Standing Together 11x14 Oil
I took a forced leave from painting on Thanksgiving morning when I went to the emergency room and was in the hospital for 8 days. But before that nasty bit of business, I had a wonderful painting trip up north to Tomalas Bay. Along the way I stopped at Half Moon Bay to paint with two other artists. They took me to one of their favorite spots along the coast but I decided to look inland to paint the trees.
It occurs to me that as a landscape artist painting trees is a very big part of many paintings so if you paint landscapes you better love trees. I have studied trees, their shape, size and color; their leaves, trunks and branches. I have drawn trees, photographed hundreds of them and painted dozens. Every tree has a unique personality but in the frenzy of plein air painting it is easy to use a formula when painting trees. One way to avoid this is by painting the shapes that are not the tree. The sky around the tree and the sky holes are really the shapes that make each tree unique. I reversed the values on this notan so you can see what I mean.
This is one of the ways I have trained myself to see shapes; not things. Although I paint trees all the time, reducing them to simple shapes really helps me to tackle even the most complicated composition.Comment on or Share this Article →
On the Bay 14x11 Oil
The painting trips I took during the month of October where an opportunity to paint the unfamiliar. Before the trips, I realized that all my recent plein air work had been painted in the morning so I decided to make the effort to paint in the late afternoon.
Looking down at the town of Marshall along Tomales Bay, I found the perfect spot. The day we arrived, I explored the grounds and saw the orange glow of the late sun on the land and water. I went back the next day at about 3 PM to paint the scene.
This is where my miles on the brush and experience with painting plein air are so helpful. Instead of mixing the colors in front of me, I mixed the far shore with the orange I remembered from the day before. That color wasn't there yet, but I knew that the pre-sunset glow would bath the area with orange. It wouldn't last long so I had to adjust. Remembering back to my first impressions, I thought of what drew me to paint there. Why was I painting the scene? The answer was to capture the colors of the sunset on the water and land, so I moved the clock forward and held it at 6 PM as I painted the entire painting. The final touches where the brightest orange glows on the boat, tree trunks and buildings just as the sun set at 6:15.
I had taken on an unorthodox composition, in an unfamiliar setting and captured the last rays of the sun. I packed up in the fading light, happy with my experiment.Comment on or Share this Article →
Still Waters, 8x10
The idea of painting on location, plein air, is to capture a specific moment in time. I recently returned to Franklin Canyon Reservoir to again paint the lake. It was an experiment to see if there would be a noticeable different between the two paintings when comparing their colors. Even though I painted Still Waters and Lake in Franklin Canyon at the same time of day, from the same spot and only a few weeks apart, you can see that the colors are quite different.
Still Waters, above, was painted on a warm sunny September morning. Fall is already influencing the light, adding orange to the trees and red to the mountains. The water looks so deep as it reflects the dark shadows of the pine trees on its surface.
Lake in Franklin Canyon, below, was painted on an overcast August morning before the hot sun had a chance to burn away the clouds. Comparing the two paintings illustrates how the light affects color.
Lake in Franklin Canyon is much cooler in tone, consistent with a cloudy day.
The trees and hills are tinted with blue while the water is less reflective, taking its color from the lake bottom, not from the reflection of the trees.
I am convinced that I could paint the same location dozens of times and never have any painting look the same. Season, weather and humidity, all effect the local color of a place providing an infinite combination of elements. It is one of the many reasons why painting plein air is superior to painting from a photo. You can never capture these subtle changes unless you are there.Comment on or Share this Article →
When you are participating in a plein air event one of the first things you are told is to stick with what works. Don't try anything new, paint what you know and stick to what people recognize. Sometimes I follow these unwritten rules, but every once in a while I just try something to test myself.
California Oaks is the result of a rebellious day when I decided to take a chance. I have painted the rolling hills of California several times in the past, but not to my satisfaction. I don't have trouble with the oak trees, it is the open fields that always seem so blank and odd in color. Are they yellow, peach, brown, purple? The contrast of the dark oaks on the light hills amplifies any flaw in the composition so every aspect of the painting must be designed.
I found a spot which had all the right elements; wonderful rolling hills, well spaced trees and interesting patterns of color. With all this going for it, I still wound up doing four different sketches. First, I tried including more of the scene, with the sky going all the way across the top third of the canvas. Too boring. Next, I tried the triangle of sky on the right top. Too much open field. Then I tried no sky. Way too much open field. Last, I tried the triangle sky on the left but I still wasn't completely satisfied. Time was ticking away so I decided to work out the rest of the composition on the canvas. This is usually a sure road to failure but I kept at it and after wiping down the canvas twice I finally worked out the finished layout. I love the final piece, California Oaks. The colors, texture and composition all come together to make this painting work.
Do I recommend trying an experiment when at a plein air event? NO. I only tried it because I already had completed several good paintings and this once it worked out well for me.Comment on or Share this Article →
Surf's Up 11x14 Painted at the Carmel Art Festival 2012
Surprise is something that I am always dealing with when I do a plein air competition. I can never predict when or where I will be confronted with an unusual situation but I am always ready for the unexpected. These unplanned situations will often be the start of a memorable painting experience.
In May while at the Carmel Art Festival, I was scouting for a painting spot when I peeked over the walls surrounding a construction site. The owner was kind enough to allow me access to a private flight of stairs along the sea which descended into a private cove. This is where I painted Surf's Up. I never plan to find hidden treasure but when it happens I will always take advantage of the opportunity.
Afternoon at the Coast 11x14 Painted for 2012 Los Gatos Plein Air
A month later while at the 2012 Los Gatos Plein Air event, I was lucky enough to turn into a farm where the dirt road led to the view for Afternoon at the Coast. Amazing as this view is, it is a mere fraction of the splendor that I saw that day as I was given the grand tour of the property. I walked through fields of wild flowers, saw 180 degree ocean views and found a hidden estuary. Amazing.
Finding these hidden treasures is never a planned experience and often can cause complications that disrupt the painting schedule of a plein air event. So why do I do it? Because after the event is over and I am home, the unplanned moments are the ones that I remember and cherish. I realize that the recognized proven spots are more likely to sell but for me the call of adventure is too strong. I gotta turn down that dirt road and see what is over the rise.Comment on or Share this Article →
Ocean Cove 8x16 Oil on Panel
Carmel and Los Gatos are now behind me. The stress of painting on demand, under unknown conditions, in strange locations can take a toll both mentally and physically, but I have now fully recovered from my recent plein air events. Unlike last year when both trips included rainy and foggy conditions, this year the weather was ideal, so I challenged myself by painting other than my usual subject matter and learned a lot from the experience.
With sunny skies and wonderful weather, I explored the area south of Carmel, driving along the Garapata coast. The experience proved to be a wonderful resource of extraordinary beauty and I took my inspiration from the rocky coast and hidden coves that were carved into the shoreline. Two paintings, Ocean Cove and Shell Beach were painted at the same location, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, illustrating how the time of day will drastically alter the colors of a scene.
Ocean Cove (above) captures the sun coming over the mountains casting clear, strong shadows. The quality of the morning light was yellow and that was reflected in the cliffs and green vegetation. The ocean water also reflected that yellow turning the ocean turquoise. Even the shadows were influenced by the morning light and were very blue.
Shell Beach 12x12 Oil on Linen Panel
After a late lunch, I moved to a different vantage point of the same area and painted Shell Beach. As the afternoon progressed, I could see the entire palette change from the morning yellow light into an afternoon red light. I saw the cliffs take on a peach cast and the shadows turn from blue to purple. The water also reflected the red by turning from turquoise to a deep blue.
The different color themes are an example of how the time of day affects every color in your palette. Even the same scene will look drastically different because of the light change. Realizing these subtle changes in light will help to make every painting unique to the moment, not a preestablished formula.Comment on or Share this Article →
Sometimes you get good news. I am thrilled to be participating in the Carmel Art Festival 2012 with all the other great artists. This is the fourth year I will be painting in Carmel.
Carmel Art Festival
May 16 through 20, 2012
We are proud to announce the line-up of Artists for the 2012 Carmel Art Festival plein air competition.
Every year the entrants get better and the chore of picking gets harder.
Congratulations to those juried in.
Anne Blair Brown
Hiu Lai Chong
Pang Yen Chou
Dee Beard Dean
Po Pin Lin
Carmel Art Festival
Across the Valley
I just discovered a local hidden treasure called McGroarty Arts Center. It is nestled in the Verdugo Hills and was originally the home of a former Pennsylvanian, John Steven McGroarty. It is now the site for a non-profit organization known as McGroarty Arts Center. In partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles they offer "access to the arts through in-depth arts instruction and experiences. Affordable or free multidisciplinary arts instruction is offered to at-risk youth, children, and families, as are performances, exhibitions, and events that engage the greater public."
I am inspired to see this local organization striving to make a difference in their community. In the current economic times, it isn't easy to create an environment where artists and students can come together to exchange knowledge. With art departments being eliminated throughout the school system, it is even more impressive to see a place where children can come and be introduced to the joy of creating through art. I am forever grateful to the small art department in my home town school of Hellertown, Pennsylvania where I made my first sculpture in clay, tried pen & ink drawing and learned about color theory.
The painting Across the Valley is one of the plein air paintings completed in October in Sedona. My love for painting outdoors seemed a likely candidate for the art center so I submitted a perspectus to McGroarty and am hoping to hold a plein air workshop on the property. It may not happen but I am taking the steps to share my love of plein air painting with others. Perhaps there is a local non-profit near you where you can make a difference. Paint from life, live to paint.
Along the Kern River
Along the Kern River was painted on my recent road trip to Kernville, CA.
As crazy as it may seem most of the applications for 2012 plein air competitions are due before the end of the year. Consequently I have been organizing my entries and working on my schedule. I am always amazed at how time-consuming it is to complete all the different applications. Every event has its own list of criteria and different checklists. Some I can enter online while others I have to snail mail a DVD with images; some ask for cover letters, another wants a 500 work bio. And of course, every one has a different requirement for the size of the images.
I realize that there is not one definitive way to do this but it sure would make it a lot easier if everyone got together and decided on a standard for this stuff. The only way I can keep it all organized is to create a folder for each event with the size adjusted images, applications and event schedule all together. Some of the plein air organizers are now using websites that are designed specifically for art competitions. I do like this solution but I fear the added cost of this service is passed on to the artist through higher submission fees.
I can never hope to predict which plein air competition I will be juried into for next year so I've decided to increase the number of applications. Along with all the paper work, I will also be incurring a ton of new application fees. I hate to do this at the end of the year but like I said at the start, deadlines are soon. Deciding which competition to enter is also tricky since predicting which ones will be profitable is another factor. You must be wondering why I go through all this? That's easy. Because I love painting plein air.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.Comment on or Share this Article →
Kern River Rapids
I recently took a painting trip to the Kern River with three other artist, Marina Fortunati, Laura Wambsgans and Diane Gold. We only stayed two nights but packed a lot of painting into the three-day trip. I think the trip exceeded all our expectations with perfect weather, wonderful accommodations, zero drama and lots of inspiration. We are already planning our next excursion.
My previous paintings of the Kern show reflections in smooth, tranquil waters so I decided to test my skills with a view of whitewater and painted "Kern River Rapids." The challenge was to portray the water with a frothy dimension while still maintaining a sense of the rivers forward movement. I wanted you to hear the rapids when you looked at the painting.
Although the whitewater is predominantly (surprise) white, I realized that the dark colors between the rapids where what made them stand out so I started with a dark olive-green for the river floor. There where also sections of the river which reflected the blue of the sky so those were added. For the rapids, I did not use straight white. Instead I added a little yellow and orange to a large pile of white with my palette knife. The knife is what I used to streak in the accents on the horizon and to apply the thick paint which makes up the rapids. I was careful not to cover all the dark underneath but let it show through. I also made sure that there was structure in the waves of the water. I needed to add volume but make sure that the water always was flowing toward the back horizon line. The S bend in the river helped with the illusion of motion and added the needed structure to the composition.
Water remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration and I will continue to explore its infinite possibilities in my work.Comment on or Share this Article →
Southern California is known for its sunny, hot days but this year was unusually foggy. So what should a plein air painter do when the weather isn't perfect? Take advantage of those interesting weather days and paint the fog. As I have logged more miles on my Easy L, I realize the value of unique weather. Paintings that capture a specific day, with rain or fog or clouds, are much more interesting than a generic perfect blue sky. So last week at a paint-out, I hoped to find one of those unique mornings.
I set up in front of the Santa Monica Mountains at King Gillette Ranch. The fog was so thick I couldn't see the top half of the mountains so I started painting the foreground. Slowly the mountains started to become visible but the process speeded up as the sun warmed. It was only a short time later when blue patches started to peek through the clouds. The moment when the sun opened sky holes in the fog, the light through the clouds was luminous. The effect only lasted a few minutes so I finished "Melting Fog" using bold strokes with a palette knife. Remembering what I had just seen, I softened the clouds, introduced the lavender grey and diffused the top of the mountain on the left.
I hope you will be inspired by those days when the weather isn't perfect and realize that bad weather can be an opportunity to paint something unique.Comment on or Share this Article →
Clouds Over Cockscomb
There is a complicated set of desires which guide me when I am deciding what to paint. On one hand, I want to capture a dramatic scene; one larger than life. On the other hand, I also want the viewer to experience an intimate moment; something just between us. Finding the balance between these two seemingly contradictory forces is what separates an OK painting from a good one.
I was painting in another location, when clouds emerged from behind the cliffs. I realizing how beautiful they were so I grabbed another canvas and quickly formed their shapes. The clouds dissipated in the midday heat so I had to abandon my small sky scape but two days later I found myself in the perfect spot to complete the painting. I had driven up to the lookout near the airport in Sedona and set up my easel. Again the clouds swept across the sky but now the mesa below was in shadow and the outline of the rocks formed the perfect combination of mystery and reality. Clouds Over Cockscomb is the product of two different days and two different locations that combined the drama and the intimacy I wanted.Comment on or Share this Article →
Cathedral Rock Reflection
I have finally returned from my extended painting trip and am starting to get back to normal. I am happy with the amount and the quality of work I completed. I can now say that it was a successful trip.
If you have never done a plein air painting trip and are not familiar with the concept, here is a brief summary of the process.
- Pack the car to the brim with canvases, frames, paints, jackets, traveling easel, food and anything else you think you may need during the trip.
- Drive hundreds of miles to an amazing location where you have never been before to paint.
- Explore the new location for possible painting sights.
- Get up every morning before dawn to catch the early morning light.
- Explore some more.
- Paint in the late afternoon to capture the sunset light.
- Get home after dark, eat and crawl into bed at about 9 PM to do it all again the next day.
I did this from September 30 to October 5 in Sedona, AZ and then went to Zion National Park, Utah from October 7 to October 10. I clocked 1450 miles on the car and painted ten paintings.
I took this intense, productive trip for several reasons. First, I never painted Sedona or Zion and I wanted to experience each site to see if I could paint the area. Second, both have plein air events that I thought I would apply to next year and I wanted to familiarize myself with the local color. Third, I entered a plein air event at Yavapai College which provided me with a place to stay for a week while painting in Sedona.
I loved painting in Sedona. The place is amazing with so much variety, spectacular beauty and wonderful people. I am sure I could paint there for years and never exhaust all it has to offer. I painted six paintings: love 4, like 1, only 1 failure. Very good percentage.
Zion was interesting, with an other-worldly quality that made it a very unique spot but there are several problems with painting there. A large area of the park is only accessible via bus and with all my gear it is very problematic. The morning light is wonderful in the canyon but not so the afternoon light. At this time of year, the morning are very cold. With the high cliff walls on the west side, the sun is behind the mountain well before sunset so the light is either very intense or gone. The red rock is overwhelming and everywhere. Though I painted four paintings in Zion, I only like one. Not a great percentage.
I concluded that the Sedona Plein Air Event would be a wonderful addition to next years calendar but I will pass on Zion. The Sedona event is a tough one to get into so my acceptance is far from guaranteed but if I can somehow manage to be accepted I will be a happy painter.Comment on or Share this Article →
I haven’t been online for a few days because I am in Sedona for a plein air event without internet. I visited here last year for the first time and decided then that I wanted to come back to paint. Even before this trip I knew that the colors of Arizona were very different from what I am familiar with in California. The success of my trip would depend on how quickly I could figure out the “local color.”
Four days of painting have been an amazing learning curve. The red rocks that are endemic of the area are both a burden and a blessing. It took several paintings before I finally realized some basics about painting that red rocks:
- Paint in the early morning or late afternoon. By ten the sun has turned the rocks into a fleshy, bubble gum, washed out color that works in person but on canvas looks awful.
- Don’t cover the entire canvas with that red rock. Overkill of red is horrifying. I know other artists have pulled this off but I need to tackle the concept in a more relaxed setting before I can succeed with it at a plein air event.
- Thank God I had a tube of Terra Rosa. Without it I don’t think I would have ever gotten the color of the rocks. I ordered it after reading Richard Schmid’s book Alla Prima and have used it occasionally in LA but nonstop here.
- Keep most of the rock in shadow with small streaks of sunlight. The shadows of the rock are really important and give the rocks their richness; again that peachy sunlit color is not good in large quantities.
- Think BIG. These are huge spaces so the need to establish scale is very important. Overlapping layers of rocks that fade back into bluer and bluer shades of red help but I also recommend a foreground that anchors the view.
I am going to hand in my paintings today and will keep you posted on the reception and show events.
If you want to learn more about plein air events I have written about it extensively in past posts from events in Carmel, Los Gatos, San Clemente and Victor.Comment on or Share this Article →
I recently got an email from an artist in Belgium, that is Martine in the red parka below, who has started a plein air group. This got me thinking how wonderful it is that I live where I can paint outside all year round. It pains me to admit that I haven't been plein air painting since the Los Gatos Plein Air Exhibition earlier this month and I am really overdue. I love being outside, seeing the lovely scenery, talking with other artists and the thrill of a new creation and after seeing photos of the amazing scenery around Brugge I am even more inspired to get out there.
Plein Air in Belgium
I haven't been able to go because I have been working on several studio pieces but even when working at home I will roll my easel out onto the back porch to paint. Luckily I have this option since my studio is tiny, dark and hot. The porch is covered and faces north so the lighting is wonderful. With the longest day of the year just behind us, I will often paint out there from 9 to 6 and then only stop because I just can't keep standing anymore. I know some artists who sit when they paint but I have to stand. I am always moving around the painting, stepping back, comparing shapes, checking perspective.
This practice of roaming around my canvas can cause problems. One specific time comes to mind. I was painting on a jetty and became so caught up in the moment that all I was thinking of was the painting. I stepped back to take a better look at my creation, when the person next to me grabbed my arm. I had backed up to the very edge of the walkway and would have fallen four feet to the rocks below with one more step. Scared the heck out of me. For this reason, whenever I am painting outside I make sure I have some space behind me to step back or always have a friend nearby to grab me. So get up and get outside to paint. Find a group to paint with or like my blog pal in Belgium form your own plein air group.
Martine Painting Plein AirComment on or Share this Article →
View from Donkey Hill
We were all looking tired on Friday night at the reception. Not unusual after painting for three days straight but there was something different about this fatigue. Rain had come to Los Gatos where it never rains in June. The inclement weather tested everyone's abilities and made us push beyond what was in front of us. I know I was not only physically tired but also mentally spent. Every painting provided a complex puzzle which needed to be solved. I often had to stop painting due to rain and go back another time when the light had completely changed. Despite the challenges, I thought the painting were fantastic and the show was a great success.
"View from Donkey Hill" is my personal favorite and was the only one that was painted while the sun was actually shining. I found out about this spot from a local who was walking his dog. I had driven into the hills around town then asked if there was a lookout nearby.
"Sure, go to Donkey Hill down the road. At least that is what we call it. Park here and walk down to the deadend. There's a gate that says No Trespassing but don't worry about that. Just go on in and hike around to the other side and then up the hill."
I did and was rewarded with a great view but it was cloudy and after sunset so I could only hope for a sunset when I could paint there. Luck was with me and the next day the sun came out at about 5PM and I sprinted up the hill, setup, and finished just as the sun set behind the hill.Comment on or Share this Article →
The just-completed Carmel Art Festival 2011 was a charmed trip but it was not without some self-inflicted stress. With every plein air competition I always feel a certain amount of anxiety; getting all my supplies together, wondering what the weather will be like, whether I will paint well or be off my game. I worry about the long drive and dozens of other things which can make or break the event.
Happily, this time all my stress for naught and the event went great. I even won an Honorable Mention award, but soon realized that this honor comes with a price, the dreaded Sunday morning Quick Draw. The canvas must be stamped at 8:30 AM; then I must get to the painting spot, paint, pack up, frame the painting and drive back to the park by 11 AM. Yikes. Now, I usually can paint a nice little 8x10 in about 2 1/2 hours, but that is all painting time so this would be tricky.
The other problem was the weather. Rain was in the forecast and sure enough that night it came down so hard it woke me up at 4 AM. After that I couldn't get back to sleep. Would the Quick Draw be canceled? My chosen location on the beach would be an impossible place to paint in the rain. Could I find a courtyard or overhang to protect me? No, there wouldn't be time. Oh no, I forgot to get a wake up call and the alarm isn't working. Now I'm afraid if I do fall back to sleep I will over sleep. Aughhhhhhh!
The next thing I know, I jerk awake and look at the clock. Did I over sleep? No. It's 7:10 AM. By some miracle I woke up without a wakeup call. I sprint to the window, pull open the drapes and amazingly, the sun is shining. Yea! I even have time to go down to the beach and set up my easel before having to drive to get my canvas stamped.
Painting the beach for a second time (see Afternoon Clearing above, painted Wednesday night and available for sale) is actually fun and I stop at around 10:30 AM, pack up, frame the painting, drive over to the park, wait for a parking space and run to the park just as two other artists are arriving. The painting sells at the auction in the park just before it starts to rain.
Now, I wish I could say that I learned something from this. I hope that the next time I am faced with a challenging situation I will remain calm, confident and assured... Hey I can hope.Comment on or Share this Article →
Sharon Weaver at Carmel
Sometimes things just click, sometimes happenstance conspires in your favor and sometimes luck is on your side. My trip to Carmel was a trifecta of all these things and more. I returned Sunday night after a hectic, creative 5 days at the Carmel Art Festival. This is the third year I have been juried into the plein air event but it is the only year sun was shining on both of the painting days. The bright light added a lot of color to all the paintings, making this years selection outstanding.
The highlights of my trip included an Honorable Mention prize for Harbor Reflection. The judge was Jean Stern the Director of The Irvine Museum. Jean, thank you for being so generous with your time and talking to me about my work. I am honored to receive this recognition. But the good times didn't stop there. Harbor Reflection and Playtime at China Cove both sold on Saturday with a bidding war pushing up the selling prices. A special thanks to all the people who bid on my paintings and congratulations to the new owners.
One of the local artists was surprised that I had painted China Cove. It seems that the road and path to China Cove had been closed for major repairs so no other artist even tried to paint there. My ignorance of that closure ensured that my painting was the only one of the recently open Point Lobos. Just one example of my good luck this trip.
A perk which comes with an award is painting in the Quick Draw....but I'll save that adventure for my next post.Comment on or Share this Article →
Stand of Eucalyptus SOLD
I am off to Carmel on Tuesday for the Carmel Art Festival 2011. Preparations are in full swing and I will be loading up the car soon. It is the third year I will be taking part and I am looking forward to the challenges which are unique to a plein air competition. My car will wind up stuffed with canvases, frames, paint, books, suitcases, food, portfolios, turpentine, brushes, laptop, and anything else I may need in the two and a half days of painting.
I always look forward to seeing the other artists, clients and of course the wonderful scenery that surrounds Carmel. The weather can be hit or miss with June gloom always a possibility at this time of year. I know it will be cool during the day and cold at night so I've got my long johns and heavy coats too. When standing in one spot for hours painting it is easy to be chilled to the bone.
I need to produce at least two paintings in two days but I usually try to get four completed by Friday evening. The Carmel Art Festival 2011 website will have all the paintings available through an online silent auction on May 14. I'll try to post about my adventures on the trip but if not you'll hear from me next week.Comment on or Share this Article →
Who doesn't love a good ghost story? North on Lake Street in the San Gabriel Mountains is the entrance to the Cobb Estate. There are several trail-head a short walk through the iron gates and past the deteriorated driveway. "Reports of hauntings at the Cobb Estate are wide-spread," is what the Los Angeles Ghost Patrol said about the estate after their trip to the haunted forest last year.
"We heard footsteps approaching down the road and when Carol grabbed the camera there was nothing there. Then the footsteps were heard near the stairs moving into the area of the house. At this area in the park we were positive that these footsteps were not caused by any human visitors. In the middle of all this, Tyler’s flashlight died even though he had put in fresh batteries. After Tyler asked a direct question about whether they wanted us to leave and I began to walk up the steps, we got the strongest KII hits of the evening. It was pretty amazing." To read the entire account of their experience at the Cobb Estate go to Haunted Forest at Cobb Estate.
I didn't know any of this when I suggested to Marian Fortunati that I wanted to paint at the Cobb Estate. After going our separate ways and exploring for a spot to paint, we wound up painting right next to each other, which is unusual. Maybe we sensed something odd about the area or maybe it was just a coincidence. Anyway, we were lucky because we came away without seeing any ghost and with two good paintings. Of course, we were there during the day. Who knows. It might have been different at night.Comment 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 →
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I had an epiphany last week while plein air painting with my Thursday group. As I was painting Storm Watch Below Mount Wilson this is what happened.
I was expecting a stormy day since the weatherman predicted rain in the afternoon. Looking for a spot to paint, I saw the interesting negative shapes between the eucalyptus, shrubs and shed and knew I had found my subject. I was painting a tree on a hill. Right? Well that's what I thought too. But happenstance would change that.
The entire sky was a water saturated dark gray most of the morning, but suddenly a strong gust off cold wind separated the clouds to reveal a hole of the bluest sky at the edge of the tree. I didn't think, I just reacted. Scrambling to capture the changed scene, I scooped up some Cobalt Blue and Titanium White on my palette knife and threw it on the top right corner of the canvas. Then, I lightened the cloud just underneath the sky with White. I couldn't go back to refine the shapes since there was wet gray paint underneath. To keep the clean, crisp look, I would have to leave the palette knife application as is.
After my frantic painting, I stepped back and realized that the painting had been transformed. Unplanned and unforseen, the painting was no longer about the tree, it was about the storm. With just a few strokes, the storm emerged and the tree became an observer, only watching the drama unfold.
What I learned that day is to be open to change. I allowed myself to be flexible and experienced a shift in perspective. Even after working hours to see it one way, only a minute revised my idea. If I had not been open to the whims of chance, Storm Watch Below Mount Wilson would not be as successful.
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I recently painted three 6X6 square paintings for the Randy Higbee show and Rider at Red Rock was juried into the show.
Even before I went to Vasquez Rocks for a paint out with the California Art Club, I had an idea for this painting. I painted here about three years ago so I was familiar with how strange the composition can look if the rock is completely silhouetted against the sky. The main rock formation is a very large, dramatic diagonal shape. I didn't want the composition to show the entire rock so I cropped the rock leaving only small triangles of sky at the top two corners.
The other problem when painting this geographic formation, is the scale of the rocks. Without any reference point it is impossible to comprehend the massive size of the rocks. I told George Malone, who organizes the paint outs, that I needed a horse and rider to come by. At about 11:45, as if right out of a movie, two riders came down the road and one made it into my painting.
You can see Rider at Red Rock and many other 6 Inch Square paintings through April at the Randy Higbee Gallery at 120 Kalmus in Costa Mesa, CA.
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 →
She is one of the other artists who usually paints with the group so it was a treat to have her model wearing this traditional Mexican costume. I am hoping that I will be able to see her dance with her group and get some action shots. Wouldn't it be fun to paint her with all those colors flying?
Looking across the pond, the morning sun made the gable of the building glow. The reflections of the autumn colors in the still water caught my imagination. This would be serious fun.
Combining both the shapes of the actual trees with their reflection, I applied the varied colors of the vegetation. The sky and water were crucial to understanding the values, so I applied those quickly with a palette knife.
I was just starting to work the details when a woman came over. She told me she was also an artist who lives nearby and visits the Arboretum frequently. We talked about how special this spot was and she was very complimentary about my painting. This morning she called and bought Reflections in a Pond. I am always thrilled when one of my paintings is acquired by someone with a personal connection to the scene. Thank you for purchasing my painting.
With so many days of rain and the Holidays, I have had a lot of excuses not to go out plein air painting but as I was doing my end of year inventory, I found this painting which I thought would be appropriate to post since I am in a moody phase.
I painted Malibu Lagoon during a paint out with a local club, the San Fernando Valley Art Club. It was the first time I have visited this coastal park and I was impressed with all the birds in the area. It is a lovely setting with wooden walkways, bridges, islands, views to the ocean and coastal inlets.
On this day the fog was thick and got thicker as the morning turned to afternoon. The soft diffused light and misty trees in the distance were a study in subtle colors. The fog never cleared so the trees winked in and out, never forming distinct shapes. Painting reflections in water is one of my favorite subjects and the lagoon's reeds were the only hard edges. With all the rain we have had here in Southern California, the streams will be running so I am hoping to paint more water this week.
The San Clement Plein Air Competition is coming up in June, so I decided to took a look at my paintings from last year. A fresh eye can often help in the process of evaluating a painting and this was definitely true when I pulled out High Tide. I immediately saw areas that could be adjusted to enhance the drama and better capture the feeling of the scene.
Painting a sunset on location, as it happens is extremely challenging...To read the entire article click on Reworking a Painting. Comment on or Share this Article →
With so many wonderful places to paint in Carmel, deciding where to paint can be difficult. I had never visited Monastery Beach and immediately fell under the spell of its beauty. Big waves crash into the beach but on either side there are calm spots where it is safe to enter the water. Click here for the entire article Painting for the Carmel Art Festival 2010. Comment on or Share this Article →
The diffused light adds mystery to the distant hills and eucalyptus. The beauty of the scene is enhanced by the morning fog. As I paint among the pine trees, I feel inspiration take over and I am transformed. Hours later, I realize that the empty canvas on my easel is now a lovely painting. I have captured a moment in time that will never again happen. I am an artist.....
For the complete article click on Reflections of an Artist. Comment on or Share this Article →
It's 40 degrees, a strong wind is blowing and the shoreline is hidden by fog. You've been standing in the same spot for three hours, painting. Most artists would stay in their studio but what if you only had two days to paint three or four paintings and they had to be done outside, on location. Unpredictable weather conditions are only part of the challenges artists face when participating in a plein air event. Click here for the complete article, Would You Survive a Plein Air competition? Comment on or Share this Article →
I have driven by this lookout many times on my way to the beach and always thought it would be a fun spot to paint. The rocky mountain peaks...............to view the entire article click on Reflections of an Artist. Comment on or Share this Article →
Beached in Long Beach by Sharon Weaver
For my tutorial on complementary colors, click Transform Your Art With Color.
Below is a detail of Beached in Long Beach, I was very aware of my brush strokes and applied thick paint for interest.
Detail of Beached in Long Beach
1) Getting attention from across the room
2) Heighten their interest at 4 feet away
3) Reveal the details up close
A Feast for the Eyes
Why I premix my colors....
1 It allows me to concentrate on painting not mixing
2 The colors stay clean and clear
3 There is a harmony to the colors when I mix them all at the same time
4 Most important... when I am mixing, I am only thinking about what colors I want to use in my painting so those color are deep, rich and beautiful
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cherry blossoms where a lighter peachy-pink; quite different from the bright pink of others I had painted before. This lush and soft cherry tree had just the right shade of pink to really stand out against the mountains. It captured the abundance of spring in its outstretched limbs. The blue sky peaked through the blossoms giving it the light, airy nature. I achieved that same airiness by cutting back into the blossoms with the sky holes.
It must have been the day to paint the cherry blossoms because there were several other artists who showed up to paint including Sharon Burkett Kaiser , Lynn Gertenbach and Maria Klar.
If you would like to hang her on your wall, click on Lush Lady for more details.
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After the rains, the wildflowers have emerged to cover the chaparral in a patchwork of color. The smell of them will suddenly overwhelm me as I am driving along and I am compelled to stop to paint or at least take a picture. Last week, Marian Fortunati and I went searching for flowers to paint and Wildflowers is the result. This hill, covered with wild daisies and lavender, was tucked in a canyon off the coast.
I am continuing my use of pure color (no white). This painting was especially challenging and I had to fight the urge to add white to the dominant cool colors. With so much green, I needed to infuse some warm shades by adding lavender and rust for balance. The fire road, background hill and sky are the only place I added white.
Driving down to the beach, I was anxious to continue my color theory on an ocean scene. Looking out from the cliffs, the morning fog pulled all the colors out of the landscape. It left a softer version of the usual sparkling Southern California seascape. I realized that I would need to find interesting shapes to paint and experiment with foggy colors.
I was immediately attracted to the strong curves of the bike path and the white reflections off the surface. All the edges of the distant buildings and trees were softened by the fog; their was little contrast to distinguish shapes so subtle colors would dominate the painting. I premixed a lot of the colors, which helped to keep them clean and allowed me to paint quickly while the fog was doing its magic. There is nothing worse than chasing the light when you are painting on location. Wherever possible, I added color not white and pushed color into the nuetral scene in front of me. I captured the early morning, before the sun started to burn away the fog.
Thank you to all the people who stopped by to express their positive opinions and encouragement. I enjoyed talking to everyone as I was painting. You can have this painting hanging in your home by clicking on Morning on the Bike Path or make a comment below. I would love to hear from you.
I am continuing my expanded use of color into my plein air work. Remembering to incorporate vibrating colors, I picked this grassy path to paint. The contrast on the path caught my eye and I loved the vibration of the green with the rust colored earth. The strong morning light lit the grasses and the far hill was lost in the shadows.
With this painting, I also incorporate vibrant colors into my shadows. No white is used in the background area except for the sun on the tree trunks. The field of grass is a study in various greens with peach and rust accents showing through. To buy this little gem just click on the title.