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Monday, June 27, 2016

A Full Day of Painting at Heisler

I set up in one of my favorite spots at Heisler.  It was overcast and cool compared to weather inland.

For the last couple of weeks I have been painting on orange boards.  The weather and atmosphere just feel like it is the right color for the underpainting.  The saturated colors of the overcast day could still be expressed on this color board.
The s
Falling into a comfort zone speeds everything up to a certain point.  Because I have painted this more than any other subject, there is no second guessing the compositional elements.
Once I have everything covered with one layer, I begin making adjustments between elements making sure to relate everything to each other.

The detail of the painting comes through small color / value changes throughout the painting. Refining the color / values within each shape and making sure those changes ring true with the overall lighting and shapes within the composition is the goal.
As I work through the adjustments, I make sure to keep all aspects of the painting at the same level of development.
I find that when I really have to stop and think about what the next move is, it is time to stop.
The finished painting 24"X 36" plein air pastel on board with acrylic paint and pumice gel.
The value shot.
The detail shot.
I moved back down the rail about 10 feet and found this view.  This is an unusual composition because of the change in height and the shape of the foreground.
Everything happens faster on the second painting of the day.  There is a greater sense of urgency to get done.
The second painting is usually more colorful and more intense and raw than the first.
The biggest challenge for the painting is the small piece of beach on the bottom of the painting.  I do not think I am going to be able to create the feeling of distance necessary.
The sun came out and changed all of the lighting.  One of the great things was the timing of when it came out.  It was not too late in the painting.  I still had not added the highlights.

Add the final highlights and don't mess it up.
The finished painting 24"X 36" plein air pastel on board with acrylic paint and pumice gel.
The value shot.
The detail shot.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

9 to 5 at Montage

The morning was overcast and the ocean was surging over the rocks.  This was one of those days where if I was painting from a photographic reference my painting would have been dull and gloomy.  To me this demonstrates one of the biggest disadvantages / advantages in painting in the studio / plein air.
The difference in seeing the colors versus seeing the colors as the camera sees them is dramatic.  It may not look it in the finished painting but if I were to paint the same painting outside and inside you could tell the difference.  That is why when I am painting from photographic references I have to change the saturation to approximate how I see things.
I had a brown board in the car which was perfect for the atmosphere that morning.
With all of the elements in place it was time to start defining and refining them.
I cut the water into the rock to define its shape more accurately.
Because the day was overcast it bought me a little extra time in refining the dark areas of the painting.  Usually this is something I commit to in the very beginning stages of a painting.
Being able to work the darker values at any stage of a painting is an advantage you get when you work with pastels.  It doesn't happen all the time but to have the freedom to rework your values in any direction makes it a lot easier to produce good results.
At this point in the painting I am introducing the final colors into the painting.  I have refined the shapes and I am adding the highlights to the painting.
The finished painting. 
Without taking a break I stepped right into the second painting of the day.  I did not even change my vantage point.  I just decided to change the composition by getting closer to the main rock.
I really approached getting the shape of this rock in a much looser manner than I did in the first painting.  The shape emerges from the marks I was putting down.  This came in part from my unsureness of the proportions of the rock within the composition and the size of my board.  This is when I can benefit from a quick sketch.  It helps me get everything inside the painting.
On the bottom side of the rock, I defined the rock by painting the water.  On the top side of the rock I defined the highlighted edge of the rock.
I defined the right hand side tip of the rock by painting the water on the rock and continued on the water.  I like the idea of painting something by painting what it isn't.  That is part of the idea of notan.
Using the color of the board allowed me to quickly add the water above the rock and to keep it loose.  The challenge for me with painting the ocean is that it has specific characteristics at all these given moments.  All of the shapes within the water are constantly changing but are very similar at specific moments.  When a set of waves come in all of the water is effected.  My idea of painting water is to understand all of the water together in the moment I am trying to put it down.  So I study all the different parts of the water (like the water coming off of the tip of the rock).  When that water is doing that what is all the other water doing?  So I try to put down all these pieces together by studying what they are doing at a particular moment and then relate them to each other.
Finished!  I started painting at around 10 am and finished at 5 pm.  I did not take a break.  That is the longest I have painted without stopping.  I am not sure if that is good but there it is.  I probably should have used the rest room after the first painting.
I really lost track of time.  The clouds kept the lighting muted for the entire day.  It made it easy to work through the painting without rushing.
The painting on the left measures 24"X 36" and the painting on the right measures 24"X 32".  
The finished painting.  Montage Morning is a plein air pastel on board with acrylic paint and pumice gel.  The painting measures 24"X36".
The value shot
The detail shot

The finished painting.  Montage Afternoon 24"X 36" soft pastel on board with acrylic paint and pumice gel.  Painted en plein air.
The value shot
The detail shot

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Micheal Obermeyer Demo for LPAPA at Brommer Canyon

Brommer Canyon plein air pastel on board with pumice gel and acrylic underpainting 24"X 36"
I had never painted at Brommer Canyon.  It is held by the Irvine Conservancy.  I had never painted with Michael but I had seen his paintings and I thought they were beautiful.
I got there a little early but there was very limited parking.  Other LPAPA members were parking in the fire lane.  Because I intended to paint as well as watch the demo I decided it would be better to not risk getting ticketed or towed.  I parked at a park a mile down the road and hiked back into paint out site.  I carry about 50 pounds of gear.
By the time I got back the demo was in full swing.  Michael had chosen the perfect location for his demo.  He was extremely easy going and his painting appeared on the canvas the same way.  It just appeared like magic.
Michael shared stories about the painters he has met along his journey and some of the advice he had taken from them.  He spoke about his progression as a artist and the friends he has made because of painting.
I found myself searching for the subject of my painting.  It seems I can't help myself.  I anticipate painting for another three hours after the demo and I just have to start painting.

There are so many options for the composition at any location; it becomes a matter of your unique vision.  I use my camera to help develop the initial idea for the composition.
I really liked Michael's color choices for the hills and the way it all fit together within his painting.
The clouds were interesting to me but they were fast moving.  It is always difficult capturing moving elements like waves.  You have to pick a point and commit to it.  I find it especially true with waves and moving water.  
Michael was just about finished with his painting.  I could sneak away and start without being rude.  It is always interesting to see these accomplished artists paint.  I am always secretly optimistic about getting some magical advice that will open the door to another level of skill for me.
It was getting warmer and the clouds would disappear soon.
I picked this location because it appeared to have been cut back recently.  I did not want to be stomping on an area that they were restoring.

One last look at the demo and I was off to the race against the light and the changing elements.
The following pictures are compositional reference photographs.  This vista offered many possibilities.

I started laying in the basic shapes within the painting so that I could put the clouds into context.  When I saw an arrangement of clouds that were interesting I quickly put down their shape.  I also established the range of values within each of the other parts of the painting.  The trees running along the left hand side of the painting, the hills in the background and the field and path in the foreground were distinct areas that I tried to pull together though color and value.
I worked to establish the range of values within the clouds while the shapes were still fresh in my mind.
The biggest success of the painting were the clouds.  I came into this painting most interested about them.  I nailed them early in the painting and left them alone.  You can see that from the beginning till the end they are essentially unchanged.
Although the painting is not near finished; I think it is stronger at this point than when I finished.  I really like the shapes with the exclusion of the path.   I should have changed the shape of the path and the way it cuts through the composition.  It is too parallel to the bottom of the painting.  The shape around the turn is not graceful.
About 2 hours into the painting a volunteer for the Irvine Conservancy said the ranger was coming and that it might not be ok to paint where I was.  This after I specifically asked him if my location was ok to paint from.  I picked up my stuff and moved to where Michael had done his demo.
There was a great turn out for the this paint out / demo.  This put some pressure on the facility and the people who volunteered their time for the Irvine Conservancy.
When I paint I try to stay out of the way as much as possible.  My gear takes up quite a bit of space.  
When I was asked to move I was in the last stages of the painting.  It was all about finishing touches.  Even though there were elements I was not happy with it was past the point of return.  I moved to the space where Michael did his demo.  
The change in viewpoint would have been a big deal an hour or two earlier, but at this stage in the painting it did not matter.  In fact, I had my back to the scene I was painting.  It was more about manipulating what was already on my board than anything else.
In the end you have to know when to stop.  There is only so much you can do.  To go farther to try to save a painting is worse than leaving it with opportunities.  Keep things in context.  It is just another painting along your journey towards full expression.
The finished painting.  Bommer Canyon 24"X 36" plein air pastel on board with pumice gel and acrylic paint.
The value shot.
The detail shot