Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Coastie Scene

          The beginning...paint the arms and see how it goes.

            I have to submit paintings that I had finished earlier in the year for the Coast Guard submission cutoff date that is quickly approaching. I had 4 pieces but I felt I should have done one more with mainly crew members in it. So, last week I started the painting below of crew members of the Stratton hanging a giant power cable across the back deck of the ship. This big black cable brings power from shore to the ship while it is tied to the dock. I think there were 3 or 4 of these pulled on board by the crew the day we arrived in port.
           I was going to paint this scene earlier but kept putting it off because I just don't have much experience with figures up close. I gave in and decided to try it. I figured I'd start with the arms first and if that went well I'd paint the heads next. No sense in wasting time painting in the background only to find the figures weren't going to work.
          The arms went well, better than I thought I could do. I drew in a light outline of the arms and then just painted in the rest working from just the values casued by the shadows, curvature of the arm and muscle mass. The hands were the toughest part only because they were smaller, the tiny fingers and really you just have the shadows between the fingers to seperate them to define the hand. I wish I had worked larger to give myself more room to work the hands better. I'll live with what they look like here. So, it was on to the heads next.
          The heads were tougher than the arms. Most of the head features are really just suggested features, the darks around the eyes, the pinkish tones of the cheeks etc. Basically I painted them the same way. I thought they looked workable so that was that....paint in the beackground and then go in a touch everything up to pull it together.
I painted the girl in mostly soft peachy tones but needed brighter highlights and made the mistake of using white...not good, makes the person seem as if they spent their life living in Antarctica....or they are dead! Later I came in and painted over with brighter pinks and flesh looking colors....remember, I'm working with 3 primaries ( UBlue, Aliz Crimson, Cad Yellow Med) and Cad Orange and homemade grey which was a mix of my leftover paint from the last painting. I also use titanium white but that's not a color....a limited palette.
 Finally the crew was finished enough to go after the background work. The white spots on the two crew members are for the life jackets. I painted in a ladder and a couple of white beams after this part but then called it a nite to let it dry up a bit. I'd continue in the morning.
Around noon the next day it was at this point. The girl looks pregnant! Had to make changes there.
The colors are too bright here so I greyed them down at the finish to get rid of that intense look on the blues of the uniforms. Also, had holiday company show up so I had to stop until I could continue on the next day. Pesky company! More company the next day too so I didn't get started until 10 pm and just worked on it till it was done at around 3am. The next day I just did some minor touch ups and called it finished!
This is the finish. I like the greyed down look of the uniforms here better. The CG uniforms are deep blue color and somehow they all look brand new! When I was in the Army are uniforms were OD (olive drab) Green but in various shades. Originally we were issued cotton fatigues and they were washed and starched eventually they looked almost white. Then the Army came out with permanent press fatigues and they kept their color all the time....the ones I still have look as new as they did back then. Varying the shades of blue is good...nothing worse than uniformity...unless you're in the Coast Guard....but we're painting here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Those Who Inspire

Gerald Garden in 1976, photo courtesy of the 1976 Blair High Yearbook
              At my high school, Blair High in Pasadena, 1972-1976, the only art classes they really offered was Sign Art and Cartooning Class. I took them both but I took cartooning all 4 years. My teacher was Gerald Garden. I did very little cartooning and did more illustration work. Mr. Garden would come up to me with an editorial cartoon from Time Magazine or out of the LA Times newspaper and ask if I thought I could do I did and I think it sort of, maybe just slightly, amazed him how fast I could redraw an editorial cartoon without the aid of tracing paper or a projector. I liked drawing the old Sunset magazine covers. I also liked to draw just whatever popped into my head. I had gone to see Jaws one weekend and on monday decided to draw the boat from memory and it wasn't half bad. I had a great time in Mr. Gardens class. Here was a grown-up who took drawing seriously. I had never seen that. I think Mr. Garden made me feel that creating art was something some people actually did for a living...that it was even possible.
              After I came home from 3 years in the Army I worked and took classes at our local community college, PCC. Years later I mentioned Mr. Garden in one of my online Bio's and his daughter stumbled on it from a Google search. That put Mr. Garden and me back in touch and we occasionally emailed each other. Mr. Garden was then retired but working for the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, now called The Autry. He did the cartoons and artwork in their newsletters. I lost his info when my hard drive crashed one year but after moving up to Solvang I found his phone number doing a Google search. I called him and turns out it was his birthday! We both got kick out of the odds of that happening.
Some of my projects at the end of my senior year at Blair 1976
               I enjoyed sending him things about art or cartoons or news I had via email and I was happy we had the chance to keep in touch...the least I could do to thank him for his inspiration and guidance when I needed it. I found out recently that Mr Garden had passed away and felt a great loss and sorrow but at the same time I felt very fortunate to have known him and that we had kept in touch. I would say that the sign of a good man is the impression they leave on you, the thoughts you carry around about them and the inspiration they have imparted on you. My best wishes and thanks to Mr. Garden for his life of teaching and the inspiration and guidance he gave to so many.      

Friday, December 21, 2012

Old Painting Made New

A few years ago I needed a large painting for hanging over our fireplace for the Studio Tour. At the time we didn't have one up there at all and it was about time. I decided to go long, vertically, since it would fit better. I made up 3 feet by 6 feet stretcher bars out of 2x4's cut down to 2"x 2" bars. I stretched canvas over it and began painting a scene of a sycamore tree up off the road to Nojoqui (no-ho-wee) Falls from a reference photo I had taken. I liked the original painting...looked good and fit what I needed it for. More importantly, it was the best I could do at the time. Things change.
I think I've improved a little since then so I took the painting down, wiped off the varnish with a rag soaked in pure gum turpentine (beyond stinky!) and began touch ups I felt would make the painting better. I wanted to throw in some oranges, touch up the tree bark and suggest some fallen orange leaves down in the grasses. Done....I also wanted to add a bit more color to the grassy meadow behind the tree and that was it.
If I painted this one all over again I'd do it much differently now. This was my largest painting at the time and painting larger is different. You need bigger brushes and you need to practise painting with  bigger brushes. I would use even larger brushes if I painted this one over again now. I think that would make you feel as if you were still working smaller but on a larger scale of course if that makes any sense.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wildling Museum Move

The Wildling Museum in Los Olivos has found a new location in Solvang. Not only is the new location about 3 times larger, maybe 4 times but it is also lower in monthly rent. Personally, I think Los Olivos has gone berserk over property costs and now it's mainly a wine shop town. It used to be a town of gift shops, art galleries and some wine tasting rooms, a small home town feel but not any longer. Too bad.
The Wildling has supported the arts and local artists so when word got out  Linda and I volunteered to help....and we have a truck. Today we got there early for the move and helped carry most of their equipment out to the waiting trucks. We had about 15 volunteers show up so it all went much faster.
Good luck with the new location to the Wildling!

Friday, December 14, 2012


I'm not someone who has gobs of paint to squeeze out on various palettes....I live on a budget too just like everyone else. The other day I needed to grab my pochade box and go painting on location at Lake Cachuma. I scraped the paint off my studio palette and put it in the pochade and off I went. After getting back I needed to do touch ups on that PA painting so I just set up my pochade box near my studio easel and finished the painting. After that I started a quick snow scene and continued to use the paint I had left in the pochade box as a make shift palette. Works just fine and I've been doing this off and on for a few years now. No wasted messy transfering paint. I think it would work even better if it was just a larger palette with a small lip but used in the same manner...maybe I'll build one in the future. If I made the lid more air tight and added a sponge soaked in clove oil I wouldn't need to refridgerate the palette at all. The clove oil would keep the paint from skinning over for up to 2 weeks. Hmmm.......

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Busy Day....

         Well, I knew if I tried a snowscene with only rain outside there could be problems. No big deal...all good suggestions made by my friendly artists friends and I'm soaking them up like a sponge on overdrive. No big problems, just little things to dab paint on in hopes of making a better painting and learn the art of painting snow.
         Today I wanted to do my corrections which most have been done so I tried gwetting another photo of it but my camera just keeps picking up the oranges too much...I toned them down some but now it seems to be picking up a reddish tint....instead of having nice white snow and blue/pink shadows in it I'm getting violet shadows....well, violet shadows that are way to strong so I wait till morning daylight to try photographing it a different way.
         While all of that fun was going on I got a call from the Elverhoj (el-ver-hoy) Museum in town. They are having a group show, about 7 to 9 artists I think, this Feb and I was asked if I'd like to be a part of "betcher" buns I would! They want local scenes and I have plenty of those. So a show close to home is real good and I dig the Elverhoj too.....a very classy Danish museum built in a converted farmhouse.

          Another thing on my To-Do list today was send off my artist agreement for the upcoming California Art Club show in January....My painting "Bookstore Flowers" was just juried into that show which will be down at the Altadena Country Club. I was making finishing touches to my painting at Lake Cachuma with PACC while the other members ate lunch and took a quick break to check my email on my phone. I was expecting an email from Linda and there instead was the good news from the CAC. Cool!
          When you get notified by CAC one of your pieces is in the show the next step for me is to frame the painting. CAC likes gold frames and I have one for this painting so in it it will go. I've done a couple in black frames because they looked better in black but most go down there in a gold frame.
          ....and then there's Christmas to be ready, does it ever stop!?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


"First Snow"
12" X 16" Oil on Panel
I've wanted to paint snow for years now but we never get snow where I live. I've also not been anywhere near snow for around 15 years. Before that I was up to knees in snow every winter and saw plenty of it when I served 3 years in Germany in the Army....we lived in it over there. Snow has such a peaceful look to it. I really like the contrasts in color and nice strong shadows you can get in a snow scene so this is my first attempt at snow. The image is out of my imagination and from memory of looking at many a snow picture....and some fond memories of working in it, shoveling it, sleeping in it and falling in it.
A detail image from the painting....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Had our monthly paint out with members of PACC at Lake Cachuma today. Cachuma was Gerry's pick and a good one it was. I've lived up here for 8 years and not once have I painted at Lake Cachuma. Everyone arrived at different times but got to work right away. Some did sketches and some did paintings. I got lucky and spotted a scene looking across the lake and jumped right in...painting, not the lake. I was happy because it pretty much is done but I'll do some touch ups tomorrow morning. I was up really late last night and then got up really early, painted till noon and then spent the next couple of hours taking photos around the lake.
Water, grasses and a tree and that puppy was done!
Hanging out with the group as they had lunch and talking shop was fun. Like a knucklehead I didn't bring my lunch figuring I'd head home right after painting...should have brought lunch and did a second painting since things were going so well. This group of artists is really fun and they are all fine artists. Most of them are much more involved doing paint outs, plein air festivals and workshops a lot more than I. Sometimes I think I'm too happy doing studio work compared to lugging around equipment and paying for hotels at a plein air event. I like plein air painting but I think I far more enjoy studio painting.
The cart!
This little cart was bought by a couple of the artists to lug their equipment around and works pretty well. I think they bought it at Ace was a gardening cart but works great for those of you wanting an easier plein air outing. They use bungee cords to hold their easels on top and one hand it to location....whatever works.
  BJ Stapen at work
BJ Stapen and Camille Deller arrived at noon and painted up off the main road in to where we were all painting. BJ has the coolest Virginia accent but I'm not sure if that is where she is actually from. I have another friend from Virginia and they sound a lot alike....they remind me of southern belles you see in the movies. Camille is one of the first painters I knew in the valley who had some wor in one of the galleries that just blew me away. She's now into knife painting and don't tell her but I one day plan to steal her truck!....better mileage and shiny paint.
Camille working it up....I left the truck out so she won't get wise to my plan.
Beautiful Lake Cachuma in the background....which by the way is the water supply for Santa Barbara. I spotted her Utrecht bag on her cart and she told me of one of their store locations in Santa Monica, so the next time I go down that way.....well, you know, artists and art stores.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Eaton Canyon Sycamore...more

"A Changing Season"
12" X 16" Oil on Panel

I'm still gettng my share of Fall colors from my trip to Eaton Canyon. This sycamore was on a ridge in Coyote Canyon. The grasses were just fantastic there and from my low vantage point seemed to be reaching for the sycamore. I have been working on painting better grasses and this of course would cover all of the bases...grasses, fall colors, sycamore trunks and twiggy growth off of the sycamore and surrounding branches. Can't ask for more than that so I painted this one today starting around noon, 6 hours, but I took my share of breaks getting coffee, helping bring in the groceries, feeding the horses. I also listening to my music including favorite Christmas songs I've downloaded which is fun this time of year.
Some details of the painting......

Monday, December 03, 2012

Meeting the A List

My gallery owner, Jasminka Gabrie, at the recent Galerie Gabrie show in Pasadena 
            Last Thursday I made the rainy drive down to Pasadena to attend the a show at my gallery, Galerie Gabrie. What is normally a 2 hour drive turned into an almost 5 hour drive thanks to rain and Los Angeles traffic during rush hour. I wanted to go to this show because it's good to go to your galleries shows, to see my owner and her husband Jim and I would finally get the chance to meet other artists who are represented by the gallery. 2 artists in particular were there, Charles Muench and Dan Schultz. These 2 artists are very experienced California artists who will undoubtedly be in this years California Art Clubs' Gold Medal show (last years show). Dan has a gallery in Ojai and Charles has been selling phenominal pieces for years and lives in the Sierras. Both of these guys are ones I look up to and who I would consider on the "A" list of artists. I think we all have our "A" lists...the artists we look up to and aspire to one day be equal to. I'm not going to tell you the rest of my "A" list because everyone would have a different list of artists on their list. Mine list is a mile long anyways. 
Deck The Halls With Smalls at Galerie Gabrie 2012 
           I've got to tell you, meeting these type of artists is pretty much a trip. I've been to shows where other "A" list artists were in the same room but I hadn't met them. Charles and Dan were introduced to me by Jim Gabrie and they were both very cool, super nice and casual...nothing like I thought they would be. For some reason I always think artists who paint at much higher levels are always on this ethereal plane of thinking, kind of looking through you as they contemplate light, shadow, value and composition in everything they see while awake....maybe they do and are just so damn good at multitasking and can do it while they make you think they are interested in your conversation! There was no intense arty talk nor did they look down on was just fun talk with laughs and very much like meeting someone at a bbq in the backyard. It was too cool and a fun night at the show. 
          Another artist who is represented by the gallery is Ted Goerschner. Ted wasn't there but he lives about 5 minutes from me and we have been in a couple of shows up here in the Santa Ynez valley. I met Ted a year ago in a Quickdraw event and we had the chance to talk right before the event started. Ted was the same way....down to earth, super nice.....a lot like bumping into your favorite neighbor despite the man's gigantic reputation as an American artist.
Ted Goerschner making it look like childs play...I snapped this pic of Ted painting away in the 2009 Quickdraw in Los Olivos, CA. Ted's work can be seen on the Galerie Gabrie website 
          People up here had warned me about Ted...Ted was a guy who spoke his mind and if you goofed on a painting he'd tell you in no uncertain terms....sort of like one of my painting teachers in college. Ted turned out to be absolutely charming but I couldn't help but feel relieved when we first met that we weren't standing anywhere near my work! My lesson in meeting the "A" list artists is go ahead, be thrilled as hell and  relax, they don't bite.....(and maybe hide your work!)