Art Blog

Look Only As Far As . . . .

“Red Bells”

Oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″

I am one of those people who begins to get a little shakey if I don’t create something. I don’t know why or how that is. It just izzzz. That means that if I find myself getting irritable or grouchy, I probably need some time with a paint brush. When it seems the world is getting too close or crowding me or my time, I go to the studio for a while and schmear paint. If I read about it and don’t do it, then the itch just gets worse.

People ask me constantly, “How do you find the time?” or “How do you do it all?” I suppose the answer is something to the effect of “How could I not?” This morning I awoke at 3:30 AM with my head buzzing with ideas. By 4 AM I was in the studio painting. Done at 6:30AM, my mind is now settled and I am ready to get on with the day while completely satisfied that all is right with the world. Nice ! 🙂

I experience similar feelings about getting outside to paint, but when circumstance dictate otherwise, I look no further than my studio and the produce drawer in the refridgerator for something to paint . . . .or deep in an old cupboard, or a drawer, or my workshop. There is always something waiting for the honor of being promoted from ‘ordinary’ to a treasured piece of art.

Coping With Confinement

“Papaya”
Oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″

Sometimes we have to do what’s best for others. And right now, it seems that is what is called for. My wonderful wife injured her achilles tendon and is due for surgery in a day or two. Obviously, she can’t move around, so I am the one to maintain life as we know it . . .cooking, cleaning and taking care of her.

In spite of the the confinement to the house, my studio is right downstairs. So, when she is resting and not in need (and the chores are done), I am in the studio fooling around. Well . . . . . . . .fooling around might not be the word for it . . . .would studying and experimenting be better? . . . . .I suppose that is what any artist would call it. Cuz, that is precisely what every movement in the studio is all about: trial and error and learning.

Thanks to Jeff Hayes and his archives, he developed a shadow box in which to control light in still life set ups. I cut up a cardboard box, painted it black and proceeded to paint little stills. What an amazing tool that is! Thanks to Jeff!! The light comes alive!

So, unless I can get out of the house for a few hours and Diana is cared for, I will be in the studio making these little wonders.

Please excuse the glare on the canvas. I haven’t yet figured out how to avoid that while photographing a wet painting.

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.