Hee’zzz Baaaaaack !!!!

“Perigord Pasture”

oil on canvas panel, 12″ x 16″
Take a deep breath, Mike, and exhale! Again. Now, once more.
Whew! It has been toooo long! So, after posting my new year greetings this morning, I fired up the new computer (with the big jazzy monitor) and pulled out a 12 x 16 canvas panel and painted this piece! I can hardly stand still, I am so excited!! If you are painting in a studio from photos, then this is a tool you cannot be without! There is so much one can do to the photo to stimulate a great painting . . . .well . . . .at least it’ll get you excited and raise your hopes!! 😉
Today, I began this with a size 12 flat brush and didn’t put it down until I was ready to begin highlighting with higher key values. Keeping the paint thin while I blocked it in, I kept my darks transparent and thin so I could layer those juicy highlights over them. Having never painted a cow or four legged creature in my life, this was a challenge I had been avoiding. So, true to the stuff I teach, I decided that it was NOT a cow. It was just a combination of shapes of color. Having talked myself into that, the number 12 brush skipped along with no problem.
I tried a few ‘cute tricks’ too. Palette knife work with some broken color in the tree, branches, and a few little lines at the base of the painting. Also, having painted a warm, medium value orangish color where the lit grass is, I scumbled over it laying a big dry brush on its back. All sorts of wonderful stuff happened with just a light touch and effortless pass just grazing (that is an intended pun) over the canvas.
What a way to welcome myself back!!! I am dancing a jig!!

Another Experiment

Well, . . .here is another experiment . . .light, color and shadow bouncing off a white pitcher on a white plate sitting in a colored tissue paper nest.

But Hey! The PHOTO came out great! Doncha think?! 😉
The shadows on the pitcher and plate seem a bit neutral here . . .I may have to re-evaluate the painting.

This piece is painted on venetian red gessoed masonite. I noticed that (because of an hour long interruption) the paint began setting up almost immediately . . .or the oil soaked into the gesso. By the time had come to put in the highlights and make adjustments to color or value or both, the paint had become just like gum! Sticky and literally had to tug the brush through the paint.

Back to linen. It is soooooo nice and workable!

Puttering Day

“Surf Stump”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
Big family events are afoot. Today we are meeting our daughter’s future in laws and entertainting them. As well, Daughter and mom are out seeking wedding locations for a not so far off date. I got stuck with tidying up. Stuck might not be the right word. Shall we say ‘elected?’ 😉
I know what will happen this evening. Everyone will want to go to the studio to see what goes on there. And it is a big mess. I gotta git bizzy!
Today’s painting really isn’t done today. It has been held back for a few weeks waiting for a day like today when I simply cannot paint. I almost got my feet wet doing this one. I was perched on a rock with my easel and the waves were lapping at my feet while I tried to characterize this ‘stump’ of a rock and how it is being clobbered every single minute of every day.

Reflections and Light

“Reflective Surfaces”
oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″
Today’s piece was out of necessity. Necessary because I didn’t go outside to paint today. Now that I think about it, I should have. It is beautiful weather! I also promised I wouldn’t paint more ocean cliffs.
Elio Camacho, an extraordinary painter who really understands the characteristics of color and working temperature, intensity and value simultaneously, is gracing my paintings with some truly instructive critiques. So, when I went to the studio today, I had his crits in mind and set out to put some of that stuff to work.
Ouch! I got lost in making the reflections work!! And value relationships. I am going back to the studio, pulling out another study canvas and painting colored blocks and going to work on temperature contrasts.
Am going to fool around with cobalt turquoise and indian yellow and quinacridone rose. That should give me a start toward making something new and exciting happen with color.

Why Fascinated?

“Nearing Sunset”
oil on linen on panel, 10″x 8″
Sometimes there are subjects that defy logic or conventional formulas . . . .like rocks and broken faces of cliffs . . .and evidence of layered strata in cliff faces with all the random planes. I suppose that is why this subject held my interest in watercolor for so many years. And, I guess, it is the reason I keep going back and back and back and coming away less than satisfied.
In short, it is a tuff subject to paint. The painters who do the Grand Canyon amaze me. Those who do Sadona and Zion, etc make me stare in wonder: How do they do thaaaaat?
All this work in the past few days has been in answer to that constant fascination. Each day, it seems to get a little easier. Today, some things fell into place. Light and shadow is the part which complicates matters. Separating the two and keeping them separate is a big part of it. Another is working with color relatives inside those areas . . .or so I think. Cools and warms. Value and color transitions. Edges. Sheesh! This gets complicated! Oh, but there is more! I won’t go into it now, but you get the idea.
And you are bored with looking at this subject? Okay. I’ll take a break. But not for long.

Macpherson Was Right!

“Try Another Path!”
oil on canvas, 36″ x 24″
Kevin Macpherson was right. The power of doing little studies outdoors, then using them as reference in the studio is the only way to go.

This is the largest piece to date . . .and I itch to get really big . . . .at 36″ x 24″ I had to reach to get at it (okay, I’m a short guy!) . . .

Those studies I did over the weekend in the wind, and the photos I took set this piece in motion. I used the photos for a few minutes to get a general idea . . .then in the drawings, stretched the height of the big cliff to exaggerate the feeling of altitude.

Then I buried the photos. Yup! Totally hid them so I couldn’t be tempted to get near them. This painting had to come from the heart. I propped up the studies (the three posted paintings from the last few days) . . .looked at what I liked and didn’t like and set some small goals for this studio piece. I let the plein air pieces be my guide then improvised from there.

We can always improve on everything we do, but I think this painting says what I wanted it to say. It is loose in areas, tight in others, the colors are harmonic and there is a sense of space and atmosphere that works. Could it be better? Of course! But considering the few pieces I have done so far to date, I am happy with it.
Now, of only Macpherson would say the same thing!! :-))
(P.S. I wonder what I’ll say a year from now!)

Terrible Tuesday

“Pink Toes”
oil on linen on panel, 10″ x 8″
Tuesday. It arrived too early this morning. I was involuntarily aroused while painting in my sleep. I sprang awake at 2:45AM and with my mind in high gear. I was awake. For the day!
So, I did what I always do when that happens. I got up and went to the studio . . . . after a cup of joe, first. Now, however, I am stumbling around and bumping into things. Just too little sleep, thank you.
This is a rescue from the weekend workshop. A little sketch piece that needed work.
I also began a larger version of one of the weekend’s pieces and am nearly finished with it already. It needs tuning yet, but most of it is in the finished stages. Maybe tomorrow or the day after, I’ll post it.
Meanwhile, to rescue this one, I used a hint of pink and violet to stir it awake.

Some Days Are More Difficult

“Before the Wind”
oil on stretched canvas, 16″ x 20″
Sunday was the same as Saturday. Wind, Wind and more wind!

I have terrible difficulty seeing the colors on the palette in bright sunlight. So, with the wind, I couldn’t put up an umbrella in the wind. It was a struggle. Then, I got caught in the details . . .and I know better!!! So, an hour in the studio this morning, tweaking values and reducing the details helped immensely. Not that a night’s sleep and rest from the wind had anything to do with it!!

This piece might be a little too illustrative, but what the heck! It’s a workshop piece. One thing I did notice is that I hit the right values and colors early in painting then, stupid me, I painted right through it! Serves me right for not stopping soon enough.

I could stand on those cliffs and paint for weeks on end! In fact, I could make a career out of the 50 mile stretch of our coast line! What a place we live in!!!

Testing My Grit

oil on stretched canvas, 16″ x 20″
You saw the last post. Who wouldn’t be excited about painting thaaaaat?! I sure was. That photo was taken last week at about 2 in the afternoon. Placid water. Warm day. Gorgeous sky. From that visit, I was exited. I flew out of bed at 5:45 AM with no alarm. I had loaded car the night before and I was psyched.
I left later in the morning with shorts on and a light summer shirt. When I arrived a brisk breeze was coming in off the sea . . . .a cold sea! We painted long after the morning demo. We started at around noon. Prior to that, several easels had blown over and the wind was now at 15 to 2o mph and carrying large quantities of dirt and sand. I found a 40 pound rock to hold in my easel weight pouch so it wouldn’t go over, but still had to bungee it down to a root at one point.
The wind disallowed puting up any sort of sun shade (Umbrella) as it would have become a very efficient sail! Short version: we painted till 4 PM and willingly threw in the towel. It tested every bit of patience I had . . .and my grit. The canvas bucked and wobbled the whole time.
As for the final test? To be sure I could stand it, nature sent me home with 1/2 pound of grit in my back pack . . .every pocket . . .every cranny . . .every wrinkle, on me and my belongings had grit in it. And . . . you know what? . . . . . .
I had a BLAST !!!! 🙂

Painting Light

“Pepper and Pitcher”

oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″
I have an acquaintance in the UK . . .Paul . . .his link is here on my list (Learning to See) . . .look for him. He is a disciplined painter from whom I should take lessons. Right now, he is painting blocks . . .wooden blocks . . .and testing his skills at nailing values of light. He is very good at it, yet he studies more.
There is much to this idea of painting. Waaaaay more than making pretty pictures, that is for sure! Painting the right value and color of light (Not Things or places) lifts a painting into another world. This white pitcher was a great exercise for me this morning. That is an exercise in seeing. I am sure I didn’t nail it, but am getting closer and closer. It takes practice. Lots and lots and lots of it. Painting the shadows first, in the right value, I was convinced that the shadow portions on the pitcher were the wrong color and tooooo dark! As it turned out, they weren’t too dark . . .they were actually too light! One learns to trust one’s self in this game. When all the colors were on the canvas, I could see instantly that the relationships between colors and values were right enough to make the pitcher appear to be white. In fact, there is no pure white in this painting. Interesting, eh?
Tomorrow I won’t be posting until late, if at all. I am going on a weekend plein air ‘painting intensive’ to paint cliffs, rocks and surf in a workshop environment. I love being near that stuff, much less painting it. So, this weekend might produce a few nice pieces . . .then again, maybe not. If I get something out of the weekend, I will post on Sunday evening . . . hopefully.