Friday, September 18, 2009

The Carrizo Plain

"Carrizo Plain Bloom"
6" X 8" Oil on panel
Yep, the massive Carrizo Plain squeezed down into a small 6" X 8" panel, hahaha. Well, part of the Carrizo Plain is in this scene. Another 6x8 painting for the Featured Artist show at Gallery Los Olivos. I had this scene setup to paint in a larger, maybe 16"x20", format. Doing this smaller, actually doing all of these at a smaller format, is really teaching me to simplify various parts of the painting. Most people suggest just using larger brushes. Makes more sense to use the same brushes you already have and buy cheaper, smaller panels to work with the same theory. You don't have the room to get too detailed so you mass areas. It not only teaches you that but it also makes you paint faster, hahaha.

I love this scene because it is the desert in bloom...those tiny gold flowers lining the desert floor. The afternoon I was up there taking my reference photos the weather was great, the desert was in bloom (it was Spring) and the late afternoon light was getting better by the second. Hopefully this Spring I will be able to head up there and do some plein air work.
For those of you who live in California the Carrizo Plain is not to be missed in Springtime...don't go in summer unless you enjoy oven temperatures.

Chalk Hill

"Clouds Over Chalk Hill"
6" X 8" Oil on panel
I painted this scene in a larger 12" X 16" back in early summer or maybe Spring. This view is actually looking over at my neighbors field. I wanted to paint another small 6" X 8" today so this one was done, again, alla prima. Maybe a couple of hours work but a very fun couple of hours. I've got that Featured Artist show coming up and need some smaller 6"x8" paintings to offer. I'm trying to have a mix of large,mid and smaller pieces to offer. I've done 3 of these in the last 3 days. In between I've been updating my website, blog duties, ordering more frames, running errands and fixing plumbing problems around here.

I really should be cranking out these little guys but I think I get stalled in the picking the next subject phase of it. I decided on this one because I loved how the first and larger one came out. This is actually a somewhat cropped version of the original which was a slightly wider scene. I thought it would be cool to see how hard it would be to do the clouds in this smaller was tough! Luckily I had the brains to buy some smaller Filberts just for the purpose of doing some smaller paintings and they came in really handy.

Hey, for those of you that do plein air work and have a spare $20 and an ever lasting desire to puchase anything that is affordable and is geared towards your art education I would recommend buying a book that I ordered today. Sacramento artist TerryMiura has what looks to be a very cool book that he wrote for his Plein Air students. It walks you through the various stages of one of his paintings. He does his art talk in it as well as explaining his painting process. Why would I recommend a book I haven't even seen yet? Because Terry is a killer artist and whose work I admire very much. Any insight to Terry's painting method would be worth it and worth much more than this book this price you'd be a dork to walk away from this. Check out Terry's website and you be the judge....while you're there check out his Blog, Studio Notes...lots of good reading there.
No, I don't get a cut from Terry on recommending his book. I'm just pointing you to what I know is going to be a good deal...and it's learning. People think you need to invest major bucks and major time to learn. I bought the small book "Plein Air Painting In Oil", a Walter Foster book, by Frank Serrano years ago. I learned a great deal from that book. I read it in a couple of hours...due to the pictures, hahaha. You could read it in 10 minutes but you need to study the images. I've gone back to that book a couple of dozen times over the taught me a great deal. You read the book in a few hours and then paint your butt off the next few years. The learning is in the painting. Thats an education, not the standard one but one that has been working for me so far...I'm still very much learning everyday.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twilight Alla Prima

"Central Coast Twilight"
6X8 Oil on panel
I had this small 6X8 Ray Mar panel that was an early effort at plein air....hated the painting and had it leaning against a wall behind a dozen other paintings for about 3 or 4 years. I wanted to do some more small pieces and decided it was time to re-use that panel.
I figured a quick nocturne would be fun. You know how painting goes...nothing is definite, or Plans Shmams. I was 3/4 of the way through with the painting last night and I painted that stroke. You know that stroke? That's the stroke that you do that suddenly makes whatever you are working on look totally different if you just follow up on it. Like you're painting a mountain and suddenly you paint that stroke and it now looks like a small hill and it would look much better as a small hill so it becomes a small hill...thanks to that stroke. Then people walk up to you and say how beautiful that hill looks and it's perfect in that painting and you're a genius.
I think it's divine intervention from painters long past.
a detail of the painting.....

Anyway, the painting turned into a twilight scene because it looked better as a twilight scene. I finished it up as a twilight scene and happy that I did. Past daylight and not quite night....Twilight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Summerland..down by the beach

" Beach Party"
9" X 12" Oil on Linen

I was on a recent trip to Carpenteria to pick up artwork at a show that had ended. I decided that on the way back I would stop and get some pics of the beach at sunset in the very small town of Summerland. To my good fortune there was a group of people ahead of me that ended up making a bonfire. Down at the beaches around Los Angeles you can only make a fire in a pit which is a concrete ring....keeps the ashes out of the sand...sure. It really was very cool to see a fire on the beach without the ring....reminded me of Jaws, the early fire on the beach scene before that girl went off to do some nude swimming and met the shark.
I got some good shots and couldn't wait to try painting a fire....hint, to make the fire bright paint everything around it dark.

This was painted Alla Prima last night into the wee hours.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alla Prima Study

"Hilltop Study"
6" X 8" Oil on panel

This morning I wanted to get some painting in before having to run some errands and other things that needed to get done. I haven't had the chance to set up my French easel outside and do some plein air and wanted to at least try it I set it up in the studio and plunked a small 6X8 panel on it and off I went. I tried this little scene from a photograph I had. Problem 1....not very good light in the studio unless I'm painting on my big easel that has extra lighting on it. Problem 2....where am I going to set my brushes? I usually have 4 or 5 brushes going at a time when painting and there is plenty of room to balance them all on the big studio easel but not on a French easel. I need to make a small brush holder that I can clip on easily.
The only other problem I had was the panel I was painting on had some lousy canvas mounted to it. I made that little panel so maybe it was a piece of scrap canvas I used because the other panels I made work just fine. The finish shows a lot of the canvas texture but at this small size it is obnoxious in the final photo. It works ok IRL but in the photo it sort of sucked.

The study took about an hour to do minus all the searching for a spot to set my brushes on. Now to make that brush holder......

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New Frames Arrived!

Actually, it isn't that big of a moment. My order of new frames arrived. These are to help out for the busy month of November 2009. In that one month I will be participating in the Artist Studio Tour here in the Santa Ynez Valley. That has become a very good event for me. I get to meet many of the people who buy my work and many that don't. Many of the people have lots to say about the art, framing, painting and interesting stories too. We put out food and drink and it is really like a gathering of people all interested in art. Very fun, very laid back and the sale or two sure doesn't hurt. The event is put on by the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos.

November will also bring the Faulkner Winery Fall Art Invitational which I will be participating in. It is a 2 day plein air painting event and the winery will be having wine tasting galore....more to come on both of those events.
I will also be the Featured Artist for my local Guild, The Artist Guild of the Santa Ynez Valley. We show our work at Gallery Los Olivos in Los Olivos California. The gallery has a Guild section and my work will be featured on one of the walls there for the entire month of November. I am not an artist member of Gallery Los Olivos anymore, I am showing my work there in the Guild Featured Artist show for November. the way, Gallery Los Olivos has some really great artists in there and if you are ever in Los Olivos you have to go in there and check out their work. I know most of these artists and they are a great bunch of people.
Gallery Los Olivos
2920 Grand Ave, Los Olivos, California
If you find yourself in the sleepy little town of Los Olivos in November please stop by Gallery Los Olivos to see a nice collection of my work. There will be many small pieces that will be affordable and make great Christmas gifts!
Give the Gift of Original Art this year!!

Santa Ynez...Evening Light

"Evening Across Santa Ynez"
12" X 24" Oil on Canvas
I love the last light hitting the mountains. It always gives off this wonderful reddish glow up here in the Santa Ynez Valley. If you are around earlier and are just a bit away from the mountains they have this fantastic light blue color...drives me crazy. I'm from Pasadena and that's a more desert environment than here...lower elevation of course. as I was growing up down there the San Gabriel mountains had the same wonderful pinkish-red color...shifting to violet as the light grew dimmer. I love the San Gabriels...harder than heck to paint though.
Anyway....this was the view one night from the eastern part of town in Santa Ynez looking towards the south side of the valley. I was after that pink glow and nice shadows.
a detail of the painting.....

Thursday, September 03, 2009

While at the BBQ....

" Calkins Road Vineyard"
12" X 16" Oil on Masonite panel.
Linda and I went to a BBQ at a friends house over on Calkins Road just north of the sleepy town of Los Olivos. Their house is actually a cutting horse ranch and while we waited for the charcoal to fire up I grabbed my camera and strolled the grounds looking for reference material. Not oddly enough or this area there was a vineyard next door to the ranch so I walked over and started snapping away. They had this old wood shed at the end of the rows so I decided to paint an angle with the shed in it since I hardly do structures.
This is the result of that BBQ spare time.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Moon Over Kansas

" Moonrise Over Kansas"
12" x 24" Oil on Canvas
OK...I can't sit and paint vineyards non stop. I've been wanting to paint this scene of a field of Brome hay on the farm next to where my Army reunion was at. The farm is owned by a lady who is an Artist. She's built a small studio on the property with plans to open her own studio there down the line. The studio looks like an old cabin nestled under some huge trees...very cool looking but at this moment very hard to find because she does'nt really have a road leading to it, more like a dirt trail and it's overgrown now from the hay. The next time I go out there I hope to meet her.
This scene is looking away from the cabin towards another farm next to hers. The sun was setting and the moon was on the rise. The moon looked so small compared to the massive sky it was floating in. This is type of painting is totally one of just enjoying the moment, the moonrise, the light...a very tranquil moment. One thing about really slows a person down and gets you in tune with things you only glance at record speed here in CA. In Kansas there was plenty of time to sit and watch a sunset with all of it's changing colors, the clouds floating by and really enjoy the show. I suppose that's what we do on vacation. I did that every night for 5 days and haven't' had the time to do it once since I've been back home. I suppose that was the enticement to paint this one, to see that sky again.