Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Douglas Preserve

"Morning Shadows at the Wilcox Property"
18"x24" Oil on Canvas

This painting of mine is now at the Reinert Gallery in South Carolina. I shipped it there not long ago and am hoping it goes to a good home. This painting was painted here in the studio and came out quite well. Of course it helps a lot when you have a great view to begin with. The Douglas Preserve, which is also called the Wilcox Property in Santa Barbara is a beautiful place. If you are ever in Santa Barbara please do yourself a favor and visit this local is really breathtaking. I will go back here and get some more reference photos, maybe do some sketching too. We'll see! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eaton Canyon

 Eaton Canyon Sunset
12"x36" Oil on Wood Panel
I painted this back in 2012. I felt it was done and set it aside to dry. After a while it had gotten covered up by a few other paintings that were drying but then never framed so there they sat blocking this painting from site.
I liked this scene and wanted a dramatic afternoon sun scene with lots of oranges and pinks but I wanted something else too. I wasn't trying to just capture the landscape or even the color...I wanted to capture the feel of the moment...the atmosphere of it all. Painting atmosphere is a whole other deal in painting. In the progression of things painters tend to paint the scene in front of them but in doing so seem to miss the effects of light and all the stuff floating around in the air that creates atmosphere. It took me a while to see that "stuff" and it took me even longer to learn to paint it well. It's all about painting the right values, not the color, but the light and darkess of the colors. To this day I still prefer to paint atmosphere because it is really a good challenge and to me makes for a better painting. 
I think gallery owners would say no, paint color and pizazz, it catches peoples eyes and gets their's easy to sell. Those paintings really do all of that and would make a subtle atmospheric painting pale in comparison. I just can't help painting them.   
The detail of the painting above shows my attempt to capture that late afternoon sunlight filtered by the air of the canyon. Getting the light and air in front of that distant mountain ridge and balancing that look against the lower hills in the center of the painting was critical. If that didn't look right to me then there was no sense in painting in the foreground at all. Slightly darkening the tree mass to the left was a way of getting better contrast to the middle area also balanced the darks of the trees to the left side of the painting. These overlapping planes give the painting depth and adjusting the values in each plane created the illusion of atmosphere. If I continue to work with atmosphere and get it right then I think I'll be turning out some monster paintings. So, you can paint a desert or you can paint a desert in sweltering heat and make your viewers feel the sweat rolling down their forehead and long for a glass of cool water. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

California Condor Painting

My neighbor Jim and his mammoth California Condor painting

Well my neighbor Jim has finally finished his large undertaking of painting a lifesized California Condor. Out here they pretty much know each condor there is. This condor is AC3 which stands for Adult Condor #3. Unfortunately this condor was found dead in a tree and had died from lead goes like this, lead in bullets, people shoot rats, squirrels they die, condor eats them since a condor is a scavenger and the lead in the bullets leaches into the condors system and it kills them. It's a sad way to die for such a majestic bird.
What to do with the painting....Jim isn't sure yet. I will go back to his house soon and put the painting on sawhorses so he can sign his name to it. He's pretty proud of the painting. For a guy who has never painted before he did a fine job of it. What someone can do with determination! Bravo Jim! 

Monday, July 06, 2015

Time Off

       I haven't been painting at all lately...for about a week I think. Not that I haven't had the drive it's just that so many other things have been going on. It's good to get away from the easel. I find that even though I'm not painting I'm still thinking about it or at least planning for it.
      We've had company and a lot of yard work that needed attending. When I was gone we had some winds come through and blow down two big branches from one of our pine trees so that meant getting out the chain saws and going to town. I can finally say I'm getting way better at sharpening a chain saw. Wish I was better at getting rid of moles and ground squirrels....they think they own this place.
      I've been trying to put together a frame I want for a painting of Eaton Canyon I did a while ago. The painting was done on 12"x36" birch panel. I want an oak frame and itching to make one that has a Craftsmen look to it. I've collected pics of Craftsmen frames to get this point I just need to get some oak to build it. I'm also in the process of scanning, photo taking and reframing all art stuff....I'm tired of the time off from painting so I hope to be painting again soon. By the way, when not painting you tend to look at other paintings by other artists and that always leads to the "I suck" attitude and the only way to fix that is to get back to painting and try and do better work....feeling that way is something I really hate! 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Coast Guard Cutter Print

 "USCGC Blackfin"
16"x20" pen & ink

Years ago I made a pen & ink drawing of a Coast Guard cutter. The drawing is done using the stippling technique...a pen & ink technique where the drawing is composed of just dots of ink...there are no straight lines....just dots. I use Koh In Noor rapidographs to do this. Rapidographs are mechanical pens that have a steel wire in the barrel that allows only one drop of ink to come out each time you press down on the's prefect for stippling.

Anyway, I was just looking at the drawing again thinking about a woman who had asked me if I had prints available of that drawing and at the time I hadn't even scanned the drawing. I used to make my early prints here in the studio. Each drawing had to be scanned in sections then put back together in photoshop...lots of clean up to the scans and then I'd print a test scan. Printing was done on an Epson 1520 wide format printer I had bought with archival inks so the prints would last. I printed on good quality hot pressed watercolor paper. I'd print about 5-10 prints and then sold the prints as people ordered them. When I needed more I'd buy more WC paper and print up another batch. Making your own prints was a lot of work and "a lot of work" is a major understatement.

I did get around to scanning the drawing but that was on an older scanner that wasn't that good to begin with. Scanners, for those of you who have only bought one in the last 10 years, used to suck on ice! Software didn't work with operating systems, bad scanning quality, lots of  "noise" in the scan...ghost lines...ugh! I'd like to rescan the whole thing now with my newer killer scanner I have. It's a scanner/copier/printer combo but scans better than any scanner I ever had in the old days!  In the detail photo you can see the scan quality...not that good, ugh!

I was thinking about finally getting to making some prints but there might be a few, my old printer and printer drivers might not work with my newer computer. I also might have a major problem finding archival inks for it since I bought the printer way back around the late 90' know how fast the computer world is. It's a dinosaur at this point. Damn progress!  I'll have to check some things out before I even attempt this.

Pick and Just Paint

I was thinking the other day that I spend way too much time going through reference photos before deciding on something I want to paint. I always start out thinking I want to paint a vineyard scene and then end up going through everything I've snapped shots of in the the end I haven't settled on anything.
I suppose I'm developing a diminising attention span. I'm not sure.

Sometimes I can talk myself out of painting a subject because I think the gallery won't take it or collectors wouldn't be interested in that subject. Even though I know the answer is just paint what you want I still will have second thoughts. I used to paint for fun was king. Then you get suggestions and they screw you all up. After just staring at this screen for 5 minutes and thinking about it maybe I sould listen to the voices....paint what you want.

I think the worse thing to paint are subjects or areas that you have no interest in. I think that is why I don't plein air paint as much as I thought I would. I've gone to several locations with other painters and walked around in search of something I wanted to paint only to find myself settling on something dull to me. What I came home with was a crummy painting and a high level of frustration. I like a good subject, plenty of time, good weather and when that's working it all clicks. Painting in the studio is a coffee, good tunes, no wind or bugs and no lighting problems. I find it much easier to concentrate and rarely do one that is going to end up getting scraped off. Not that they are all winners in the studio. There are always parts to a painting where I'm trying something a little different so I see progress there or feel it totally worked so I consider that a good painting....then later I'll paint another painting over it. Painting is so personal at times.   

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Brushes

Wow, received a sale catalogue from Jerry's Artarama not long ago and they had a great sale on hog hair filberts and flats. That's what I use, mostly filberts but flats are great for straight lines when doing boats, roof eaves, etc. 14 brushes for $35...not bad at all. They are cheapo brushes but with some quality in them. I don't use expensive brand name brushes since I'm pretty hard on many swishes in the turpentine when cleaning them and they've had it. I've used a good brush cleaner and conditioner before but you know I don't really like spending time fixing brushes, I'd rather paint with them until they've had it and then I either keep them in a seperate can until I need that beat up brush for wild natural grasses that go every which way.
I'm not real big on buying the most expensive stuff for art since art really isn't about what you create it's about what you sign your name to....not what you used to sign it. I know....lots of artists can give you all kinds of details about why they buy expensive stuff. Seems to me they are just going to pass that on to somebody and guess who that is?
Impressionist painters used to paint on wood scrapped from old packing crates when times were tough money and I can't afford one of those paintings so that's the's not about what you use to make a painting, it's about how well that painting looks to the person who buys it or just stands there and enjoys looking at it. My French Companion I built from scrap pieces of wood in my garage and two brass plated piano hinges bought at Home Depot cost me about $6 to make and the paint for some great paintings have been mixed right there....and it still works fine and will be around loooong after I'm dead and gone and hopefully in the hands of some other painter.
 My French Companion is well seasonsed now.....

Hotter and My Neighbor Jim

Well, it's been getting warmer now that summer is here. I hate the heat because in the afternoons there will be no painting in the studio because it gets too hot in here. One day while I was working on the bluff painting my neighbor Jim came by. Jim is 92 now and a WW2 vet. We can both talk each others ear off. If I was going to remember Jim for anything it would be not for his part in WW2 but more for his love of nature. Jim grew up in Santa Barbara and as a kid he would ride his bike to the bottom of the mountains and then thumb a ride from anyone headed up the mountains so he could hike miles to a campsite. From there he'd watch for animals, hike more, fish and just enjoy being a kid up in the mountains surrounded by nature. Age keeps him from doing all of these things now but he can name any peak I point out here in the valley. He can describe in depth details about any area around here. Jim, more than me or anyone else I know around here, is who God created this part of California for.

So Jim comes by and tells me that before he dies, which I suppose at 92 he thinks about, he wants to paint a life sized California condor....they are very big birds. He wants me to give him advice for either stretching the canvas or just making a that size I suggest stretching canvas over a frame that he plans to build. I suggest paints, acylics, and other details for him and off he goes. A week goes by and Jim calls to tell me he'd like me to come see his setup before he stretches the canvas. Linda and I go by and he's got a frame the size of a garage door! No I'm not exaggerating. Needless to say Linda, Jim and I all tackled stretching that canvas which was actually a paint drop cloth he bought at the hardware store since he couldn't afford or find regular canvas in that size. It took us about and hour to do it. I loaned JIm my canvas pliers but we didn't use that, just pulled on it with both hands. We had my electric stapler with lots of extra staples so thank god for that! 

Right now Jim is painting that baby. Why? Because Jim has a love of nature and wants to share his love of the California condor with anyone who can't miss running into a life sized painting of a condor....that is a big painting and if I can get some shots of it when he's done I will post them. Did I mention Jim has only sketched when he was a kid growing up....never painted at all! I'm proud of his drive. Helping Jim with his goal has been the most fun in art this year for me. He needed the help and I enjoyed sharing whatever it is I could share. Fun stuff!          

Monday, June 22, 2015

Vineyard at Sunset

"Last Light"
16"x20" Oil on Canvas

Another scene of the Firestone Vineyard at sunset. The Firestone vineyard  is acres and acres of vines rolling across the Foxen canyon with a spattering of oaks. In the center is their victorian house that is either just an office or the actual living quarters for family or foreman...not sure because I've only been there once but that was for a concert they had with David Crosby and Neil Young years ago.....yeah, it was a good one and I got to meet David Crosby and the rest of his band backstage. If you ever come out to the Santa Ynez valley you need to spend a day just crusing up Foxen Canyon. The canyon is beautiful and filled with dozens and dozens of vineyards. If you like wine tasting you can spend the whole day driving up through the canyon.
I think maybe just a few small tweaks and I'll call this one done. Having fun teaching myself to paint light this way.