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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Warm Day at Big Bend

This painting measures 24"X24".  It is painted on masonite with acrylic paint with pumice gel as the underpainting.  I painted this with a group from SOCALPAPA on my way to the beach.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Painting with Saim

We met at Heisler Park at 9am.  Saim came drifting in, stopping along the way trying to take in all the possibilities for his painting.  He framed it in with his hands in between sips from his coffee.  As he greeted a couple of people he opened up his box and then started painting.  There was no preliminary drawing.
He quickly drew in the major elements of his painting and established the rocks in the water as the center of interest.  He spoke about the oppostion of light vs. dark, warm vs. cool colors, and large vs. small shapes.  The choices and diversity of the choices were what created an effective painting.  He made a point to stop and relax for a moment.  Saim made a point to tell us it is important to stop and breathe, to relax, to reflect, to step away and look at your painting to understand what is needed and where it is going.
Saim continued to refine his painting.  He made a point to evaluate the differences in the values, the colors, the shapes, and the warmth of the colors.  At this point I had to start painting.  I had a large surface and I did not have a lot of time-the meter was running and I only had two and a half hours left.  After a while Saim came over.  I asked his advice and he gave it to me.  He came a little while later and was very complimentary about my painting.  He said my painting style was exciting, dynamic, energetic, with a unique style.  As he patted me on the back he said keep up the great work.  WOW! How good did that feel.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Temescale Valley

Painting in the Temescal Valley

Painting in the Temescal Valley

Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point

Quick Draw at Heisler Park

I have not had the best luck when painting in Laguna in the past year.  I have had 2 parking tickets in Laguna in the last year.  So eventhough I was only a hundred feet from the car while painting, I was concerned about finishing my painting within the three hours my change bought me.  I had three minutes to spare.

Finding the Subject

As a plein air painter, we are always looking for the next location.  Often that means travelling far from home and looking for exotic locations.  This location is something that I have driven by about 10 times a week for 17 years. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Morning Hills Over the Santa Ana RIver

The morning shadows in the low parts of the hills and their colors were what drew me to this scene.

I really liked the compostition of the river leading the viewer into the painting and the contrast between the color of the river against the colors of the hills.  The quality of my quick sketches has improved since I began doing them.
Because there was going to be so much detail in the shadows, I wanted to get all the shapes down right away so I could work within those shapes to get the values and colors right.

Santa Ana River From the Bridge

Once I had established the drawing of the painting I then focused on the hills before the light changed beyond what initially interested me.

I continued to work the colors and values in the hills because I wanted to capture their feeling.  Everything else in the painting would be compared to those hills so I wanted to get them close to what I wanted.

I then worked on the foliage and finally the river.  I kept comparing the colors and the values until I thought I had gotten it right.

The View From The Bridge

I painted in the middle of the bridge which presented difficulty when there was traffic and people using the sidewalk.  Everyone was understanding and I moved my easel when I needed to.  The view was worth it.

This was the finished painting.  I think the values in the plants and trees should have been punched up so the trees in the distance would not stand out so much.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Second Painting of the Day in Heisler

When the weather and the location are this perfect the need to paint is so strong it can't be denied.

With the board a purple color I used a cool red to do the initial drawing.  I blocked in the ocean with a dark green.
I then overlayed a turquoise over the green and put in the shadows with a dark blue.


 I continued to work on the blocking in and painting rather than drawing in the early stages of the painting so that the mark making would be fresh at the end of the painting.

As I worked the rocks and tried to establish the shadow patterns I ran into some trouble with the amount of detail I already had.  Because the light was changing quickly it was difficult at times to remain true to my initial impression of the shadows and highlights.  I was constantly referencing my earlier observations to the current conditions and found myself chasing shadows.
I also had some difficulty finding the right mix of blues and greens for the water.  Because I have been painting seascapes a lot lately, I had burned through quite a few of my colors and was put in a position where I thought I had to improvise more.  I think I am ready to start painting plein air with oils.  I will need to get some new paint because I don't want to use my Old Holland outside.  It is way too expensive.

Painting in Heisler with Saim

I found myself itching to paint.  I was here to learn from the founder of the LAPAPA.  Saim had a very laid back style.  I was waiting for the most important advice on plein air painting I could get; but it wasn't coming.  That was not where he was at that day.  He had been an art teacher for so many years.  He had just flown in from Hawaii and was flying to Paris the next morning to paint in Provence with some friends.  I think he just wanted to paint.  I am pretty sure he was tired and looking to relax.  At one point in his demonstration he said to me "Are you going to start your painting?"  As usual, I had the biggest surface by far.  Some of the other attendees had already started and my parking meter was literally running.  I only brought enough quarters for three hours and there was no where to get more with out packing up all of my stuff-and that wasn't going to happen.  The year before I was going to a paint out with Saim and he cancelled at the last minute.
I normally would not have picked this view.  It is not as dramatic as many others available at this amazing park.  In fact this may be the richest place I have been for subject matter.  It seems there is one amazing view after another.  From our vantage point there were countless possibilities.  The beauty of art and the artist is the perspective and choices that are made.  Most would choose the obvious, the cliché.  Each artist sees things differently.  It is a small thing and yet it is the biggest thing at the same time-if that is possible.  Some would say that every painting done at Heisler is a cliché because it has been done an uncountable amount of times.  I would say that what is in the heart of the creator of the painting while he/she is painting determines whether it is a cliché.

I was hesitant with this composition because the palm trees were chopping up the painting in such a way that my center of focus was confused.  I had to move so that the palm's were in between the land and the rock in the ocean.  This was a compromise because I had wanted to really connect the rock with the land through the motion of the ocean.  When Saim came over for a quick look I asked his opinion.  It was interesting that he did not give it until he was asked.  This is a level of respect that I admire.  It had nothing to do with the quality of my painting or the lack of quality; it was just how he was as an artist.  He said I had too many diagonal lines running off the surface on the right and that I should bring up the lower right hand corner of the foreground.  He also suggested having the water cut into the foreground to break up that diagonal.

Saim's View

 In this painting I again focused on more painting and less drawing.  After watching Saim paint for an hour, I am sure that some of his color choices rubbed off on me.  We were not painting the same view but the subject matter was the same.

 There were a couple of things that I really like about this painting. The atmospheric perspective turned out well.  I usually want to keep adding detail until I have changed the painting from what I had hoped it would be to something else that I struggle with.  I also liked the way the detail level recedes into the distance.

Here you can see my attempts to follow Saim's advice.  I brought the right side up and created more variation in the shape of the water to reduce the effect of the lines running off of the surface.  The feedback I have gotten while painting has been very encouraging.  I ended up having two offers on the painting while I was working.  I sold it to a family from the San Diego area who had overheard a group of women who said they would contact me later about the painting.