Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Morning Sycamore Tree

" Morning Sycamore"
8" X 10"
Oil on canvas covered panel

I usually toss between two trees, eucalyptus and oak, which is a bad habit but in my defense I love both trees and they are plentiful where I live. Still, if Lennon & McCartney only wrote love songs we'd have never heard Sgt Pepper, I Am The Walrus or Glass Onion right? So, it was off to paint a Sycamore tree for me.
This one was found close to home in the local mountains. There is a stand of trees of mostly sycamore and oak right before one of the valleys. It's my favorite part of that drive and I've stopped there many times to get reference photos or just drink my coffee and enjoy a very special place. All of the land off the road belongs to local ranchers and No Trespassing signs line the gates on dirt roads that go in. It must have been a much better world back when ranchers did not fence in cattle on their land...have you ever wondered how many very cool things must be on private property that the public will never see? Not that all of the public would want to but there are those that would. Artists, writers, poets, photographers...all stop at the No Trespassing sign. Maybe there is a good point for trespassing to begin with.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ecstatic...by Association

...my pen & ink piece. Around the corner was one of my paintings and across from that "The Widow Maker" by Thomas Hoyne! "

The cool thing about being in an art show in a museum is just that...it's in a museum. Museums usually have rare and wonderful things in them....hence, your work will be in a venue with such items. I am in a show at the Ventura County Maritime Museum and they have an awesome collection of Marine Art. 2 pieces of mine, a pen & ink piece and an oil painting, were not 5 feet away from the painting "Widow Maker" by Thomas Hoyne! AWESOME!! Even better, they were not 10 feet away from "Shaming The Gulls" by Hoyne. In this same room were pieces by John Stobart, Roy Cross and Christopher Blossom not to mention the late David Thimgan whose painting "Abbie off the Northern Coast" was there.

A detail of "Abbie Off The North Coast"
Artist, David Thimgan

I also have to mention they had paintings in this collection by some of the most incredible Dutch painters too. One who comes to mind is artist Hermanus Koekkoek Sr. whose painting "Mending Nets by the Shore" is simply amazing. Some had the most luminous quality. Just having my work hanging in the same room with these artists was one of those bonuses in life that you never forget.

A detail of "Mending Nets By The Shore"

Artist, Hermanus KoekKoek

I am compelled to urge anyone living near the California coast or who is visiting it that has an appreciation for Marine art to visit the Ventura County Maritime Museum...which is actually located in Oxnard, California. Seeing this wonderful art is worth the trip.

R to L - Sylvia Waters, Louis Stephen Gadal, Me. We are all members of the International Society of Marine Painters as well as members of the Coast Guard Art Program.

Syrah Vineyard Light

"Syrah Vineyard Light"
8" x 10"
Practicing to get better at doing morning light in a vineyard. This was the early morning light hitting the Syrah vineyard at Tres Hermanas Winery. Not sunrise light...more like 10:00 am light. The reason for that was the show we were in didn't start till 10AM so I hadn't got there until just before that and had to set up. Due to the lack of any crowd (wine at 10AM?) I decided to poke around snapping pics for later use.

So, this is my version of light in a vineyard...not a big old vineyard scene either...just working on light up close....doing vineyards up close like this is a whole other animal too. This is one of those paintings that looks really cool from about 5 feet back, hahaha....try it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A California Landscape

The working title of this painting is affectionally known as "20X40". No name yet so the size of the canvas works just as well. I borrowed some of the ideas from the last 2 paintings and used them on this one. Nice to do a large piece now and then...I think I'm gearing up to do a really large painting one of these days...maybe 30" X 60". The trouble with large paintings is where to put them not only in drying time but in between shows. I've only got so much wall space.

Here is a work in progress pic and one of the finished painting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

California Impressionist Feel

"California Poppies"

8" X 10"

Oil on Canvas

I don't know why but everytime I grab a small 8"x10" canvas and plan to just whack out a painting in an hour or two it becomes a multi-day monster! I started this one 2 days ago late at night. My thoughts were to just do a quicky to build up smaller pieces for the Artist Studio Tour in November. I had just finished the last wide-format painting and still had good wet paint on my palette....why not do a quick one with the left over paint! Makes sense eh? Not to be had.

At first it all went well and I was almost finished but then kept looking at the sky wondering why it didn't look right. I've been looking a lot lately at the works of Early California Impressionsists such as Grandville Redmond, Edgar Payne, Angel Espoy...and more, and felt compelled to do a sky more to that liking. Once I added some warm Indian Yellow to my sky I began to see a different completed painting that I now wanted. So, I went back down to the mid and fore grounds and began redoing, adding, deleting and experimenting with small subtle changes that would give the painting an older turn of the century look and feel. It's not quite on the money but to me the feel is there and if I pursue this some more I can see dialing it in more to my liking. I won't go for the exact same look because I have my own style that will stay in the paintings but the combination is something I'm excited about seeing.

a detail of the painting...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Central Coast Poppies

Going wide again and using one of my earlier paintings as the study to work from. I actually entered the study into a show but won't know for a while if it gets juried in so I want this one to show locally. I was hoping to do maybe an 18"x24" on this one but didn't have a canvas laying around. I had 2 12"x24"'s leaning against the wall so that explains the wide format. Besides, wide is always cool.
I like doing the trees in this type of lighting and I always have a fun time experimenting with the various shades of green and darkness at the base of the trees. Having fun while you paint sure makes it worth doing and gets rid of the stress. The background mountains look more like the San Gabriel mountains down near Pasadena than the Santa Ynez mountains up here. Guess my roots are finding their way into my painting. This scene could very easily be looking across the San Gabriel Valley from the hills in San Dimas or the Covina area....but way before we jacked it up with a zillion houses and businesses.

"Central Coast Poppies"

12" X 24"

Oil on Canvas Covered Panel

Some detail shots of the painting....

Friday, August 08, 2008

Santa Ynez Vineyard Scene

"Evening At The Vineyard"
9" X 12"
Oil on Canvas Covered panel
This vineyard is located off of Refugio Road near Santa Ynez. I've done 3 paintings almost in the same spot here. It's great because there is so little traffic on this road but it is sort of on a plateu so it is always breezy and you have to watch your rig from being blown around. This scene was painted Alla Prima from a photo I had taken one night while on a photo hunt of the vineyards. Just a fun painting of a sunset over the vineyards...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Solvang Hillside

"Morning Hills"

9" X 12"

Oil on Canvas Covered Panel

I live in an area surrounded by rolling hills. In Winter it looks like we live in Ireland and in Summer it has that classic golden rolling hills look of California. I'd say it is my area only but these hills are found all the way up into Northern California. I decided to try and capture early morning light diffused with the haze we get a lot from cold ocean air drifting into the valley from the Pacific Ocean.
Our distant valley mountains to the north are the same dried grassy golden color but due to Aerial Perspective turn a great shade of pale light blue...this makes for a great contrast against the foreground oaks and eucalyptus trees with their dark greens and browns. The colors used here are my normal palette of Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White. A limited palette that keeps color uniformity in check and has enough colors to produce most of the landscapes I paint. The key to doing a painting like this is simple, keep your background and mid-ground colors less intense than your foreground colors. To achive this I use a mix of light grey that I add to the background and mid-ground colors. You can either use Paynes Grey mixed with white to get a light grey or you can mix it with spare paint off of your palette....some white, UBlue, ACrimson etc.... I use whatever is handy or available at the moment.

A detail of the painting....

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Valley Nocturne

I've painted this scene in it's day setting and it came out pretty cool. 2 paintings down the line I decided to try painting it in a night scene. As I started to do a very rough sketch I decided to do it from memory and change a few things that I didn't think I needed from the first painting, moved a few things around and elliminated a few others. I just needed the perspective of the scene not the original painting.

The purpose was to try another experiment in painting the colors of night skies. Blues, blacks, greens etc. I'm trying to find a version that really strikes a chord in me that I will use more often. I will use various hues but I'm sure there is one that will excite me more than the others.

"Valley Nocturne"

9" X 12"

Oil on canvas covered panel

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Foxen Canyon Vineyard

" Foxen Canyon Vineyard"
12" X 16"
Oil on canvas covered panel
While doing the show at Tres Hermanas winery I snapped some reference photos during one of the many lulls. This scene came from one of the ref's in early morning of their vineyards producing the grapes for their Syrah wine. I'm pretty happy with it except I wish I had subdued the sky a little more to keep that bleached out sky look from the bright morning sky. Seems lately I always aant to add some blue to produce some cloud formations no matter how light they are.