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Monday, December 17, 2012

Painting in Santiago Canyon

I picked this spot along Santiago Canyon Road because of the Sycamore trees hanging over the dried grass in the valley.  I liked the shadows upon the grass, the oaks on the hills, and the Sycamore trees shape.

Santiago Canyon Painting

The size of the masonite board I was painting on was 24"X36".  It is treated with pumice gel and acrylic paint to hold the pastel.  I wanted my subject to be more intimate than it had been in recent paintings.

This painting will end up being a studio painting.  The color needs work.  The shapes need refinement but the arrangement of the elements and the feeling of the light will serve me well when I take this to a studio work.

The goal is to get the plein air piece to read as a completed painting.  This one did not make it.  One painting one sitting win or lose.  However there is enough to build from.  Another painting on my journey.

Monday, December 10, 2012

About Pastels / Framing Pastels

  • Pastels are pure pigment held together with a minimum amount of binder.  It is the same pigment that is used in oil paint or water colors.  The difference is the type of binder used.
  • Because of the limited amount of binder, pastels are able to retain their brightness and fresh look much longer the oil paintings.
  • The key to keeping your pastel painting in top condition is the way you choose to frame your painting and some thought to the treatment and placement of the painting.
  • Please take our painting to a professional framer who has experience with pastel paintings.
  • Matting pastel paintings is the most important aspect to the framing process.  Insure that all materials are archival in nature.  Please only use 100% rag mat museum board.  The archival materials are acid free and will not yellow.
  • Flannel boards make any loose particles that may come off of the painting nearly invisible.
  • Use a 3" mat for small paintings and a 4" mat for larger paintings.
  • A key aspect to the framing of pastles is the use of a spacer around the painting.
  • You can use an acid free foam core spacer that can be attached to the underside of the window mat-or you can make a window mat out of the acid free foam core with a slightly larger window cut than the top mat.
  • The spacer lifts the mat off of the painting and allows pastel dust to fall behind the mat.
  • The air space created between the painting and the glass is important.  The painting should never touch the glass.
  • Framing isn't really the concern with the pastel paintings other than making sure there is enough room for the mat package to fit in the frame properly.
  • Do not use acrylic or plexi glass when framing pastels.  The static electricity will pull pastel off of the painting surface and onto the glass surface.
  • Single glaze glass works well and is recommended but museum glass provides a more professional and finished appearance.  It eliminates almost all of the glare and reflections coming off of the glass.
  • When placing your painting please do not place it on a wall that will receive direct sunlight.  The heat created by the light will create condensation and make the pastel dust streak in the condensation.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Current Set Up

This is the latest version of my plein air set up.  I am continuing to make my own panels from masonite with pumice gel and acrylic paint.  The pastel box is the largest made by Heilman.  My easel is made by  My set up is about my desire to paint large plein air paintings without having to settle on pastel selection.  My typical painting size is about 24"X36".  The easel can hold paintings much larger.  My pastel box carries about 200 full sticks which I like to have for the diversity of stroke making and color selection.

In my backpack I carry artist tape, glassine, fixative, wet micro fiber wash clothes in a plastic bag, my camera, a view finder, my sketch book, value markers, and a pencil.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pictures of the Laguana Plein Air Painters Invitational

The link above is a flickr link for the LPAPA Invitational which just took place two weeks ago.  Here are some of the pictures I took at the event.  

This painting won the best of show.  It measures 16"X20" and is called Laguna Beach Coast.  His web site is  The amount of paint he puts down is impressive.  I love how clean and bright his paint is.  The paint is so thick that it creates shadows on the surface of the painting.  I would love to be able to paint like this.  It is not often that I feel that way.


Heisler Park painted by Billy O. Amazing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Painting in Coyotee Hills

When I moved to California in 79 I came with an appreciation for unspoiled open spaces.  I had lived in Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia.  In all of these places I was able to quickly lose myself in nature because it was close at hand.  When I came to California with my parents our home butted up against this land which was oil land.  It was fenced off with barb wire.  I was never able to get into this space.  There has been a fight over what to do with this land.

The fight as always revolves around making money off of the land.  The issue is trade off- space for development and you will get some token space for a park or parks or fight the City of Fullerton and their bed partner Chevron and take the land back.  Politics generally make me sick.  Rarely is it about making sure the right thing gets done.  I am not a resident of Fullerton but this is just another piece of land about to vanish.
So with all of this about to happen I decided to go paint in Coyotee Hills.  I decided to paint a little smaller.  The bottom painting is the smallest plein air painting I have done to date.  I liked the subject and the shape of the painting on the bottom and will probably use it for a larger studio painting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jeff Horn Painting at Little Corona Del Mar

I had this amazing day of art last week.  I watched many of my favorite plein air painters paint at the Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational, I met many plein air painters who came out to paint because of the event, I painted for the first time on my new easel above Crystal Cove, and then I found Jeff Horn painting down at Little Corona as I was taking reference photos of the sunlight on the amazing rocks by the ocean.

I came across Jeff Horn painting the same scene I had painted a couple of weeks earlier.  I watched as he "struggled" with his painting.  He was having this on going dialogue with himself as he was tweaking his painting.  When I came up it looked like he was almost finished.  He continued to pull things forward and push things back as he tried to get the amospheric perspective so it read right.  It was difficult because the rocks were deep in shadow in the distance and the light as the sun was setting was very warm and bright.  He used everything available to him to get the marks and tones he wanted-I was probably bugging him while I talked to him but he was very nice and I thought it was awesome of him to share some of the thoughts about his process with his painting as he worked on it.

It was funny to hear how unhappy he was with the painting as he was painting it.  I don't know if he was self conscious about it or being modest but I though it was beautiful.  I never paint this small so it was informative to see him pull out the key details and his handling of the light.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Paint Out with Ian Roberts

We met at the park.  Ian's demonstration was more of a class than a paint out.  The thought behind the class was that if you were going to contend for the attention of viewers in a show than you would have to master color intensity.  The reason for mastering color intensity is that you want the viewer to be interested in your painting.  A contest boils down to keeping the publics attention on your art and not someone elses.  If you can not master color intensity then your paintings will be like loose cannons.-

Ian went into detail about the key to keeping the viewer in the painting is mastering where to pop your color by controlling the color intensity everywhere else in the painting.  Keep the foreground intersting but under control by using muted, saturated grays so that your area of interest really captures the attention of the viewer

Ian went into what his pallet consists of and why.  His focus in the discussion was to establish a consistent base for the artist to work from.  His suggestion was to make everything familiar from the way you laid out the paint and arranged it on the pallet to the colors you used so that you could better focus on mixing the colors.  His pallet consists of a warm and a cool color of each hue.  Ian said the first step of the excercise could take the whole day. The most important thing was to be able to match the colors we saw and wanted to include in our painting. If we are to manipulate the attention of the viewer through our painting we must be able to realistically match what we see and put it in our paintings.  Once we were able to match the color chips that Ian provided us; his direction was to then paint an equally intense but different color that he picked below our color match.  There were only two pastelists and I was one of them.  It was very difficult to take an oil painting approach to mixing colors and to get them to match.  The effort above took a couple of hours.  You would be amazed how many colors I put into this




Paint out with Ian Roberts too

This was the other pastelist that was there.  She had brought a painting that she had worked on.  Below Ian critiques her painting.

Although we had been in class for four hours I still needed to paint so I walked down the road a little and got a decent start to this painting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Painting in Orange Hills

The heat has gone and the fall seems to be here all at once.  Today the clouds were pretty outstanding all day.  I had spent most of the day working on a large oil.  They said it was going to rain; but I knew it wasn't going to.  I wanted to paint the clouds so I was going to have to be fast anyway.

This was a quick one.  I nailed  the clouds with a mid tone and then followed with the lights and then finally the darks.  I then went after the dark shapes of the trees and worked to the lights and finally the highlights. 
This pastel painting measures 24"X26".  It is painted on masonite with pumice gel and acrylic paint.

Painting in Box Canyon Park

The weather was changing and I did not know if I was going to be able to paint for long so I headed into the hills near my home.  The clouds were constantly changing but the hills had a saturated feel to them.

I set up at the edge of the park looking into the box canyon.  The masonite surface I used had the pumice gel and acrylic paint but Smaltz Hue is very transparent so you could see the masonite underneath it.

I tried to touch it once and leave it alone but I got caught up chasing the light in between the clouds.

Everything was flat because of all of the grays in the landscape.  The shadows started creeping across the foreground and as I worked the foreground, I decided to put them in.

The painting measures 24"X27". It is painted on masonite with pumice gel and acrylic paint.  I liked the hill on the left and the trees in the foreground but need to rework the clouds so they are moving more to the right hand side of the painting and smooth them out.  I also need to create more atmospheric perspective in the receding hills.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dense Fog at Little Corona

Last week I went painting down at Little Corona Del Mar.  The fog created beautiful effects and atmospheric perspective.  The challenge of painting the light as it is changing is at times difficult; but trying to start and finish a fog painting is crazy!  By the time I had walked up to my car and get my painting set up the fog had already burned off to a significant extent.  I really like this composition.  I have never painted the effects of fog.  I think this has the potential to be a really great painting.  My oil painting has really improved in the last month so I am going to do a pretty large studio painting of this subject.  I am going to try and take my time to capture all of the subtle aspects.  I am not sure yet how I will handle the diffusion of light along the edge of the cliffs.  The transition from the blue by the top to the gray lavender at the bottom will be a challenge.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Painting in Corona Del Mar

The morning was so foggy it was hard to see any detail.  The fog burned off, the wedding was over and done, and the sun lit up the rocks.

I brought a blue ground panel with me after I came down and scouted around while taking some reference photos.  I had made a couple of orange pumice gel panels that I was thinking of using but the fog seemed to thick to use them.

I had to limit my subject because there were so many choices.  The shape of my panel changed my choices.  The intensity of the light on the rocks enhanced the atmospheric perspective when compared to the graying caused by the haze burning off in the distance.