Friday, December 31, 2010

Rainy in Rockport, 11x14

Can you believe another year has come and gone?  (and I still don't have my studio clean)   Tomorrow is the day of the annual sorting where paintings of this last year are summarily tossed into the bin of no return or given one more chance.

This painting off the Maine coast will survive as good source material and good memories.

I hope your year has been rewarding and that you are looking forward to the next in good health and high spirits.  There is so much to be appreciative of despite our troubled Earth.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year bring with them so much possibility and hope that in the future things can be  different for our world and everyone in it.

Who knows, maybe this year I'll get the studio clean....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Waisted Curves, 16x20

How often in life have you run across someone who dresses everyday as if it was 1898?  This subject was so deserving of a much larger canvas but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get down at least a sketch.

An author, milliner, seamstress and now model, Sarah and her husband both dress in period costume and give lectures on the subject.  Her book, Waisted Curves: My Transformation into a Victorian Lady is available from her website.  She began wearing a corset two years ago and you can see her before and after pictures on her site.  Worth the visit.

By the way, they drive a DeLorean while wearing their tophat and shawl (ok, maybe not the tophat).  Another painting of her in Victorian dress is HERE.  Her waist is actually smaller than I painted it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Room for One More, 10x12

Lost in one of the painting piles was this and another from the trip to Maine.  While here in the Seattle area isn't exactly boring, I do envy those painters on the East Coast and all the beautiful subjects/shapes they have available.  The grass is always greener....and I have wander lust.

This is from the Rockland area.  I'll post the other one soon.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Johnson Farm, 16x16

Ever have pieces that just don't turn out?  Every year on New Year's Day I go through the pile of paintings/drawings of the past year and start tossing.  It feels good to unload and dump the pieces that went south for various reasons.  Occasionally I'll keep a few of the rejects and see if someday a solution might appear.

This painting was saved from the reject pile seven years ago or so and I stumbled on it the other night looking for a new panel.  A solution came to me a few minutes later and here is the result.  Now there's a chorus of rejects all begging for a second chance.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Copper and Poppies, 11x14 oil

While folks in class were painting I didn't want to hang over their shoulders too much so sat and painted this during the lulls.  Another of the five setups painted on a fairly small canvas board.

By the way, if you have emailed me since November 15th it probably didn't get through as the mail server had issues.....which are now cleared up.

Have a good Thanksgiving....if you are in the U.S......or have a fulfilling week wherever you are.

'Sometimes we need to just pause and let happiness catch up with us.'  The Dalai Lama

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kathy's Ledge, 8x10 oil

This is a study from the Maine trip in September....and a gift for Kathy whose cabin we stayed in.  The old bench was built by her parents many years ago and, even though they are now gone, the bench is still around but leaning a bit.  The 'ledge' is an outcropping of bedrock jutting out into Lake McGunticook and has been there since before the English landmass separated and drifted across the that's old.

Here are two forest studies from western Montana that were done just a few feet from the cabin.  It's a fun challenge to just walk out, plop down and paint whatever is there and try and make something of it.  These are both 8x8 oils and took about 25 minutes each if I remember correctly.

The rocks (more geology) were dropped by the mile high glacier that once covered the area and left Flathead Lake behind.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Instructional Still Life, 20x24, Acrylic

Last night I began wondering about still life painting.  It's a great way to learn to paint  (no model to pay, it stays in one place, no bugs to swat) but where did this rather odd activity come from?  According to Wikipedia and other sources, representing everyday objects with food began with the Egyptians, can be found in Roman tile work, fell out of style and was revived in the Middle Ages.  During the Renaissance and the increased interest in the natural world it experienced a great revival which seemingly hasn't let up.

While it still seems a bit odd to me, who am I to question thousands of years of people who have gone to garage sales and Goodwill for second hand junk and surrounded it with fruit and vegetables just for pleasure.   I will admit that it's a great excuse to play with paint and color and the paintings are somehow more interesting to look at than the objects themselves.

I painted this as an instructional example.  It was done in acrylic and is one of the five current setups we are using--which get changed every two to three weeks.  The next painting session will begin January 18th.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Montana Plein Aire, 8x10 and 11x14

Two weeks ago I made a whirlwind trip to Montana to close up the cabin but spent most of the time south of Missoula painting with Bob Phinney.  On a dream of a Fall day we found these red farm buildings and had to stop.  I've been advised to never paint red barns because they are such a cliche', but I think it's how you paint something rather than what's being painted.   'Bitterroot Barn', 11x14.

There was just time before driving back to Seattle for another quick one and 'Downstream' 8x10,  sort of popped out of my brush on a cloudy rainy day where I had to shield the canvas to keep it dry.  I enjoy painting water, trying to simplify the complexity of reflections, foam and splash and find ways to make the color both real and interesting.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Three in Gouache

OK.  I admit it.  I'm trying to get people interested in gouache...and I'm also going through another phase of using it more often.

This model decided about two years ago that she was going to dress in turn of the century style with corset, hat pins and the whole works.  Every so often I get the pleasure of seeing her around town looking very stylish and can imagine when everyone downtown looked like she does.  Yesterday she had on a little blue hat, veil and black sturdy shoes that my grandmother used to wear.  She also drives a DeLorean.  I'm not sure how that fits in exactly.....but the two together certainly make a statement.

Ron (the color is a little too red) sat for several hours but because gouache works so easily and fast I did this next one of another painter across the room.  They are all on half sheets of Canson paper or an equivalent.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Susanna, 4x6 gouache

Have I mentioned before how much I like gouache?  I have?.....then let me say it again.  By now I should have a raft of converts.  It can be such a forgiving medium.  It can also be an infuriating medium if you actually expect what you paint wet to end up the same color and value when dry.  Holbein Acryla Gouache is supposed to look the same dry as when it was wet but I haven't tried it.   It also will end up, after an hour or two, to be permanent and insoluble in water.  Now that sounds a bit like Golden Open Acrylics to me.

She was a good model but I have to admit feeling a bit rusty not having done a portrait for six months.  Painted size of her head is about 2".

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Teannaway Valley, 11x14

Remember the outhouse (last post)?  If you had turned around two hours before 'Quick Stop' was painted, this is what you'd see.  What a difference in color temperature......what a change in temperature, period.  It was cold and very windy despite the sun breaking through for a bit.  Look carefully.  See his brush shake.

At the same time of year....but twelve months earlier....I painted this but was dissatisfied with it.   It was stuffed into the scrap heap box where I ran across it looking for a panel to paint on and I decided to see if a little doctoring could help.

On my website, under 'Musings' is a listing on how I did it.  If you are a painter it might be a technique you could use.  Check it out.  See the before and after....  Place your vote....(and vote in November, also).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Waiting For Work, 8x10

A bunch of old farm machinery on a rainy Fall day sit waiting to be useful.  It reminds me of a possible Disney movie.  Of course they will perform an heroic deed by the end of the film, saving the female lead.

And just so you won't be kept waiting in suspense, here is the outhouse painting (Quick Stop, 11x14).  I think I chuckled the whole time I was doing it.  For reasons I don't pretend to understand it became an instant hit with the other painters on a great three day weekend of rain, cold and strong winds.  Even these paintings look cold.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two on the Road, 8x10

Arriving home last night after painting all weekend across the mountains I was too tired to think about photographing seven you'll have to wait until later in the week.  'Rhododendren Lane' and 'Mission Farm' were completed ten days and a year ago, respectively.  'RL' was while I was waiting for an appointment and 'MF' somewhere in the Flathead Valley of Montana.

The paintings from this last weekend I like, especially the one with the outhouse.  Can you wait for that?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Eagle Harbor Demo, 11x14

Last Friday, as part of the monthly Art Walk, booths were set up down by the harbor where they served food, wine, had a great band and local organizations promoted their offerings.  Oil and Water Art Supply  asked me to do a demo for the event.

I like doing demos.  People come by and talk, little kids want to paint on my canvas (I usually let them) and I get to go home with a satisfied tired.  Works for me.

Hoping for a beautiful sunset, wind and clouds arrived instead.   So at five I began this and quit when the fading light through the clouds meant I could no longer see what color I was using....about 6:30.  At first I had no idea how to resolve all those boats....or at least make it look like they were resolved.  There must be forty or fifty of them out there.  The answer to my problem?  Paint what you see.  Notice in this little slice how very abstract they really are.  Just little bits of carefully placed paint and color...

And just so you can enjoy the experience of plein air painting I need to tell you that barely into the piece someone pulled a bright red speed boat into that empty slip, completely blocking much of the lower third of the scene and reflecting new nuances of color.   As if fading light, changing tides, people walking around me and strong winds weren't enough.... 

By the way,  I begin teaching again this month.  If you would like to join us for a fun class in either painting (oil, acrylic or gouache) or marker drawing check out the Oil and Water website or give them a call.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rockland Pier, 10x12

With the workshop over and all that beautiful Atlantic coast to paint it was hard to know where to begin....but this seemed a natural.  Of course, as happens when working plein air, things change.  The boat didn't have more than two strokes of color on it when the crew decided that, with fish unloaded, it was time to leave.  I could have abandoned the piece or continued using what my visual memory retained.....the latter was the better choice.

All those boats, all those docks, all the picturesque towns.......did I paint any of those, well no.  Instead I was mesmerized by these rocks.   Flat lit on a fairly sunny day they proved to be a challenge in finding how to translate a jumbled mass of close tonal values to a two dimensional surface, but I enjoyed every stroke.  Notice how color notes repeat throughout the painting.  I keep telling myself, 'It's not what you paint but how you paint it.', and I rather like this one.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Maine Workshop

Finally I can give you a little taste of the Colin Page workshop I attended.  I actually couldn't put in to words why I signed up but it was just the rejuvenating experience I hoped it would be.  During the two weeks we were in Maine I painted 27 pieces.....most, however, were small 5x7 studies, some I'm sharing today.  Quite a few I took photos of and then erased as I needed the painting boards.

Day One was value study so we did black and white landscape pieces.  The one above was about 6x10.  Monochromatic paintings are far more interesting, I think, than you would expect them to be.  There is a painter in Seattle that wanders the streets painting Burnt Umber scenes that are knockouts.  Sometimes he'll add just a note or two of color to add a bit of a works.

Day Two, dodging the raindrops, we focused on quick broadly stated color studies with very limited detail as you see below.   

On the Third Day the task was to push color as far as we felt comfortable.....OK, now we're talking....this is where I live:

Four studies were done on one 11x14 board, like something I used to do.  When first learning about painting I would take 1/2 inch masking tape and section a 20x24 canvas into 12 smaller areas and commit to painting all twelve in one day.  The best part was taking off the tape at the end of the day and seeing all those vignettes of the previous few hours.  Like little simplified photos.

Tomorrow I'll post some paintings I did after the workshop ended.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Camden Harbor

We are finally back from Maine.....actually well over a week but there has been so much to catch up with that blogging took a backseat.  I'm going to put out several over the next couple of days because it's off to paint across the mountains on Friday.

The Camden, ME harbor is a wealth of painting is all of the Maine coast.  The problem was not so much finding something to paint as it was narrowing the selection.  These drawings are good examples of that.

The area was so rich that even selecting a corner of the harbor I had difficulty focusing.  Here the shore was interesting, the docks were an attraction and those slanted buildings were also a pull.  (Why are they slanted....I don't know.)

In terms of a painting or a more pleasing drawing, just a section would have been stronger.   Here, for example,  is one of several possible simplified views that I think could have been developed.   Looking at this smaller part of the larger piece I find the shapes more interesting, more artistic and calming to my soul.  The larger piece is okay, it just doesn't have a focus....the smaller one does. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gouache Practice

Greetings from the coast of Maine.  I'm here to paint and to attend a workshop with Colin Page....which has just ended.  A rejuvenating experience with a group of good painters.

Before the workshop I did half a dozen gouache studies of whatever caught my attention while sitting by lake McGunticook.  Just playing around with color without the complication of oils.

Gouache is such a nice medium.  Quick studies can happen easily and, since they work almost like oils I find them a great substitute when I don't want to set up an easel.  Each of these is about half or a third of my sketchbook page in size and so are personal and intimate studies. 

By the way.  Maine goes from summer to cold Fall in about two weeks.....but it is so beautiful and around every corner is something to paint, which is what this next week is about.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Awaiting High Tide, 11x14

Heading out on a Costco run I made it less than a mile before having to stop and paint.  I came around a corner and there it was.  All I had to do was walk two blocks down the beach in mud and seaweed, set up my gear and proceed to drop paper towels, paint and brushes in the muck.  It was a great time.

An hour later I was off to shop with wet muddy feet, but also a good feeling of having painted.  Even when I bomb it feels better than not having done it.....(maybe just a little better).

Here is a link to a Seattle sketcher and artist, Gabi Capanario....and a video about him.   Because the scenes he draws are so familiar (well, if you live in Seattle) it is extra fun to see what he did with them.  There is a lot to look at here and even a Google map link to several of the places he drew and you can see the actual scenes.

I'll try to get another post in before leaving for Maine....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ragland Sunset, 20x24

Windjammer.  Just the name is cool.  It carries with it a spirit of adventure, history, far-away places, grace and power.  Why didn't my parents name me that?

In case you missed it in the last post, this is Neil Young's boat.  I think I saw him under the tarp waving at me.  Either it was him or a seagull.

Painting larger pieces on location is so energizing.  If it weren't for all the heavy equipment to haul for half a mile, I'd do it all the time.  The amazing thing is this took only fifteen minutes longer than the 11x14 of a few days ago.....just used a larger brush.  I like the way this turned out....but if I did it again I would....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don Colley, Another Marker Sketcher

While I don't usually post using someone else's stuff, this guy is worth taking a look at.  Irreverent, highly skilled and draws weird stuff....probably someone I'd like to know.  I've tried the markers he is using on several papers and can't get the same results.  Those old books must have a coating on the paper to prevent bleed through of ink.   Anyway, I like his sketches.  He has done a number of videos for Faber-Castell which can be found on YouTube.  I discovered him from Steve Penberthy, another good artist with a rich blog.

By the way, news from Debbie, that tall ship I painted belongs to Neil Young and is called the Ragland....its for sale....think I'll buy the world....wait,, what do you paint at sea?...waves?  Hmmmm...  I'll pass on this one.

I went back last night and painted a 20x24 of it which I'll post tomorrow.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Waiting, 5x6

There is something enigmatic about this drawing.  Her look involves me in the scene and I bounce back and forth between her and that telephone wondering why she doesn't answer it.  It all seems somewhat unsettling....or is it that cookie jar?  There seems to be three personalities on this stage and I'm wondering why nothing is happening.  You should have to spend a day in my's not pretty.

Instead of doing that check out the new 'Page' I added on painting with gouache.

I also have my new website up and running.  Give it a look here:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tall Ship, Ragland, 11x14

Last evening as the sun was heading down I thought to go get some harbor photos.  Driving over I remembered there was paint gear in the car so hauled it down the beach trail 'just in case' I decided to make some color notes, but when I got there this was too good to pass up even though the light was waning.

I think there is enough possibility here that it deserves a 20x24...we'll see how that goes.  Anyway, as in most paintings where the light is changing quickly, the paint had to fly on fast with no time for pre-drawing or value studies or even much self critiquing.

Sitting on a log, all went well until I tried to stand up and realized that under that layer of beach sand was tar that had stuck me in place....and they were new pants. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ignatius Memories, 11x14

Years ago....  Alas, decades ago, I was hitch hiking north to Glacier Park from Missoula.  I got dropped off to wait for another ride in St. Ignatius, MT where six guys in an old Mercury  stopped for me.  My hopes of a ride were dashed when they told me they wanted to beat me up.  It was either grab my hunting knife or talk fast and I chose the latter, convincing them they needed a beer or two before commencing anything so strenuous as pounding me to a pulp.  Fortunately they agreed and in the meantime the former head of Wisconsin's department of natural resources picked me up.  Whew.

Maynard Dixon the painter spent a couple of years in St. Ignatius as he traveled throughout the West.   It is a very beautiful easy going place to be.  The roads and farms around there are beautiful with streams cascading out of the mountains.

This piece was painted in last minute desperation as my friend Bob and I spent too much time drawing and talking.  The day was waning and a storm was approaching so we just stopped on a backstreet and painted what we saw.  Drops began falling when the final touches went in and we hastily threw our gear back in the truck.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cannery Cove Study, 8 x 10

My mother and sister are awesome musicians.  I've seen pianos perk up and stand at attention when they walk into a room.  When I was a kid I went into a music store with them and thought I saw a nervous piano wetting itself....but then I realized it was a leaky humidifier and not a B version of Fantasia. 

When playing, my sister goes through a piece once or twice as written and then a look crosses her face and she moves off on her own, using the music only as a guide for what she wants to hear, letting her heart be her guide.  She departs the text, having the skill to do so.

The artists I most admire do this all the time, using reality only as a guide for their own interpretations.  Sergei Bongart, Quang Ho, Cathe Gill, Scott Burdick/SusanLyons, Peggy Kroll-Roberts, Ron Lukas, Bob Phinney are just a few artists whose works have a singular stamp of personality that stems from letting what they see only be a guide for what they want to say.

'Cannery Cove' was a small quickie at a new park on the island while on the way home from town.  In general I like what happened yet have a feeling that 'reality' remained too influential.  I can't say right now (give me a month) what I'd do differently, but there is this sense that this was one where I needed to "depart the text" more than I did.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Swan River Fall, 10x12

Quinacridone Gold and Fall colors just seem to go together.  This was painted about two years ago and I'm posting it because I've been out of circulation for the last week due to a combination of summer flu and three immunization shots....and I wanted to share something before we take off for Montana.

I also wanted share something because I just ran across an older posting by Robert Genn, The Tyranny of Reality.  If you are an artist and don't know who RG is, you should.  And if you want to read one of the better essays (so many of his are excellent) about creating art, click the link and enjoy.

RG sends out writings about making art and being an artist, and signing up for his postings is free and well worth your time.  A fascinating man and an artist's artist.

I'll try and post something from the plains and forests of MT.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

American Pie, 8 x 10

What is it about old things that is so intriguing?  Boats, cars, houses, barns, bridges.....if they have age to them they are more interesting to me.  Is it because there is the patina of history, of human interaction, or the ability to last in a world where everything is quickly replaced?

I don't know if this is a Chevy but it sure seems like a slice of an American Pie past and it was just sitting there in a box store parking lot surrounded by modern cars and shopping carts.  How many shopping trips have those four wheels been on?  How many dreams of the good life have floated around in the heads of its many owners?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sunday in the Park, 12 x 16 demo

Last Sunday we held the plein air workshop.  Eleven or so watched this one develop and then went off and painted on their own, keeping me hopping from place to place until late in the afternoon.

Painting outdoors is not easy but the group turned out some nice work despite the changing clouds, sun and tides.  I hope they had as much fun as I did.  Here are a few hard at work...and some of that work paying off.

M's Painting:
I especially like the composition and the illusion of form on the dock.  Notice how the water is multiple hues but similar value making it believable yet colorful and interesting.

B's Painting:
This ended up very painterly and colorful.  My favorite part is where the roof of the house, the path and the tree branches come together.  It pulls me right in.

Thanks to everyone.  It was nice to paint with all of you....but I was sure tired.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 2010 Marker Workshop

While waiting for the class to experience sketching outdoors with markers I kept occupied with this one.   I entertain myself watching how drawings develop out of blank paper.  It's really an amazing thing how so much can be communicated with a few lines and tones.

People in the workshop seemed pleased watching their own drawings develop throughout the day as they learned this simple yet effective technique.  Here are a few photos from the class and a scan of one of the demos.  They were eleven fun and enthusiastic people.

You can get a glimpse of what the demo setup looked like in a corner of one of the photos.

Tomorrow I'll post some things from the plein air workshop.