Friday, December 19, 2008

Near Carpinteria Bluffs

"Summer Field"
9" X 12" Oil on panel

I started out doing a scene of a flowering field being farmed next to the bluffs in Carpinteria. By the time I got to the mountains my ref became more a less just an inspiration more than a ref. These mountains are very different in color to the ones down there since I started messing with them...not a bad thing, that's how you learn and it can get boring sticking to your ref for a scene anyway. What I ended up with a really just a generic, but pleasing, summer field of flowers. I'm happy with it.
I was going to paint this scene 3 times but never felt the flowers would hold the painting together subject wise. I finally just decided to go for it and see how much interest I could generate with just a field of flowers. I think it worked out ok especially considering I'm not the greatest painter of flowers at all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chalk Hill Evening

"Chalk Hill Evening"
12" X 16"

If I walk to the end of my street....1 house away, this is the view in the evening on most nights. We live on Chalk Hill and look over the top of Solvang to the Santa Ynez mountain range that seperates us from the coast and Santa Barbara. These mountains can look green, blue and grey in every shade you can thing of at various times. I'm always struck by the contrasting dark rows of trees on the other side of this field. It's actually a vacant lot that the owner has not built on yet so as long as he keeps putting it off I get the view! One day there will be some gigantic Spanish style custom home here hogging up the view and I'll have to find another lot overlooking these mountains.
Normally I would have added grey to the tree area to push the distance but this is an evening scene which had some really nice darks in that part of the painting. I debated it but I just could not see pushing the distance here since this group of trees are right on the other side of the field. I think anyone who lives here would say this is pretty much what it looks like without doing all of the "arty" things to it. Sometimes I just don't feel like succumbing to the rules of art...and don't let enyone fool you, rules they are. The first time you stray from them you'll hear about it. They say in order to break the rules you must first know what rules you are breaking...then it's ok to break them.

Below you can see the edge work on the distant mountains. Softening that hard edge along the mountain tops always gives a sense of distance to your paintings.

Lately I've been really paying attention to the edges of my trees that recede from the viewer. I'm trying to soften those edges up and keep the skyholes soft edged too. My older paintings have these rather sharp edges in these parts of them. These are just the fine little details that you try and fine tune to get your work to look better. I think on the nest painting I'll try letting these edges set up a bit and then dry brush the edges to give them a soft blur....not my usual technique but my technique is always evolving depending on what I learn and what I like.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Carpinteria Bluffs

I went down to drop off work to be juried into a show in Carpinteria not long ago. While waiting for the jurying I decided to do a plein air painting over at Carpinteria Bluffs. I hurriedly loaded up my pochade box and when I got there realised I forgot all of my brushes so instead I took pictures with my camera.
This scene is I believe called "Artists Trail" since all of the trails are named down there. The bluffs are just a large wild area set aside by the very smart people of Carpinteria to preserve part of the natural coastline for future generations...and would be artists!

I loved the shadows being thrown by a row of eucalyptus trees to the left and decided to try and capture their random patterns.

And a detail of the trees to the right.....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sycamore Tree

I'm still learning to paint sycamore trees. Here, I've concentrated on mainly the trunk area only because I was drawn to the dark shadows of the foliage along the ground at this meadows edge. I really like dark shadows in a painting and do that mainly with the lower portions of my eucalyptus trees.

This is the initial block in of colors. Normally I paint my sky and then everything working in order towards the foreground. For this painting I blocked everything in first.

Here you can see more of the blocking of the trunks. I grab a soft brush dipped in turpentine and basically draw the trees. This takes the paint off in those areas and I wipe with a dry brush to dry up the canvas. After that is dry I then paint in the trunk colors.

Here you can see the basic foliage taking place. I start with the darkest and work to the lightest.

Here the painting was done but I didn't like the tree I added another tree trunk using the same method as the other trunks. I also did not like the branch in front of the trunks so I took it out.

In the end, this is what my finished painting looked like. Trees further to the left and small foliage adjustments that I'm happy with.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Painting Continues...

I had a great time at the California Art Club show this last saturday. Some really great friends of mine showed up and we all went to dinner afterwards. You'd have to know my friends to realise how much a group of people can laugh all through dinner. It is really an honor to have your friends show up to support you at one of these shows.
I was very lucky at the show and managed to sell one of the paintings before the reception ended. A major bonus there. I also was able to meet the woman who purchased the painting and speak to her for a good amount of time....another bonus, meeting the buyer. A very nice person.
The painting she bought was one I had sitting here waiting for a good frame and I must have stared at that painting a hundred times. I loved how that painting came of my best so far.
There was some really super paintings in this show. The judges I think had to go through some 200 paintings that were entered and whittle it down to 41. From seeing the work that made it in it must have been a tough job. Judging has to be a very tough job at times.

I was also able to speak with some of my fellow artists there which is really one of the best things about these shows. All artists have one thing in common...we all are trying our best to make good paintings. That can really be tough at times because you never know how a painting will look to others. The paintings I think are my best are usually not the ones that get the attention so sometimes you have to accept the ones you personally feel didn't quite make it and know that some of those are going to be the ones people rave about. I know other artists go through this and it is something we share. The ups, the downs, paintings that get in the show or don't...these are common experiences we go through so meeting artists, and knowing without even asking, that we share these experiences is really special. It bonds us together.
Painting, and knowing what you are painting can sometimes fool you. Recently, a person who really knows his art looked at one of my works and said it looked too much like a painting influenced by Eloy Espoy. The nice thing was that somehow one of my paintings looked similar to such a great painters work. The bad thing is that I didn't set out to do that. The scary thing is that I could do that subconciously without knowing it. I have seen Espoy's work and I really love his work but trying to do someone elses work is not a cool thing to do even subconsiously. I now look at that painting and wonder what I'm going to do with it. It has my trees. Poppies and lupine? Lots of people paint those....especially if you live in California. So, it sits here hanging on the wall until I do something one way or the other. I suppose going through this experience now connects me to a hundred other artists who have done a painting like this and sit at their Blog typing their thoughts about what to do with that sort of painting...which is probably hanging on their wall too!