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Saturday, May 23, 2015

While in Palm Desert, California....

"Palm Desert Morning"  12 x 16 oil
Back in February we went to Palm Desert for a week.  I was recovering from foot surgery and still could not stand very long at the easel....nor could I hike my favorite place - Indian Canyons.

Fortunately, we had a vacation rental that had a shady balcony (it was sunny and 80 degrees!)  I set up my plein air easel there and did the view twice - once during the morning, and once in the afternoon sunset time.  I was able to sit down frequently and I did not have to lug my supplies around.  It was the perfect solution to my current condition.

The day I actually painted my "sunset" painting, there weren't very many clouds.  So I drew from my memory of the night before's clouds and did my own artistic license here....

"Palm Desert Sunset" 12 x 16 oil

Friday, May 15, 2015


"Convergence" pastel 18.5 x 23

I worked on this all day and brought it to finish.  Yay!

This painting was a journey for me.  It was totally made-up.  I looked at about 25 photos and just used some ideas from them.  So, as I went along I had to figure out shadows.  Then, I had to make up the ripples and reflection.  I tried them and re-did them, then tried them again.  I eliminated some after putting them in.  I tried blending tools and techniques to tone down things that came out too much.

I learned a lot!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Koi painting update

Today I got to paint in the studio.  I am working on my koi painting.  It has been weeks.  That is the good thing about pastels.  You can leave it out and start again at a later time.

I am toning down the fish and giving them shadow and shape.  I am also defining the rocky pond floor.

This is a large painting.  Everything happens step by step.  After defining the rock bottom I will go back in and soften most of it.  After I tone down the fish, I will go back in and highlight certain fish or a certain part of a fish that needs it.

I am really getting itchy to finish this painting and frame it and put it over our fireplace.  I'm tired of what is there now!!!!  Plus, I have a lot of plein airs waiting for me to finish!

Onward, ho!

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: