Saturday, December 16, 2006

Plein Air 2

I'm always dreaming of painting outdoors. I can't think of anything more fun than to simply choose to go somewhere and sit down and do a complete painting in one sitting. I love the looks of Contemporary California Impressionists paintings and eventually my goal is to learn to do similar work.

Today was a pretty slow day so I decided to go outside and try painting my neighbors hillside. Again, I used an underpainting to get me started. I went a little dark with it but it worked out ok. Before I try something like this I pick a scene, stop and think how I will paint it and then begin painting. This is a study so I'm not looking for a masterpiece, I'm learning to paint outdoors, which with oil, is very different from painting indoors for me. This piece took about an hour to do including my setting things up outside. After doing this piece I thought about things I'd do differently in the next attempt and I think my results will be better in the next one purely from the experience gained here.

The pochade box I'm using was built from scratch by my Dad. I told him what I was looking for and sketched it out one night on scratch paper over coffee. I let him have the final say in building it since he is a hobby wood worker and has probably forgot more than I know in life. I took 4 years of woods class in High School but he has been building things in his spare time most of my that's 49 years to my measly 4 in HS. The box works great...a little heavy but most of that weight is from the old tripod he had laying around he gave me. This box can handle anything up to a 12"x16"...not sure if I'll ever be able to paint PA at that size but you never know.

Here are some pics of my little experience at my drive-ways end.....
The view I choose and my box....

Seen here is my too red underpainting. I could go totally blue in the sky but wanted to let some of the red show through.

Now laying in my foreground grasses. In my finished version I need to do detail to that area but what was finished today in less than an hour is a good starting point for this little attempt.

And here is the finished version. There is some of the red underpainting showing through the foreground grasses....I'm not crazy about the lack of detail there and might do more once the paint sets up. The tree skyholes were added but looked too out of place with the more whiter sky I had so I added blue to the sky to match it all up. All in all, looks pretty cool to me for just a second attempt. I've thought of a different way to speed up painting in highlights and will try that in the next one....we'll see what happens.

And yet another pic...this one of me posing with the pochade box. We live on a hill so we get winds and it was cold to begin with. Still painting in the snow would be totally no fun. I have to say that the people who do this in really adverse weather are more dedicated than I am....I did my survival training back in 76-79 so I'm good to go there and not looking to adding to it with a painting box in tow.


Trying Underpainting

"Hilltop Sunset"
5"x7" Oil on Canvas

This image was my attempt using an underpainting, or tinted ground, under your brush work. This is a popular technique used by painters such as Emille Gruppe. I came to learn it by seeing it used by various painters online such as Bill Wray and Larry Seiler, both painters whose work I keep an eye on simply for the enjoyment and to let influence my work to some degree. That's always a great way to learn if you cannot afford taking a workshop.

I've been wanting to try this method because the way I paint in the studio in my opinion isn't going to work for me outdoors doing plein air pieces. It takes me at least 2-3 days to do a work indoors simply because of the drying times of oil paint. Working outside has to be done much quicker.

This particular piece was done using the underpainting method and I'm still learning it but it did speed things up. This took about 45 mintues in the studio. It is 5"x7" which accounts for the speed too but still faster than my typical studio method. The only thing I did later in the studio was add just a bit of highlights to the tree and highlights to the foreground grasses. This took maybe 10 minutes more. I love that glow that is seen in this sunset piece. This is a view off of the street I live on looking across the valley.

Hope you like it....

A Beach Scene

"Jalama Bluffs"
8"x10" Oil on Canvas

If you are an artist you have to sooner or later learn to paint the things near where you live...unless you want to paint Europe which I think has already been covered by many an artist. I don't see the point of painting landscape paintings of far off places since I live in a great area to paint....the California coast. The key word here being "coast". I haven't painted but one other coastal scene so figured it was time to try another one.

This scene is of the bluffs, or cliffs, that dominate Jalama beach. This was painted from a reference photo I took during a break in a storm we were having. As you can see there is not much breaking surf here...the bluffs were my challenge in this one.

I like how this one came out and think the attempt to capture the scene worked. I am very happy with how well the bluffs came out. Surprised myself there. Hope you like it.

Here is a detail of the bluffs in the painting.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And the award goes to......

You know, I've been entering shows in my local artist guild gallery every month for over a year and never won an award...for anything. I would kid others that even if no one else entered but me I'd somehow lose. Well, my streak is over. I finally won an award...First Place, for "Red Sky Over Field".

This came as a big surprise because this painting was really to try out doing some impasto work in the sky area....not that I thought it wise to do but just wanted to try impasto painting with a knife out. I thought the results were pretty cool and a lot of other artists seemed to like it too.

Last month I entered a small 8"x10" into the show which didn't win an award but I got a call telling me it had sold at the gallery. I was hoping the call about winning the award was to tell me this one had sold...hahaha. Surprise, surprise.

This is good news of course....the last 2 months have been full of good news. Sales are up, I got picked up by a gallery north of here, Gallery In The Vines, so I now have gallery respresentation. Also, the first week there I sold 2 paintings. So, things are getting better!