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Sunday, December 7, 2014


This is the completed underpainting.  It is done in water color.  When working with water color as my underpainting and pastels as the finishing media, I strive to get muddy and gray colors so that the pure pigment of the pastels really shouts out the highlights and the vibrancy.  I also want to make sure that I am making the initial painting  dark enough to have the pastels be the star of the painting.  

This is the painting with the pastel over the underpainting.  Upon reflection on the values, I will have to go back and rework some of the clouds so there is less contrast. The better the under painting is in water color the better the finished painting is.  When I do it right, it is like I am doing the same painting twice.
The finished painting measures 24" X 36".
The value shot.  The values turned out to be above expectations.
The detail shot.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Irvine Park

It was the last warm day before a series of storms and it really felt like fall in Southern California.  This is the time when I like to paint sycamore trees.  I like to see the bare complex arrangement of branches and their scattered dead leaves.
I chose to paint with a water color under painting.  I wanted to make the under painting dark and moody so that the pastel painting would be more vibrant against the gray colors of the water color.
I worked to establish a detailed under painting that would limit the amount of work I would need to do in establishing the composition.  By doing this I was trying to let the pastels be the highlight of the painting.

 I painted until the sun was started to go down.  The last moments were beautiful.  Perhaps I will do a studio painting from a couple of last minute reference photographs I took.

 The finished painting.  It measures 24" X 37".
The value shot.
The detail shot.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rust Never Sleeps

My schedule has changed and it has been difficult to find the time to paint.  I have been working on a photo realistic pencil drawing for the last couple of weeks.  It has been so difficult to spend so much time on this drawing because it is so labor intensive.  In the time I have spent on this drawing, I could have completed 5 paintings.

I had put some over sized pastels in my back pack a couple of weeks earlier.  This was the first time that I had used them.  The larger sized marks really sped up the painting process.
It had only been a couple of weeks since I had painted en plein air, but it felt like a lot longer while I was painting.  I was surprised at how awkward and uncoordinated I felt while painting.
At this point, I am finished with the large pastels and I am ready to start refining the painting.

The finished painting measures 24"X 36".  I was really happy with the color but everything else seemed like a struggle.  The drawing was ok at best.  The composition seemed weak.  My use of the space did not match what my intention was for the painting.  It was really discouraging to have slipped that much in such a short time.

The value shot.
The detail shot.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fire Watch

 I got into Santiago Canyon around 10 am after painting 3 boards.  I drove through the canyon looking for a good vantage point to paint Saddle Back Mountain.
I have painted here a couple of times before because of the views. There is 180 view of the canyon that provides many different subjects.  Today I was interested in the mountains because of their color.  The atmospheric conditions turned the mountains into a electric glow.
 The wide shoulder is perfect for a quick set up and tear down.
 After a quick and efficient sketch I drew in all of the main elements of the composition in various shades of blue ala Kim VanDerHoek.
 I used the violet as a guide to indicate the hills.  I continued to work in the various blue values in order to describe the picture in more detail.
 At this point I felt I had taken the drawing as far as I could with this approach.
 Here I am working at getting all of the values to work through out the painting.  In addition, I am adding the foreground to make sure I have the right balance in value and color.
The wind really began to pick up.  My painting must have blown off the easel at least half a dozen times before I pointed my easel in the opposite direction.  The wind was now pushing my painting onto the easel but I was now painting with the shade on my surface.  This made color selection more difficult.
 This is what the painting looked like with the shade on it.  Compare it to the next photo to get an idea of the difference I had to adjust to.
The last thing I added was the lightest light in the lower left foreground.  As I finished up a volunteer drove up, parked, and came over to look at my painting.  She and about a dozen others were in the canyon to make sure to deter any possible fire threat situations.  On the side of their SUV's were magnetic signs that said "FIRE WATCH".  The volunteer thanked me for finding a safe way to enjoy the canyon.
Fire Watch 24" X 36" soft pastel on board treated with pumice gel and acrylic paint.
Value shot
Detail shot

Quick Draw in Carbon Canyon

I got a late start and wanted to paint close to home.  It had been a couple of years since I had painted in the canyon, so I ended up on Old Carbon Canyon Road which dead ended into a cattle ranch.
As I did a quick sketch and set up, I had some interested viewers stop by to see how I was doing.
I was not sure that there would be anything to paint in this location because of the fire that ripped through this area about 4 years ago. There was absolutely no grass or weeds to speak of.  I think it was to reduce the chance of wild fire.  The weather was so warm and windy that the fear of fire was at a high level.
Because I was in the canyon, the time I had to paint was greatly reduced.  I was able to finish just as the shadows started to creep across my painting.
This ended up being a very simple composition.  I would have liked to work more on the hills and the branches of the oak but time was up.
Carbon Canyon Oak 24" X 36"

The value shot
The detail shot