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Friday, January 30, 2015

Getting back to work after foot surgery

I have a batch of recent plein air paintings that I need to tweak a little and sign.  I've been waiting for my foot swelling to go down so I can stand at the easel a little bit.  Here is a sneak peak at almost finished paintings I'll be putting up on my website soon.....

"Desert Dunes"
This painting was done before the holidays.  I remember it was very, very cold and there was a breeze that could be strong at times.  The other painters found dunes to stand behind the wind.  I stayed right at the back of my truck in the parking lot because the view was actually a nice composition.  With the tailgate down I had a convenient place to spread out my tubes of paint and have a thermos of hot drink for everyone to come by for a warm-up.
"Evergreens and Aspens"
This paint-out was obviously in the fall.  Our group was supposed to paint at a little-known lake at the top of Mt. Rose, but roadwork in that area prevented it.  One of our painters suggested this spot down the road on the Lake Tahoe side where the aspens were colored.  We had quite a big group that day, even three painters from Nevada City, CA!

"Fall at Spooner Lake"
There were only two other painters joining me this day at Spooner Lake.  It was a beautiful fall day and the sun was still low enough creating shadows.

"Ice Patterns"
This was painted after New Years when we were in a real cold snap.  We were at Little Washoe Lake and it was entirely frozen over.  But there were streaks in the ice that created interesting patterns.  One of our painters that day was new - just moved from Maui!  What a switch for her!

"Old Sycamore Trees"
We recently visited Southern California (Newport Beach) and I went out to paint in the Nix Nature Area/Sycamore Canyon of the Laguna Canyon area.  When visiting this area I always think of how so many famous artists have painted here, and even painted these very trees.  The California Impressionists lived in Laguna Beach and painted this entire area.  California had a lot of rain recently and even flooding.  So the grass this January was much taller and lush for this time of year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Painting With Friends

I was surprised to notice that I hadn't painted for an entire month during the holidays.  Time can really slip by.  Some of my friends had longer artistic dry spells - six months or so.  So it was especially sweet that we all got together to paint yesterday - on a glorious and warmer-than-usual winter day in the high desert of Washoe Valley, Nevada.

Painting with friends gives you the support you need to make those first tentative strokes from "rusty-fingers".  We gave encouragement to each other as we mentally struggled with being unsure of what we were doing.  After an hour we felt more "at home" with our medium and relaxed and enjoyed the fact that we were back in the game.

The fact that it was a gorgeous day certainly helped - even if we bombed we could still enjoy just being out there with friends.

Painting with friends can get you back on a roll and get you revved up to look forward to the next painting at home or the next scheduled paint-out.  Painting outside presents challenges that we don't have in a studio painting from a photograph.  If you are with friends you can talk about these mysteries and stumbling blocks and get ideas from your friends.

My challenge to myself this day was to paint the patterns in the ice on the small lake.  Soon this ice will be melted and I won't see this scene again to paint - so it was fun to try and experiment.

And I admit I probably wouldn't have gone out to paint this day if it weren't for my friends...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sometimes people really like the underpainting!


I painted this on location near my home.  It is an old ranch land that is across the street from the library.  Some neighborhood people like to walk there dogs here.

So we were painting (our group) and dog walkers came by and some people really loved the watercolor underpainting I did here!

Sometimes I feel bad that I am going to cover it up with pastel!  But that is my plan!

Here is the finished painting:
"Whites Creek Lane" 9x12 pastel



Monday, December 15, 2014

Pastel painting en plein air - and finishing at home

pastel over watercolor underpainting

I was on a trip last month to Phoenix.  I hiked along a horse trail with my painting gear in a backpack.  The trail dipped down and crossed a dry creek bed.  Knowing that a horse rental stable used the trail, I stepped into the dry wash and set up to paint this view.

This was the first time I used my small oil painting tripod and pochade box for a pastel painting.  The kitty wallis board fit down into the tray holder, but blocked my use of pastel down at the lower edge.  So, if you look closely, you can see the watercolor underpainting of rocks down there.

When I got home I really wanted to finish this.  Finishing to me means more layers of pastel and adjusting values and colors and edges.  So here is my final version:

"Desert Horse Trail"  9x12 pastel

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Second time around

8x10 oil "Tracks in the Snow"

This painting was started last winter at Spooner Lake.  It just wasn't right.  So I came home and painted out a big bush in the front with grays.  Then, I did not get around to finishing it.

Last week I went up to Mount Rose Summit - to the Tahoe Meadows area.  It was a grey sky day, but lots of new snow.  The best part was no wind.  Although it was cold, I had brought out my old ski clothes from storage and the snow shoes.  I snow shoed up the hill where the families were sledding.  In an area of willows, the scene was similar to my old painting (which I brought along just in case).  So I set up and started painting over my old painting.

I had forgotten how cold weather stiffens up oil paints.  But I just thinned it down with turp.  I really enjoy painting snow.  There are so many colors in snow and it is fun to try different combinations of warms and cools.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Cave Rock Beach" a new painting

This painting was from an onsite paint-out at Cave Rock State Park at Lake Tahoe.
9 x 12 pastel painting
Although Cave Rock itself is quite impressive, I liked the morning light coming over the ridge and hitting parts of the beach and the aspen in gold.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bringing a plein air painting to completion in the studio

"Luther Pass Ranch" 9x12 pastel - the finished painting

I have been painting plein air for about 3 years now - almost every Monday - year round.  About 10% of these plein air paintings I feel are completed right on location.  That leaves about 80% I need to do a little tweeking at home...or maybe an hour's worth of work...or maybe just a do-over.

Here is a painting done in November and just finished the other day in the studio (above).  It is done in pastel on white Kitty Wallis sanded paper mounted on museum board.  This pastel paper is no longer available.  I really liked it, so I went in my stash of older "disaster" paintings and took them out in the backyard and rinsed them off with a hose.  There was a ghost of the painting left.  Especially a ghost of the watercolor underpainting I did.  Even a soft brush could not get it all out.  No matter.

I then layered these wet papers with paper towels and towels under and over the top and weighted them down to dry with heavy books.  Once dry, I put them in my plein air kit to take out in the field.

Here is the plein air painting:
plein air painting
With this painting I also did a watercolor underpainting.  Fortunately the ghost painting was not too strong to confuse me.  It was a blustery day and getting windier so I just did a light sketch of the lower half.  The paper is really showing through.

So in the studio I wanted to do more refinement of the dark evergreens and soften the background with greys and violets.  I wanted the foreground to still be loose, but more pastel coverage.

Now, I have a stack of about 12 more paintings to finish....onward!