Saturday, January 31, 2009

Santa Ynez Valley

"Central Coast Splendor"

12" x 24" Oil on Canvas

I was able to paint this one Alla Prima yesterday despite all the fun of having 2 teenaged daughters and their multitude of dramatic events. This explains why I love to paint late at night! I used to think painting was something you could do like drawing...anywhere, anytime. Nope. Painting demands a lot of concentation, (whether you know you are doing it or not). Lifes daily occurances really throw you loops and makes painting take forever at times.
This painting was done mainly to just get better at depicting these scenes of the central coast. One day I will do a fantastic painting of the central coast capturing it's beauty in any light. This is a springtime scene with green hillsides and wildflowers...I chose white instead of doing lupine or poppies again. Did a couple small touch ups this morning and I think it is where I want it to be...for now.

I like to ground the trees with bushes at it's base and dark shadows there. That method seems to work well.

Making that trail meander into the painting was the painting some added depth too. The grasses you see here are just vertical strokes with a knife. The base for the grasses are just vertical scumbling with the knife done prior to any grass blade highlights. The dirt areas are also scumbled in with a finish that off I flick tiny grasses up into the dirt from below. A fun painting to do.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Santa Ynez Eucalyptus

" Over the Valley"
9" X 12"
I did a painting earlier and cropped some areas of the painting to post online. This painting was inspired by one of those little detailed images of that earlier painting. I did this on masonite panel which gives it a softer look unless I go with a bit thicker paint. I like this one as it reminds me of the valley here as seen from one of the hillsides.
...and some details....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ref As A Guide

"Trail at the Bluffs"


Oil on Canvas Covered Panel

I started painting this scene months ago...summer I think. I worked from a reference photo I shot at the bluffs in Carpinteria. I made several changes along the way since I wasn't jazzed about the painting as it progressed. I started it with wanting merely to capture the grasses in sunlight but realised I really didn't like their color. There was no trail here so I decided to put it in since it looked boring with just the grasses. I added a large greaseplant since there are some in the area.
I've asked 2 people about this painting here and the really like it...I'm not that crazy about it. Somewere along the line I think I lost my drive to finish it so it sat. Today I sat it back on the easel and tried to finish it...making even more color changes in the grasses. I'm still not sure what doesn't look right to me with this one so I'm going to let it sit again.
I think this detail shot shows the best part of this painting to me. Maybe I'll do another painting using just this detail as a that's an idea!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Santa Ynez Valley...A Meadow View

This painting was sketched out last night in pencil on a piece of scrap paper. Not much of a sketch, merely the outline of what I had in my head to paint. The colors come as I paint the scene on te canvas. I have an idea of what I want so it's not entirely unplanned. This type of painting is done merely to use my imagination and memory of the elements in the painting...trees, grasses, distant mountain ranges. All I do is organize the composition and start painting. Super fun to do.

"Meadow View"

9" X 12"

Oil on canvas covered panel

This scene would be what I imagine the Santa Ynez valley would look like years ago in spring. There are rolling hills here and trees spread through the valley. A path like this would have been created by the Chumash Indians or early settlers, maybe even hunters up from Santa Barbara in search of deer which we have plenty of.

Near Grass Mountain

"Near Grass Mountain"

12" X 16" Oil on canvas

Grass mountain is on the north side of our valley. I've driven to the base of it a few times and while driving around up there the last time I snapped pics for references. This scene was painted to work more on small grasses and plants. For that purpose it is succesful I think. If you approach each painting with a goal in mind I think it keeps you from freaking out about having to paint the perfect Mona Lisa each time. Maybe that's why I can get involved in each painting so quickly instead of fussing over what to paint next.

The fun part of this painting was doing the foreground grasses. You can get pretty creative doing those with your palette knife. I'm really loving doing grasses.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Trail Gets Better

One of my artist friends made a suggestion that something was missing from the foreground in the recent painting "A Winding Trail". Not one to think I know everything I listened and took another good long look at the painting.....Rocks! Rocks are something I've been anting to try and this painting was painted by me to try doing this type of scene better....why not add some rocks.

I had a student grade panel nearby with a scene very similar to this one that I had worked some other ideas out on so I practiced on it....that's why I bought those student grade panels to begin with. If I want to try a certain looking tree but not sure if I can pull it off I go to the cheapo panels and experiment there....then the panel sits there waiting for some other idea to pop in my head and the need for a spare canvas to try it out on instead of the actual painting....sure saves throwing a good painting away and if I can't get it right on the cheapo panel then my neighbors don't hear me screaming in anguish and frustration.
I think the rocks worked out nicely and fill in an otherwise boring foreground. I feel better about taking the time to practice painting rocks too. They might not be the best looking rocks but I'll get better.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Winding Trail

I started this one late last night. I was working from my head and trying simply to do get better at them. It's a little too similar to other scenes like this, but hey, some painters will paint the same scene 20 times to get to a result they like so why not me too. I need to push myself into throwing more light in my other words, bigger skyholes, more trunks. I find myself going this far with my trees and being happy. Is that wrong? I dunno. Forcing myself to change because other painters do their trees with more light seems like I'm chasing someone elses vision. I'm teeter tottering on them. We'll see what happenes down the line I guess.

I decided to snap pics of the progress but got caught up and forgot some shots I wish I had taken but the ones here show the WIP pretty well.

Here is the block in of the sky. A mix of light blue on top and then mixing in a bit of cadmium yellow medium...just plopped down randomly awaiting the trusty fan brush for blending.

Next is the blending...just brushing in an X pattern untill it looks good.Here I painted in the background and blocked in the darks for my trees. I've got my grasses blocked in too but I'll add lots of work there soon.Now I begin to detail the trees. This is just by lightening my dark green mix. I save a bit of the dark mix for touch ups later. I've begun touching up the grasses too. I start with a knife adding color and then finish up with brushes.In the end it became this scene. Pretty fun to do and no sweat dealing with a reference photo. The fun part is you make it what you want and all you have to do is follow some basic painting principles. It's not a Grandville Redmond but then again he couldn't paint like me either! He might not have wanted to but we won't go there today....hahaha.

"A Winding Trail"

8" X 10"
Oil on Canvas

Friday, January 09, 2009

Foxen Canyon Evening

Lately I've been getting better at blocking in of masses for areas in my paintings....ok, well I think Im getting better at it. I used to paint a lot of the elements in my work individually as the painting progressed. That took more time, more mixing and probably not the best way to do a painting. I used to really only block in my darks and paint everything else on the fly so to speak.

I started blocking in masses of color when I started painting meadow scenes...especially meadows with large clumps of bushes in them.

This probably seems redundant to other painters but to me it has become one of those eye openers artists go through...simple things that make life easier. I don't know why I didn't see it sooner.

Anyway, here you can see my blocking in of the foreground awaiting the detailing, some of which I've already started on the back bushes below the trees.

Here you can see what the painting looks like once all of the details are filled in.

I suppose I've done this method for the last bunch of paintings without giving it much thought. I would have hesitated from doing this scene before due to the bushy foreground but now see these as something to accomplish, or conquer, in a painting...not as something to avoid.

The strange way we artists think!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mountain Grasses

This scene is of the Figueroa Mountains on the northern side of our valley. These mountains are mostly grass covered with sporadic trees dotting the hillsides. I wanted to work on the grasses to get better at doing them. I always get charged up before starting a scene with grasses and when I'm finished I'm sort of let down. Haven't quite got the look I want so the hunt goes on.

"Mountain Grasses"

12" x 16"
Oil on canvas