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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Black Star Ranch

This spot is on the border between Orange and Riverside Counties.  It is part of the Black Star Ranch which has been around in some form or another for about a hundred years.  The seasons in Southern California are a little different from your typical four season parts of the country.  Late winter is what I would call the green season.  The light and the colors were what interested me here.

I was painting on a board prepared with pumice gel and acrylic paint.  I used Payne's gray and Quinacradone Crimson to produce a deep purple which was the color of the deepest shadows in the hills.  The birch plywood I was painting on was a square in shape and presented some compositional challenges based on the subject I was going to paint.  The vertical line in my reference sketch shows the approximate dimensions of the board.  In order to get my subject to fit I had to change the emphasis of the painting so there was much more sky than I originally intended.  It was the only way to get the hills into the painting without chopping up the composition.

Black Star Ranch

I went after the outline of the hills first to make sure I got in what I wanted from a compositional standpoint.  I kept looking for cloud shapes as I worked on the detail of the hills.  When I saw some I liked I quickly caught them and put them down.  I then finished the rough detail of the shapes of the hills.

I then started to establish some of the lighter values.  After taking a look at the progression of this painting I would change the clouds on the right hand side and the middle where the blue of the sky is showing.  When I initially drew them in, they were not nearly as symmetrical. 

Black Star Ranch

One of the aspects that I have been working on in my development as a painter is my mark making in my plein air painting.  I am working on developing enough skill as a draftsman to put it down and leave it alone.  The more I go back into a part of the painting the more time it takes and the more chances are that something can go wrong.  I practice to become better.  Being better means quicker, more accurate, more expressive, and more satisfying to me.

My underpaintings always influence my painting.  The better the match to my mood and the intention of the piece the better the end result.  In this painting there is very little blending due to the strong mark making.  The only blending is unintentional and in areas where colors overlapped when making my marks.  In this painting the underpainting serves as the darkest areas of the painting.  This is not always the case with my underpaintings.  The decision as to whether the underpainting is the highlight color, the complimentary color to the main color in the painting, the middle value, or some other choice are made on site once the subject has been decided upon.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Santiago Orange Grove

This orange grove is in the Santiago Oaks Regional Park.  The orange grove is considered historic in that it is one of the last remaining orange groves in the City of Orange.  This grove goes back to 1935.

What interested me in this subject was the way the grove was hidden away in a eddie of timelessness.  In a city that was named after the crop it was known for you have to hunt to find any kind of orange groves.

Santiago Orange Grove


This orange grove feels like it hasn't changed.  I really like the light on this hill tucked beside the Santiago Creek.  It is near a dam that was used for irrigation back in the late 1800's.

I came back here two days in a row to paint the same subject.  This is the first time I have done this.  The painting measures 24"X36".  It is painted on masonite with a pumice gel with acrylic paint underpainting.  I will be using the studies I have done to help create a full size oil painting.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Artistic Block

I just don't get it.  I think I could paint everyday all day and not run out of things to paint.  I see paintings that I would like to paint everyday on the way to work.  I wake up thinking about what I would like to try from technique, to color, to composition.  I see other artists work and it inspires me to try new things.  With plein air painting everything is different all the time.  Forget the different scenery-you could paint the same scene every day and never end up with the same painting.  I am guessing that painters block is more of a function of laziness or severe lack of imagination than anything else.  I don't know how many paintings I have in me but I know that I will never run out of things to say or ways of saying them.