Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Santa Ynez Scene

"Evening Colors"
8"x10" Oil on Panel

The Colors of Evening Light

I have driven around this valley so many times in the last 8 or 9 years that the colors in the evening are made permanent to my memory. It always amazes me how rich evening colors become and for only a short while before it is too dark. Artists refer to this period as the "Golden Time". In this painting I wanted to try painting that time but just as it is about to end and go is really the last bit of light the sun gives the day. Once that sunlight is beyong the horizon all that is left for we brief moment is a subtle glow and then all colors become muted and dull. This, of course, happens everywhere each evening and one only has to go outside and wait for it to happen. When I worked in the Los Angeles area I would see it happen usually sitting in LA traffic. It was a brief moment to forget the congestion and racing the clock to just get home. It is one of those gifts nature gives us that gets forgotten or overlooked by most too busy with their daily grind.
A detail of the painting....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Rework

After the first of the year I went through my storage area in hopes of clearing up some of the clutter of old work. Some of these paintings were sketches trying things out, paintings I wasn't happy with and paintings that I felt were lacking something and in time I'd see it.
This painting was one I felt could use more work down the line. The one thing I wasn't happy with was the mountains. I really wasn't crazy about the highlights on the mountains so I se it aside. The painting had a light coat of varnish on it so I sanded some of the texture off and wiped it down with some gum turpentine. This left the paint flat and ready for reworking.
The mountains actually looked like that but in a few days I didn't lkike those highlights. They would go for a lighter coat of blue/grey and some suggested detail. I also deicded to reqork the foliage, oak scrub, and the hillside grasses adding more color into the painting. The original painting had a more subdued look to it which was ok but I wanted to boost the colors more in the foreground. I'm happier with it now. Funny thing, I didn't use a reference photo for the rework. I just painted over the original making my own changes. After readjusting the mountain ridge line I stepped back to take a good look and realised they now look exactly as the San Gabriel mountains look from almost right below my parents house....ridgeline and all. Must be some subconsious thinking going on here, haha.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Eaton Canyon Sycamore Painting in Frame

"Eaton Canyon Fall"
20" X 24" Oil on Canvas

Eaton Canyon Painting Preview

Framing a painting before it is ready because you just can't wait to see it all framed up.

This painting isn't completely dry nor is it varnished yet. Everytime I walk into the studio though there it sits leaning against my bookcase drying away and waiting to be varnished and framed. It is one of those paintings that for some strange reason grows on you...well ok, on me. Of all of my sycamore paintings so far this painting I feel has the best work on the trunk. Each time I look at it I like it more and more.. It's becoming an old friend. I just had to see what it would look like once it's framed so I took one of the same size down from my living room and popped this one in it. Ahhhhh! If I was buying my art this is the one I'd buy, hahaha. Of course, artists see paintings differently...the small achievements, the failure....they know the work put into it and the goal to begin with. Only the artist knows how close they have come to their goal with each piece. We just see our paintings in very different ways than the public does. This one is my favorite for now. All of those moons and stars lined up just right and bam, it was done. Looks really cool in the frame and it going to look killer once it is varnished.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Refugio Beach

"Refugio Beach Afternoon"
16" X 20" Oil on canvas

Refugio Beach Painting

I haven't been to the beach in a while but had reference photos that I had taken in the past and decided to go through them looking for a beach scene. I needed a 16"x20" painting for a show later this year in Santa Barbara so I want to show paintings of that area. A nice beach scene would do. I had gone to Refugio Beach which is right off of Hwy 101 down the coast. Refugio is a beautiful little beach that also has a campground nearby, a small store and trails up on the bluffs nearby. I started this one yesterday morning and last night it as pretty much finished...alla prima. I did some small touches to it today and figure this guy is done. I liked the large foreground shadow in this scene. I'm really enjoying shadows lately and thought painting a big shadow on white sand would be lots of was. At first I painted in this violet mix leaning towards the blue balancing it with white. It is kind of tricky since it appears like a flat blue violet when you put it on the canvas. Only when I added the details of the highlighted sand color and the dark seaweed did it look right. It's really a trip not knowing if the color value is right until these other elements are in. Fun painting.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Into The Coast Guard Collection

 USCGC Stratton in San Pedro Dec 16, 2011

Coast Guard COGAP 2013 Collection 

4 Paintings of Mine Have Been Juried Into the 2013 Coast Guard Art Collection

I was happy to receive an email from the COGAP program coordinator, MaryAnn Bader, letting me know that 4 of my paintings were juried into the Salmagundi Club in New York. These paintings were painted after my depoyment with the Coast Guard National Security cutter Stratton. I boarded the ship in San Pedro CA and sailed with the crew to it's new home port of Alameda, CA in San Francisco bay. My mission was to collect reference photos of the ship and crew and then create paintings of this new ship to the Coast Guard for it's art collection.
These new National Security Legnd Class cutters are the replacement for the aging and smaller Hamilton Class cutters currently serving the Coast Guard. The Stratton is the third cutter to come online for the CG and I was very fortunate as an artist to be allowed on board for the trip to San Francisco. My thanks to the Captain and crew of the USCGC Stratton for my time aboard.
My paintings will now be shipped to Maryland where they will be framed and prepared to be included in the upcoming show of the new 2013 collection at the Salmagundi Club in New York. Yahooooo!
Here are the 4 pieces that were juried in to the 2013 COGAP collection.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Santa Ynez River and the Large Pochade

The members of PACC met yesterday to have our monthly paint out down at the Santa Ynez river just south of the town of Solvang. It is a great spot to paint but was much better about 2 months ago when all of the trees were in full Fall colors still. I was out of 9"x12" panels so I decided to break in my pochade box that I built to handle 12"x16" panels. Had to run down to the garage early in the morning to make an adjustment for the mounting plate of my tripod but that went smoothly. I also drilled to holes in the sides to mount my brush caddie too....can't do without that. Some gusty winds helped to evaluate the pochade box in a real life situation but that puppy hing in there and worked just fine.

I need a wet panel carrier for 12"x16" panels though so I'll make one and probably bungy it to the pochade box when hiking in or out. If you look at the small pic of my other pochade box, the 9"x12" you can see the size difference by looking at the brush caddie. On the 9x12 box it is almost flush with the top of the is about 3" shorter on the bigger pochade box. The only drawback to this larger pochade box is that it won't fit into my backpack so it gets carried by hand. Maybe I'll make some sort of handle for it. It's not that big of a deal since I only paint on larger sizes like this once in a while. Overall though it worked great. If you are interested in building a pochade box check out the link to the right for Jim Serretts blog....he's the man with the plan.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

...And Yet Another Floater Frame

I had more fun building this floater frame a few months ago to replace a painting we had over the fireplace. The older painting was a gallery wrapped painting and I had just finished this new piece on standard stretched canvas which is 5/8" thick stretcher bars I think. I picked up a piece of oak at out local lumber yard that was slightly over 6" wide. I wanted to make this floater frame with 3" deep sides so this would work.
I cut all of the side pieces on my table saw and began piecing it all together. I won't post any dimensions because these frames I make are always different dimensions depending on the size of the painting.
 After all of the sides and back pieces were cut I glued and shots brads into the corners to keep it all together. What you see here are the side pieces and two strips placed inside to attach the painting to. Long wood screws go through these wood pieces and into the back of the paintings stretcher bars...that is how it mounts.
To reinforce the frame I add strips of wood along the back making the frame basically an "L" shape.
Here is a closer view of the corner before the back piece is added. You can see the small brads shot into the corners. These are later covered with wood putty so you don't see them.
Here is a view of the back pieces now mounted to the sides. Any gaps in the wood are filled with wood putty and then sanded.
....and here is that same area after sanding, staining and rubbed with wax....looks cool!
After the frame is all glued, nailed together, sanded and stained it is then rubbed with furniture wax to protect the wood and give it a nice luster.
  Once that was all done I mounted the painting. It is centered and then the screws go into the back wood pieces and into the paintings stretcher bars. Since you have to work in the back putting in the screws it is easiest to do all of the mounting standing the frame upright. I use the little corner tensioners that come with stretched canvases to level the painting and then just do all of the drilling from the back
Below are a couple of detail shots of how the painting stretcher bars mount to the center mounting bars. Basically, you predrill holes into the mounting bars. Then you screw through the mounting bars directly into the back of the paintings' stretcher bars. If you look at the photo above you see I used corner wedges stacked up the the height I wanted the painting mounted to the frame. Then all I had to do was move it evenly from side to side and then drill screws into the back to attach the painting to the mounting bars. My stretcher bars are 5/8" thick, the mounting bars are 3/4" thick...both of these fit well into the 3" deep frame.
...a little closer view of the mounting bar and stretcher bar area.....

And then it is all done and ready to hang......
To get an idea of the size of this frame that is a french easel it is leaning against...big frame! Doesn't weight that much because the wood is only about 3/8" thick. To keep the wood from bowing is one of the reasons the back pieces are attached to it...they stiffen the frame. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

More Douglas Preserve Painting

So on my way out of the Douglas Family Preserve, (or, the Wilcox Property), Out of the corner of my eye I see a small flash of color. Turns out to be a lady out walking and she has on this bright red jacket or shirt and it caught my eye. All of my painting gear was in my backpack and my camera was in hand so I snapped a quick pic on the fly. I like when someone is near big trees to show the scale of the tree height. Later I was looking through my pics of the area and came across that photo. I took it into Photoshop and zoomed in on that area with the lady and liked how there was this nice gap in the treeline showing the distant mountains in the background....I live on the otherside of those mountains in the Santa Ynez Valley by the way.
I cropped that area and decided to paint it.....nice distance with the mountains while at the same time giving good contrast with the foreground trees. Couldn't do the height because I wanted to go horizontal not vertical....purely a framing decision. Here is my cropped area........
  I cropped about 5 or 6 different scenes based on this area of the photo but this one worked for me. I really like eucalyptus trunks.....nice creamy whites/pinks/gray and a bit of orange on the bark. Long slender trunks with gentle curves and all of that green foliage and skyholes.....they are just too fun not to paint.
Here is my finished painting below. I didn't want the houses in the dip in the landscape nor the lady walking in there....just a personal thing. I also pushed the background more than what's there to give the painting more depth than what nature was offering me. The visibility was awesome that day making the backgroundtoo intense for a painter so I use artist license to grey it down pushing it into the distance.
"View From The Douglas Preserve"
12X16 Oil on Panel

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Douglas Family Preserve

It's been a while since I've done one of these so I'm going to post this one with work in progress shots. These are always fun to do because I like seeing a painting progress to it's finish. I painted this scene today starting this morning and finishing later this evening. This one is from the Wilcox property, or the Douglas Family Preserve if you want to go by the new name of the area.
 1 ) Above shows the block in...laying in the base colors of each specific area of the scene. When I block in I tend to start with the sky and background, then move forward from there. I spend a little more time with the background trying to actually finish it up before moving forward so the trees back there are pretty much about what they will look like when the painting is finished. Later I will do some small tweaking of the background to tie it in with the foreground more but not much.
2 ) My foreground shadow colors are in and later I will add the highlights there to give that large shady area some dappled light coming through the trees overhead from the left and slightly behind the scene here. The tree darks are put in as thin as I can get them before they lose too much don't want them transparent. I use copal painting medium to thin it and that also helps it to tack up a bit before the mid and highlight colors are painted over it. What I don't want is for that area to dry because I don't like painting on dry paint. I like it tacky so I can blend into it where I want it.
 3 ) Once all of the colors are in I start working the trees. In this painting that was the longest process. On large canvases it is easy to get a little depressed because it is all done by eye...just working the trees till they look right. The larger the painting the slower that all goes and it seems like they will never get done. Eventually they start to happen and the mood changes drastically, haha. I imagine working with glazes can give an artist the same feelings...."when is this going to start working???" I take breaks doing the trees because each time you come back to the painting you see areas that need adjusting. Getting the colors right on the trees will really help add the right light to the scene too so it is a lot of mixing to get the right greens. After the trees were finished the next step was to add the highlights in the foreground shadows and then go back and tweak, tweak, tweak the entire painting to pull it all know, the fun part!
4 ) ......and all finished! In painting these scenes of the DFP I have found my "way" of painting in the foreground shadows. I don't worry too much about painting them in exactly the way they will look at the finish. I mix up a dark violet and paint it was either going to be more blue or more red depending on what I wanted....I like more blue but the actual color was more red because of the dirt was a very reddish dirt. Later I add my highlight colors, sort of a dirty pink, I go over some areas of the shadow with either that color or a mix of light blue which lightens parts of the can see it in the lighter areas of the shadows. This lighter area gives the illusion of shadowed pink dirt. This is done mainly in the foreground area of the shadow and would be areas in shadow that are getting more reflected or diffused sunlight. In reading articles about painting shadows they tend to have you put your strongest darks of the shadows in the foreground area. I imagine that is an art rule and generally it is probably the way to go. Here in this scene the shadows were varied depending on how much light was being blocked out by thick or thin tree foliage. The other reason I painted the shadow this way was to vary the large dark mass of shadows....instead of a large flat dark area I have "holes" of sunlight streaking across the shadows in random shapes and the values of the rest of the shadows are varied. This keeps it interesting for the viewer, elliminates a boring large flat area of the painting and makes it fun for the artist to play with values. Hope you like it.    

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Elverhoj Opening Reception

We had a really good opening reception for the Elverhoj Museum show on Saturday evening. This show was a 6 artist show and we all know each other so it was fun to be in a show together. Some are old friends who I've known since I moved here and it was really nice to hang out with them. We had a good crowd that seemed to be pulsating in attendence leaving time in between it getting really crowded to talk to each other. I think by the end of the reception 4 paintings had sold which was great except none of those were my sales, but hey, like the song says, "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug" and if you can't handle that art is not the career to be in.
I had a great spot for my largest painting of a sycamore tree as you can see in the pic below....
 Maybe I didn't mention it but the Elverhoj is a Danish museum built in a Danish farm house that was owned by 2 artists who did pottery in a studio that is now the gallery area. They heated that room with a large fireplace and had their kilns outside behind the studio. The rest of the house is the museum decorated with things a house like that would have an other Solvang historical artifacts. Lots of charm.
Linda with my friend and artist Carol Wood. Carol is my favorite painter in the valley and the most down to earth person I know around here. I have never been around Carol where we didn't laugh...she's that much fun. Linda of course is always my running buddy. While there we bumped into a couple who live on a super large ranch just outside of town. His father was one of the founding members of Solvang. They let me go up to their place to paint or take reference photos. I was glad to run into them because I need to go back to their place to get some better shots of a canyon with a meadow filled with oaks. They gave me the green light to come up anytime. Yahoo! 
   The museum did a great job of hanging the show and getting the word out. Good crowd, sales, excellent lighting etc. Thankfully, the museum is only 5 minutes from my house so it is the most affordable show I can do in this awful economy. Maybe I'll make a sale before the show is over...ya never know.