Art Blog

Every Attempt Counts!

“The Scent of Surf”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″

Here is another of the plein air adventures. Caught near sunset, the light was bouncing off the white foam of the breakers behind this tree. What a terrific thing to paint! I can see I have much to learn about how edges behave in back lit subjects . . . .learn? Heck!! I am fascinated . . . . . . . .read: obsessed! . . . .by this stuff.

One thing I have learned in years of painting in another medium is this: While every painting doesn’t show up at the end as perfect, every one counts! That is, each piece contributes to the success of subsequent paintings. It is all an accumulation of occurances, challenges, solutions, failures and successes.; Every painting matters . . .the results of that significance just doesn’t show up every single time. And THAT is the reason for painting daily: to quickly accumulate experience and to stay in the learning zone.

Some Days I Get Two . . .

“Tanner Heights Grove”
oil on linen 12″ x 16″
SOLD

Oh, Yessssss !!!! Some days it just works out to paint more than one!

On the day it rained, my painting buddy and I (Bill) had to call off our get together to paint. And, as you see in my last post, I painted in the studio. Later, while at the office, the sun came out and I had the itch to be out painting. So, I cleaned up my work and started out the door at 5PM . . . .and Diana (my wife) called to tell me we would be eating at her mother’s place. Perfect! I’ll find a spot around her house and paint. Diana was surprised that I didn’t need a big “scene.”

So, I stood behind the house, looked down into a eucalyptus grove. . . . . and painted fast cuz it was getting late. I had to hurry . . .a spot of color here, a blotch of color there to set off the other color, a dark here and a light there . . . .a little atmospheric perspective . . . .next thing I knew a painting was taking shape and I was amazed that it came out like this!! Some days just about everything goes right !!

I am having a wonderful time!!

Mike

Some Days it Rains . . . .

“Eileen”
oil on gessoed masonite 6″ x 8″
SOLD

I have read about guys huddled on their knees in the pouring rain under a poncho holding it up to let the light in on their canvas while they paint with their free hand. That is NOT what I do when it rains!

I work in the studio . . . .or go to the office . . . but if I have planned to paint, I paint. What’s more, I have a commitment to paint daily. That is every day except Sunday.

So here is a little studio study. I have been watching intently while others paint. And I am surprised at how quickly I can see how they do what they do. A lady by the name of Karin Jurick (she is one of my links here) paint (most of the time) on black gesso on masonite. I could see it subcounsciously . . .then one night, I awoke with a realization that she paints on black . . .and the paintings look entirely different. So, never having done that before, I grabbed a little something mundane to paint, set up a spot light and painted it on black gessoed masonite. Kinda fun, doncha think? Let’s just call this painting “Eileen.” (Wait a few minutes and you’ll get it! 😉

This brings up an interesting point about painting. Choose anything! Yup! Anything for a subject. Then take the challenge to make it look interesting . . . .even extraordinary. So, here is a common ball point pen used as an advertising piece. Plucked out of a jar on my wife’s desk, it flew to the studio ready for its mission to become extraordinary. I had fun with it!

By the way, It looks wonderful in a frame!

Mike

Stop the Hunt and L O O K !

“She Waits”
oil on linen on board, 8″ x 10″
SOLD

Last week, while in the fray of a few exciting days of painting outdoors, I had decided to go down to the beach (about 10 minutes away from the house) . . .and it was on a weekend. I should know better than to try the beach on a weekend. Every tourist with wheels is there!

I did get there, however, and found the wind to be blowing a gale. Impossible to set up an easel of any kind . . .it would be a sail! So, I began looking for places to paint . . . .driving here and there all the while searching for a place “that would look good in paint.” Whoops!! I could have gone on all day long!

What I really needed was a place that was wind protected ! I didn’t necessarily need a fancy schmancy place that was pretty to look at . . .and probably already in hundreds of paintings! . . . . . . . .I just needed to set up my easel in a good, well protected place and find something there to paint. That’s right. There is ALWAYS something. It just takes a little effort in LOOKING and SEEING.

This beautiful tree with silver bark was waiting all the time. I loved the light on its branches. It was a struggle (still unused to the techniques of oil painting!) But here it is . . .with her arms outstretched, “She Waits” . . . .

Confining The Subject

“Surf Watch”
Oil on linen on board, 8″x 10″

Yesterday was one of those rush rush days. Ran to the painting location on a beach here, set up and had to ‘scram’ fast. There was much going on there last nite. Beach visitors, houses on the cliff, nice sunlit patterns on the cliff walls and houses. Even three guys lounging around against the cliff on the beach. It would have / could have made . . . .well, um, now that I think about it . . . . .a rather trite painting. And besides, there was too darned much to spend time on with a small canvas. I had exactly an hour of light left.

So, it was cut to the essentials and get on with it . . .without dithering. This game is about putting down what you see, trusting that it is right, then moving to the next spot of color.

Let’s see, what color is the color of sand? ? ? Gotta choose something! Better mix something. Whaddabout that shadow? What color is that? Can’t name it. Just match it and move on to the next spot of color. (Under my breath I am thanking my stars for all the studying and experimenting I have done with color and mixing!)

So, here is what came out . . . . .”Surf Watch” . . . .

Staying True To The Reason We Paint

“Still Life #63″
Watercolor on Arches Cold Press 15″ x 22”

Last weekend I had a chance to do a demo for a good sized art group about watercolor painting. My philosophy is simply this: Have fun doing this! That was the reason we all started doing this to begin with, right? So, I have fun in the demo . . .and get everyone laughing and teach techniques and design ideas at the same time. This piece took 90 minutes with a 15 minute break half way through.

The painting is (I think!) number 63 of a series I have been working on of the same still life set up. There will be more about that in future posts. In short, series work is designed to open creative doors that the artist would not otherwise access if just painting one painting. Working in series allows us to take chances to find out what will happen if . . . .

The mood of the piece came out fun . . .eh?

Chasing the light

“Sunny Cove”
Oil on linen on panel 8″ x 10″
SOLD

Last post I spoke of painting “Late Shadows” . . .the painting is just below this post.

I have chosen to work the hard way. That is to go out in the late afternoon around 5PM when the sun is low and moving quickly toward the horizon. There are lot of hills around the area I live, Santa Cruz, California. So, while shadows get nice and long and the light becomes golden toward the hour of 7 PM, the sun finds a place behind a hill shortly before or after 7. That means I have two hours of painting time and am chasing the light as I paint. There is no time for getting stuck or sitting back to ponder for very long. This is immediate and urgent work.

I am amazed at how quickly it all falls into place. Mind you, I have done my share of studying, so I usually have a pretty firm plan before beginning. Believe me, it helps to have a plan!

The urgency of this approach makes for non-fussy work. And . . .you either get it or you don’t. This is a good thing because I don’t have any room to carp or complain if it doesn’t come out well. It comes out like it comes out. Period. (Fortunately, most of them make it to “acceptable”)

The nice thing about doing this daily is that EVERY PAINTING COUNTS! What that means is that each painting, failure or success, is contributing to all the successes. In other words, experience matters in painting. The more one paints, the better one becomes.

The piece for today was done two weeks ago right after work. I ran to the car, drove to a nearby beach cove and set up shop. This is an impression of the place just before dusk. Again, I get excited by the results and the process!

The First Plein Air Oil . . .

“Late Shadows”
Oil on linen on panel 12″ x 16″

Here it is . . .Not especially the best technique, but a two hour effort to capture the light through the trees. I had an absolute BALL painting this!!! 12 x 16 inches, oil on linen on wood panel.

The Time Has Come . . .

“Taking a Stab At It”
Watercolor on paper, 15″ x 22″

The time has arrived after much deliberation, consideration and excitement . . . .to make the commitment. Yup! I have decided to commit to making a painting a day . . . .every day except Sunday.

This may not seem like much if you aren’t an artist, but I can assure you that the commitment requires putting just about everything else aside in order to meet the promise.

Why, you ask? Simple! To compress a lot of experience into a short time. To force the learning process. To create new art. To GROW . . .and grow quickly.

You may know me as a watercolorist. In fact, that I am. But let me be very clear about something; I am an ARTIST before all else. Yes, I paint watercolors . . .and darned good ones. Some might say that they push the edges of the medium to an extreme. I agree.

Something has been eating at me over the last several years: The oil paints I have in my taboret drawer. I recently came across Kevin MacPherson and a few of his delightful plein air pieces. As well, I had ordered a new set up for plein air painting with watercolor. The one I purchased happened to be almost the same set up that he uses. I took it out and tried oil painting with it one time. I was bitten!! And I was bitten hard!!

Then, while exploring the internet for plein air painters, I came across a website featuring painters who had made a commitment to a painting a day . . . .and then my bite got much, much worse. I could quickly see how much growth these people had mustered in a short period of time. So, here I was. . . .madly going out to paint almost daily in the late afternoon and getting up early to paint in the studio.

Meanwhile, I was still going to class, teaching “Watercolor Beyond the Obvious” and doing my level best to continue in my still life series (another post for later) and creating some interesting abstracts for the more serious genre of studio born watercolors. I will use the one above as the piece to kick off this blog.

I fully expect to remain loyal as a watercolorist, you can see the work on the website by clicking here. But you can also expect to see me pushing into the next world of oil.

I’ll be posting oil paintings daily here. Watch for them!

Welcome to M.E. Bailey Art Blog

Here you will find adventures in painting. . . . Victories, absolute defeats, frustrations, highs, lows, lessons learned, commentary and thoughts from me and other artists.

As an art instructor, I don’t wish to hide the fact that I crash and burn often. I will always be learning. So, it all gets shown here . . .good and bad. Every painting we do counts in the learning and experience process. The failures actually are much better teachers than successes. Every piece made is a teacher. That’s the fun of it: the challenge to learn!

Search for a word in the box to the left: Color, Value, Perspective, Ideas, Muse, Plein Air. . .etc . . . .you’ll find plenty of paintings and ideas here. Have fun!

Join in and comment or email me, if you would like.