Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Once Again...

'Passages' 16x16 Oil Plein Air

I Haven't Posted On......

....this blog, my website, FB or Instagram in well over a year.  Nothing.  It has felt good but it may be time to return.  

I needed some time off and some creative privacy, I guess.  I kept painting, studying and even taught a few courses but I was tired of media.  Still am, but decided it was time to share again and see if I could change the terms of engagement.  No, I don't yet know what that means other than not taking it seriously, despite what the online marketers recommend.

In the interim a few changes I hadn't expected crept in.  Being trained mostly by Sergei Bongart's teaching assistants I once used a color palette of up to 18 hues.  Over the years that number shrank slowly until around 2005 it was down to 9 colors, a split primary palette with a couple 'kickers'.   It is interesting and significant that the number kept going down.  I'm now at 3 tubes of color plus white.  I keep a standard primary palette of a red, a yellow and a blue in differing temperatures and saturations.   I will switch out one or more of those hues when I think it's appropriate or when I want a challenge or just to see what happens.  The number still stays at three colors.

Both of these plein air pieces use the same palette except for the blues, one done with Ultramarine Blue and the other Prussian Blue ('Passages', 16x16 PB and 'Morning in the Gardens', 10x20 UB at Battle Point Park).  I'm really rather amazed at the variety of colors that can be achieved and the subsequent color harmony.

A couple of things that sort of happened at the same time in terms of materials also helped re-enthuse me to paint and explore.  I'll talk about those next time.

 'Morning in the Gardens', 10x20, Oil, Plein Air

Thanks for looking.  Come back again.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Lilies of the Evening, 12x12

This is my....
.....second attempt to paint this group.  I had tried it a few evenings before and bombed (see below) so came back a few nights later for another shot at it.  I think that if I counted there would be about half the number of lily pads represented here that were actually there.  As it was I was going cross-eyed trying to sort out an interesting view.

Here is the painting from before...sorry about the glare on it....and the resulting panel which was repurposed for this one.  I've found that some panels/canvases have to painfully learn what it is they are supposed to do.  Sometimes it takes multiple attempts for one to begin cooperating.

Of course that's a bad joke, but it feels like truth sometimes.  I have panels with five wiped off paintings leftovers underneath.

Thanks for looking!

Wm F. Reese and Sonny Apinchipong, Back to Back!!

Two Outstanding Artists Coming To Bainbridge!!
     This is a banner month as the art of William F. Reese will be featured at the Roby-King Gallery here in Winslow.  While Bill died almost a decade ago, his influence on artists is still greatly felt and appreciated.  A powerhouse of an artist, William Reese was fully fluent in sculpture, painting in all media, drawing and printmaking.  For artists to be able to stand in front of one of his paintings is like getting an advanced study lesson in technique, composition and creative inspiration.

In August most of the gallery will be taken over by his work as well as the work of Mary Balcomb, author of definitive books on several artists including William F. Reese and Nicholai Fechin.  Standing in for Bill on opening night, next Friday, August 2nd, 2019 will be Fran Reese, devoted partner/wife of all his years, and for Mary, her daughter Amis Balcomb.

Don't miss seeing Bill's work or meeting Fran and Amis!  This opportunity won't happen again soon...

AND THEN!!, if that is not enough, Sonny Apinchipong will be here at the end of August to teach a three day workshop, do a demo and participate in the Winslow Paint Out.

Sonny was a teaching assistant for Sergei Bongart (as was Bill Reese) and went on to work for Disney and Don Bluth studios doing the backgrounds for some of some of the major hits of the last thirty years.  I remember seeing the original paintings he did for Lion King and feeling so proud that I had learned to paint from him.

While I have studied with many talented people, it was Sonny who taught me how to have the right attitude about what I do.  He has a light-hearted amusement about painting that I try to emulate (and still trying).  He can throw a painting that didn't quite succeed into the forest with such glee.  If you can make his workshop do it.  You will learn a great deal about moving paint around.  Sign up at the Winslow Art Center.

Thanks for looking.  Come to these events!


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Foxglove, 6x12

A very quick....
....sketch out in the back of Nancy's house done on shellacked birch plywood.  Maybe 40 minutes of painting or a little less.  Put it down and leave it alone....fun.

The complexity of the forest is simplified to graphic shapes to help give some drama to the flowers.

Someone snapped a picture.....

Thanks for looking....back soon....

Monday, June 3, 2019

Evening Waterlilies, 12x24

As I was leaving the pond....
.....after painting the last one, I noticed a glow start to form across the water as the sun was moving toward night.  With that in mind I began this one a few days later around five o'clock and hoped that if I worked quickly there would be enough light to finish.  

At 6:30 it was difficult to see the darker passages and judge the color balance so I packed up.  Fortunately I found it pretty much finished when I got home and could see it in good light.  There were only a few spots that had to go darker, but they were easy adjustments.  

Three blues (Ultramarine, Pthalo, Cerulean Hue), two yellows (Cad Yel Pale, Alizarin Yellow) Cad Orange, three reds (Cad Red, Indian Red, and Rose Madder deep) and, although I don't usually use it but did selectively and very limited in this one, raw umber.  Three brushes: a nondescript 3/4" flat, a rigger and a very cheap Simply Simmons 1/2" flat watercolor brush I swiped from my gouache kit.  Most of it was with the last one.  Done on a gessoed hardboard, 12x24.

I'll try to get out again this week to do another.  These flowers don't last long and "If not now, when?".

Thanks for looking.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Reflection, 10x15

Last Wednesday....
....I spent a lovely few hours around this small pond with a couple of painter friends.  They were painting over on the other side and the sound of their voices talking softly came across the water mingling with the quacking of ducks and the splash of Canada Geese.  It was mesmerizing to hear that and be able to look at the push and pull of the lily pads on top of the moving reflection of the trees.

This is an oil painting done on birch panel and needed very little in the way of retouching when I got home.  Just some picking out the fluff of the poplar cotton and seeds as they floated down on me and the paint.  I didn't need to do much redesigning of the scene either.  It's nice when things go easily.

Thanks for looking.

I'll be back.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Afternoon at Eagle Harbor, 2 x 8.5x11

There Have Been Three Practices.....
.....that have greatly influenced my art.  I mean, besides all the great artists I've had the privilege of studying with.

Drawing with Valued Markers, from the morning I accidentally picked a marker up and tried it, has opened my eyes and instructed the hand.  Using just three marker values and white (or sometimes toned) paper has made it so easy for me to quickly create form and study composition.  And cheap!

Yesterday I started out the door with my paints but didn't feel the urge to use them once I got to Eagle Harbor.  Since I have a marker workshop coming up (see below) I thought I needed to hone my skills a bit...and I was too tired to haul out the paint.

That's another thing I like about them.  A sketchbook and very few tools are needed to catch a mood, a place or and effect of light.

Here is another from the same day:

That Marker Workshop is on May 18th, about a week away.  Because I like to share this technique I'd love to see you there.  Find out about it by going to the Winslow Art Center website HERE.

Hope to see you.   (If you can't come, check out my book on it in the tabs above.)

More on those other two practices to improving your art in later posts.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Spring, 10x12 and 11x14

These were painted about a week apart in response to having the Spring colors begin to show, the winter colors quickly fading.

There is such vibrance in the landscape as the greens start to poke through, and even the winter colors seem more intense and vital before that green appears.  My intention is always to spend every day exploring and painting the landscape but the reality of Spring is also that there is a lot that needs doing.  There never is enough time or energy for all of it.

'At the Head of the Harbor' (top) is 10x12 and 'Port Blakely Spring' is 11x14.   This second one was interesting for the challenge in all the doo-dads of the ground litter.  The only way I found to make it work was to eliminate about seventy-five percent of the stuff, just hinting at what was on the forest floor.  Hopefully the viewer fills in the 'stuff' from their own experience in a forest.

Maybe I'll go back again and explore the changes and colors...tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy.  That would be interesting.

I'll be back.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What I Don't Understand Is This.....

After the Party, 20x24 plein air
 So There are a Lot of Things....
......I don't understand, but today's 'stumper' is one I've heard other artists mention.  It's this:  How are there days when absolutely nothing works (and it may go on for a week or more) and other days when the whole painting process is easy and satisfying with half the work?

Last Thursday was one of those days.  In the morning I painted the portrait below.  In the afternoon, after a great 'Nancy lunch' (picture the French countryside with a table set outdoors, wine, fresh home made soup, music and more, plus great art friends laughing and clowning around).  We all began clearing the table but I shouted 'Stop!', ran to the car for a larger panel and painted.  Others drew.

After about 90 minutes I had to leave but had gotten most of this finished.  It was easy.  There was no painting angst.  Like the portrait of the morning, my hand just took over and did it.  It felt like I was just an involved spectator.

So how does that happen?  And why can't I do that every day?  Is it some sort of mind set or did the leaves in my tea suddenly align?  I'm thinking that, when it happens, I've been able to get out of my own way, not tripping over my own artistic feet.  I just want to know the mental trickery to have it happen more often.

If you are an artist or musician, do you also have those kinds of days?

This is my friend Alec the Model Maker.  He works with architects, creating scale models of their buildings so clients can get a better feel for the structures.  He is an artist in his own right.  We are going to do a larger painting inside his shop while he works on his models.

Thanks for Looking.

I'll be back.... and don't forget!  Marker Drawing workshop on May 18th!  Go to the Winslow Art Center to sign up.

Friday, April 19, 2019

CB's Nuts and Using a 'Ruler'

Marker Workshop coming up.  Check it out below.

When Doing a Complicated Drawing.....
......I will often find a 'Ruler' to help simplify the process.

 My 'Ruler' is something I find in the scene that I can use as an anchor and guide to make things much easier to draw accurately.  This one was done at a peanut roaster in the area, CB's Nuts.

I first decide what the most difficult thing will be to draw, in this case the bicycle.  The first line, however, was the track the garage door runs in.  The placement of this line is done by visualizing on the page what the resulting drawing will look like and then putting it down with some care.  If you look closely at the bicycle you'll see where the line goes through the hand grip and handle bars and lower down through the frame.  Likely, without my pointing it out you didn't see it because subsequent lines and value tones make those 'errors' unnoticeable.

Then came the outside railing and the bicycle.  From that point it was much easier to line up all the other objects by seeing how they compared to the bicycle.  Where exactly was that table top?  Even with the bell on the handle bars.  Where is that scale?  Directly above the axle of the front wheel.

In "Eric's RV Service" I couldn't readily find a 'ruler'.

Instead, I made the shapes a kind of stand in for a 'ruler'.  I began with the hill in the background and the square front of the old RV sitting in the upper right corner of the drawing.  Then, the fence was used  to get over to the dark bush and house.  Once sketched in that whole section became the way to 'hang' the stuff closer to me.  It made it all easier.

I will be having a one day Marker Workshop at the Winslow Art Center on May 18th, 2019.  We have a lot of fun and learn a ton.  Your drawing confidence will greatly improve once you realize that you can create convincing forms quickly and easily even if the drawing is wonky.  I could easily point out some wonkiness in these two pieces but I find that those things disappear within the cumulative effect.

Anyway, give it a try.  You'll enjoy the process using a minimum of materials.  Click HERE to check it out.

I'll be back.  Thanks for looking.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

On Not Being Able to Draw

'Checkstand #4'

Every So Often I Get in a Total Artistic Funk.....
.....convincing myself that I've forgotten everything I might have known about painting or drawing.  It starts as a small voice but after a week or so of not doing any art it's pretty much a full out of tune chorus.

On one of those 'funk weeks' I began a Tuesday morning by having breakfast at Whole Foods.  The table I was at was maybe 15 feet from this checkout and after mentally battling the out of tune chorus for as long as I could stand I pulled out the pens and did this quick sketch.

I began with what I felt was the hardest part, the checkout person, looking for something I could visually grab on to.  That 'V' right behind her head where her pony tail was tied was the spot.  After all, anyone can draw a 'V'.  Then the top of her head and down her bangs, then on to the pony tail itself.....and I can't tell you what came next.

Ok, says the chorus, now reduced to a duet, but 'you just got lucky'.  So, for a slap down on the duet,  on the ferry to home I did these two charmers.

The naysayers have now been quiet for a bit so I can finally announce a Marker Workshop coming up on May 18th, 2019 at the Winslow Art Center.  Check it out HERE.

This is a painless one day class that will increase your feelings of artistic accomplishment as well as give you the skills to find sketching both faster and more enjoyable.  Marker Drawing greatly improved all my art after I stumbled on to this technique that uses just a pen and three toned markers.

Hope to see you there.  You get a Free Stress Reducing Sketchbook.  Did I say 'FREE'?

I'll be back with some more drawings.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Intuitive Painting Class

'Oksana'  16x20....
.....was done at her sister's home in January of this year.

I'm posting it because I'm teaching a class called Intuitive Painting that starts this coming Tuesday, March 5th at the Winslow Art Center.  It is filling up but still has a place or two.

The conditions for this painting were difficult.  The light behind her hit me in the eyes causing a glare in both my face and across the canvas.  The more paint I put on the worse it became.  Once the canvas was covered I actually couldn't tell what color or value I was mixing.  I was doing it by the seat of my pants.  I assumed it would be an absolute failure once I got it into good light and could see.

Well, it seems OK,  and reminded me of all the times that when it was the last pose of a model or when the sun was rapidly setting or during a night painting that many painters go into 'automatic mode', painting like a whirlwind and just trusting to gut instinct.  So often the best things happen when we are forced to get our rational minds out of the process and allow our intuition to take over.   Somehow it works.

Perhaps we make painting too much of a intellectual thing, not trusting to all our years of training, doubting our own guidance system.

I haven't taught this kind of a course before so I'm giving it all I have to see if increasing the ability to  use intuition can improve and strengthen our art.  Perhaps getting all our internal 'stuff' out of the way will be a good thing.  By the way, Art and Fear is a good book to start the wheels moving about all kinds of art things, including intuition and trust.

Come if you can.  I'd love to see you.

I'll be back.  Thanks for looking.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

June's Battle at the Point, 12x24

One day last Spring.....
.....two artist friends called to say they were out painting and to show up if I was interested.  I went.  I found them under a tree 'for shade' and next to the restroom 'for the obvious' but with challenging subject matter to paint.  Like, nothing within half a block but fields.  Since I enjoy their company I stayed and did my best to find something, anything, for inspiration.

Well, you are looking at it.  We live in/near a temperate rainforest.  There is a lot of green.  Sixty to one hundred foot walls of the stuff.  So this became my 'Walls of Green' challenge.

No unusual premixed tube colors, just your normal red, yellow and blue in warm and cool versions of each, so the mixing had to be inventively done.  I don't remember doing any pre-drawing on this one.  Seat of the pants all the way.

Here is the first version of this that was headed for the scrape pile but I let it sit for a couple months in the corner of my studio staring at me like our cat in that irritating way when she wants to be fed:

Eventually I thought that it was too much in my face, demanding of attention.  I changed it to make a softer painting with a greater feeling of distance in it.  It still may not have arrived.  I'm actually posting it because when things get posted prematurely I tend to get upset and will arrive at a solution much faster than if I just sit around with it staring at me in the studio.  Besides, now at least you can see the crows.  

I tell my students that some paintings demand a chicken.  Perhaps, like Billy Collins says in one of his poems, it needs
"anything with cows, especially if they are standing
in a stream, their large, vacuous faces
staring into the warm, nineteenth century afternoon."

It's an idea.

Thanks for looking.  Back later... 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Hangin' at Mrs. Fils, 12x16

Noelle needed exercise.....
....so we went to see her best play-friend, Ms. B.  The paints were in the car, it was a nice day and I grabbed the brushes and a panel and began looking around.  There it was, hanging on the shed door.  I forget what they call the flowers.

The difficult part was that the sun was moving fast and those shadows were on a stampede to be somewhere other than where I had first seen them.  Great fun.  Nice summer day.  The dogs had a great time.

Thanks for looking.  I'll be back.  

Monday, November 26, 2018

Drydock, 10x20

Boatyards are....
...an admitted fascination.  I'm not sure what the attraction is but I know there is no limit to the shapes, detail, color, movement, sense of adventure and unique people there.  This one is the Port Townsend yard where boats from up and down the west coast can be found.  This time there were more than usual from Alaska getting all cleaned up.

 I was there with my good friend Mick Davidson and we spent the first half hour just wandering around looking for ideas.  The possibilities were all over but when I saw this scene I felt intrigued and, though I felt it too complicated to pull off very well, I walked back there with my shellacked birch panel and dove in.

It took a bit but I finally figured out what my attraction was.  It was the sense of space and depth, from the temporary stairs and scaffolding back into the distant hill and sky.  I felt expansive looking at it.  Here is how it went in my head.  If I look to the sweet spots (divide the canvas in thirds and look to where the lines cross) for possible focal points, this is what it looks like:

The colorful buoys and the detail of equipment was the obvious spot, but there was another one in that upright structure in the background boat.  The buoys won.  Not much else attractive in the other two circles.

Then I wondered about eye travel through the piece until I noticed that the stair structure was similar in size and construction with that thing on the back boat.  My eyes kept going around the scene and pausing briefly at each of those areas....but still anchored on the buoys.

Toward the finish I thought again about the sense of space and found the distant hill and shoreline on the left side and the masts from the sailboats toward the right added an additional feeling of depth.  And, of course, the sky.

This took about two hours, so after a bowl of soup with Mick I went looking for another.  I liked the intense backlight in this one, although I almost went blind doing it.  One of the workers stopped by and told me that this boat was derelict and going to be cut up.  Too bad I don't remember the name, so I titled it "Her Last Stand" 10x15.  You figure out the composition.  Because of the sun this was seat of the pants painting.

Thanks for looking.  Back again soon.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

'Hanging at the Shipyard' in 3 Acts.

'Shipyard'  12x24

Ever Since Reading 'Wind in the Willows'....
.....I've loved messing about with boats....except now I don't sail them.  I just paint them whenever possible.  So, when the weather cooperates I drive up to the largest working shipyard in the area for smallish boats and have fun.  The challenge is consuming.  The twists and turns of a hull can be as challenging as the human form.  

Two weeks in a row the weather and my schedule were in alignment.   'The Shipyard' is only a small portion of the whole yard, yet I like hanging around these slices of working boats, shipwrights, fishermen, sailors, live-aboards, and the curious.  I painted it between about 11 and 2.  I figured I was done for the day but so many people stopped to ask if I was painting the 'Lady Washington' I decided better do it.

'Lady Washington' 14x14
This was the only other sized panel I had.  The rigging above what you see became considerably more complicated so it was easy to justify not doing it.  What a beautiful boat.  The rigging drove me crazy.  There was more there but it would have made the painting look more like a spaghetti plate than a glorious ship if I had included it all....even with the rest of it chopped off.

The previous week I did the 'Annihilator' and talked to a lot of people.  Everyone has a story they want heard.  So I listened and didn't paint so much.  Still, the painting turned out fine but I'll save you the story of the lost dog, the other painter who did the Annihilator, the electrician who suddenly lost his memory and the woman with no place to live.  It was a full day.

'Annihilator' 12x12

Thanks for looking!  Back soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Green Teapot Times Two

Playing around....
....isn't all bad.  Or maybe not bad at all.  Even good.

Here are two paintings in which I felt like playing around with the idea of just beginning in one spot on a painting with my best shot at the right color on the first stroke and then keep going.  No scraping, no drawing, just one stroke next to another....with some more paint piled on top if needed.  Some knife work.  Some soft brush work.  Some color pushes.

In the first one I began with the shadowed side of the teapot, the shadow it cast on the cloth and the cast shadow on the lemon.  On the second it was the light side of the teapot and the dark reddish and green cloth that led over and behind the the flower vase.

Short post.  I spent the day painting plein air and am 'talked' out.  Today is summer solstice.  It's going on nine o'clock and is still brighter than many winter days.  This has been happening for billions of years.  Here we are.

Later.  Thanks for looking. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

'J' Got a New 'T', 16x16

A Couple of Friends.....
....periodically fix lunch and invite other painters over for the day.  They are all excellent cooks and for some reason they ask me over to these European style luncheons, sitting outside, drinking wine, eating good food and exchanging painting tips.  How lucky am I?

When I arrived this bike was parked in the lawn and, since I have never painted one, it was an obvious choice.  It was both challenging and fun to work out to a semi-successful finish.  Much I like but, like usual, 'if I had it to do over again' I think I might have used some softer edges in places.

Probably influencing this writing is that I'm listening to a podcast from a very successful gallery owner on the topic of creating a consistent body of work.  It gets to the question of what an artist is trying to say.   It may not be a verbal 'say'; it can also be a visual one.

Some paintings, like this one, are for pure fun and experimentation....but at the same time I'm always asking the question of how it could be better and speak more clearly.  How could it appeal to a broad audience without being a cliche or too gimmicky?

 I think it would speak louder if some edges were subdued, letting the eye go more toward the bike.  The changes would be small and the color wouldn't have to be altered much.  That bush on the left has choppy strokes, for example, that draw the eye  If I give it a try I'll post this again and let you see what happened.

Until then, Thanks for Looking.....and if you have a minute post a comment and tell me your opinion.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Five Small Studies, 8x8

Perhaps these should be called.....
....."Armchair PleinAir", because while they are based on pieces I did standing outside at the easel they are studio re-dos of what I had originally intended.

You all know that painting outdoors is fraught with all kinds of things that make it difficult to do your best work.  The original studies for these stretch from the Queen Charlotte islands (a grizzly showed up and things ended early) to Maine (a squall came galloping in dumping buckets of rain on the fun).  Each of them were incomplete for some good reason (lack of energy and/or inspiration originally sank two of them).

I thought it would be a good thing if I repainted them but doing it while focusing on my first concept, sacrificing anything that didn't contribute to that being fulfilled.

These are all on 8x8 birch plywood coated with two coats of shellac.  As the coating dries in 20 minutes or less, they are quick to prepare...and I kind of like the wood tone showing through.  They are all acrylic and were done this winter sitting in a comfortable chair, usually in one go.  I still learned a lot.  Mostly I learned that maintaining a clear concept, while reining in all those other great ideas that don't contribute, makes for much stronger paintings.  You all probably knew that....

Thanks for looking.....back soon.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Reflecting on Hangzhou, 12x16

More Than Twenty Years Ago....
....and about this time of year, a group of artists journeyed to China to study in Hangzhou at a leading Chinese art school.  I was lucky enough to be part of the trip.

At that time China was just opening up to the world and many of the revolutionary effects of the Red Guard were still visible.....or weren't visible, having been destroyed.  Wandering around town I almost walked into the local military headquarters complete with tanks, lots of uniformed gun toting guards and full armament.  In the morning some very patriotic message driven music was played over the loud speakers for our wake up call.  This happened around 4:30 AM.  No shower because of no even slightly warmish water.

Breakfast was at 6:30 so we had a couple of hours to go paint or draw across the street in the park by a large lake in the center of town.  We had company as tai chi groups were doing their exercises.  The street sweepers were also out.  Picture small groups of women of modest means sweeping the streets using brooms they had just made from tied together twigs.

Below is a very quick study I did in those early hours and there was something about it I liked and hoped to revisit as a more completed work one day.  That day came about four months ago when I ran across it.....so working from the sketch and my memory the painting above is what I got.
I wouldn't have posted this at all but a member of that trip, Marilyn Webberley, commented on my last FB post and hearing from her brought back good memories of the trip.  I don't remember everyone who was along but Millard Davidson, Robert Moore, Bye Bitney, Linda Tippets, Diane McClary, and Scott Switzer are painters on that trip that I know are still swinging a brush.  Make a comment if you are one of the others so I can add you....

Loved meeting the Chinese students and seeing their work, much of which we have hanging in the house today.  We also laughed a whole lot....about the most ridiculous things.

Thanks for looking.