Monday, May 28, 2007

Yard Sale Plein air

Catchy title eh? We had a yard sale Sunday and Monday of Memorial weekend. Spent all day Sunday twitling my thumbs do to the thousands who came by...I can count them on 2 hands. I decided I wasn't going to do that over again on Monday so I brought out my plein air rig and went at the neighbors tree again. If I paint enough versions of that one tree I'll be able to piece together a forest show.

The sky was pure blue and not a cloud in site so I messed with it a bit to throw in some interest. Naturally, the only people who came by and saw it were when it was in the early stages and didn't look like much. I did meet a lady who paints but is busy raising her son and doesn't have the time to join our local Guild...I don't know why but I always seem to be making the sales pitch for the Guild to get more artists to join it.

Here is the scene and my set-up....I've got my sky in there and the tree. I'll leave out the water tank and pine trees to the right.

And here is a shot while continuing on....I wiped in the sky and then added the tree. I then wiped in my foreground dirt and grasses area and now proceeding to add bushes from left to right aross the canvas.

And the fnished piece. I probably spent about less than an hour actually painting it but it was spread out talking and eating lunch. A little 6"x8" Oil on Ray Mar panel.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Central Coast Skies

This scene is really close to another I did titled "Nipomo Skies". It's the same general area and the ref photo taken the same day too. I'm calling it was it is because it is a pretty fair depiction of the skies that I see a lot in spring in the Central Coast area of California...

This one is really large, an 18"x36" stretched canvas. Had to do some large pieces sooner or later so the time was right for this one. I have some shows coming up too that I'm trying to get ready for so larger pieces will help there with the limited number of paintings I have so far.

"Central Coast Skies"

Anyway, lots of sky here and a nice wide view of the Central Coast near Nipomo, Califronia. Fields a plenty!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Framed Vineyard Scene

Art always looks better once it's framed...ALWAYS! Have you ever worked on a ppainting that, no matter what you tried, it just looked less than what you set out to paint? I've had a couple of those so far. Then for fun I'd set them in various frames and oddly enough one would make the painting look better than what it finished up as. Art always looks better framed!

I painted this vineyard scene and was pretty happy with the results. Since there was a lot of reddish tints here from the late afternoon sun setting I figured a frame with some red in it would look cool. me that means natural wood, not red stain. I looked around at various online frame sites but it's really hard to see it framed that way. I went to my local framer who had this moulding and had it made up. 3 days later I was amazed how much better this painting looked framed.

Yesterday I delivered it to a small vineyard gallery that represents my art and the owner was only too happy to take this one on board. If it sells it will become one of those paintings that you wish you had entered in shows or at least showed around to your painter friends first! I don't have enough paintings yet to keep certain ones to do just that.

Right before loading it up in the car I took this picture to make sure I at least had this to show here on my blog. I have been staying away from getting Giclee's made of my work until I feel I am cranking out really good work. One of these days that is going to happen.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Painting Clouds Part 1

I like painting clouds...I'm getting better at it too. How do you get better?...paint lots of clouds. I'm not the expert but then again I've been told by my friend and fellow painter Margaret that you can't really do them wrong because they can look so many ways...good advice. I thought I'd post various versions of clouds as new paintings roll out so this is the first in a series on painting clouds for those interested.

The clouds I'm painting here were stormy grey clouds with a nice wind up there blowing them across the mountains....not big cumulus clouds, more like stretched out cumulus clouds. Blue skies are breaking through in parts of the scene so we need light from the sun on top of the clouds and dark ominous shadows underneath the clouds.

Above is my reference photo I'll be working with. I'm not painting the entire sky here fro compositional reasons but you'll see the area we are going to paint as we go along....
Remember, you can click on these images for larger views

Colors used : Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson.

Step 1...I'll sketch in my details of the ground area. I leave the sky pretty empty except maybe to map out some complicated clouds. I mix up lots of White with a little UBlue and paint in my upper blue skies. Once it is blocked in I add more white to the mix and fade the lower portions of the blue skies to where the upper clouds will begin. You dont' have to be accurate here at all...when blending colors later the less intense blue blends better with the white of the clouds.
Here is a closer detail of this
Step 2...We now mix up white with just a dab of Alizarin and a dab of UBlue for a light pinkish blue mixture for the lighter shades of the clouds. Before blocking in this mixture I add pure white to areas of the clouds where I want the brightest highlights. Then I paint in my pink mixture, again you don't have to accurate here, just block it in the general areas.
Step 3...Before we convert that mixture to the darks for the clouds we grab some to keep seperate for blending later. Here you see my sky blue mixture, the light pinkish mix and the blob I am saving at the top of the palette.

Now I darken my original mixture with more Alizarin and UBlue (SAVING MY BLOB for later)We now paint in the darks of the clouds and get happy because we are almost to the blending stage....

Some areas are lightly painted in to create the shapes of the upper cloud it that billowy-puffy look called "Shape" in art lingo.

Step 4...Now we get out a fan brush and begin blending. Just sweep your fan in an X pattern brushing once across the canvas and then the opposite direction across the this till the edges blend. If some of the edges don't blend easily dab in some of the Saved Mixture of lighter pink to the edge and fan again in that spot....that's why you save some of this mixture. Fan until it looks COOL! You will have to be the judge of what looks cool to you but you'll find it. I have faith in you. Here is my version of cool....A detail of the blended version....Step 5... I basically finish the painting, the ground area to let the sky have tme to set up a bit. The last thing I do is go back into the sky area and add some darker wisps of clouds over the rest to give the clouds a more 3 dimensional look to it. Just dab some random dark paint and then blend lightly.Here is my finished painting with the ground area completed.....

That's basically it....stay loose, play with blending until you like your results...if it goes bad just add more paint the the areas you blended too much and blend again. If you don't have a fan brush go get one...wipe it off as you blend in different ares that are critical of don't want to start blending a white highlighted area with a fan brush still loaded with your darks on the brush.

Good luck with your clouds and have fun making them!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What's Your Opinion....

I've touched this painting up since thinking I was finished with it a month or so ago. I thought the foreground highlighted trees didn't have enough light, or glow, caused by the low setting sun across the valley. The tree tops are illuminated because the lower half is shaded by the hill I was standing on while taking the reference photo. I've gone back in and brightened them and also added some light to the mid ground valley area to suggest it is also highlighted by the setting sun.

What I want to know is if you think this light on the tree tops works here. Too bright, not bright enough or if it just doesn't look right to you...I like the idea of just a stab of light hitting something and thought it would work well here.

Here's a detail of the tree area. I also added some branches to the trees...something I rarely do with my trees. I'm not sure why but they look pretty neat once in a while.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Working the Gallery

One of the places I show my work is at the Morro Bay Art Association Gallery in Morro Bay, about an hour and a half north of where I live. As part of the deal there you must work a 4 hour shift each month while the show is on that your work is entered. 4 hours is not a lot of time if you live in or near Morro Bay but for me it becomes and all day thing doing it. 3 hours drive time plus getting ready to go up there. I make the best of it by using the drive to collect reference photos for future work.

The good part of artists working the gallery is it keeps costs down to run the Guild or Association gallery....the bad part is that not every artist is a good salesperson...which is the goal of the gallery, selling the art created by the artists members. I would say at least half of the artists I know are pretty shy, introverted people....not the type who commonly get jobs as salespeople. Another downfall to having the artists do the selling is that most of us don't know each other, we don't know what type of work we all do nor anything about the specific works in any one show.

I've had someone call me at the gallery and say "I'm calling about John Doe's painting of the horse and wondering if he has any other works there?"....Naturally, with about 50 members I don't know a John Doe, I didn't know he had a piece with a horse in the current show and I now would have to ask this person to hang on while I run up and down the gallery, two floors!, searching for some of his other work. See what I mean? On that day I would be a terrible salesperson.

Normally, a gallery has people who work there and know what they have on the walls and who painted it. They also know how to get more of that artists work should someone call to ask for more.....this generates sales as well as making the gallery appear to have at least competent employees who like to sell art as a career.

I'm all for increasing membership dues and entry fees and just breaking down and hiring someone to do this in exchange for more time to create art and having a gallery run like a business by business oriented people. I'm not business oriented....I'm the guy with the goofy visions in my head when looking at something the next guy looks at but who manages to escape the vision part of know, the typical artist who sees more than just what's in front of them. We see color, drama, texture, gorgeous lighting effects, atmosphere where most people see the sun going down which means they'd better step on the gas to get home before their dinner gets cold. I think in terms of imagery where a business oriented person thinks in terms of a good day at work from making $1200.00 in sales generated by their efforts. Their head is filled with thoughts of Bottom Line, Profit Margin and Gross and Net Incomes....that's the person an artist needs around them to succeed....or at least pay the bills.

I don't think most artist-run Guilds or Association galleries will ever make really good profits unless they go with a more business-like run situation. Artists are not going to become salespersons if their lives depended on it. The artist is going to make the attempt to sell art and will sell art but not like a salesperson can sell art. I hate to toot my own horn and I think most artist hate doing that. I'm not overly extroverted either. I can't imagine flapping my arms about whipping out complimentary comments about how much vision I have and how I have created work that will one day be worth far more than the buyer is about to pay for it.

I think Guilds and Associations are content with offering the community a place to show the work of their local artists and if they make a few bucks for operating costs and to donate to the local school art program then fine. The local artist finds a place to show their work, get some well deserved kudos and once in a while make some money to buy more art supplies. I suppose this is why artists who want to seriously make money from their work eventually submit work to privately owned galleries in the attempt to become gallery represented. Naturally, private galleries have higher standards so most artists will eventually move on to shove the balance of their best work in these galleries.

Still, I think there has to be a way to increase sales from the galleries of Guild and Associations. So I'll try to be a better salesperson and also do better work to enter....the latter is the part I do best.

Part of the Morro Bay Gallery