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:
Room with a View
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:
Day 1: Selfie
Day 2: Delicata
Day 3: Rain on Arnold Drive
Day 4: My Father’s Brush
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Thursday I set aside the whole day to paint. (Hoping to make that a regular thing…) I headed toward Open Field Farm, west of Petaluma. Seth and Sarah generously offered their gorgeous setting and myriad of big animals, to my visual self. The car was loaded Wednesday. I packed a lunch and headed out by 10.
Before I even got there, I pulled over and painted an irresistible view. There were cows (youngsters) grazing and playing in the field, off in the distance. They shyly came to see what I was doing, then got bored and left me to my work. It was a beautiful day and the road was quiet and lovely.
Then, just as I had almost completely finished the painting except for the foreground pasture, they came back. How could I resist? I used a big brush with black paint, and laid them in as fast as possibly, not really thinking about the rest of the painting. It felt like I’d been thrown the proverbial Hot Potato.
When I got home, I really loved the painting with the sloppy cows and managed to figure out how to make them more believable.
And then I went to Open Field Farm and painting one of their barns.
And look what waits for me the next time I go! I feel so rich!
My fascination with capturing moments; how the light hits something, how the colors work in harmony, there, right there or how the edges between shapes define what’s there. Deciding what is important to me in that glimpse and how to capture it in paint is my quest.
Yesterday I found myself driving through the valley in the drippy early morning and in a extravagantly fragrant rose garden in the late afternoon. I decided to do some quick gouache studies of my impressions, with aspirations of much bigger paintings.
I’m particularly happy with the vineyard painting. I have for various personal reasons stayed away from the endless vineyards in my backyard. But this time of year, they are “budding out” and I drove by an unpruned budding section. The long canes with their brilliant green leaves bobbed up and down with the breeze and it had to be considered!
Here in California, it’s not all that common to have a sky full of continually morphing playful shapes floating above, describing a wholly different experience outside. Maybe a little tease of rain? I just had to paint them. I packed up and got out into the wind. There is something about bracing oneself to the weather, working quickly, squinting, hearing birds, that often leads to a better painting. And, I always learn something.
Today I was thinking about an artist I admire, Quang Ho. His painting graces the current issue of Plein Air Magazine. In the article he discusses that a painter must have a concept for a painting before they start. I formally declared the concept for this painting was the similarity between the shapes made by the lights and darks which describe both the clouds and the hills, and to use paint to describe that fact. And then entirely forgot my concept as I worked to just get it down. Maybe next time I’ll keep the concept closer to the front of my brain…
The board I chose to paint on had much more tooth than I have been using, and it was fabulous! I was able to move that paint in new ways. Some areas were almost dry brushed on, really scumbled. I used my fingers and could work edges in new ways. Love the tactile approach, really working the paint into the surface. Because the surface was unique, the whole process felt new. I thought about a yoga practice I am watching that reminds one to enjoy being a beginner.
I so enjoy being a beginner.