Monday, October 22, 2007

Backyard Plein Air...

Not having time to get out yesterday I decided to do a plein air piece on our deck in the backyard. I don't do this much because I see this view everyday and I guess I'm bored with it....still, I guess I can always use it to work things out when doing plein air work.
Although you can't see it, there was a view of the distant Figueroa mountains beyond this hillside with the home on it.

I was trying to do looser trees and adding colors into the sky and distant mountains...mainly a pink hue to break up the normal colors I use. I like the results but consider it like baby-steps towards experimenting. I find it really hard to try certain things with my art. Change is necessary for growth in ones work I think so I keep at it.

Here is a shot at my grasses....I've been wishing they were done better in my work lately so I'm working on them more.

This was done on birch panel which I'm finding really fun to work on when doing PA. The paint really sticks to it well and helps when trying to finish a piece in one sitting.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What CAC Paint Out?

The California Art Club has 4 days a year that are "Paint Outs"...days when members of the club get together at different locatons throughout California and paint plein air. A way to meet, hang out and maybe learn a few things from other members. Sounds good right?...well, in theory maybe.

At this past saturdays' club sponsored Paint Out a grand total of 2 members showed up. Myself and the president of our local area. He couldn't stay because he had a soccer team he was coaching that day and had to leave for it. Hahaha! We chatted and it was good to meet him. Would have been nice to meet other members...any members!

So my first Paint Out was comprised of myself. To make matters worse, the minute he left the winds picked up to the point of holding my paintbox most of the time to keep it from blowing over. By noon it had become just gusty winds but by then I was tired of the fun and left.

I painted a scene I had done before, the previous Alla Prima scene but went larger, 8"x16".

Here are some pics of the day....

At least I got some more practice in.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Painting Alla Prima

Wanting to build up speed in painting on location, Plein Air, I decided to work from a reference photo and do an Alla Prima piece. Alla Prima means to start and finish a painting in one sitting...which I did. Took about 1 hour and 25 minutes to do this small 6"x12" Birch panel. Not bad I think. Used to take me 3-4 hours to do a plein air painting. Getting faster....hopefully I'll get better painting-wise as I go along.

Here is my reference photo I worked from....This is Lake Carneros along the coast in Goleta north of Santa Barbara.

Here is what I came up with....

Not a bad little painting. Plus, it gave me practice on doing water which I need more of. A fun little painting. I'm a member of the California Art Club and will be going to their painting day, or Paint Out as they call it, right here at the lake. This will be my first time painting with the club so I'm trying to get in as much practice as possible before looking like a fool out there this Saturday. So far, things look like they will be ok.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Zaca Creek Sunset WIP

Just finished this one and along the way planned to take photos of the progress but I kept forgetting. Sometimes you just get too into things to remember the camera sitting next to you. This is number 3 of the large 36"x36" paintings on canvas. I wish I had stretched it first time working with pre-gessoed canvas. I've wet the back with warm water to see if that would tighten it a little more but it still feels a little baggy. If anyone knows another way short of taking out the staples and re-stretching let me know before I go that route....and no, I can't put in corners keys as this was a handmade frame with no key slots.

In this shot you can see I've done the sky minus some small tweaking. I like to work from the sky down most of the time. This of course makes you paint from background to foreground, layering as you go into the finished piece. I like it that way because of the sky looks good then I get kinda charged up to finish to mid and foregrounds. This piece was all about the sky so I basically painted my subject focal point first. All else supports the sky. I had to take this at an angle because of the wet paint.

After I was happy with the sky I began to add my trees and then foreground. The trees were a dark value of green with some red in my ref so I kept it that way. Now that it is all finished up I wish I hd made it a little lighter in overall value there if only becuase it is hard to photograph this dark a value. It works in real life here so I won't change it now. The foreground grasses were a Yellow Ochre but I was almost out and used Raw Sienna mixed with Alizarin Crimson and some White and came up with this orange tint. It looked ok at first but once on there I hated it...too strong. I later bought more YO and mixed white and AC to get what I wanted. That's what I get for being lazy. I keep that white edge there when blocking in the colors to keep them from mixing. As I tweak the greens I'll brush up into the sky area...this gives it the last minutes of time to setup before the green goes over it. Those sky colors will cause the greens to go blue grey. I could have waited but I wanted to get body if it on the first day. Day 2 was for working the foreground colors.

Day 2...

In the end, once all 3 areas were done I ended up with this on day 2....

The skyholes in the tree and patchy areas in the greens were added on day2. I also went back in and added some highlights to the lower right of the sky. I think it came out ok but wish I had gone slightly darker in the sky and slightly lighter in the trees on the hills. I also think I need to find a better way to do grasses like this. So many things to learn as you go.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Making a Gallery Wrapped Canvas

There is a lot to be said about painting on canvases bought at an art store...the most important thing being buy it, drag it home and start gessoing to paint. Sorry bad habit, I gesso even pre-gessoed canvas since that is how I was taught years ago and some things are hard to get rid of.
The only draw back to buying pre made canvases is the cost...especially at larger sizes. recently bought 2 36"x36" gallery wrapped canvases at around $110 - $120 for both. Can't remember the exact cost because I was in a state of shock once the cash register stopped ka-chinging. I wanted to do another one at that size so I decided to just make my own canvas.
To make one of these all you need is Canvas, Table Saw, a Chop Saw or Miter-Saw (even a hand operated miter box and saw will work), a Square, Finishing Nails, a Staple Gun (makes it easier but not neccesary). I bought Kiln Dried 2"x4"'s at a Home Depot hardware store. Kiln Dried wood is lighter than green drying wood and won't warp even after you cut it. Pick the straightest ones you find because even kiln dried 2"x4"'s can be slightly warped...sorry, that's the state of wood offered to the public in this day and age. A single 2"x4"x8' will make a 36"x36" canvas.
Sounds like a lot of work??? Go back up and read what I payed for 2 again. I figure this one cost me about maybe $10.00 including canvas and sweat.
First, I cut my wood into 2 - 36" sections. See the rounded edges of the 2"x4"? I cut the wood down the center keeping this rounded edge as the edge that the canvas will lay across providing a smooth surface when stretching.
After cutting the wood down the center I then re-cut above the rounded edge of the 2"x4" at a 15 degree angle. This gives me a bevelled edge so the painting surface of the canvas where it crosses the frame isn't flush with the wood. The canvas is suspended above the wood.
Here you can see the blade of the saw cutting the bevel above the rounded edge of the 2"x4"

This is how the bevel cut looks once the frame is being nailed together.

I used a Chop Saw, a saw which cuts mitered cuts, to cut the angles to join the corners together.

This is how the corner cuts look like when joined. I used stapels to hold them together until I could nail them with finishing nails.

And this is what your frame will look like when it is all nailed together. I cust scraps left over from my original 2"x4" to make the braces in the corner. I used a Square when nailing together to make sure the frame is square in all corners. (A Square is the angled tool in the pic above to make sure all ligns up.)

No more fun left in the garage so now I head into the house t stretch the canvas over the frame. A friend recently gave me a roll of pre-gessoed canvas so I decided to try that. All you do is lay a piece of canvas down that is cut oversized and begin your stretching. Here is that piece before stretching...
There are plenty of stretching tutorials online so I won't go into that here. Here is a shot of the corner fold though.

And after all of that is done you end up with a nice canvas waiting for paint!