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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crescent Bay

This is one of my favorite places.  I used to come to this beach all of the time.  I love the beauty and the memories of this beach.  It is a small and secluded beach.  It has tidal rocks and bluffs on both ends.  This keeps if fairly quiet.  The weather was amazing.  It was about 75 and sunny at the beach.  It is tough work.

I started with a sanded paper and put down a water color under painting.  The composition is established but there is some room to change some aspects of it because the pastels still have to go onto it.

At this point I am laying in the pastel.  I wanted the under painting to be dark enough so that the pastels would be the highlights.  I was also trying to create the painting in shades of gray so the pigment would be vibrant against the back drop of the under painting.

Crescent Bay

I started with the bluffs because that was the main subject and the details of them were going to require the most time.

Although I am trying to cover the surface with pastel, I stopped to focus on the details in the bluffs so that I could capture the lighting on their face.  At this time the sun was about to put them in shadow and I had to decide what features I wanted them to have.

Done except for the final adjustments.  At some point the painting is what it is and you can't go back to fix or change it because of all of the work you would have to put into it.  Learn your lessons and move on.

Crescent Bay

In looking at this painting from a distance it seems like I took the easy composition.  In looking at a number of my paintings, it seems like I have the same shapes in my main subjects.  I am going to have to work harder to find better compositions going forward.  This composition just seems too easy.  The reason I took this picture is because someone said the painting really "popped" from distance.

Some of the challenges for this painting held it back from being better.  The next time I paint this beach, I will make the painting more about the whole experience not just the bluffs.  Usually I am looking for more color than is actually in the painting, but I think I should work down into some more subtle color relationships.

As I finished up, this is how the bluffs looked.  I really liked the grays within the bluffs.  This will be the subject of a studio painting in the future.

Crescent Bay

By the time I finished in the middle of the afternoon, everything had changed.  The sun moving across the front of the bluffs had reached a point where everything was in shadow except the beach.  I had to rely on my memory of the scene to complete the painting.  This is a pastel painting that is painted over a watercolor under painting.  The painting measures 24"X 36".  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cloud Shadows

I have started working on a series of paintings with the sky as the main subject.  This is the second painting in the series.  The light and contrast in the clouds versus the subdued field with it's saturated colors caught my attention.  This pastel painting started out with a watercolor under painting.  The hills started out in deep complimentary colors.  When I am doing an under painting, I am thinking in terms of what I will paint over it and the reaction between the two.  I am also trying to establish the darkest areas within each area of the painting.  Because pastels are so vibrant, using over the under painting creates a more dramatic and fresh feeling.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Haze Into the Hills

The light was filtered through the afternoon haze.  The highlights of the light upon the trees fading into the distance up the canyon was what I found interesting in this subject.

Each painting is different and each painting has a different approach needed to maintain the thought behind the painting.  The rim light running along the trees and the hills had to remain intact.  It was the lightest light.  Normally the lightest light is the last thing added.

The shapes of the hills and their scale was important to the composition.  In order to create some sense of size and distance the trees in the middle ground were placed as a counter point to the highlights moving up the canyon.

Haze Into the Hills

A focus on the warmth and coolness of the masses was needed to build the feeling of the hills receding into the distance.  To maintain the feeling the haze created I did not create big differences in the values between the hills.  

There is much talk about the strength of harmony in color created by the use of a limited pallet.  In this painting, I used less colors than usual.  It was because the haze flattened out the number of colors.  I like the complexity of color.  
The harmony of color came easily without thought or effort.  Virtually ever color choice was able to stand without change.

Haze Into the Hills

From this point, it is the rush to the finish.  Most of this painting felt like the finish.  What I mean is that usually when I get to a certain point everything becomes evident-there is no decision making it is all about doing.
The trees in the foreground were needed to create a deeper feeling of distance in the painting.
The feeling I get when I am finished is one akin to the feeling when you are finished eating.  There is just no need to do more.  It is done.  I am full.

Haze Into the Hills

This painting is on birch plywood with an under painting of acrylic paint with pumice gel.  This painting measures 24"X 36".  As with all of my plein air paintings it is done in soft pastel.  I was in tune with this painting from the moment I started.  No area was overworked or corrected.  I painted without stopping or second guessing.  It was done before I started.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What it will take to get better this year

The goal is to always get better.  The better I paint the more I like to paint.  The past year has been full of growth.  Painting en plein air has gone further to improve my art than any other single thing.

How do I grow faster than I did last year?  What do I need to do to grow as an artist?

  • I need to paint more than I did last year.  The goal for the year is 200 plein air paintings, 40 oil paintings, 20 drawings, and 40 studio pastel paintings.  I will start my painting earlier in the day so that I can fit in more painting per day.
  • I need to get my art out there and exposed.  I will enter 20 contests.  I will update my portfolio.  I will actively seek gallery representation again. 
  • I will participate in as many paint outs as my schedule will allow.
  • I will actively use my network to generate leads.
  • I will expand my painting subjects beyond landscapes.  I will start trying to paint the figure.  I will paint still life as well.
  • I will sketch ten minutes every day.  I will start a daily sketch book.  I will try to elevate the quality of my on site sketching to a higher level before I start painting.

Paint out with Jim at Crystal Cove

We had rain the day before and there was a 20 percent chance of rain.  By the time I got to the beach there was a clear patch of sky over Crystal Cove.  All day the clouds threatened to cover the sun but it never happened.  Some of the clouds that rolled by were amazing.  I must of took 50 pictures of just the clouds.

Jim has the same easel that I do- a "Take it Easel".  I really love this easel.  It does such a great job at holding large paintings in place.  The stability in windy conditions is also a strength of this easel.
When I start oil painting en plein air, I will take some of the cues from Jim's set up.  I like the way Jim uses the peg holes in the easel for his brushes.  I also like the way he has his paint box on the easel.  He had this box made so that it would fit on the stabilizing bars on the easel.  I am sure I will have to attach my paint box to the easel as I have had some unfortunate experiences with my pastel box falling off my easel while painting.

Paint out with Jim Wodark

Jim started his demonstration by speaking about his creative process.  Most artists will share their ideas about processes but not about their sources of creativity.  The subject that Jim chose to paint was the outcome of one of his ideas; to paint at the same locations of the great California plein air painters.  This is something I will steal from Jim.  I think that studying the great plein air painters and recreating their paintings through my style and their location will be interesting.  Jim came to the location with a preconceived composition.  He works out interesting compositions by using his sketch book.  He came across this method in a reaction to some problems he was having with his eye sight.  As a result of his eye trouble, Jim tried out many different compositions on his sketch pad.  Jim would then find locations that fit the compositions he had worked out or would go to specific locations with the composition already worked out in it's initial stages.

Jim uses the thumb nail not just for composition purposes but also for value and the structure of the painting.  The above sketch was a idea that Jim ended up painting at Irvine Park.  He likes the sycamore trees there and worked up the composition on a canvas and then took it to the park and painted it.

Jim starts by using his memory of scenes and compositions that have interested him in the past.  He tries to remember what initially caught his attention in a landscape and then build upon it through the composition in his thumbnail sketch.  He is working out the structure and the values before he gets to the location to paint in some instances.  Above are two ideas for paintings.  The bluffs at Newport Back Bay and the mission at San Juan Capistrano.

Paint out with Jim Wodark

Jim started with a toned canvas.  He laid in his first layers of paint with a paper towel.  While he is choosing the colors for his painting, he is thinking in terms of complimentary colors.  He does not use an umbrella because it is difficult to use.  He drew his painting in red initially.  He works wet into wet.  The underpainting is able to influence all of his colors and build unity within the painting.  

While Jim is painting, he is thinking in terms of how will the lighting change during the painting.  Because the lighting conditions are always changing he wanted to paint the bluffs with the light on them.  He made painting the bluffs a priority because he thought the clouds were going to come into play later in the day.
Jim says he is looking for more color while he painting then there really is.  Jim is an advocate of mixing the paint on the canvas as well as on his palette.  When is looking at the colors in the painting he is looking to make large piles of colors that run throughout the painting.  He uses a knife for mixing to keep the colors clean.   Jim made a point to tell us that the impressionists had a tremendous amount of grays in their paintings.  Those grays make the highlights that much more beautiful.  Jim also talked about the dynamics of the painting changing once white or black paint was introduced into the painting.  He said once those colors are in the painting they get into every color in the painting.

Jim spent time talking about the quality of the shapes within your painting.  He said much of painting is devoted to painting abstract shapes.  Starting with large abstract shapes and working through the composition until you are painting smaller and smaller abstract shapes is essential to an interesting painting.  When you look at his painting it is full of abstract shapes.  Jim also talked about edges are what defines the shapes within your painting.
He did some problem solving with the group.  In the lower right hand corner of the painting he changed the painting because the way the lines converged at the edge of the painting.  He thought this was too distracting and would not hold the viewers eye in the painting.  He asked the group for solutions.  He weighed the suggestions and ended up adding a bluff in the foreground.
Overall, this was a really nice paint out.  Jim brought some interesting thoughts to the paint out.  It was great to have him share some of his creative thoughts.

Crystal Cove at the Golden Hour

Jim did not finish his demonstration until 1:30 or 2 pm so there was not much time to paint.  One of the commitments I made for this year is to get more quality out of my sketching.

I started with a bright brown board because I thought this would be one of the predominant colors on location. At this point in the painting I was thinking about staying with the painting and staying away from drawing.

At this point everything has been blocked in.  One of the challenges for this painting was going to be creating the feeling of distance as the bluffs run off into the distance.

Crystal Cove at the Golden Hour

The time for adjustments was over.  I had to rapidly finish up.  There is no going back for a second day of painting.

I was the second to last painter there.  I packed up and waited for a woman who was finishing up and we walked to the parking lot as the sun was setting behind us.  The breath taking beauty was going to be even better in the next couple of minutes, but it had been a long day of painting and it was time to go.

Reef Point like most of my paintings is 24"X 36".  Pastel on birch with pumice gel and acrylic paint under painting.

My idea

When you are painting, people are always coming up to you and asking if you have a business card.  They ask you about your website etc.  I had the idea about a year ago.  I wanted to make a shirt with all my pertinent information as a marketing tool.  Jim Wodark did it.  I am going to do it now that I have seen it.  I am going to kick it up a notch.

The Most

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This week was the most productive week I have ever had from a painting standpoint.  I painted every day over the last six days. Today is the last day I will paint before going back to work.