The Red Roof
I met a group of fellow artists in Canyon Country to paint at the College of the Canyon. The campus is under major construction, with newly planted trees and grasses.
We met at the amphitheater which overlooks the mountains to the west and in those mountains is the lovely ranch that I made the focus of my painting. This was an especially challenging spot to paint. Most of the shadows on the hills were eliminated because of the sun's direct light and the neutral shades of colors added to the difficulty. I decided that the neutral colors were part of what I liked about the scene and wanted to keep the hills soft to contrast against the green trees and red roof. The impression of an oasis among the hills was my goal. The storm clouds in the background sky also helped to reinforce the ranch as a safe haven.
The last touch was the road leading to our oasis and a field of yellow wild flowers to look across.
By the Barn
I have been at this location (see Rust Shed post) before but didn't paint the eucalyptus trees, so this trip I definitely wanted to paint them.
The morning sky was threatening, causing a misty atmosphere but the sun still broke through to light up the field. In a word, it was perfect. I think the landscape is more interesting when the weather is different from the usual bright, clear, blue sky. The stormy lighting gives the scene mood.
I took the time to sketch this out before I started on the canvas. The sketch indicated the values, making sure that I liked all the shapes and angles. The dark tree shapes were very important and a wonderful contrast to the square of the barn.
The bright bark of the eucalyptus shows the suns reflection and is mirrored in the clouds.
This is the second painting that I did on Friday at Malibu Creek (see Malibu Creek State Park post). I painted this scene earlier this month on a very cloudy day and wanted to paint while the sun was shining.
Since I already had the composition established, it was a quick start to paint in the values. I kept the mountains softer than they appeared to enhance perspective. It was important to keep the mountains simple or they would overpower the painting.
The meadow came in next and helped to establish a wonderful contrast against the shadows coming down the hill on the left. The stream and tree in the foreground anchored the scene. The final touch was the bright white of the trunks of the eucalyptus trees along the horizon line that jump out at you.
This was a painting that seemed to paint itself.
Today was a good day to paint. I drove out to Malibu Creek State Park were the beauty of the land is overwhelming.
I had ventured there yesterday with my fellow painter, Marian Fortunati, and started a painting of the rolling hills with oak trees. The lighting for this painting had changed so quickly that by the time I got to the hills for more detail all the shadows were gone so I made the trek out there again early this morning.
I realized that I needed to simplify the hills and tone down the shadows to be softer. I darkened the oak tree at the front left and also the sky was too pale so I jumped up the color. Last, I changed the angle of the path to go into the painting and introduced some interest with shadow and yellow highlights on the green hill. I finished by 9:45 AM and started my second painting. But I will post that one tomorrow.
This is the second painting I started last Saturday while painting with Karl Dempwolf. I turned around and painted at the same location but looking upstream into the sun with back lighting.
Following his lead from the first painting (see Looking Downstream), I filled in the values of this painting with a purple color. Once I had the values in place, it was so easy and fun to work back and forth between light and dark with color.
Karl added green to the front tree trunk to give it depth and the white fallen tree over the stream. That fallen tree was there but I wasn't going to include it until Karl said that he liked introducing that line to contrast against the tree trunks. What do you think?
I had my third plein air class with Karl Dempwolf this morning and it was great. Karl asked me to call him over to my easel before I started to paint so he could show me how he starts a canvas.
Like magic he put in all the values of the scene with one neutral color. This simple step did three things for my painting. First, it clarified the light and dark areas of the painting and kept the values distinct throughout the process. Second, it allowed me to remember the original impression even as the morning progressed and the shadows changed. Third, this under-painting gave the canvas a tint of color that looked great showing through the paint if I didn't completely cover the canvas. I found this simple step so liberating I actually finished the first painting in two hours and started a second.
This old tree clinging to the bank next to the stream was washed with light. There hasn't been any water in this stream for the last two years so this was a rare opportunity to paint while the water was running.
I used the vanishing lines theory from David Gallup's workshop when I put in the mountain range in purple and the hill in front in green, but used the same values. This kept the background uncluttered so that your attention is on the stream and tree. If you look through the leaves of the trees you can see the purple under-painting show through. The bright highlights on the tree and the rocks in the water, were the last objects needed to show the intense morning light.
Desert Path after David
Today was a very interesting and fun painting day. The David Gallup workshop I attended was part demonstration and part application of Davids theories concerning color and painting.
I have always had a pretty good understanding of color theory and love mixing colors, so when David showed me his very unique color wheel I was very intrigued. He eliminates the darks and grays by using same value colors to form vanishing edges. This theory of color is used extensively by most of the Impressionist. He refines his color theory even more, but you'll have to take his seminar to really appreciate how he uses color.
I brought the second painting from my Palm Desert trip (see Desert Hills blog) because I still wasn't completely satisfied with the results. I thought this would be a good painting to use while experimenting with what I learned.
First, I added yellow and purple to the sky along with more blue. Already the painting had more interest. Next, I softened the most distant hills and added green of the same value. I simplified the shadows and did the same to the front range but using darker colors to keep the depth. Next I added highlights to the desert floor and the path. Last, David softened the bushes in the middle ground and added some interest to the space right in front of the foothills to trick the eye into seeing details there.
The painting at top is the result of my improvements, the one below is how the painting looked before the workshop. I still have some slight adjustments to make, but now can envision the finished painting.
A few weeks ago I went out to Palm Desert for a three day tennis
weekend with five couples. I don't play tennis but I knew I could find
a great spot for painting and went exploring on the Saturday afternoon
when we arrived.
It took a bit of searching but I finally found what I was looking for, a secluded park at the end of Mirage Road looking southwest into Magnesia Spring Canyon. I painted both morning and afternoon lighting of this spot.
If you are familiar with the Palm Springs area you know that in the winter the mountains to the west block the sun at mid afternoon and cause a wonderful contrast of bright sun and dramatic shadows. As I was painting, a brilliant shaft of light was cast onto the small hill in the mid ground forming a dramatic silhouette.
I found the lighting changing so quickly that I concentrated on the hills and left the foreground to paint later. The challenge was capturing the subtle tones of the hills contrasted against the bright highlights. The desert casts a terracotta color over it all and there was a flash of green from the recent rains.
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Los Angeles and its surrounding cities have many wonderful smaller museums that often are overlooked by the average resident. Two in Pasadena are a good example of such museums and this weekend they opened their doors on Friday evening to kick off Pasadena Weekend of Art.
I was invited by Janet Snodgrass to go to the Friday night open house and was joined by Toby Salkin and Dori Marler, from the San Fernando Valley Art Club. We started by going to the Pacific Asia Museum and viewed the beautiful gardens, sculptures and woodcuts. It is an atmospheric museum with fine displays of Asian art from many cultures including Japan, China, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. All that and the gift shop is one of the best anywhere.
Next we visited the Pasadena Museum of California Art, a small museum with a lot of flair. The featured artist, Timothy J. Clark, is a watercolorists who uses colors that can only be described as delicious. His paintings of everyday items, an old truck, farm equipment, a corner sink, reveal a mastery that is extraordinary. My show favorite was Artist on the Hill. The painting, with its dramatic sky, is a breathtaking combination of composition, simplicity and color.
We ended the night at the Pasadena Public Library. The building alone is worth the trip, so add a plein air exhibit featuring local artists from the California Art Club and you've got a great combination. It was a selection of paintings of the Arroyo Seco and many of the subjects where locations I easily recognized. There was even a three piece musical group playing classical music in one of the side rooms.
On Sunday, I was back in Pasadena at the Norton Simon Museum, one of the more recognized art venues. It is always a pleasure to tour the museum with someone who has never experienced the broad variety of art on display. No matter the taste, there is always something to love at this museum. I enjoy the Impressionists; Degas, Van Gogh, and Cezanne to name only a few. My friend from Arizona favored the Asian exhibit and the many bas-relief pieces of various deities.
If you missed this weekend, don't wait till next year. Any weekend can be an art weekend.
The Rust Shed
This morning I had another wonderful paint out with Karl Dempwolf. He is a recognized master of plein air painting who paints with a striking color palette.
We met at Paramount Ranch, where it doesn't matter which way you look, there is always something beautiful to paint. I picked a scene that included many elements I am familiar with painting, like the stream and mountains, but also a few things that I don't usually paint. The bridge and small shed would add the human footprint and be fun components.
I painted this scene with a very large brush to avoid details. First, I blocked in the colors of the sky and mountains. Next I set up the perspective of the path with the bridge and added the shed. As I worked Karl suggested I move the bridge over to the left and helped me block out the tree shapes. His color sense is always so wonderful and he put in the gold of the trees in the middle area. I always seem to add purples and blues so the yellow was a nice change.
The dark tones added to the stream and shed where just the finishing punch needed to give the painting form.
Under the Tree
In a jogging park around the corner from my home, I have noticed a
number of stately trees that are very beautiful and decided to paint
one of them this morning. The branches of this tree extend outward over
the ground with a power that is breathtaking. The enormous mass of the
tree, its trunk and branches, are a force of nature.
As the sun peeked through the foliage making streaks on the bark, it painted the Spring grass with spots of shade.
Although you can see there are many trees in the background of the park, they are only ghosts compared to this masterpiece.
Sharon's Quick Sketch of Model
The first thing I noticed was the beautiful color palette that Jeremy Lipking uses for his painting. Besides the usual Ultramarine Blue, White, Orange and Burnt Sienna is a cobalt blue, teal and lavender that he mixes himself. Jeremy works his magic with a painstaking eye for detail. His colors are slowly layered to achieve real depth and life to the figure. I am including a few pictures of Jeremy's study which show his process of layering subtle skin tones over each other to give life to the face.
Jeremy Lipking and the Model
He started with a terracotta base for the skin and added blue and green flesh tones over the initial under-painting. He also used that lavender color for highlighting that really pops out on the forehead. Though only a rough study the beauty of Jeremy's painting is easy to see.
During one of the breaks, I took a look at the portrait show that was on display at the museum. The three artist who where painting in the courtyard where also in the show. I particularly liked Sean Chatham's work. His paintings have an edge which showed in his version of the live model too. His portrait of her had the street smarts attitude that was a part of her.
The demonstration was a great opportunity for everyone to see art in the making and it was all free. Thank you Long Beach Museum of Art for this opportunity and I hope there will be more events like this in the future.
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Fryman Canyon 1
Right in the middle of so much urban sprawl is a wonderful little gem of a park called Fryman Canyon. It is a fun hike to the top where there is a beautiful lookout point with the valley stretching out to the mountains beyond. I hike this park often and decided to take my paints with me. Instead of painting the vista, I cast my eye to the trail as the sun was streaming through the trees and forming a tapestry of shadows over the path. The contrast of light against the shadows is the focus of the painting so I simplified the background mountain. The over-hanging tree has a look of defying gravity that made me feel its strength. To see the wind in the trees, I layered the shadows, keeping them transparent and dancing to give the illusion of movement. This painting will be the first of a group I intend to paint at Fryman Canyon.
Santa Clara River Bed
I met with a group of fellow artists