Saturday, October 29, 2011

Plein Air Painters and the Allure of Water

What would you do if you had a beautiful fall day and a view like that? Well, if you belong to the Plein Air Painters of America, you'd paint it! And that's just what they did here in Stockton on October 15th.

Above you see just three of the more than twenty painters who participated. The building with the red gable and the water tower in the background were a popular view.

Above you see George Strickland's painting.

And this is West Fraser's painting. I like that big sky with the swirly clouds.
Below you see his painting finished, and framed, and waiting for a buyer.

Here is Don Demers' painting. As you can see, across from our downtown waterfront there was a wealth of subject matter for the painters.

This painting was my favorite of the day. It's by Kathleen Dunphy.
Below you see it framed and waiting for me to find $1500 to buy it. {sigh}

There were lots of other great paintings, but I couldn't manage to capture all of them. If you would like to see more, visit the Haggin Museum. The exhibition will be on display until January 22, 2012.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Transparent Objects

So I'm taking this beginning painting class at the local junior college and we've met, maybe 21 times, and I'm amazed at how quickly he pushes us along. We've covered color mixing, shading, perspective, environments, landscapes, the human form, portraits, and now transparent objects! And he's having us build and stretch our own canvas from scratch.

Thursday while he was helping half the class with their frames, he handed out bottles to the rest of us and told us to paint them. I am pretty happy with my effort, but sorry that it ran off the top of the paper. Oh, did I mention we paint on white butcher paper? With house paint? And NO pencils? He wants us to get in there and paint - not draw. He also wants us to mix all our paint on the paper from our basic colors: white, yellow, red, blue, and black. But that's where I drew the line and I brought a plastic palette from home. For this painting I premixed the purest green I could make, a darker bluish green, and a lighter yellowish green. Then I squinted and blocked in the dark tones and shadows. Next I blocked in the medium green and blended it into the darks, and gradually worked my way up to the lighter colors. Next I painted the table top and the background, then went back to the details like the label, the stopper and the wires. He's definitely pushing us, but golly I'm having fun and I can hardly wait to see the next challenge.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Morning at the Watefront

In conjunction with their current exhibit, our local museum recently had a plein air painting event. Over 20 members of the Plein Air Painters of America came to our downtown waterfront and created paintings based on the theme "the Allure of Water". I had previously attended a plein air painting event and enjoyed it immensely, and now that I've tried plein air painting, I just had to watch the pros again.

I decided the best way to learn from the experts was to watch one artist from start to finish and take photos as he painted. When I arrived several painters (who had started early) were already well into their paintings, but this painter was just setting up. His name is Ray Roberts and he is from a nearby town. I soon realized that he was the painter who made my favorite painting from the event two years ago.

The event was sort of like an auction. If you liked the painting (and could afford it) you put your name in the artist's box. When the paintings were all done and displayed they chose the lucky buyer from the box, but you could still change your mind and pass on it allowing the next person picked to buy it.

Here is Ray's preliminary wash and rough in.

He brought a palette that already had lots of paint mixtures on it so he was able to quickly block in the value and color masses.

He was attracting all kinds of attention and I felt good that I had picked him to watch. He gives workshops, but I got a FREE one!

His paid model would pose for about 20 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break.

I must have taken a walk, because the progress is very evident here. He had been painting for about an hour and a half at this point. I think this was about where he said, "What am I going to do with that railing?" He did simplify if considerably, but he has an official artist license, so he can do that sort of thing and get away with it.

After two and a half hours, the painting was done, he paid his model, packed up his equipment, and carried his painting down to the auction site.

Next post I'll show some of the other paintings.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coming Along Nicely

I was able to work on my painting a little bit this weekend. Here's how it looks now. Darn, it's hard to get all those gold leafed balls in straight lines! And I can see now that the ones up on the top of the door where there is lots of shade are a little too bright, but I can fix that later. This type of painting where there is strong structure and perspective seem easier for me than paintings with lots of random vegetation, so we'll try more like this for now.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Plein Air Problems

The Lord of the Manor suggested that we drive up into the Sierras Saturday and do a little plein air research and/or painting. It sounded like a great idea to me, so we set off at 6am armed with coffee, folding chairs, the camera, 5 canvases, and all my painting supplies. We drove leisurely along stopping to take pictures of interesting scenes and finally ended up at Bear River Reservoir where we settled on a nice spot in the day use area. We had shade, a picnic table, and gorgeous view and beautiful weather. I sketched a view and started painting, but BIG PROBLEMS! There was a little breeze, and almost before I could get the paint on the canvas it dried. And there was no going back to pick up any previously mixed colors. What a mess. I almost completed one painting, but stopped after an hour and a half. I figured since I had taken a photo of the scene I could finish it later back at the studio.

So I pivoted around about 90 degrees thinking that the canvas would shield my paints from the breeze and started a second painting, but really it was no better. I struggled along for 45 minutes, then finally threw in the towel. What I really needed was oil paints.

We drove up to Silver Lake and had lunch, then continued on to the Hope Valley where we took more photos. That valley is gorgeous with long views of the distant mountains and the Carson River winding through it. It's a popular fishing and hiking spot. In the winter there's cross country skiing, sledding and cozy cabins. In about 2 weeks the trees will start turning; maybe we should go back then and capture those fiery colors.

So Sunday afternoon I found some oil paints and decided to just copy an Impressionist painter to get a feel for the colors and style. And OH MY! what a difference the oil paint made. I was actually able to mix a color and have it be there to use again any time during the session. Here's the painting I made. Nothing great, but still, I felt successful.

Then last night I sketched out a photo I'd taken in China and started painting it. Again, the oils are sooo much better. I'm pretty sure if one isn't painting frantically to avoid drying colors, their work will be much better. I have high hopes for this painting. I'll keep you posted.