Gray Day

“Soup Stock”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
Painting on gray days is VERY different than on sunny days. There is no shadow . . .at least discernible shadows. Then there is the insipid magnetism into the details of the rocks! EeeGads I got lost on this one. Then, out came the palette knife . . .not accustomed to using it . . . to see if I could do something with this painting.
There are some who love this painting. I guess you can’t please everyone all the time . . . . . ………especially the artist!! But, I remind myself, this is practice . . . .a means of learning . . . . . . . . ……. . . .trying new stuff . . . .and one cannot expect glorious results every time.

No Parking

“No Parking”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″

Recently, in another post comment, Ed Terpening mentioned that he used a scanner to photo his plein air pieces. This one used a scanner, too. I had to buy a fax, scanner combo for business purposes, so this is a trial. The accuracy of this image is disconcerting because one can see every thread of the canvas! And one can see how thin the paint is.

This brings up a question . . .I need help from you readers . . . .I slobber on the paint (or so it seems) only to have it later absorb into the weave of the canvas or linen. Apparently, I am not putting it on thick enough. What do you artists do to get such rich texture and paint thickness? A palette knife? I see brush marks in all of Terpening’s work, why don’t mine come up the same? Do you first seal the surface in some way? Does toning the canvas set up a seal so that the brush marks appear and the paint sits on the surface? Comment, please!

This piece was done a few weeks ago and was dry enough to put into the scanner. It is titled no parking, because of the sign in the painting. In life, there are parking places just outside the frame of the painting. This is a common scene here in Santa Cruz . . . .cliffs, ice plant, surf and sand. And, yes, this is exactly how it looks . . .colors and all! Not a baaaad place to live and paint, eh? 🙂

Mother and Daughter

“Mother and Daughter”
oil on canvas on panel, 12″ x 16″

Happy Memorial Day! If you read my last post under the radishes, you read about my disappointment at not being able to paint two gorgeous trees. I had to go elsewhere. Sometimes, misfortune is the best way to steer ourself away from a certain kind of trouble. I had a ‘scene’ in mind that afternoon. Now that I think of it, it was way more complex than I should have been painting . . .too many ideas and not enough emphasis of one thing.

This painting and I were out in the field for four hours . . .and I came away disappointed. I had an epiphany in the shower this morning about making some key changes in it so I ran to the studio to implement the changes. This is the outcome.

For you painters out there, these eucalyptus trees are absolute rascals to paint. I am beginning to understand the nuances I must build into these beauties to really set them off and it seems those nuances and subtleties must be laid in first. Next time, I ‘ll be wiser. Already, I can see progress from the first of this month. We may only gain inches, but we learn best by hard won experience.

Hope your weekend is wonderful!

Still Concerned With Simplification

“Quail Hollow”
oil on linen on panel, 10″ x 8″
Good Morning! I am reeling a bit from my plein air outing yesterday.
While I believe I captured the feeling of the place, I am still a little cranky about how I manage to paint Eucalyptus trees. These guys are magnificent labyrinths of light and shadow and have a personality all their own. The traditional California Landscape artists painted these gorgeous beauties in a way that completely mystifies me. The shapes alone are enough to arouse! They stand close to our roads here and I sometimes nearly drive into the ditch while staring at them. Scary! There is a mezmorizing and dazzling array of light coming from inside the tree and the long, slender silver-ish trunks and branches.
I am trying my darndest to paint them . . . .with simple strokes. But I am not following my own teaching . . . .”Don’t paint things! Paint Shapes, Textures, Color and Values.” Instead, I catch myself trying to paint “trees” not spots of color or making strokes of light and shadow. Yesterday, I came closer . . . . .but I am still cranky about the attempt. See for yourself.
Oh, and there is more to say. But I fear there will be no readers if I go on. I’ll save it for another day.

The Creative High

“Facing West”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″

Aaaaah!! A nice dose of vitamin D was gathered yesterday. I got out into the beautiful day and painted en plein air! Whooopppeee! It has been three long weeks!

What is it about the successful painting experience that gives us artists such a high? After a day standing at the edge of our lovely town, looking at the waves and foam, breathing the fresh, misty air . . . and making a painting that sings when in a frame, I am so high I can hardly sit still!! And that is no exaggeration. I feel like singing at the top of my lungs!!

I can remember when I was first learning to paint and how I carried frustration most of the time (this is years ago) . . . . but when I got one that spoke to me at the finish, I was high for a full week. There must be a huge endorphin release when we have a successful experience. Maybe that is why we artists are on a continual chase for more paintings!

This little painting took but 90 minutes and really feels like the conditions of the day . . . .a slight mist hanging over the cliffs as the sun penetrated in and the glare from the water bleached all color from everything near it. Wooo Hooo!! I feel good!!

Chasing the light

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

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!