Kicking Off 2012 . . . .

“Morning Tide”
Watercolor 22 x 30 inches
Following a challenge by my friend and colleague, David Lobenberg, we have been both painting the same subject from the same photo. When the challenge was issued (by Dave) I wondered about making changes to the composition. The lighting, the value and color changes in the rocks, the foam, the waves, the sky all presented different challenges. I couldn’t wait to get at it! It has taken me nearly a week to complete this painting. One of the reasons it took so long was that the original photo had the bottom 1/3 of the image solid dark rocks. In my humble opinion, the bottom part of the image needed a passage of light in order for the eye to get into the body of the painting. So, I created the entire lower third of the piece to bring that about.
I might have jumped the gun a bit, not waiting to see Dave‘s painting, but have been so deeply involved in “getting it right” that I could not wait to post the results. I am expecting Dave to post his piece any day now.
For those who are wondering “how” this piece was done . . . . . beginning with the sky ten to fifteen graded washes were glazed over each other, using red, yellow and blue. The big rock in the mist was laid in part way through the glazing process then repeatedly glazed over with the various washes in order to ‘push it back’ and envelop it into the colored mist.
I had a lot of fun working this piece as it was a return to a level of concentration which bordered on being in a trance. . . . . . .which is the probable reason most of us painters paint.
Happy New Year to All for 2012 !

Disappearing Act

“Flat Foot”
Oil on stretched canvas, 16 x 20 inches
This scene is a familiar one to me. I used to park at the end of this long spit of rock, in my car, when I was an older teen, to neck with my girlfriend. The road went all the way out to the end. Since then, much has been lost. And even recently, the sea eats away at this spectacular chunk of rock and sandstone.

This subject has been attempted before, several times, but this time my senses were able to add some interest by allowing some colors to be present that most folks would never associate with this grayish rock. Instead, I figured, let’s entertain the viewer. That’s the really cool part of being a painter. I can make that rock look any way I want it to appear. Hope you like it.

Crimson Ride

“Crimson Ride”
oil on canvas panel, 8 x 10 inches
While painting another scene adjacent to a local fisherman’s harbor, I labored over getting that painting right. After throwing in the towel, I turned, went accross the street and slapped out this little painting in twenty minutes. I had become very tight and fussy with the last one and needed to cut loose. This painting will never see a frame, but there are parts of it that I find arresting. I will probably go back and make a larger, highly engaging piece from this subject.
Right now, this whole plein air thing is to practice practice practice. I can feel the skills sharpening with every painting. This one was just plain fun!

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.

Finding Balance

“Flotsam
Watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
This painting kept me challenged for the best part of 2 days. Admittedly, it gave me fits. The angst came from building the value contrast from left to right with the strong, dark reflection on the far right shore of this beach pond. The brilliant light on the left opposing that reflection on the right caused serious balance difficulties. The rivulets at the bottom of the painting took a few hours to design in order to lead the eye into the painting and provide an interesting abstraction. You wouldn’t believe how much eventually was scrubbed out of this piece in order to get it to behave . . .it may take me a few days before I actually decide if it is a show piece or not.

The far shore is what this piece is about. Every thing else in the painting is supposed to lead the eye to that point. Click on the painting to expand it so you can see what’s happening there. Hopefully, the monitor resolution is good enough to make out the color detail there. The stark value contrasts there and the edges keep the painting in balance (I hope!). It took nearly six different attempts and glazes to dial it in.

I have been on a tear to paint lately, since I have another show coming up, which has a theme of water flowing to the sea. So, I am painting big, strong pieces in hopes that a few will be show worthy. This is a welcome break from the web work on my website last week. If you haven’t seen the new site, check it out here.

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!