Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Day at Bloedel

....Plein Air Washington had a paint out last Saturday which I almost missed but had a good friend bring it to my attention the day before.  The Bloedel Reserve has been referred to before in this blog and called the Downton Abbey of Bainbridge.  Acres and acres of wonderful plantings, lakes, streams, a forest area and a large manor house.  Great place to write, walk, contemplate and paint.

Heading out the door I grabbed my box with 11x14 panels but, on second thought also grabbed the box with 16x20's and ended up using those.  I love having a surface large enough that I can swing my brush loaded arm and use big brushes.  It's a freeing feeling.....and I go through a lot of paint.

Someone once said to 'use paint like you own the paint factory'.  I think it was Wm. F. "Bill" Reese.

This top one was from the early afternoon.  It happened to be on one of the main trails and about every minute a new bunch of walkers would come by, stand around a while and move on.   It seemed like I could always feel people standing behind me.  Very fun.

The morning was different, quieter and more removed from the crowds.

A stream flowed by my feet and into this pond where large cedars grew right out of the water.   Dappled light from the trees hitting my panel made it difficult to see what I was painting and this one took a few minutes followup at home to organize and unify the representation of the mats of plant growth floating on the surface.  That blue of the sky reflecting off those plants is what held my attention.

Three people have lately mentioned to me how swayed their personal style can be by studying with or greatly admiring other artists.  We all go through the 'I wish I could paint like......', filling in the blank with our latest infatuation.  It becomes problematic when we judge our own work by the images we have of other's paintings.  Even more so when it is both Diebenkorn and Schmid there at the same time.  Instant confusion.

On my iPad I have images of work from 115 different artists, each with their own resounding style and, there have been many times that I wish I could paint like any one of them.  Lately, despite often studying those 5000 images, I've once again realized the futility and disaster letting them be too influential.   Mesmerized as I am by other artists and their views of the world, when I wake in the morning it's still me and I may as well celebrate that.  So, I paint what and how I like and only care if what I do is satisfying to me.  Far less angst.... (but still steal good ideas when I find them)

By the way, 'Steal Like an Artist' is a good book.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Blakely Back Harbor, 16x20

Yes, I know.....'s been a long time since the last post.  Months.  Our daughter had twins.  Need I say more?

But I have been painting.  This is number 45 since June 10th, although most of them are very small studies which I'll likely share later....right after I finally get a post out about Tim Deibler.   But that comes later too.

'Blakely Back Harbor' has a story inasmuch as it is the the park that contains the remains of what was once the largest sawmill in the world.  According to photos the harbor usually was filled with sailing ships waiting to take on the sawn planks and distribute them to the world.  There was a large town here with several villages within walking distance around it that housed the Japanese, Swedish and the Philippine workers, (plus others).  There was a boardwalk, hotel, stores...the whole shebang.  The back harbor was used to store water and logs.  Once the tide had come in and the water risen behind the dam they built, they blocked the exit and were able to move the logs around more easily.

That is all now gone.  All that is left are ruins, the slag heaps, the pier supports for the boardwalk and the back harbor.  Although usually deserted now, you can sense the bustle of hope, activity and industry that once was here.

Anyway, there I was last week with a friend and figured that I hadn't painted anything of a respectable size in a while.  Having forgotten my roll of paper towels or rags--I had two small used paper towels sheets--I still gave it a shot and adjusted a couple things once I got home.

Hope you all are having a wonderful summer.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Jane, 11x14

A 'Jane' Experiment....
     It was time for another portrait session with a group of painters that has been meeting regularly for over 12 years.  It is a supportive group, very open to all kinds of new techniques, and ready to steal any good ideas they see.  I know this because I steal from them all the time.....and they are all good painters.

On this day I decided to try some different stuff.  I had gotten a free tube of Azo Coral that was bundled with some M.Graham white I had ordered.  To that I added Indian Red,  Raw Umber, Ultramarine Blue, and Transparent Gold Ochre, colors I haven't used much before and certainly not together on one painting.  A handful of flat brushes and a Raymar panel rounded things out.  While I don't usually use medium, I tried Gamblin Galkyd Gel.

To this mix I added the intention of seeing if I could soften more edges and join forms where it seemed workable, letting shapes intermingle.

A problem I have....well, many painters have this one..... is keying the values of a painting when working in less than ideal light, too bright or too dark.   In this case the corner I was in was at an interesting angle to the model but didn't have the best lighting....and I had decided to not tone the  canvas to cut white glare.   It's the first few strokes in a piece that set the direction of what follows.  To make sure I get it correct I tape this value scale on my pochade so I can place small dabs of paint on it to check myself.  Works really well when I remember to use it.  You can see the little paint dabs.

Great model.  Held this pose almost exactly through several 20 minute sessions.  I had to leave early so don't feel I got it exactly where I was headed but still felt satisfied.  The Azo Coral was a nice change in the reds although I had to be careful not to let it get too dominant.  It didn't gray down the way Cad Red does when mixed with white, which is a characteristic of synthetic pigments.  The Galkyd Gel was a plus as it got tacky and able to accept more paint as the day went on.

Next time I'll see if I can loosen up more.

Thanks for your interest.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Of Drift Logs, Video and Eye Candy

First the Eye Candy.
..... I had a Marker Workshop about ten days ago.  One of the ideas in my book and that I stress in class is that things catch our eye everyday but we pass them by without even a second thought....but it is those things we notice that help to form our point of view about the world.  It's what helps us see in our unique individual way.  Its eye candy to us....but maybe not anyone else.

This view of drift logs I pass by often when I walk the dog and each time I find it intriguing.  It's going to end up in paint, but first I need to study it for a bit to see what I want to say about it.  Driving back from an oil change I stopped and did this half page drawing to begin that process.  The markers make this kind of exploration much faster than a pencil and, for me, the simplification the marker pens in terms of values helps me to conceive things more abstractly.

With just three markers in three values EveryThing can't be represented exactly as we might see it.

I wanted to give the workshop participants a taste of this.  Often in these workshops we go outdoors to draw but because of the cold and rain I tried this:  A few days before I took the video camera out and set it up in two locations and just let it record...on a tripod....for thirty minutes.  At home I transferred it to an editing program and adjusted the color/values a bit.

So, without going outside we went to a shoreline and to a marina in the harbor with all the sounds, light changes, seagulls and crashing waves.  Everything was moving.  Drawing it all would have taken a lot a time.  Each person had to find their own eye candy in the scene to draw from.

Here is my rendition of the shore.  This did not have a lot of things to choose from but they all came up with differing unique views and renditions of it....which I don't have shots of.

At a different time I did a gouache painting from the video:

Hint for successful videos:  Make sure the camera is Level.  I thought I had but the vid was at a bit of a slant and, in painting it, I unconsciously didn't make the water level even though I was aware of the problem.  Ah, shucks.....

Thanks for looking.  Back soon with a portrait.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Gavotte, 12x24

Portrait Painting.....
.....happens every other week over at Millard Davidson's studio (see his work HERE).  I had noticed this tree a couple of weeks before at his place and was just waiting for a day that the sun was cooperative....or were the clouds being cooperative?

Anyway, during our portrait session the sky had mostly cleared and the Big Leaf Maple was clearly enjoying the moment.  I had thought ahead (take note) and been driving around with a panel I thought would work, so I set up the easel and grabbed a #12 flat and blasted away at it before the clouds moved back in.

As I painted a part of me was trying to think of a name, assuming it turned out.  Everything I thought of seemed too static or cliche'.   Toward the end I noticed the smaller trees that had sprouted from the thousands of maple seeds this thing would have dropped each year.  It was obviously a dance celebrating the return of the sun.....or something.  The big maple was like the Pied Piper.  Perhaps I'm being a bit anthropomorphic.

Painted on a 12x24 piece of MDF that I had to used Miracle Muck to glue on a piece of Frederix canvas . The best part was I got to use my brand new 'why did I buy this?' tube of Gamblin Cadmium Green for the sun struck moss on the limbs.  Nothing else glowed enough to work.

Thanks for looking.  Back soon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Two Marker Drawings

Orvieto, Umbria, Italy..... full of narrow winding streets, unexpected archways and out of the way shops.  We were there for a week ahead of the workshop I was teaching so I could get over the jet lag.  I became somewhat of a human being somewhere around two in the afternoon and headed out to sketch a bit.

It is fun for me, while one part is doing the drawing, for the other part to just enjoy watching it fall together.  I looked first for where I could find a 'yardstick'.....something in the scene easy to draw but could be used to figure out where everything else should be.....and I chose the long side of the doorway on the right side.  Then I began, but didn't finish right away, the step up into the store from street level.   At that point I had a sense of how it was going to fit together and hopped over to the little pumpkin sitting on a box next to the door.

In color, and I did a color sketch later, the orange of the pumpkin in front of the gray brown of the boxes and the green of the foliage was pretty outstanding.  In markers and gouache it just became part of the pattern of plants, boxes, and wine bottles.  The canopy I slowed way down to do so I could keep the gentle curves and overall shape.

It was a scene with a lot of stuff.  The challenge was to keep all of that 'stuff' in check so it wouldn't overwhelm the scene but yet give texture.  The street alone was all cobblestone which is only subtly stated.  Oh, and there were lots of people passing by but none stopped long enough to get put in.  The shop owner kept peering out through the display trying to figure out what I was doing.

A couple of days after getting back I had to get our transmission serviced.  The woman had some computer questions and the owner spent a short time, maybe three minutes, showing her what to do.  With little time to think I grabbed the sketchbook and got just the basics of the figures in before they began answering phones and running around the office.  Occasionally they would return to positions similar to this.

My 'yardstick' this time was the edge of the computer screen and the doorway behind the two of them.  Then I put in all the other parts of the scene and used the markers to provide form and guide the eye.  Notice how the computer screen and the guy's shirt are the only placed where I used the darkest marker.  Your eye can wander around but gets sucked right back to that area.  There were lots of dark areas in the scene that didn't get stated just to keep that effect.

By the way, I have a Marker Workshop this Saturday with a couple of open spaces and I have the materials you need for sale (at cost) so all you need do is sign up and show up.  9:30 to 4:30 on Saturday, March 25, 2017.  Contact the Winslow Art Center HERE.

If you can't make the workshop be sure to check out my book (recently expanded and updated) in the page tab up at the top.

I also have a portrait workshop early in May that you can also check out.  Limited spaces.

Thanks for looking.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Splitting Wood, 24x24

Last October we had this tree taken down....
.....and there it sat until the sun began to return the last couple of months.  At ten in the morning for only 45 minutes the sun would hit at just the right angle through the trees to light up the stump and the wood I had been splitting.

So, once I had decided to paint it, each day there was any sun I would haul out the easel and gear early enough that I was ready to paint when the sunlight poured through the trees.  One session to draw and block it in roughly, one to adjust the color shapes,  one to add some detail, and then....Oops!  The yard guys we hired for a clean up decided, while I was away, to help me and began splitting it up and make little piles.  Everything changed.  Nice guys.  Wrong timing.

Fortunately it was within a session of being finished and there was enough information already down to make it work.  So one more short session in the studio and this is what I have.

In the Pacific Northwest winter 'sun' the values can get really dark so I raised the overall values and pushed up even more on the darks, relying on temperature shifts to make the form happen.  I enjoyed doing this one as I had a lot of leeway in choosing color possibilities.

Thanks for looking.  Back soon.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Leftovers, 8x16

I had a few extra flowers.....
.....from a still life set up for one of my classes.  I brought them home, plopped them in an antique pitcher, walked by them for a couple of days and finally recognized that they could be interesting to paint.

So I pulled them out to the studio and set them on a shelf intending to add some other things for more  variety....and found out they already were interesting as they were.

I first painted the pitcher getting the light reflections balanced.  Then large areas of color were blocked in and carved into flower masses.  It's the perimeters of flowers that do most of the work in giving them the 'floweriness' they are on canvas.  Make an amorphous shape and then add what isn't 'flower' and you can get a long way toward making them convincing and interesting.  This works best with the varieties that have a round or globular shape like roses, carnations, dahlias, daisies.  'Bird of Paradise', not so well.

I've begun playing around with Indian Yellow.  Nice transparent color of low tinting strength and, when not overpowered by other hues in a mix (as it easily is), a very vibrant color.


Thanks for reading....

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Drawings from Italy

Sometime in the Dark Ages,....
....about 1100 A.D., a castle was built.  There has been a castle of varying sizes on the top of this Umbrian Hill to keep watch over the adjoining valleys and hills ever since.  Additions were added, a family church was constructed, wine was made and sheep were sheared.  The descendants of that original family still own it and live there part of the time.  In the earthquake area Northeast of Rome, it underwent a recent and major strengthening done in such a way that the architect owner had to point out to me the steel bars that were drilled through parts of the structure.  Just in time I think.

We had a 'over the top' meal in a remodeled back area.  Still a very rustic and authentic interior, it didn't hurt that a violinist kept us company while we stuffed our faces in multiple multiple multiple courses.  During one of the breaks in eating I had a chance to draw part of the table setting.  Several glasses of wine may have contributed to this effort.

We were staying at a farm near Orvieto.  I dragged the group for one day in the town spending our time sightseeing, drawing and, again, eating.  Here are just of couple of the pages from that day:

Cathedral Square

Market Square
All of my drawings are done in a 8.5x11 sketchbook I make myself from inexpensive but durable paper.  If you read this before I put in something about how to make your own sketchbook for markers, pencil, pen, gouache and (even) occasionally, oil paint, then check back.  I'll have a page on this blog or a link to those directions.

And, of course, there is always my marker book you can order.  Look on the blog for the page that gets you there.  There is a marker workshop coming up this be announced.

I'll be back with more.

Almost forgot.  The Winslow Art Center sponsors regular trips to various parts of Italy and soon, other areas of Europe.  Check out the Center's website HERE.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oksana in Black, 12x16

Oksana.... the sister of a good friend.  She is one of those people with a changeable face and her emotions are fairly transparent.  I look forward to the times I get to paint her, this being the third or fourth.

Each time with her I have used a different palette and approach.  This day I kept it extra limited, using Cad Yellow Light (Utrecht...which is more like a cad  Yellow medium), Naphthol Red, Rose Madder Permanent and Titanium White (Graham because it is so buttery and delicious to spread around).  The limited choices let me concentrate on values and brushwork instead of color.

Originally from Russia, Oksana has that stereotypical spirit and fire about her.  She takes on life in full force....and in a very pleasant way.

The first painting represents her calm 'posing' spirit but as the session went on I could see her energy building (she can only sit still so long) and, since there were two twenty minute poses remaining I grabbed a different panel and went for 'attitude'.

This was a very fast piece, fairly crude in application and likeness....but it does get the attitude.  So the first was about two hours to do and the second forty minutes.

And here is a photo her sister posted on Facebook of the setup.  We are in the studio of Millard (Mick) Davidson and the array of beautiful paintings behind Oksana are all his....and only one wall of a large area.

Thanks for looking.....

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Winter Fishery 8x16

Yes, it has been a while....
....since my last post.  Early October, I think.  I'm back on track now.

Since then we have been in Italy on a very satisfying drawing/painting/teaching trip, found out our daughter is expecting twins, and made it through the holidays.  November was a rough month for me. Can't remember the last time I've been that bummed out for so long.  Painting, other than when I was teaching, was almost non-existent.   You might know why and share the feelings.

Anyway, this is a new year so on January 2nd, in weather down to 22 degrees and a strong wind (OK.  I know that doesn't seem anything but balmy to those in the rest of the northern U.S. but it has been unusual for here)  I headed out across the water to this spot.  The sun was setting fast and, as quickly as I worked, this was as much as I could get in but I'm satisfied with it....and it was so good to be back painting outdoors.

I used Cad Yellow Light, Cad Red, Rose Madder Permanent, Burnt Sienna and Cerulean Blue Hue from Gamblin.  Their CBH is basically Pthalo Blue and White and is much easier to control than straight Pthalo Blue and it is of a value that often works with little modification right out of the tube.

There are some more paintings hanging around to post and I'm back in the mood to paint so....

....I'll be back.

Thanks for looking.