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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

Monday, November 3, 2014

Peter's Canyon

Paint Out with Kim VanDerHoek

Kim Vanderhoek  Kim VanDerHoek scheduled her mentor paint out at Irvine Park. Irvine Park is one of my favorite places to paint because of the awesome selection of really old sycamore trees.  The park has been around since 1897. Irvine Park
Kim spoke about her selection process for her subject.  Kim said one of the main things that she considers when selecting a landscape is a subject that allows her to create a sense of distance, depth, and space in the painting.  
Kim said she is a painter who needs a plan.  She spoke about arranging the elements in the painting to create a better painting.  It does not matter whether the painting actually resembles the landscape being painted.  What matters is how effective your arrangement of the elements works to create an attractive painting.  Kim referenced the Edgar Payne sierra lake painting with the trees on either side framing the lake; saying she has been there and there are no trees.
In the process of creating her painting, she said our job as a painter is to do what's best for the painting.  Everything we do in our process should be measured against this standard.  Toning the canvas, leading the viewer into the painting with natural or contrived elements, or borrowing shapes are only effective if they make the painting better.  Kim is an advocate for borrowing shapes. Kim used the clouds as an example.  Find the shapes that work for your painting.  It does not matter if the clouds are actually where you put them in your painting.
Kim spoke about her individual approach to her painting style. One of the things she said was she likes to sketch the painting in using ultramarine blue.  She uses a rigger brush to sketch in the painting before moving onto bigger brushes.  Kim is an advocate of blocking in the painting to insure that her values work together before moving further into the painting.  She also tries to nail down what is going to change in the painting as quickly as she can-like the shadows.   Another thing she spoke about as being "one of her things" is leaving parts of the canvas bare.  Again, with everything that we spoke about it has to be viewed in terms of it's effectiveness in constructing a compelling painting.
Kim said she composes her value plan by using her camera.  She said she takes a lot of pictures and reviews them in the screen of the camera to see if the value shapes work.  She said it is nice to have a value plan-if that is what works for you.  She also said you could use thumbnail sketches, or notans.
One of the things Kim made me think about was how to make the most out of my medium.  Kim said that we must show off the positive aspects of our medium.  For her, she wants to use thick paint and brush strokes.  For me, with pastels, it would be vibrant colors and mark making.
Kim had a couple of insights that I thought were very interesting. The first insight was, it is a mistake only if you leave it in your painting.  The other observation Kim made was that among the people she teaches the biggest mistake her students make is placing too much emphasis on each painting the create.  The mistake is the fear of making mistakes.  The fear of making mistakes prevents growth.  Growth is created by taking chances and pushing your skill set as far as it can go.  This can not be done if you are afraid to fail.  Each failed painting leads to the next step in your growth as an artist.  It is not about individual paintings, it is about the stepping stones those failed paintings represent.  
My painting. Irvine Wash 24"X 36"  Kim left around 1 pm.  She asked me to e-mail my painting to her when I finished.  I thought that was very nice of her.  No one else that I have painted with has said that.  I wrapped up around 2:30.  It was a good day of painting.  Thanks to Kim.
My value shot.
My detail shot.