Painting Every Day

Every day in January I have finished a painting, 31 of them. Some are pretty good, others are not so good. But I went through the exercise of finding some thing or place to examine, set up a way to commit it to canvas, sketched it on the surface, then mixed up specific colors to describe what I saw. Some took as little as an hour, others were all day, pull-your-hair-out ordeals. Here’s what I’ve learned:

I’d rather paint in the afternoon than the morning.

Don’t use linseed oil as a medium for a painting that needs to be finished in a day.

Painting outside is much more trouble and much more rewarding.

Facebook feedback doesn’t always match my feelings about a finished piece.

I love the sense of accomplishment I feel every day, especially if I like the work.

When I have more time, the painting takes longer.

I’ve not yet settled on the best surface for my way of working. In the past I’ve painted on gessoed boards, followed up with clear gesso. Clear gesso creates a bit of grit on the surface which helps keep the paint in place when brushed on. I didn’t have enough surfaces ready for 31 paintings. So I used pre-made canvas boards. But I didn’t like the obvious texture, especially noticeable with this small size. So I applied molding paste, a sandable acrylic, to fill in some of the texture. But I didn’t apply it well enough and so I fought. I’m going back to boards and have quite a stack right now ready to go. Should have had them ready before I started this project. Next time!

Bottom line: I just love to paint! I never feel so at peace as when I am in the midst of figuring out how to solve the puzzle on my easel. When I am able to let everything else go I don’t even care if the painting comes out well or not. The process absorbs me. There is nothing I’d rather do.

This was part of the Strada Challenge. By completing a painting every day I am entered into a drawing for a new Strada Easel. Many painters completed this month’s challenge and it’s been wonderful and inspiring to see their work. Wish me luck!

 

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At least it hasn’t been a year…

I confess. Art has become an obsession, leaving little time for other things, like blogging. Or maybe I am too distractible and can’t do two things at once, or just can’t organize my time or possibly I’m simply lazy. Whatever the case, I have been away from the blog for 6 months. At least I’ve been painting. Here are a few that have succeeded:

And my obsession is getting worse! I committed to painting one painting from life, every day in January, 31 paintings. If I do, I will be entered in a drawing to win a new Strada Easel. Which would be nice! Great easel, take a look… Painting every day is what I want to do. So it’s a perfect excuse.

This practice is helping me get organized. I have moved clutter (seldom used supplies, finished paintings, frames) out of my studio. I’m switching from one painting medium (helps thin paint and make it easier to move with a brush) to another. And figuring out how to start and finish within hours instead of days (work small!). All good habits worthy of development.

The biggest effort begins next weekend when my husband and I are starting a week-long driving journey. We’re headed east, down the eastern side of the Sierras, toward Utah and Zion National Park along with other spectacular Red Rock Wonderlands. I mean to paint every day of the trip and have been gathering materials to pull it off. Those of you that are oil painters know there are a lot of messy materials that go along with the great colors! Plus, the paintings are vulnerable until they dry, which takes days. So this will be quite a challenge.

Here are the first 4 days effort:

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Day 1: Selfie

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Day 2: Delicata

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Day 3: Rain on Arnold Drive

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Day 4: My Father’s Brush

 

Step by Step

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This painting has been quite a process.

It all started more than a month ago with the blog post below. I knew it would make a good painting but needed to be fleshed out. I decided to add more horses but didn’t want them to distract too much from the trees so wanted them quite small. These quick studies helped me know how to tackle the horses.2016-05-26 16.45.43 (1)

Next, I tackled the larger format 16 x 20 inch board, painting the elements in loosely allowing for changes. The foreground horse was added to improve the composition, pulled from my imagination so a bit more of struggle than the others. When the lights came onto the trunks of the trees, everything changed! I am so happy with the results of a more methodical approach to my work. I already know what I will tackle next!

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New Direction

I’ve been striving to take my paintings beyond a good likeness of the scene and into something painterly, exciting, full of life. So I seek out those qualities in other painters, and even going so far as copying their work, to help me feel handling paint differently and find out what it takes to create a certain look.

IMG_4882 (1)Last week I painted out at a local spot nearby and found reasonable success but I wanted to use what I learned there and back up, see a longer row of eucalyptus trees, make the subject less about the horse and barn and more about the setting, the place.

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This small painting accomplishes my goals, not just to change the composition, but more importantly to add more paint and allow more freedom and life to the picture. I will try it again, bigger, on a board not simply canvas paper. Very happy with this new direction!

 

Beyond the Opening

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I’ve been itching to paint after all the attention on the show. I was able to paint on a property with an amazing view at the top of Sonoma Mountain. The sketch I did quickly, plein air. It cried to be done in a wider format. I’m tackling a slight change of course by leaving more portions of the work unresolved but hopefully interesting through color or marks, shapes or simply the contrast with the more distinct parts of the piece.

I also wanted to add a touch of conceptualism to the studio painting by indicating a change in season, turning the lush green to dry, golden brown. We have had a wet spring and the grasses are still juicy, in fact it’s been drizzling all day. But green turns golden in a week, given the right conditions. It’s the soft browns with dark green round oak shapes that defines the California landscape for me. This painting seems to be one of anticipation.

Wow! Such a fabulous turn-out at the opening of my Spring Painting Show at Bump Cellars. I was overwhelmed. And to have sold so many on top of the praise. Such a boost to my confidence, I am most grateful to you all. Thank you!

Spring Painting Show

PosterMy spring show is about the be hung. All the paintings are framed and carefully placed in my car, ready for transport. There are more than 50 paintings, mostly plein air, for sale or previously sold and invited to come back to round out the collection. I’m have a bag of tools, tags, postcards, business cards, wire and rulers, plus two helpers to advise, schlep and support and everything will get organized and displayed, lit and polished. There are details enough to muddle my life, and I’m almost there! Phew!

The show opens Friday at Bump Cellars in Sonoma. The reception is 6-8 pm. The art will hang for the month of April.

The walls in my home are now open. They have been displaying my work as it accumulates. The open walls are teasing me because I know, pretty soon, I can start some new work. And I can’t wait!  Getting a show ready, at least for me, has taken weeks away from the creative side. No wonder I’m muddled!

Please come see the show if you have a chance. It’s my best work to date.

Hello again, Art Lovers!

IMG_4306I’ve been painting with total focus on “improvement” without the distraction of chatting about it. After joining a semester-long night painting class for the past number of months, new supplies and techniques are being tried out and incorporated into my toolbox. I believe my selfish attention has been paying off. This painting came surprisingly quickly, just 2 sessions. And, more importantly, I’m happy with it.

I have also been getting ready for a show in at Bump Cellars in Sonoma during the month of April.

I look forward to posting good paintings much more often! Thanks for your continuing support.