stopped to say hello and offer encouragement. Packing up I basked in the sun and the unsolicited praise. Thank you LA.
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The final painting I did during the Calvin Liang workshop was of the Beachcomber Restaurant at Crystal Cove State Beach. It is a local landmark and a favorite subject for many artists. I chose it because the colors are so fun and I enjoy painting buildings. I like the hard edges and interpreting the perspective.
It is tempting to paint everything in focus, with sharp edges, but often it is best to let the viewer's imagination fill in the details. Calvin reminded me that the suggestion of a window will create a stronger image than painting the complete shape. On the windows of the turquoise building note how the bottom half fades into the building without any sharp edge. I especially wanted to down play the windows because the shape of the building is what is important. The windows only add interest not structure. This device can be used not only for windows and buildings but also trees, light poles and all vertical objects. Softening the edge toward the bottom of an object is a technique which suggests detail without confusing the whole.
For me the most important aspect of being an artist is to constantly learn and grow. Workshops are a wonderful way to connect with other artists, work on new techniques, improve existing skills and remember misplaced rules. I think of a workshop like an oil change for an artist, it breaks everything up and gets me humming.Comment on or Share this Article →
I hope you will take a look at all the winners. There is an overabundance of talented artists in this months group and it is a thrill to be included with so many outstanding paintings.
Today, I was able to see that great view and was included with the group who painted at one of these properties. The beauty of the gardens, the spectacular view and the details of the architecture where overwhelming. With so many choices it wasn't easy to just pick one spot. I finally decided to paint the wrought iron balcony which overlooked the Arroyo. The shadows which streaked across the wall of the home mirrored the flowers cascading toward the arches of the patio below. The shadow play was very fun to paint.
Brenda Swenson giving Critique
Painting at this lovely estate was a real treat. Many artists who haven't been out painting for months came out to take advantage of the day. You can see we had quite a crowd. I wish I could go back again and again but I will have to wait until next year.Comment on or Share this Article →
It is always a treat to paint with the California Art Club group. Great artists, good locations and always fun conversations. My good friend Marian Fortunati and I, Sharon Weaver, headed past Malibu Creek State Park to meet the other artists at Tapia State Park.
The view of the craggy mountains as you walk down the path is spectacular and it is difficult to imagine the scale until you see the figure of Marian as she scouts for a painting spot further along. The heavy branches of the giant oak tree kiss the ground, creating a cave of leaves. It would be a welcome retreat in the summer heat but this January day the sun was mild.
I started the under-painting with the colors complement; red under green. The first sketch can look pretty strange but the red helps to balance the predominantly green landscape. The yellow/green field in the foreground has lavender as the undercoat. It is easy to achieve a wide variety of olive hues for the oak tree by mixing Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Orange in varied amounts.
Not bad for a mornings work. I enjoyed talking with George Malone, Lynn Gertenbach and all the other artists who participated in the monthly paint out. I hope to see you all again next month.
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I love living in Southern California and this week is a perfect example of why. The warm sun has been shining all week and the days are clear. All the lakes, streams and ponds are filled with rainwater from the recent rains.
When the Thursday plein air group met at this small lake at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park in Arcadia it was a treat. I was able to paint the reflections of the mountains and fall colors in the water. Autumn comes late to LA so even in January there are still golden leaves on many of the trees. The birds were in abundance on the lake, enjoying the day as 30 or more artists painted at the water's edge.
If you are an artist, I recommend joining a group that paints outside. The experience is invaluable. I am always amazed at the wonderful paintings, the warm friendship and enthusiasm of the group. I learn every week and look forward to exploring new places to paint.
Maybe you have seen the Southern California red tagged houses and the mud slides on the news. Our earth isn't too stable here, so with all the rain sometimes it just slides away. Hill residents look down on us lowly valley dwellers but we are the lucky ones since we only have to worry about floods and earthquakes.
I painted this a few months ago in Valencia of the Santa Clara River basin for a show the California Art Club is having at Marston's Restaurant. It is the first time I have actually seen water in the river. Haven't yet heard what paintings, if any, will be in the show but I am sure it will be announced any month now.
I had a wonderful surprise as I was painting. A large coyote came out of the brush for a drink in the stream. I didn't notice him at first and by the time I got my camera he was gone.Comment on or Share this Article →
In my last post I talked about my process for choosing a plein air painting for an enlarged studio work. Above is the 30x24 painting inspired by the smaller study, 'Rest Stop.' The pier and boats at Balboa Island were emerging from the morning haze as I painted the plein air study. I wanted to capture that same hazy mood in the larger work.
With any conversion, there are changes that are needed when making a larger work. In the original painting the building is mostly brown, but in the photo it is actually white. When I tried browns in the large painting, the dullness of the image was distracting and uninteresting. I wanted to keep the building neutral but more lively.
I remembered an artist who uses greens when painting white horses. I thought I could try a similar color adaptation. Using green, blue, and pink, I experimented with color for the shadows on the white building with an interesting result. From far away the building reads neutral but on closer inspection it is filled with color. As the building developed so did the rest of the painting. The overall colors are cooler and better reflect the morning light.
I also changed a few of the proportions in the larger painting. The building is not so square but instead lower and longer. I clarified the details of the stairs leading to the pier and added the lettering on the banner. Every painting has challenges and rewards. I had a great time painting Hangin' at the Mini Mart. It stretched my use of color, opened up a whole new area of subtle tones and clarified the importance of mood. I'm lovin' it. I hope you do to.
I like to use a successful plein air painting as a sketch for a larger piece. I thought "Rest Stop" would be a good candidate. The 8x10 painting, done at Balboa Island, was painted on a hazy day with subtle colors. I was thrilled with the mood so it seemed a logical choice to convert to a larger studio painting.
Before committing to a larger painting, I first evaluate the plein air study to determine if it is a good candidate. Here are a few things I look for:
1) A strong composition is essential in all works but smaller works are a little more forgiving. For a large piece the composition must be great. I study the composition for any problems.
2) I want to have a scene that will support the details needed for a larger painting. I need a photo taken on the same day which I can also use as a reference.
3) Does the plein air study capture the "feel" of place at that unique time. This is an intangible element that is difficult to define but obvious when present.
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A sketch of the scene is always helpful. A black and white rendering often will show a flaw which a study with color is hiding. I also like to map out the armature (see right sketch), or backbone of the painting. This shows the basic structure of the painting which in this case is a Z shape. Once I have thought these items through, I start the larger painting. Even with all this planning, inevitably, there will be things that don't work. It is amazing how different problems come up when you see the same scene a couple of feet bigger than the original. Proportions, color changes, and adding more details all need adjustments and demand further attention. I'll include the studio painting of 'Rest Stop' in my next blog post.
I recently read an article in the FASO newsletter about the importance of the artist's signature. I have always considered my signature as an integral part of the painting but until I read this article I was under the impression that I had mine all worked out.
I sign my painting with S Weaver, using my first initial followed by my last name. The article I read brought up an interesting problem which I had not anticipated. What if a potential buyer admires one of my paintings and then Google's my name. Would that person be directed to me? Well guess what listings comes up on the first page when I Google S Weaver? Lots of Sigourney Weaver. The remaining links on the rest of the first page are also not me. Going to page 2, 3, 4, 5 6 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, you get the idea. On all the pages I looked through under S Weaver, I am nowhere to be found.
This creates a dilemma for me. I believe it is necessary for me to change my signature to include my full name: Sharon Weaver. I have recently tried this on some paintings and have liked the results but am concerned that it could be confusing or show an inconsistency unfortunately I see no other way out. So from now on Sharon Weaver is my signature of choice.
If you are an artist you should Google your signature and see if you are listed. I hope you are pleasantly surprised and find it on the first page, but if you are like me you may need to reconsider that signature.
There is still snow on the summit of Half Dome at Yosemite Park but the valley floor was warm as I painted this iconic image. The shadow across the face added to the drama. As I painted, three deer wondered by nibbling on the green grass as dozens of visitor stopped to take in the scene.
The spring runoff of snow has engorged the rivers with water.... To read the entire article click on Painting Half Dome in Yosemite. Comment on or Share this Article →
While painting at Malibu Creek State Park, I recognized the view in front of me as one I have seen in a museum. William Wendt, along with other California Impressionists, have explored the mountains surrounding Los Angeles and their paintings of the area are well known today. The park was a frequent destination for Wendt, but this was the first time that I experienced a deja vu moment when.....click on Painting in the Shadow of William Wendt to see the entire article. Comment on or Share this Article →
It takes constant vigilance to paint out of your comfort zone. It is amazing how easy it is to paint from habit. In order to paint Morning Hits the Rocks as I wanted, I continually had to stop from my habitual knee jerk reaction. My first attempt to paint this seascape ended with me poking a hole in the canvas with my brush but I don't recommend doing that since it damages your canvas and your brush. The truth is I have gone through a lot of emotions to achieve the painting I wanted. I am, after all, a temper-mental artist.
Even with so much inner conflict, completing this painting has given me a lot of satisfaction. You may recognize the trees which I used for another blog post, Painting with a Colors Complement. I am thrilled with the resulting seascape and hope you agree. The colors are intense, strong and clean throughout the painting. I infused colors into the shadows for more drama. I played with complementary colors (see How to Paint with Color by Sharon Weaver) at every level of painting and layered the paint to achieve depth.
This painting was inspired by Morning on the Rocks, a plein air study of Lovers Cove in northern California.
As a painter, I view color is an endless source of inspiration and aggravation. I want to duplicate on canvas that streak of bright flowers. The problem is how. To a non-painter, it seems pretty straight forward. Mix the color and paint it, but those flowers on that hill are not just one color. They are a combination of yellows and golds; and those yellows and golds change depending on the color next to them and the shadows cast on them and the green of the grass showing through them and the sunlight on them. The possibilities are endless, the choices confusing.
I remember the first time I studied the cathedral series by Monet. I recognized it as an impressive manipulation of color by a master to create form. These painting are relevant to my current work so now is a good time to revisit this wonderful series. Take a look at Monet: Rouen Cathedral Series if you are not familiar with them or haven't looked at them in a while.
In person these paintings are even more amazing. The paint is thick with multiple colors layered on top of each other. There is color within color and up close the form of the cathedral is lost within that patchwork of color and texture.
The painting above, Hangin' at the Mini Mart, is the catalyst for my current obsession with color. For more see my blog Sunset Painting. The Detail of hangin' at the Mini Mart gives you an idea of the layers of color, the texture of paint and the way the different colors coalesce to create form. So painting that yellow flower on the hill has taken on a complexity with endless possibilities.
As a landscape painter, many of my works have a tree or a group of trees that make up a dominant area in the composition. I have often painted trees as green blobs, not too worried about the specifics. As long as it looked like a tree I was satisfied, but recently I have started to view trees in a different way.
With my Tuesday figure drawing class, I have found a definite comparison between the stance of a tree and that of a figure. Each tree has a pose, an attitude, that translates onto the canvas. Much like a standing figure, the weight of a tree is counterbalanced; if the trunk leans to the right a large branch will thrust out to the left. The soft curve of a branch can mirror a leg; the sharp angles are like that of a bent arm.
Each tree also has an attitude which is manifest by its pose. Stately, rigid, voluptuous, vulnerable are only a few examples of how to portray a tree. I have seen paintings of gnarled, weathered trees that emote a feeling of time, endurance and age. In Chasing the Sun, the center tree cluster is young, vibrant and communicates a sense of joy with its airy upward reaching branches. The group to the right is solid, permanent with strength being its dominant feature.
So before painting that green blob, think about what you want that tree to say. What is its attitude.
If you have a comment see below. I am always glad to hear from readers.
Here is the blog I promised about vibrating color. When complementary colors are painted on top of each other, they will fool your eye into combining the two colors. Complementary colors are those that are opposite on the color wheel. I prefer using the Munsell Color Wheel over the traditional Triadic Color Wheel, but either will work.
I first consider the final colors and then I do the under-painting (see above) using only the complementary colors. For green the complement is a red-violet. For the orange the complement is blue. You get the idea. By using the complementary color for the under-painting, the final painted color will display much more interest. Your eye will vibrate back and forth between the two colors causing more depth, more excitement. This is especially important in dark colors because it keeps them from looking flat and dead.
The under-painting can look a little strange but have courage and use those odd colors. Here is another example below. Because I paint landscapes which have a lot of cool colors like green and blue, using the complements will add much needed warm colors to the canvas. Make sure that when you paint over the under-painting you don't cover all of the warm colors; let them shine through in some areas.
To post a comment see below. I am always interested in your thoughts and opinions.
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In my last post I talked about my new color palette. It makes me all fuzzy to know that someone is reading my ramblings and asked me to talk about the changes I have made.
Here are the important details.
1) I eliminated brown. No burnt sienna, no burnt umber, no browns at all.
2) I am using two tones of the three primary colors: one warm, one cool
a) 2 blues are Ultramarine Blue(warm) and Cerulean Blue(cool)
b) 2 reds are Cadmium Red Light(warm) and Alizarin Crimson(cool)
c) 2 yellows are Yellow Ochre(warm) and Cadmium Yellow Light(cool)
3) I am only adding white as a last resort so the colors remain true pigment.
For example if I want a warm green in the olive tones I will mix Ultramarine with Yellow Ochre and a touch of Cad Red. The yellow and red will lighten the green for a very nice rich color.
4) Cool mid tone blues(you can use Cobalt Blue) are impossible to make light without adding some white so don't make yourself crazy but use as little as possible to lighten the blues.
5) And the last color I use is Viridian Green. Again it is very difficult to mix a blue green mid tone without white so Viridian keeps you from going crazy.
The last thing I did before I started painting with this palette was to experiment so I squeezed out a big blob of each color and started mixing(see top). No white, just color. I achieve a level of comfort with the colors by doing this simple exercise. Try mixing every combination you can and have fun. I will also talk about vibrating complimentary colors in a future blog.
I took a three day workshop this last week with Lynn Gertenbach, a wonderful landscape painter. Lynn has studied with famed Russian painter Sergei Bongart, as well as Arul Raj in India and Bernard Dunstan in England. Her adventurous spirit has taken her all over the world where she has painted, learned and refined her art. Lynn's use of color, her sense of values and plein air abilities all contributed to a successful workshop.