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Thursday, February 21, 2013

"The Artist's Niche" pastel painting almost done!

"The Artist's Niche" - almost done!

Almost done!  Time to step away from the easel and glance at it for a few days - think about fine-tuning and tweeking - before touching it....

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pastel Painting In Progress - an interior scene

9 x 12 pastel on La Carte

I'm back to pastels again - and this is a studio piece.  I think this is the first time I've done an interior scene - not quite a still life....

The surface I am working on is terracotta colored Sennelier La Carte.  Although most of that surface will be covered, little flecks of it will show through under the painting and give a warm glow.

I have to tell you about the scene.  I was at a workshop and the instructor set up some of his paintings and books and other items on a window counter of the hosting home.  We would meet in the home for coffee and discuss what we would be doing that day and I was struck by the light coming in the antique window glass and streaking across the objects and creating bounced light on some of the surfaces.  It was beautiful!  I quickly snapped a picture and have been looking at it for months - wanting to paint it.

I decided to eliminate some of the objects - there were too many and I simplified it.  At this time I am doing layer over layer, to strengthen the darks and define the shapes and lights, and spraying with workable fixative in between layers.  I am having a lot of fun working on this.  I'll keep you updated.....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Plein air oil painting of an old barn

plein air oil on panel 9 x 12

Yesterday I painted with my friends at the old Twaddle Historic Ranch near Washoe Valley, Nevada.  I was painting in oil and really worked hard on the barn since I still feel I am "building-challenged"!  I took the time in my pencil sketch to work out the perspective.  I have a friend who used to be an architect and she can whip out oil paintings of buildings with no effort.  She told me that in painting, you really don't want it perfect like an architect's rendering, but you want it to read correctly.

I tried two new additional paints in this painting - Gamblin's Chromatic Black and Portland Grey Medium.  Kevin Macpherson recommends them in his book and so I thought I'd give it a try.  I used the black in the shadows inside the barn and I also mixed Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue with the black to give some varieties to the black inside there.  It worked out good.

I also used an umbrella this time.  I attached it to a separate tripod so that I could pick up the whole thing and move it as the sun moved.  Very nice and out of my way!

Once I got home and viewed the painting, I realized it needed strengthening of the darks and lights in certain areas (not the barn).  I read in Plein Air Magazine that a very successful plein air painter from Colorado says she touches up some of her plein air paintings this way and yet she still calls them plein air.  That made me feel good - a two hour painting is hard to get spot on correct.  And viewing it outside is different than viewing it inside where it will hang!

This was a wonderful location and the snow on the mountains is a nice accent.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Watercolor plein air while on a trip

Crystal Cove Beach 9 x 12 watercolor plein air

We recently went to Newport Beach for a week.  I did the above painting while we sat on the beach one day.  It had a good start, but needed a little definition and deepening of the darks.  So I did that addition when I got home.

I did some hiking on some trails I had never been along the Laguna Canyon Road.  After a long hike at the Nix Nature Area, I sat down on a picnic table and started the painting below.  I got a call from my hubby - he was done playing golf and wanted to be picked up.  So, it was unfinished.  I tried to finish it at home but it just didn't go well.  So, I used it as an experiment to practice "lifting" color, and also using opaque goauche paint for the white barked trees.  It was a good excuse to practice - no worries of destroying a painting I liked!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lots of plein air painting - in different mediums -

6 x 6 oil on linen covered panel

I have been painting outside with other artists in my home area once a week.  I also did some plein air painting on a recent trip to Newport Beach (Southern California).  My goal is to improve my observation skills and speed up the analytical part of painting.  By that, I mean that whether you paint outdoors from life, or indoors from a photograph, you are still faced with decisions of how to come up with a good composition, good variation of lights and darks and the shapes and colors, and so forth.  When painting outdoors, you HAVE to work fast.  The light changes.  In two hours (or less) the shadow patterns before you (shadow shapes of trees, shadows on rocks, etc.) will be or have changed, leading to confusion and constantly correcting your painting based on what the "new" view is....and that is a bad thing to do.  So, you make decisions quicker, you paint faster and with more purpose, and you don't worry about detail.  These are good things.  Another thing you have to make decisions on outside is "what elements in nature need to be eliminated and what needs to be added to make a good picture?"  In this painting, I added more trees because only one tree on the point wasn't enough of a shape, and only one looked like an arrow that pointed your eye right out of the painting.

I just finished reading a book by a very successful oil painter, Kevin MacPherson, and he says that realistically, less than 50% of your plein air paintings turn out to be a  great, finished or framable paintings.  But they do teach you a lot and they make good references for studio work.

The painting above is one I did at Lake Tahoe.  It is the first time I tried a 6 x 6 panel and I was very happy with it.  This painting was done in one hour.  It helps that it is a familiar place I've painted before.  I also enjoyed using my new oil painting set-up I bought while I was in Newport Beach.  It is one of the smallest and lightest set ups available out there.  It comes with a small, light tripod and carry case, a panel and palette holder, a brush holder and a neat view finder.  I was able to put it all and my paints and stuff in my backpack.  This gives me the flexibility to hike farther than the parking lot and have more views to choose from, and NOT get sore muscles and aches from lugging heavy stuff!

Oil set-up from

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Across the Ice" pastel painting

"Across the Ice" 11 x 14 pastel

One thing that is nice about pastel is that you can be interrupted, for an hour, a day, a week or more.  No paints to dry out.  No paints to try to mix to match the colors you already have on the canvas.

I started this painting and was interrupted for a while and then we went on a week vacation.  Back home, I picked up where I left on and finished this today.

The cows were a challenge!  I certainly should draw them more, but they were just a novelty for me this time.  Still, I do love pastoral scenes and would like to do more in the future...