Taking Chances . . .Again

“Backwash”
watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
Having just received a shipment of new paper (never tried this type before now) from England, I just HAD to take the most unfamiliar type and put it to the test . . . .or, shall I say, to many tests?
Waterford paper, made by St. Cuthberts Mill in the UK, is quite beautiful in its whiteness and its textures. The finish they make on cold press and rough are really lovely. But how well does it take a wash or glaze or . . .how does it work wet into wet . . .or if the paint is scrubbed in with a bristle brush? How well or easily does paint lift? And what of the edges? Can the image be manipulated after a base layer has been laid down? What becomes of the paper surface in vigorous lifting? And, what happens to the color when the sizings and chemistry of the paper’s structure mix with various pigments?
The heavy package arrived from England late last week. I had never seen shipped paper packaged so well! It arrived without a single sheet being even slightly tweaked! I couldn’t use it right away because I was working on the last painting posted . . .remember? The one that was taking all the time with so many glazes. Maybe the distraction of wanting to paint on that wonderful new paper was enough to cause the slaughter of that painting. I know I *wanted* badly to get to it and try it.
So, here is the very first piece . . . .Waterford 200lb cold press. That’s right: two hundred pound! Yummy paper. I took every risk I knew of to challenge the surface and try to find the achilles heel of the paper. I washed, glazed, scrubbed, lifted, scraped, pushed, tarnished and did everything I could to see what would happen. And, WOW!! It responds so beautifully and continues to show off the glorious character of the paper itself. The transparency of the colors works better on this paper than any I have tried to date. The white water with a slight cool wash just glows in this piece. (P.S. The lower right corner is orange in the photo because of a lighting goof.)
In all, I am extremely pleased with how well this paper responds! Now to find a source for it here in the USA.

Tagging Time

“Mirror At My Toes”
watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
Just finished this piece . . .but now it is time to honor those who have tagged me and to pass along the same honor. I must admit that I have procrastinated on this for some time, so now is the time.
Thanks to Faye Christian Phillips, Stacey Peterson and Milind Mulick for tagging me three times. Each is so very different, yet worth a ton of study. Their artwork is stunning!
I will be tagging some different artists this time and have reasons for doing so. Here’s the list and why I tagged them. There is a link in each of their names:
Diane Hoeptner for her playfulness and interesting perspective in her paintings.
Myrna Wacknov for her steady dedication to personal growth and perfecting her drawing skills.
Sandy Maudlin for her talent and desire to paint.
Peggy Stermer Cox for her creativity and willingness to explore spectacular abstractions. We could all learn something from this lady with her shape making talent!
Bruce MacEvoy for more than painting. Also look up his handprint.com and click on the little color wheel. I am tagging Bruce for multiple reasons. First, to acknowledge the incrdible contributions he has made regarding watercolor paints and the science of it. Amazing!! Secondly, Bruce must be the most insistently curious and analytical painter there is. And third, to introduce myself to him. Thanks for everything, Bruce!
Peggy Zalucha who began a blog last March and is one of the world’s finest watercolor painters. I hope this tag will awaken her blogging. We need to see more of Peggy and her work. If not me, the world!
Six is all I am tagging today.
Here are the required seven things about me
  • I am compulsive to paint paint paint and paint some more
  • There are eleven children in my family
  • Was once a roofer and a marketing VP for a few hi tech companies before being a painter
  • Am an avid cook. Much of my art is in the kitchen . . .I make sourdough bread.
  • Have a degree in Engineering and never once practised it.
  • Once lived on a lake in Wisconsin.
  • Father pushed me away from art as an occupation

Instructions for you who have been tagged:

1. Put a link in your posting to the person who tagged you.
2. List 7 unusual things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and comment on their blogs to let them know.

Letting Go Of What I “Know”

“White Blankets”
watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
I have often heard from other painters the question, “We want to know what you think about when you paint.”

The very first thing one must do . . . .and this isn’t the easiest to even recognize, much less actually DO . . . . .is to let go of what you think you know. That is precisely what I must do when I paint anything, much less a seascape like this.

First off, let’s look at the most obvious dangerous thought in this painting: “The foam is white.” Nope! Wrong! It isn’t just white. Believe me, there is a rainbow of color in there. So, one must THINK carefully about what color goes where to leave a ‘white’ idea but a visual which has complete impact. There is a range of violets, greens, grays, blues, oranges and an occasional red in all this white. It must all work together to read as ‘white’ but cannot actually BE white.

The same goes for all the color in the cliffs and hillsides. The reflections, too. It is a chorus or a concert, if you will, of multiple colors and values.

The biggest concern I had in this painting . . . .get ready for this! . . . . was how big is the ‘white’ (or very light valued colors that approach nearly white) versus how big were the medium and dark values. Yes. Failure to pay attention to size dominance (where one group of values is significantly larger than the other group) could have ruined this painting. A half and half split between sizes would have been most unsettling. One value group (lights or darks) must dominate over the other in size.

Those are some of the things I must pay close attention to in the act of painting. It would have been a large mistake to think “Water” and “Waves” and “Rocks” . . . rather than light, mid and dark value . . . rather than warm and cool . . . rather than soft edge versus hard edges . . . .rather than splash is white . . . .rather than paying attention to the edges, the temperature, the value and whether there is shadow or light on the splash.

It goes on and on from there. I suppose that is the reason I get so ensnared in the painting process. It is such a deep and revealing meditative state. For me, it is absolute euphoria!

Hard Weekend!

“Hydraulic Hammer”
Watercolor, 22 x 30inches
Friday morning I began this and was completely compelled by the compositional arragement of lights and darks. I worked on it Friday, Saturday and Sunday . . .from Sketches. This sort of subject calls up all the knowlege about color, light and shadow.
This is one I am very proud to post.

Who Me? Bored ???

“Soup Kitchen”
watercolor, 22 x 30 inches

Yesterday, My wife asked if I was ever bored being at home alone.

I have been working on this painting for a few days. The idea seized me while I was working on “Sand Slick” earlier in the week.

As I progressed through the painting, working from memory without the aid of photos or sketches, I was struck with a lot of questions about how water ‘works’ in close to the shore . . .against rocks, along the beach and most especially, AFTER the crash of a wave. Why ‘after,’ you ask? The answer is that while one wave is forming and building to a crescendo, another wave is finishing its erosive action and reversing its flow backwards toward the incoming wave. Not knowing just how all of this works to form visual patterns that I could paint, I set out to study and discover ‘what’s up with wave action.’ I took my trusty digital camera to the shore and took over 200 photos to study on my computer.

Digital cameras are just the best! In short order, I was at the computer studying the images to see what happens in the movement of the water. I could never have had such prompt (or inexpensive !) results with film. Had I used film, the images would have cost me close to $100 to develop and I may well have been distracted by something else by the time the processed photographs were received days later.

There are all sorts of cross currents and opposing forces at work that throw the water’s surface into seeming chaos. At least it looked as though it was chaos. It isn’t at all. One just needs to watch and observe and study carefully what is happening and what causes the water to move. Obstacles such as big rocks and beaches all push the water back in the direction it came sending opposing waves and currents to the incoming wash. The result is fascinating to watch.

Then there is the pattern of the foam on the surface. Wow! Is it random or does it follow some sort of predictable pattern? Try to figure that out!! The dazzling dark / light patterns and line are just mind numbing! I tried to give the sensation of the foam in this piece. It looks like I have soooo MUCH MORE to learn . . .both about water and painting.
I just cannot imagine EVER being bored !

A Time to Do The Familiar

“Sand Slick”
watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
I am still smarting over the last post. While the “picture” is okay, as a painting it fails on a few counts. I am going to tackle it again, but first, I just HAD to do something for the sheer enjoyment.

Understand that I am always up for a challenge, but there are also times when it feels good to just whistle a melody and sling paint. I have done enough landscapes and sea paintings in my experience to feel very comfy in their execution. Some good music in the background, a rainy day, a cozy studio and away I go!!

So, here’s the latest. Don’t get your feet wet!

An Update

“Greyhound Rock”
oil on canvas panel, 8″ x 10″
This painting is of a landmark north of here called Greyhound Rock. I have, as you probably already know, a fascination with the vivid colors of ice plant. On this day, however, the foreground ice plant was green . . .almost kelly green. So, taking artistic license, I chose to use different colors to help throw the focus up onto the rocks and sea. (By now you must be getting bored with this, but I can’t help myself!)

On another note, I should say THANKS to all who came to my open studio. Many artists, including myself, often measure the success of such an event in the numbers of paintings sold and the dollars brought in. I must take pause, however, this year for the obvious reasons relating to the economy, and make sure that I don’t drift too far into the mercenary mire of revenue versus artistic success.

Considering the financial climate we are all suffering, I had a fabulous open studio. The first weekend averaged about 130 visitors per day. The second wasn’t quite as well attended, but still, very worthwhile.

The studio was set up with several lessons that the lay person and artists alike would find to be interesting, such as a simple still life set up painted in 9 different color strategies to show how mood is often determined by the artist’s color choices. There was also a large board onto which I collaged (loosely) around 20 plus pencil sketches of preliminary studies. This board was next to two watercolor paintings (posted a few weeks ago) which were derived from those sketches. People found these displays fascinating . . . and the studio, too. ( Art studios are where mystical magic happens!) There was something for everyone from over 100 framed, original paintings on display around the property to the studio to the informative displays.

Open studios, as I reflect on it, are exciting and fun, like ‘open house’ kinds of parties . . . . . . . . .where friends and neighbors drop in, munch a little, chat, visit, update each other and eventually wander out refreshed and glad they came. This is similar, but there is much that happens in the way of expanded networking and being introduced to other artists and art events. In short, it is a function from which many new challenges and activities grow. Aside from selling nearly thirty paintings, this was a rich and enlivening experience. I could go on and on about the value (priceless!) of such events, but I shan’t bore you with my verbosity. Just know that with all the complaining about the amount of work, I will do it over and over again.

Thought you’d like to know how it went. If you came, thanks for coming. If you didn’t, I hope to see you next year!

Absolutely Perrrrrr fect !!

“Academy Cliffs”
oil on canvas panel, 8″ x 10″
Omigawd! I came in from painting outdoors today in near perfect 80 degree weather with low humidity and a very teensy haze through which you could see 60 plus miles.
And we were in a little known place standing on the edge of a high bluff . . .80 to 100 feet high . . .right next to the beach . . . .now get THIS !!!! We were watching over a dozen pods of dolphins screaming thru the waves right next to the beach. Each pod had 6 to 10 dolphins . . .they were going crazy!! Then about 1/4 of mile out to sea, whales were breaching and spouting and flipping their big tails up in the air!! Pelicans were diving after fish and there were lots of gulls circling round to get the scraps from the pellies . . . . .It was a veritable circus!!!!

Normally, we don’t see dolphins because the water is consderably more cold here than in the southern states . . . .like Florida . . . .and the whales don’t usually appear until January . . .and they are generally further out to sea. But today, they were all cavorting and jumping out of the water and we were the only ones watching this show!

I guess that this really is paradise!! Today was perrrr fect !!!

A Return to Normalcy

“A Sailor’s Delight”
oil on oil primed linen panel, 8″ x 10″
At last, most of the preparations for Open Studio are finished. I hung the show yesterday outdoors . . .over 80 paintings out there!! . . . .and because it is outside, every painting and hanging spot had to be coded so we could take down all the pieces then, on the day of the show, replace them in minutes. It is an arduous task, believe me, to arrange the show in a cohesive way and to get all the positions just right. Now, it’s clean house and do a few small details and we are ready! Yay!!!!
With the extra time now, I can putter away at the easel . . . .wellllll, sort of! I have a gallery show coming up in November, so now it is time to prep for that. Then another show in January of just watercolors. Busy!
This little fella was fun and interesting to work with color and values. I apologize for the slight glare on the painting . . . .I can’t see that in the camera . . . .it happens.
Normal is back!! 🙂

Too Good To Be True !!

“Beach Pond”

oil on canvas panel, 12′ x 16″

Some days are just too good to be true. And today was one of ‘em!

After sorting around in some of my painting haunts, I took a flyer today and knocked on the door of a property owner who had previously denied me access to their private beach and sprawling ranch property on the coast. Today, my buddy and I were welcomed and encouraged to go ahead and paint where ever we liked.

Mind you, in California there are VERY FEW beaches without human footprints on them. This place had N O N E ! What an amazing treat to be standing knee deep in native grass and actually not wanting to go onto the beach because it would disrupt such undisturbed natural perfection.

A small creek comes to a pond there on the beach and reflects the water and wind beaten bluffs. Mind you, the wind blows there all the time. So, it was paint with one hand and hold the umbrella and easel with the other! Save for the wind, my buddy and I decided that it would be a most perfect day if two naked women just happened along for us to gaze at while they sun bathed and we painted.

Like I said, some days are just too good to be true. What are the odds that our wishes came true? Today the lottery would have been in our favor, if you get my drift. We were blown away, but not by the wind, that is for sure!

And the painting came out well, too !!!! (Only in California, right?) HA!!!