Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sort of Plein Air, well.....

I had to go with Linda to Santa Maria today. She's been doing a lot of driving lately so I decided to drive her up there and take my plein air gear with me. It has been windy lately and I didn't have much time to get loaded up so I just grabbed a small painting box I had. I would paint inside the truck to avoid the wind. I used to take this box with me when I used to sit (work at for the day) the galleries. It's small, light and only lets you hold the basics. That's important because you can take way too much gear with you at times. For a quick, easy, no fuss painting I take this box and prop my canvas on the lid. One of these days I'll fix it so it holds a 9"x12" in there securely.

My plan was to paint while Linda was inside of the place she needed to go to up there. We figured she would need an hour or more so that gave me time to do a simple painting. Turns out where I parked the truck there was nothing of interest to me....the side of a house across the street, the back of a hamburger stand, an intersection and part of a parking lot. I like urban art scenes but I don't paint them very well and didn't feel like it was lesson time given the short time available to paint. Instead I used my memory and plunked this one down in a little over an hour. This was where I had to stop since I had to give her back her seat. The wind had her hair looking like it was possessed.
Linda came out before I could add detail to the trail and flowers, some shading on the mid ground so I did that once I got home. I painted this sitting in the passenger seat and using only imagination for reference. I'm still working on painting better grasses and this was a good one to work on that....also gave me more practice with the oak tree. A fun little painting, not really a plein air painting, but something constructive to pass the time while waiting for Linda. Here is the final painting.....

9" X 12" Oil on panel

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kalyra Vineyard

Kalyra Vines
12" X 16" Oil on panel
This vineyard runs along the south side of the Santa Ynez valley. Below the vineyard run the Santa Ynez mountain range seen here in the distance. I tried to paint this one Alla Prima but everytime I plan on doing an alla prima that never happens...things pop up that need taking care of my opinion, you need to sneak up on alla prima work, hahaha.

Anyway, this one is more practice for the show down in Temecula next week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Santa Ynez Ridge Scene

Late Poppies on the Ridge
12"x16" Oil on panel
Thought I'd try some more rock fun. I still think mine never turn out as good as most other painters' rocks. I have seen some rocks that I just drool over. I really think it is a mental thing when there is something you paint and you can never seem to see it as being ok. I tried to keep my edges soft so the rocks don't appear to look like Colorform rocks, in other words, having that pasted on look. When the edges of rocks are too sharp they look as if they were cut out of a magazine and glued onto your canvas. Another thing I tried to do with these rocks was not to mess with them too much. I've done rocks in the past where I tweaked them nonstop for 2 days because they didn't appear right to me. I put down my shadowed areas of the rocks and then just added the highlights and blended lightly for a very short time. I think my downfall in the past with rocks was just repainting them over and over...never being satisfied with the rock appearance.
Well, enough about my rocks because I could whine and whine all day about them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nocturne, The Wee Hours

"The Wee Hours"
9"X12" Oil on panel
I painted this one about 3 weeks ago but couldn't get a good photograph of it at the time to post. I finally gave it another try and this will have to do. It's pretty close to the paintings actual colors.
This was just an attempt to try out Thalo Green to give that nice greenish look to the night sky. They had a very cool Nocturne show at the Wildling Museum in Los Olivos last November and there were a few paintings with this greenish touch. I loved the look of that and wanted to try it out. There was a painting by DeWitt Parshall titled "Night Near The Village" that beautifully used this greenish color in the background night sky. I tried hunting on Google for a picture of the painting to post here but couldn't find one. If you ever see it you'll love it.

Parshall went much darker with his foliage which appears almost black in the painting. I'll try one like that down the line too.
At this show was a painting by Charles Rollo Peters, "Mission Santa Ynez". It was first exhibited by Peters in New York in 1899. I live about 5 minutes from Mission Santa Ynez so it is really cool to have seen that painting and think about it everytime I go to the mission to take reference photos.

The Deep of Night

"The Deep of Night"
9" X 12" Oil on panel

Had to stop painting for a few weeks due to needing to do chores around the house. Life creeps in from time to time and you just have to stop painting and get things done. I was also putting together a book for my Army Reunion and another book that I'm waiting on before I speak about that one. The Army Reunion book came out great. The guys are gonna love it.
To get back into the swing of things I decided to do another nocturne....good thing too because because I was rusty. I've been painting lately with Lukas 1862 paints. Their Cad Yellow Light is the closest Cad Yellow Light to match Windsor Newton Cad Yellow Pale. The bonus is it's about 1/3 the price of WN CYP. Actually, the Lukas paints are pretty good and I'm still trying their mixes out....pretty darned good so far. I also entered a Lukas Paints painting contest and won a gift certificate to Jerry's Artarama Artist Supplies....very cool deal!
I decided to go very dark on this one since I really like dark nocturnes. The painting is lightened here to show the's actually darker IRL. I added the trail at the last minute to spice it up a bit. Fun little 9x12.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Brush Holder Homemade

I was trying out my French Easel the other day and realized there was no where to hold my wet brushes...not good since I usually have 3 or 4 brushes going at a time since I hate to stop to clean them while working. So, I found a scrap piece of wood in the garage and made a holder to mount on the side of the easel when set up and painting. When I'm all finished and the brushes are clean I can take it off and it will store in the lower drawers of the easel.

To mount the piece of wood I sketched this out. I couldn't remember the name of these types of screws so I took this to the hardware store to show the guy there. They are called Hanger Bolts and were in the Furniture Hardware section at Ace Hardware. You just drill your pilot hole slightly smaller in diameter than your screw threads. All you do then is use a pair of pliers to screw them into the hole gripping at the section with no threads on them.

This is what it looks like once your screw is mounted to the scrap wood on each end which simply slide into the holes you drilled into the side of your easel.

Here you can see the brush holder mounted to the side of the easel and held in place with the wingnuts.

This holder has to be removable because when the lid of your easel is closed all of the wooden lid pieces and legs fold where the holder would be. You can see the mounting hole drilled into the side of the easel here.

Before closing your lid you unscrew the wing nuts and store the holder in one of the lower drawers of your French Easel.

You can use any thickness or width of wood for the holder you want. Just measure down the side of your easel to check your length and make sure your holder will fit in the space with the drawer closed. Get some of your brushes to make sure you drill random holes of various diameter to fit the brushes. It's a fun project that will make painting a lot easier in the field. This is not like reinventing the wheel because there are some pretty fancy brush holders out there but at .30 cents per part,and there were 4 and a scrap piece of wood, the price can't be beat!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Seascape Rework

The nice thing about painting is if you really work at it you will improve your painting ability every year. The even better thing about that is you can always go back over your earlier work and improve them with your new and improved painting abilities. I don't do that with all of my work but certain pieces are worth the improvements. I think my grasses are 100% better now and this beach scene had grasses in the foreground that made me cringe each time I looked at them. I decided it was time to go back in and fix that. I also added some additional time to the foreground sand, adding shadowed areas and tiny dots of paint to portray the bits of wood, charcoal etc that you see on the beach. I like the improvements made to this painting and find myself "cringeless" now when looking at it.
Here is the original painting. note the short, stubby and lifeless grasses in the foreground. Also see the lack of interest in the sand there too.

Here is the same painting with the improved grasses and shadowed sand areas. I think this really adds more interest and a better feel of a beach scene.

...a detail of the grasses....

Thursday, October 08, 2009

6"x8" Fun

I'm still gearing up for a show in November by getting paintings ready that I will show in a Featured Artist show at Gallery Los Olivos. This is in the town of Los Olivos, CA under the Artist Guild of the Santa Ynez Valley. Our Guild has been doing these Featured Artist shows for about a year now.
I want to show some smaller 6"x8" paintings in hopes of boosting sales...which have been beyond horrible around here. Art purchases are one of the first things to go in a bad economy and believe me it has gone! Because of this I have scaled back some shows that were very slow in the past and been concentrating on producing better work. I figure it is better to use the time to prepare for better days by becoming a better artist. I'm still working on that.
Anyway, here are a couple that I photographed the other day. Both 6"x8" on canvas covered panel in oil.

"Canyon Haze"

"Moonlit Trail"