Yesterday . . .

Fixed it!! “Don’t Back Up!”

oil on canvas on panel, 12″ x 16″
It is a crummy feeling to go to bed with a feeling gnawing at you that the painting just posted was a huge mistake. I dreamt all night about it. My painting Buddy, Bill, and I discussed and disected the piece in the morning to no avail . . . . .until I turned it upside down and saw it out of the corner of my eye . . . .Values were wrong and the shape of the dark chasm was wrong and blah blah blah!
So, instead of posting yesterday, I took the painting of “Don’t Back Up” back to the studio . . .(yes, to go backwards!! 😉 ) to fix it. But, before that, Bill and I scrambled to our morning painting location 25 miles south of here. Upon returning, I painted some more . . . .I fixed the ‘back up’ piece, punched up the piece I had just painted with Bill and did a 20 minute study for a bigger painting I have in mind. No post yesterday, but there was a flurry of painting activity.
Feel free to comment and critique. I have been painting for a long time . . .not oils . . .and can sort out the wheat from the chaff, so go ahead and scald me if it is needed. I can see something that still irritates me a little bit in this painting, but am not sure how I should correct it . . .or if I should at all. Go ahead. Say it. I am asking for it.

Don’t Back Up!

“West Cliff, 9 AM”
oil on canvas panel, 12″ x 16″

I live in an unbelievably scenic place. Deciding where to paint is a major decision. Being in the local plein air event here has been fun and completely compelling. Suddenly, I have shifted from making simple, daily practice pieces to paintings that have to be shown. Performance anxiety lurks about my heels and occasionally nips me. So, I am prone to take on more complex pieces . . .and thus occupy my thoughts until the paintings are completed properly. Sometimes these pieces require a little bit of studio manipulation for me to concede their public freedom.

This painting was done standing on the high rocks a mere 40 feetstraight down to the surf and jagged rocks. Being the compulsive, completely focused painter that I am, I sometimes find myself backing up from the easel in order to ‘see’ it better . . . . .not a good idea here!!! One must keep one’s wits tuned when on the rocks.

I must apologize for the color balance in this photo. The lit surface of the mid ground rocks is not as orange as it appears here. My photoshop skills need development, for sure!

If you are ever painting in Santa Cruz, or standing on the rocks, remember this admonition . . .(it really is fair advice for living too): Don’t Back up!! 🙂

Nearly Wet Feet

“Pelican Truck Stop”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
Yesterday afternoon, my old friend Bill and I painted on the rocks while the surf was busting at our feet pushing the tide inward. I know of no greater pleasure than to be out there in the fresh, salty air and watching the light fly about as it reflects off every wave and every ripple. The white foam can be mezmorizing. . . to the extent that the waves surprise you. Wet feet on the rocks can be a big problem.
I have a question about pthalo blue . . . .if you know the answer, please comment . . .and, yes, only for oil paint. Last evening before bed I looked at the painting once more. I thought it was my imagination, but the white appeared to be tinting bluer in the foreground and loosing value. When I awakened this morning, only the thickest white showed up! I was shocked. I used Pthalo blue in the water. Does it creep into the white and stain it progressively? Or could it be the quality of Titanium White I am using (Utrecht)?
In watercolor, Pthalo blue is evil! Extremely high tinting strength and a vicious staining power that will ruin all the other paints in their wells if they are contaminated with this blue. Gotta be very careful with it!

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.

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!