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Saturday, April 1, 2017

SCPAPA at Irvine Park

 I had run out of white paint so I was a little late for the 9 am start with the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association Friday paint out.  I was excited to be painting at Irvine Park again.  I love the mature sycamore trees and the vista leading into the Cleveland National Forest.
 I had never painted the oldest trees in the park.  When I drove in and looked for painters I did not have to look far.  Everyone was by the old entrance to the park.
 After stopping by and saying hi to all the painters, I found my location to paint from.
 All set up and ready to go.  In addition to some flake white paint, I bought 5 brushes to work with.
 A simple start.  The block in is complete.  I was really happy with the moody underpainting.  All of the grays within the painting would set up the colors in the later stages of painting.
 Now through the end of the painting it is all about the simple adjustments to the values and the colors within the composition.  A strong start makes the decision making simpler in the later stages of the painting.  An unsure beginning will lead to an unsure finish.  
 Because the shadows on the ground were changing every minute, I had to decide what pattern I wanted to be in the painting.  I worked to establish their shape and finish them before really working on the rest of the painting.
 Although my primary focus was on the completion of the tree shadows, I did not completely neglect the other parts of the painting.  I added the sky holes in the trees to help define the shapes of the trees.  The idea of defining something by painting what it isn't.
 Here I am working on the shape of the oak tree in addition the detail of the tree shadows.
 As I get the final shapes and colors of the shadows finished, the challenge will be to get all areas of the painting to the same level of development.
 I am working my way around the painting and trying to finish specific parts of the painting.  The sycamore on the right and the foliage was the focus at this moment.  At some point you have to decide when something is finished.  The key is picking that moment when it is in front of you.
 When everything has set been kept on track within the painting, the finish is often a brilliant flourish of activity.  You know what to do and you are able to do it quickly without deliberation. 
 Finished!



 Irvine Park Sycamores 24x32 plein air oil on board.
The value shot.
The detail shot shows the quality of the brush work and the patterns of colors.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Oaks and Mustard in Brea Canyon

 The rain had greened the hills around my home more than any time I could remember.  The mustard is also more abundant than any time I could remember.  Many of the trees that have suffered have come back to a deep green.  Of course many other trees seem to be past the point of no return.  The hills and canyons have long been a favorite subject of mine.  I felt compelled to capture them before the late spring turns their color.
 This is the most simple start that I have made to date.  The goal is to spend more time in the development of the painting at the later stages.  Time is always at a premium and my change in approach is intended to emphasize the quality of the finish of the painting.
 I am adding the shapes of the trees and the weeds on the hill to fill in the composition.
 Here I am furthering the shapes of the trees and weeds.  I am trying to strike a balance between the light and dark areas and their patterns.  
 I am working to develop the range of values and colors throughout the painting.  You can see the start of the depth being created through the distant hills.
 Here I am defining the hill and the trees by painting what they are not.
 The stronger the initial composition the easier it is to stay on track.  I started to have difficulty with the shapes in the painting.  I ended up changing elements of the painting.  It seemed like I was getting farther away from what I was trying to say.
 This moment became pivotal in the development of the painting.  I see fellow painters get stuck in their problem solving.  They become tentative and unsure of themselves.  Realizing that you have made a mistake can be crippling to the creative process.  Instead of allowing your instincts to guide you; you start to overthink, over analyse, and become insecure in your efforts.  The end result is usually bad execution.
I took the opposite approach to the problems within the painting.  I could have accepted the results I had attained and packed it up.  I chose to dive into the areas of opportunity and push through the mistakes.  I took a "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" approach.  I pushed the painting forward with more action and less thought.  That is not to say I did not think about what was wrong.  It was quite the opposite.  I evaluated the painting, saw what was missing, and then tried to correct that with more action.  I do not wipe areas of the painting, I lay down more paint.
 I got to a point where I was satisfied with the shapes.  It was the best I could do so I accepted it and moved on.  Every painting cannot be everything you want it to be.  It is another step towards your developmental goals. 
You can really see the difference in the color when the sun was upon painting.
 The finished painting 24x32 plein air oil on board.
The value shot.
The detail shot.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Wendy Wirth Demo with SCPAPA at Big Bend Laguna Canyon

 Wendy volunteered her time for a demo.  It was a great day from a weather standpoint.  Over the course of the last couple paint outs, I found little to no participation by the membership.  It was nice to see 20 fellow painters come out.
 The landscape was so inspiring.  I had thought about my approach to the day on the drive down to Laguna.  I was so anxious to start painting that I could not really participate in the demo.
 I set up next to Wendy in the hopes that I could catch the information in the demo.  There have been times where I picked up on the content of the demo in a subconscious manner and included it in my painting.
 The block in of my painting has become simpler and quicker.  This is going to allow me to spend more time in the development of a more finished product.  I am looking to create the fullest expression of my thoughts and ability.  My goal is to invest more time at the end of the painting instead of the beginning. 
 On the drive down I thought about how I was going to express the variety of greens within the landscape.  Protecting the intensity of the shadows was a concern.  I knew that the sun would change the patterns in the hills.  I knew that pushing the vibrancy in the foreground would allow me to keep the background exciting.
 The block in is complete.  Painting larger paintings means taking different approaches than many of my contemporaries.  I am always the last painter to leave.  Wendy has done her demo and completed her painting and I have only gotten to complete my blocking in of my painting.
 As everyone packed up and finished up I got some visitors asking me about my painting.  Would I take it home to finish?  Would I come back another day to finish it?  How much longer would it take me to finish?  I have never taken a painting home to finish in the studio.  I have never gone back to a location to finish a painting on another day.  The reason I do not do this is pushing my growth forward.  I think working towards my goals if better served this way.  My goal is to create a fully actualized plein air painting that rivals my finished product from the studio.  I am not a purist.  I respect the discipline and the stubbornness of purists though. 
 Anthony Salvo working on his painting.
 I am a little past halfway through my painting and there are about 6 members left.
 My painting is in it's simple form.  From this point in the painting I will be finishing areas with more detail and more differentiation in the values in the painting.  I will also be seeking to add the finishing colors.
 The shadows have shifted and diminished in size and color.  At some point I have to decide on a version of the constantly changing landscape.  This requires discipline and belief in oneself.  The size of my paintings make this important.  What the landscape looks like when I have completed my under painting is what I usually decide upon as my reference from a light / shadow / color / composition standpoint.
 All parts of the painting evolve in their detail, shape, and color.  I work between all areas of the painting to insure that they all progress evenly.  I believe this is important to creating balance and harmony within the painting.
 Here I have yet to separate the foreground from the background.  Bringing warmth into the foreground will help push the hills into the distance.  
 The brightness of the highlights in the foreground and the middleground coupled with the vibrancy of the colors and their warmth also help create atmospheric perspective.
 The painting is completed in 5 and a half hours.
The finished painting measure 24 x 32 inches.

The value shot reveals the range of values within the painting and shows that there could have been a better separation of values between the foreground and the background.
The detail shot reveals the diversity and the quality of the mark making and the colors within the painting.  In evaluating the mark making, I have thought about creating greater diversity and quality through a different finishing process within the shapes that would create more subtle and refined details within the shapes.  I will try to add this approach in my next painting.