Thursday, November 12, 2015
Cliff Notes | Pastel | 12 X 9
Day 1 of Capitola Plein Air. Arrived at 12:30 to be told I was one of LAST to check in. Yikes! Apparently this event is going to be heavily attended by local artists - and there are some of the best in this area. Twenty minutes later I considered returning home and punting the whole thing. No room for my Eurovan in any state campgrounds, and no answer calling most of them and local campsites.
But one obscure small campground pulled through for me and when I arrived I found the proprietor was also an artist. She showed me her paintings and I felt like I was home - home for two nights! At check-in, an artist had left a $10 parking stub for New Brighton Beach State Park. I headed there and painted most of this - right up till the approaching waves went from 25' away to 12'. Time to go!
Painting notes: I brought all Wallis warm paper for this event. Painting looking right into the descending sun was tricky. My new WonderBrella saved the day but high tide ended it early. I went back up to the parking lot where I got carried away with the last rays high lighting the cypress on the hill...and then was saved by two artists in the event coming over and inviting me to cocktails and dinner!
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Capitola Nocturne | Pastel | 8x16
Saturday night, after a long, glorious day of painting Capitola, as I was walking back from the restaurant at the end of Capitola Wharf, the reflections of Capitola's night lights called out to me - especially the blue lights! I thought 'It's only 8 o'clock. I think I still have another painting in me tonight'!
Back to the car for my highly portable (contractors proposal box pochade) mini-box. Making the marks was like writing a musical score, left to right, notes and clefts! The music was the artsy-me singing! Being inside one's own head is sometimes the MOST fun!
Painting notes: Key ingredients - black art spectrum paper and a couple of great super black pastels- Nupastel and Rembrandt. The thing about painting on dark papers is that one's 'usually' medium value pastels are now your super lights! The final touch is a pale yellow white in just the right places. And those blue lights!
Monday, November 9, 2015
Saturday at Capitola's inaugural Plein Air and I'm out of the shoot painting my first ever street scene! Two point perspective is all I can muster. I must have mentally measured my right vanishing point a thousand times! I so envy artists who were born with what I call 'Perfect Perspective'. It is like 'perfect pitch' in singers. The 'rest' of us have to labor with the concept and application of it! Sigh...
Painting notes: My two new best friends, Wallis Warm Belgian Mist paper and a square format! Pushing, stretching - this is what excitement is to an artist! I can see areas I could strengthen but then again, sometimes leaving the painting just as it was when you took down your easel is the best teacher!
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Early Autumn at the Pond | Pastel | 6x6
As soon as the first hint of fall came, we couldn't wait to go camping up in Hope Valley. Hope Valley and the Carson Pass area is the closest and our favorite Sierra getaway. It did not disappoint, even tho the aspen turn wasn't as good as most years (many the leaves fell off due to drought before they could ever get some color in them). We rough camped in our RV at the edge of this pond I call the Lily Pad Pond. It was sublime painting beside it in the morning light! A seven mile hike afterwards capped the day off!
Painting notes- my first time using the new Warm Belgian Mist Wallis paper. Loved it! Put in some darks, spritzed it with ISO and it just about painted itself!
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
The Meandering Eel River | Pastel | 9x12
After the gala, the sales, the awards, on the final day of the LOST COAST PLEIN AIR event in Shelter Cove, we all drove out the 27 miles of curves road headed to our homes. But the event wasn't over for all of us! The final day was the second Quick Draw (QD2) at the Benbow Inn. Built in the 1920's by the architect famous for designing Jack London's Wolf House (which was torched before Jack's family could ever move in), this historic inn is filled with beamed ceilings, carved wood banisters and 'all things craftsman' from that wonderful era when a home was built like a castle! We had free range to paint the grounds. I headed down to below the bridge arch across the east fork of the Eel River, here an almost still water body of hardly flowing water that allowed for perfect reflections of the foliage and rocks adorning its banks.
Painting notes: using my fav, Wallis Belgian Mist - the old BM- was so fun. After putting in darks and spritzing with ISO, it was so easy to capture the yellow green leaves of the tree on the mid right by just skipping the pastel side across the paper, barely touching it. Reflections were a breeze - adding them in the right value and shade from what is being reflected, then using my finger cot (a bill counting cot turned inside out), I wiped each stroke down across the entire water area, then added a few horizontals and a few dots of floating debris. I won Best Pastel for my efforts! A lovely green ribbon and bragging rights! (Forgot to photograph before putting the frame on-see the blue reflections on my Clear-Vue glass? How many times must I do this before I learn??!)
Monday, October 12, 2015
The Ebb & Flow | Pastel | 8x16
Black Sand Beach - who wouldn't rush to go there! Ah, but in Shelter Cove, there are TWO Black Sand Beaches - the big one and the Little one. Almost no parking for either, but the 'big' one has a real park bathroom while Little has a Port-o-poddy! And the BEST long range view! This is my view from the top - right next to the P-o-P! What surprised me is that all the black sand beaches I've been to, heretofore, were volcanic in origin. This one is not! It is made up of the pebbled King Range - the orangey-beige parts are sandstone, the black is slate! The pebble sizes vary in bands but all are a lovely mid-tone charcoal with white drippy lines on them - they are each like a 'mini-Jackson Pollack'
pebble! I brought one home to put on my 'Membrances' shelf. The lovely woman who bought this at the LOST COAST PLEIN AIR last week said she lives in the closest house to the beach on the cliff and this is her daily view. Wow!
Painting notes: Sometimes, Art Spectrum Aubergine paper is so perfect! I learned about how perfect it is from Suzi Long, Mendocino Pastellist. The pale eggplant/purple hue is perfect for all foggy environments (aka the coast) even when it's clear. All the Art Spectrum papers are nubby - not too, but just enough to make one's painting more impressionistic looking. If you haven't tried it, do yourself a favor and give it a try.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
When the Sea Sparkles | Pastel | 9x12
Generally, fairly early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the sky is mostly clear and the sun shining brightly, there is a sparkle that happens on the sea surface that is almost blinding. We all love this seeing this bright sparkling light, I think, because it enlivens us. Sure does for me!
I had a really small flat area against the rocks and cliff to stand while I painted this. The high tide was coming in and the only thing that saved me from being inundated by the waves was the steep rise to my rocky platform. Nearby, local youths were at play and the ever-present smell of weed that is ubiquitous in this area of Humbolt County kept wafting towards me - and it was mid morning! Yikes!
Painting notes: Trying to capture the sparkle's pure light is tough in painting - you can't draw it in with charcoal or pencils very well, it's tough with watercolor as the 'pure white' is only possible by not covering the sparkles while letting the white paper come through. Leaving open areas in a dark background are one of few ways to achieve with these mediums.Oils are a challenge as they don't do the 'splatter pattern' that well, even with a palette knife. Acrylics are the good for capturing this as the whitest white can be splattered over the surface. Pastels, however, in my experience, are not only great at it but fun to do! Just skipping lightly across the paper, adding a few dots and even dissolving the white or white/yellow pastel with alcohol and splattering it with a stiff brush!
Saturday, October 10, 2015
I'll Take Mine On The Rocks. | Pastel | 12x9
A painting scene started in the late afternoon quickly morphed into flocks of pelicans and cormorants vieing for room on the rocky cliffs, seemingly waiting for evening activities to begin. Day 2 of The Lost Coast PLEIN Air in Shelter Cove and we were again blessed with perfect painting weather and temperatures! The scene on the cliffs began to remind me of a bar filling up with the after-work crowd - all anxious for the cocktail hour to begin!
Painting notes: Back using my truly favorite substrate - Wallis Belgian Mist! I keep trying to find a substitute as getting it has been spotty at best these last few years, but nothing I've found is as perfect a surface! I had to paint under a large umbrella (Wondershade) which I was able to stake in the ground. Very close ( but safe) to the cliff's edge, I had another painter worry about me stepping sideways off the cliff. Sweet but hardly necessary.
Friday, October 9, 2015
The Tyvek House. Pastel | 8x6
Arrived in the lovely community of Shelter Cove on California's wild Lost Coast for 5 days of non-stop, on location painting. This is the 2nd LOST COAST PLEIN AIR put on by a wonderful group of folks who call Shelter Cove home. It felt like the whole town turned out for us! On my first day of painting, this was my second of three and is of a somewhat controversial building that is right next to the iconic Lighthouse, symbol of Shelter Cove. Seems the site is commercially zoned and building was halted for a while when some disagreement sprang up on intended non-commercial use. Finally, I heard some planning forces put enough pressure on the owners to get the home insulated (Tyvek) at which point the whole project has again been put on hold, leaving this supreme view lot with an unfinished home for who knows how long! Even in the most remote locations, zoning issues are ubiquitous!
Painting notes: I chose a Fisher 400 paper pre mounted on a 6x8 foam core for this, entered my darks and a few background colors and spritzed it with alcohol to soak into the paper before overlaying the final strokes to the finish.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Carson Peak above Silver Lake | Pastel | 6x8
One of the special treats of driving Route 395 is taking June Lake Loop. A short 5 mile stretch passes by 4 lakes - 3 of them are among the prettiest of the easily accessible lakes of the High Sierras. My favorite is Silver Lake where Carson Peak rises up at 10,866 feet. The lakes take on a deliciously intense dark blue color that emphasizes their great depth.
Process: The dock area was littered with kayak racks - a lovely kaleidoscope of screaming colors - and easily the subject of another painting, but what attracted me to this view is Carson Peak, towering 3000+ feet above the valley floor. The passive gravel foreground with the dock leads the eye in while keeping the emphasis on the steep peak where a rock slide has scoured its flank. This is painted on Wallis Belgian mist paper with a direct application of colors (no underpainting).
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Bristlecone Pine Trail | Pastel | 6x6
he oldest individual tree is more than 5,000 years old, making it the oldest known individual of any species! These remarkable trees have endured the harshest weather and the worst soils. True survivors, they take your breath away - or maybe it was the altitude that did that to us. A seemingly short 2.5 mile hike seemed like an endurance test! Sleeping at this altitude was no easy task either!
Process: Wallis paper again but this time the old Belgian Mist color.
Descending Vines | Pastel | 6x6
I LOVE painting in Winters, CA where the scenes are devine and the people so friendly! For years the Martinez family has allowed me to paint/photograph their lovely vineyards. Their icon of the vineyard is a huge oak. This view is just down the hill it sits atop looking west. I love the steep descent of the vines with the oak studded hills in the background.
Process: Wallis white paper gets a strong rub in with local and complementary colors, then a thorough saturation from a spritzing of ISO. To catch up with this 30 day challenge, I prepared three studies last night, drawing in and in 2/3 putting in the underpainting. I thought 1 painting a day was hard but due to a recent road trip, I'm behind and have to catch up because, as Karen Margulis quotes 'DO IT! There is no try!' 9 more to go!
The Range of Light | Pastel | 6x8
There's a special place along Route 395 just east above Bishop, Ca. Along the road to the Ancient Bristlecone Forest (a fascinating +10,000 ft high forest of the worlds oldest trees), there are numerous pull outs where one can experience the grandest view of the High Sierras. On a clear day, Mt Whitney is visible at the south end and the mountains around Convict Lake to the north. We drove on dirt several miles past the Schuman Grove to Silver Canyon Rd. There we roughed camped with this view at 10,470 ft altitude. As the sun descended, the aspen just below us lit up like they were aflame!
Process: A small panel of mounted Fisher 400 pastel paper was perfect for capturing this high color scene. This paper was developed by a Brit who loves a superfine grit. The paper is a pale sunny tone. I made direct application of my colors with no underpainting. The scene, the paper, the mood - all were perfect this fine evening!
Monday, September 21, 2015
Kern River Vista | Pastel | 5x7
Kernville, a town alongside Lake Isabella, used to be located in the lakebed until a dam and reservoir was constructed back in the '50's. Many of the buildings were physically moved to the new townsite on the northern most point of the Lake. It is an interesting small vintage hamlet with the Kern River running thru it's center. The top local restaurant, Ewings ('Dining, Drink and Views'), has this magnificent view up Bull Run Canyon! And the food was every bit as good as it was advertised - Inch and a half thick prime rib on a Saturday night!
Process: The substrate is Wallis white paper with the underpainting pastel brushed and spritzed with ISO. I'd like to come back in with some more definition on the front left grey pines.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
We are visiting in-laws at Lake Isabella where the temperature made it over 100 degrees today. Even though this is high desert, it looks even more parched than usual.
Process: The scene lends itself to using Ampersand Orange paper. Painting rocky hills is a breeze just skipping the Patel across the background. I started with two approaches to the underpainting- brushing some areas with ISO while spritzing others where I wanted the nubby bits to show through.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
|The Meadow | Pastel | 9x8|
My favorite hikes in the Sierra's are ones where we are rewarded with a meadow after miles of walking through the dappled forest. Watching the shadows elongate across a meadow as the day wanes is a joy to take in. It is akin to a meditation, calming the spirit and making one be right there, right then!
Process: a black sheet of Ar Spectrum is a luscious surface to paint the richly contrasting values of the late afternoon. Painting this made me feel as serene as I did the day we sat and looked upon this meadow after hiking miles up in the Sierra's.
|The Cascade | Pastel | 7 x 5|
Process: The substrate is Wallis Belgian Mist paper. No need for underpainting as the color of the paper provided all that was needed. Dark to lights, then a black and a charcoal Nupastel to carve the rock faces. The falling water goes in last. Pastels are ideally suited for painting cascading water; I can think of no other medium that so easily skips across while letting the under colors peak through.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
|Rise Above | Pastel | 7x5|
A June visit to Albuquerque revealed an old town center filled with hollyhocks blooming in every courtyard. They are not good cut flowers, they get leggy from mid summer on and there seeds germinate even in the cracks of concrete! But when they bloom, they rise up, and up and up, as though, if you just give them a little more time, they will reach the heavens. These old fashioned beauties are one of my favorites and germinate freely all over my gardens.
Process: Using one of the remaining sheets of the old Belgian Mist Wallis paper reminds me why this surface ised to be the standard bearer to most pastelists. Since its production problems, so many new papers have come into to fill the void, some even as good, but few comparable. I put in the darks (TL Augergine) and then local color on the building, finishing with a spritz do ISO. I love how the paper echoes the texture of the adobe/stucco buildings.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
|Storm Clouds over Yolo Causeway | Pastel | 5x7|
Pretty obvious the driver (me) took this photo on a stormy night driving from Sacramento to Davis, Ca. The roads were slick and brooding clouds were coming in to obliterate a stunning sunset. I've thought about painting this since then - over a year ago. What a joy to capture that moment on one of our first fall night of this year!
Process: There's a mixed opinion on blending - many pastelists think its anathema! I like blending for certain things - skies in particular. To me, it connotes their vast expanse, so dense that individual particles are not separated within the mass. Years ago, when blending on Wallis paper made with aluminum oxide, I drew blood early on. A quick trip around my house unearthed a finger cot used for counting bills. Turning it inside out, I found the ultimate blending tool. It does not pick up a bit of the pastel -like stumps and fingers do- and there are so many varied fine touches you can make. Here is a photo of me using it for this sky:
Monday, September 14, 2015
|The Guy West Bridge | Pastel | 5x7|
A bicycle/pedestrian bridge, the Guy West Bridge spans the American River between housing and offices on its north bank to CSUS (California State University at Sacramento) on its south bank. A main artery to the University, it is passed over by people daily who all enjoy it's 'mini-me'-ness of the Golden Gate in nearby San Francisco. It reminds me of a couple of decades of crossing over it, either running or biking, to workout along the bike path. The river is fairly wide at this point and the reflections are like those of still water, even tho it is flowing along at a nice clip.
Process: Wallis white paper again. I did the underpainting with my local colors as the scene is already filled with color nuances. ISO spray and go. I tried to get the bridge in pretty realistically while creating the banks and river loosely. Still water reflections in pastels are one of the joys of using the medium! Apply color, pull down with your finger and voilà, reflections achieved!
Sunday, September 13, 2015
It's a dream being on the Pacific Flyway if you're into ducks and geese and flying wildlife.
Migration up and down the Flyway are an extra season to our year. Living at the end of the Delta is a joy - winds make the temperatures here in West Sacramento average 5 degrees less than our big city neighborhood when it's blowing. The quacks of ducks and geese flying overhead in formation is a part of everyday.
Process: Art Spectrum Terra Cotta paper makes no underpainting required! In this case, it's a perfect foil for an essentially blue painting. I love the way the pastels skip across the surface which seems to be just the right amount of grit to result in broken lines, enhancing the 'impressionistic' quality.
|The Main Drain | Pastel | 4x6|
There are several circuits I walk around my home for the sake of keeping the legs going. This canal/ditch always makes me pause to look at it from various angles as I love it's linear quality set against our horizontal landscape that is the Delta. Formerly an irrigation canal when the area was full of agricultural fields, it is now used for drainage. I love this bit of wild amongst our urban setting.
Process: Wallis white pastel paper is made with an aluminum oxide surface for a special superfine grit. I painted the underpainting using soft pastels (rather than the harder NuPastels), smudged in some area to cover the white paper showing thru and spritzed it all with ISO.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015
|The Parting Day | Pastel | 6x6|
This farmstead is familiar to so many Northern California painters. It lies on a little connector road to enter the town of Petaluma in Sonoma County. I've wanted to paint it for years and today seemed like the perfect day to give it a try. I will probably use this small study for a larger painting of it in the future as there's so much I like about it - the interesting shapes of the barns and out-buildings, the ubiquitous (to our region) eucalyptus stand, and perhaps, most interesting, the passive foreground. Studying with Terry Muira has taught me how one can be a real asset to emphasizing the more exciting features, just like using grays to make the brights pop.
Process: Fisher 400 paper again, with an underpainting except in the sky where the papers natural yellow color was perfect.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Going With the Flow |Pastel | 4x6
Flowing water never ceases to fascinate me. We arrived at a perfect campground-virtually deserted but for the camp hos. Finding an ideal site right on the river bank, we took our chairs to the water and had a beer whiIe I dangled my feet in the cold water. Walking downstream in the last light of day we watched the water flow fast and frothy. The colors were amazing!
Process: Using black Art Spectrum paper involves a bit of negative space painting. And one's pastels read lighter than they do on mid- to light-toned paper. I sketched in mostly lights and used a spritz of alcohol to fix it. I felt like I was in the flowing water as I endeavored to captured the rhythm of the flowing water.
Monday, September 7, 2015
Saturday, September 5, 2015
The Three Sisters | Pastel | 5x7
We spent a lovely day and a half around the Mt Bachlor area of central Oregon, trying to catch a glimpse of the Three Sisters mountains. Finally, a large treeless meadow and no obscuring clouds came together to give us just a few moments to capture an image of these fine peaks.
Process: I used a new paper today that I bought at the IAPS Convention (International Association of Pastel Societies) this June. Called Pastel Artist Panels, they are made by Multimedia Artboards. The color I got is a rose and the grit is 320. I think the 500 grit would have been better for this study as, in such a small size, I fought the heavy grit throughout the painting. So far, I am preferring the underpainting technique over the use of colored paper as the result is more brilliant and fighting the grit not as much as problem. Nonetheless, it's always good to try everything!
Friday, September 4, 2015
Paulina Lake | Pastel | 5x7
Oregon - what a varied countryside, filled with lakes and waterways. I know it's also in its fourth year of drought but, by comparison, so much of it seems luxuriant in comparison to my parched California.
We awoke (frozen) at East Lake in the Newberry Volcanic Park and took our morning stroll a few miles away at Paulina Lake and Falls. This scene awaited us, filled (of course) with lots more stuff.
Process: Wallis white, underptg with Gamsol (mineral spirits). Slight difference in application from using ISO alcohol. My jury still out on which I prefer- MS or ISO. I think the proof is in using each in larger pieces to decide. Would love to hear what others prefer. One thing tho - I really love Wallis paper!
Crater Lake | Pastel | 5x7
On our return to California from a blissful 8 days in Oregon, we decided to travel down the east rim of Crater Lake. Spectacular views and fluffy clouds!
Process: using Wallis white paper, I sketched in the big masses and under painted them using NuPastels and ISO alcohol. Here's a shot of the underpainting drying:
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Mt Hood | Pastel | 5x7
We are still in Oregon. While lunching at the historical Mt Hood Lodge (from 'The Shining'), I was able to get this photo of Mt Hood without clouds obscuring its peak.
Process: I sketched in the big shapes, then under painted with isopropyl alcohol. Here's a snap of the underpainting:
I painted this in our van after dark in low light and cold conditions . We're up by Newberry Volcanic Center where the wind is whipping off East Lake. Minor suffering for my art, but getting one done for the Challenge.
Looking it over the next morning, I notice some poor color choices were made due to the low light In which I was painting. The sky is too light and the colors in the foreground are too bright. This is a perfect example of not utilizing grays to tone down the area and make a few brights really sing their solo. The choir of the current foreground is shrieking in my 'ear-eyes'! My fingers are itching to make the corrections!
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
ROCKS & RIFFLES | Pastel | 5x7
Clackamas River at Carter Bridge in Mt Hood National Forest
Picking out the 4-5 dominant shapes was a bit difficult here with the interplay of darks and lights in the water. The dominant shape is a dark one across the top and down the left side in a C shape. A little weaving of dark/light shapes in the middle. Medium sized light shape is on the right.
The underpainting started with dark brown at the top, then deep olive to forest green. From the white water down, the darks were predominantly spruce blue. White water areas ranged from a light fuschia to a light green turquoise. All were done using NuPastels.
I didn't count my strokes, which I just learned in a workshop exercise for this one, but I did use a minimum of them. Everything but the water went in quickly. Great fun applying the white water areas using the new Terry Ludwig lightest turq blue by lightly dragging it in the side over the rocks and into the pools. A few highlights and voilà!
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Otter Pond | Pastel | 9x12
I just finished up a pastel/oil workshop with Barbara Jaenicke at Carrie Moore Studios in Oregon City, Or. Inspiring, lots of new info and a great group of artists!
Day 1 emphasized taking a photo down to no more than 5 spaces-trying for one especially large dominant one. Then we did a value sketch of it and used this to draw our sketch on our painting surface. Great way to simplify and keep to it.
Process:Next came the underpainting. Using Uart 400 paper, I applied colors on the big shapes and soaked them into the paper using isopropyl alcohol applied with a bristle brush. Some areas I literally blotted the alcohol on, some I streaked, and I allowed some dripping In certain areas ( like the water reflections). What was new for me was to be very deliberate in the application-. The more 'finished' you make the underpainting, the less work you have in making your top strokes. Here's the result in a small singing called Otter Pond.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Take My Brush Away!
Painting #1 of '30 Paintings in 30 Days' Challenge
|Fall Flames | Pastel | 9x12|
It's a daunting task but January's 30 in 30 Challenge was a great way to jump start my goal of completing 100 paintings this year! I'm going to get a jump on the month as I'll be in Oregon at a workshop and then vacationing in Mt Hood National Forest from August 26th until Sept 4th.
This first painting is a studio piece I just completed and delivered to ROOTSTOCK GALLERY in Winters, Ca for the upcoming Harvest Landscape Show.
I used Art Spectrum Colorfix paper in Raw Sienna-a wonderful warm orange color that peeks through in places and makes the painting even more high colored!
What I'm most pleased about in this painting is that I took Kim Lordier's advice from a workshop that I took from her in November 2014. My translation of what she advised, said in my own terms:
Stop! when you think you're close to being finished with a painting, (say, at the 90-95% point), put your pastels or brush down and walk away for at least 15 minutes-or even overnight. When you come back to the painting, ask yourself if you really need to do anything else. The impetus behind this is that it is frequent that one has a tendency to overwork a painting in its final stages. Sometimes, by taking a break and a moment to reflect and then to see the painting with new eyes, we realize that nothing more needs to be done and that the slightly understated-ness may actually be a huge benefit to the final result!
Henceforth, I'm going to call this tip: Take My Brush Away! (cue in music to Take My Breath Away).
In this painting, I was all set to put a lot of individual leaves on the vines. I'm so glad I stopped as I like this far better than how it would've come out.