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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

They are stacking up!

Since I'm spending time with my koi, the weekly plein air paintings are stacking up, waiting to be finished.  Since I have been pushing myself by doing larger work, I don't complete them on site!

So I decided to post these untitled, unfinished pieces anyway.  Maybe I can embarrass myself into making time to finish them!!!  Ha-ha!

Three weeks ago we were at Fort Churchill near Lake Lahontan (east of Carson City, NV).  It was an interesting place.

Two weeks ago we were at Evans Canyon nature trail, near Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.  I was surprised to learn these large "crawling trees" were very old willows - the same willows that look like bushes along creeks.

The other day we were at Virginia City.  This is looking up the hill at the back of the row of old buildings on Main Street.  Although there were cars and trucks parked along the lower road there, I decided to eliminate them

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Koi painting project - work in progress notes

Hi friends,
third stage

I have a project I am working on.  It is fairly large, so it is occupying my easel for a number of weeks.  I work on it a little at a time.  I just put on New Age spa-like music and go into a zen kinda mood and I work on this.  This piece is my escape from the world and meditate kind of thing.  No pressures, no show I am planning for it....just pure zen painting....

I started with a whole bunch of photos I took.  I drew fish shapes from these photos in the scale I needed, and cut them out of scratch paper.  I also cut out lily pad shapes, and water reeds too.  I moved them around my pastel paper (it is an orange colored gritty paper) until I got an arrangement I liked.
first stage

Then I traced their shapes with a pastel pencil.  Then I began with hard pastels, doing light layers in the background and using different dark colors layered over each other.
second stage

Then, when I got the background values about right, I had to decided what colors the fish would be.  So I started putting a light layer of the fish colors in.

So this is the stage I am at.  I'll show you how it progresses in about a week.
third stage

Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring is beginning!

"Lilac Breezes" 11 x 14 pastel

We had a paint-out the day after a storm and I think I was the only one that showed up (that I saw anyway).  It was a quiet morning with no wind (we can have horrible wind here sometimes when storms are blowing in).  But, it was very cold in the shade!

I began my painting of lilacs with watercolor on a white PastelBord.

I had to put the painting in my car (which was in the sun) to dry before I could apply the pastel.  I got in as well to warm up and have a snack!

Then I went back out and began to apply pastel.  I picked some blossoms and leaves so I could match colors and see the structure better.  I did not want to do too much detail, but I didn't want them to look like cones of cotton candy either!

So I began to block in the pastel with the lightest lights and the darkest darks and joining areas of colors in abstract shapes.  It was a lot of fun.  The tips of the blooms have reddish buds which add interesting textures.

This location is the arboretum at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno, NV.  There were other flowering trees and it was tempting to paint them too.  But, the fragrance of the lilac is very enticing to park next to!  Even so, my hands got quite cold so I brought my blooms home for reference and did the finishing touches in the studio.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I found a new painting location

"Keyhole Rock Pile" 12x16 oil

I found a new place to paint near home.  It is called Sun Valley Regional Park and it is above Sparks, NV.  Way up on a hill with great views and many interesting rock formations with easy access.  The other day my painting group and I met up there and had fun.

My foot surgery went well, but I still cannot stand at my easel a long time.  It just takes time to heal.  I also have started painting on larger panels, which takes more time and more paint.  This is a 12x16 panel.  It is a good size.  I like it.  I don't feel so cramped trying to paint little things in a small space.  So, this painting was started en plein air and finished in the studio.

Here is my painting how I started it on location:

Monday, February 2, 2015

A mini painting is done!

I did the final touches on a little 6x6 I painted last summer:
"Wild Asters" 6x6 oil
This painting is now up on my website.  Yay!  I painted this on the Pacific Crest Trail at Donner Summit, California last summer.  Several painters joined me that day through the Reno Tahoe Plein Air Painters Group.

And now....back to work I go!

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...