The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fur in my landscape

Sometimes, I just get the urge to paint furry things. These almost, sort of, kinda qualify as having landscape elements in them. Maybe if you squint.
Proceeds from the sale of the Sheltie painting will be split with a local sheltie rescue, and the Golden painting will be donated to next year's silent auction for Adopt a Golden Atlanta -- this year's donated Golden paintings brought in somewhere between $400 and $800.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another Workshop Possibility - Donald Demers

It's been a while since I've shared anyone else's paintings (my little quick studies are tres boring!). This is work from Donald Demers, whose workshops sell out very quickly. You can see why.

You can tell I like his work -- I used a couple of his paintings in my Creating Depth posts here: 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Playing with Knives

Went to my "favorite" parking lot at lunch, but the landscape maintenance crew was working. It was too nice a day to spend it listening to leaf blowers so I went elsewhere. Not much in the way of scenery to paint, but I didn't let that get in my way. Still not many leaves on the trees but even if these trees had leaves, you'd still be able to see the office building behind them. Artistic license allowed me to leave that out. (See facsimile of license below. Mine is in the mail.)
Done with painting knives, about 30 minutes. A little sloppy but fun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Here's the church, here's the steeple....

Well, I never made it to the door so we could open it and see all the people. Maybe next time. The good news is that there isn't a speck of pink in sight.

This was another auto de plein air, done completely with the knife. Would those of an engineering bent please refrain from pointing out the wonkiness? Thank you. ;-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Plein Air Painter's Blessing

May you always have the perfect light,
A sturdy but lightweight easel, all the paint you desire,
And all the time in the world to paint.

Monday, March 15, 2010

First "Auto de Plein Air" of the Season

Not much to look at but I had fun! I spent about 10 minutes driving around scoping out possibilities then about 40 minutes painting this. Really need some work on depicting water. The new thumbox worked out wonderfully, as did all my accoutrements in the passenger seat.  It was still too cold and windy to be out. As you can see, there is still very little green to be seen. However, I did see some redbuds in bloom. They may be my next victim -- er, subject.
And a little ACEO I did yesterday. Usually, the daffodils are gone by now, but here, they're just starting to come up. Only a few early bloomers can be seen in our walks around the neighborhood with the big red dog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My New Guerrilla Thumbox

I have a new toy and I'm excited to start playing with it. It's the 6x8 Thumbox from Guerilla, and it is ca-yooot!  I also have the 9x12 pochade, which is great for longer sessions, but daunting when you want to do something quickly and discreetly.  Here's a photo of the two of them, so you can compare sizes:
I don't work much with the 6x8 size panels or canvas, as I think it's difficult to find frames for them reasonably priced. But Dick Blick has a great deal on these thumboxes, where you get the box, some size adapters for 5x7 and 4x6 panels, a brush washer, a set of brushes, and a palette extension. Priced separately, they cost much more than this deal. Here's what you get:
So you can use it with various size panels, even 8x10. Here's what it looks like with an 8x10 canvas panel in it, in vertical format, using the built-in holder:
Also included is an elastic doo-hickey that allows you to hold a panel that is larger than the built-in holders. Here's an 8x10 in horizontal format:

And, if I want to use my el-cheapo gessoed watercolor paper, I can clip it to a panel, and it fits either vertically into the panel holders or horizontally with the elastic doo-hickey:
My plan for this little guy is to use it on my lunch hour in my car -- auto de plein air. Now that the buds are starting to pop on the trees here, and the air is slightly warmer, my spring fever is in full force. I work in a nice office park with lots of quick study possibilities. There's a park not too far away.  I should be able to get 40-45 minutes of painting in. I will hold this in my lap, and have a box of supplies on the front seat next to me:
Once it starts getting warmer, I will likely take the thumbox into the office with me after lunch, so it doesn't sit in the hot car all afternoon.  That couldn't be good for the paint. If I could do this once or twice a week until the heat really kicks in, I'd be thrilled.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When I grow up, I want to be like Elsie

Thought some of my artist friends might enjoy a recent feature article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  It's about an 85-year-old artist named Elsie Dresch. She's been an artist all her life, but somewhere around her 84th birthday, she decided to hold a solo show for her 85th birthday, with 85 paintings she would paint between the two birthdays.  Somewhere around her 84th painting, she fell and broke her right wrist. She's right-handed. How many people do you know would give up right there and only show 84 paintings? Or maybe include an older painting in hopes no one would notice? Apparently Elsie is not that type. She painted number 85 with her left hand, and still managed to hang 85 new pieces in her solo show. And she doesn't do small paintings, either. They are in the 36x48 or even 48x72 inch range. With her non-dominant hand!

Here are some links:
The article
Her website
Her gallery

I have a new goal. When I grow up, I want to be like Elsie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Where to put paintings while they dry

On another blog, we were discussing how to store paintings while they dry, and I thought I'd post some pics of what I did. It's not an original idea, so I can't take credit for it. But it sure comes in handy.

I went to the local big box hardware store and bought a few lengths of something that looks like this:

Sorry I can't tell you what they're called, but they're in the same section as the molding. It's about 4 inches wide and has grooves in it.

This is what they look like up. As you can see, the paintings have a tendency to stay there long after they're dry, as I'm also out of storage space.

I used super heavy-duty sheetrock anchors and hardware, but you can see in the last photo, the weight of hardboard will make the end bend. I should have more hardware there at the end of the little shelf.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Painting Sky Holes

I love trees. I love painting and drawing trees. But I have to confess a personality quirk that makes me want to paint every single detail on the tree. About halfway through, I get annoyed and understandably discouraged.

One of the challenges in painting trees is painting "sky holes," those bits of light you can see peeking through the leaves. You wouldn't think these would be hard to paint. But I've noticed that my biggest challenge with sky holes is not to paint too many, as that tends to look unrealistic.  So as part of my quest to *stop* painting every little detail, I looked for some tips on painting sky holes:
  1. Don't make them too regular in shape or size, or evenly spaced. They should be random but realistic to the type of tree you are painting.
  2. Use a slightly darker sky color for the sky holes. The light will be filtered by the leaves. Also, the eye is drawn to lighter color, and you don't want the eye to focus on your sky holes. Generally, the smaller the sky hole, the darker it should be.
  3. Don't have too many hard edges. Hard edges will make the tree look like it's cut and pasted on top of the sky, instead of being part of the landscape.
Here are some fantastic examples of sky holes:
Bob Rohm, "Spring Blue"

Dan Young, "At Home"

Kevin Courter, "Day's End"

And in this example from Kevin Courter, you can see that tree holes don't apply solely to the sky:

As Richard McKinley says,
Having dark, upright trees against a light sky produces one of the most beautiful and difficult to handle situations in the landscape: sky holes. The amount of visible sky holes depends on the density of the foliage, but as an artist friend often said, “You have to give the birds a place to fly in and out.”
Be sure to give the birds room to fly.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bucks County (PA) Workshops

After looking around at some of the options for workshops, I have to admit this place is on the short list. It's an old farmhouse in one of the most beautiful parts of Pennsylvania, with week-long workshops and many, many places to go plein-airing nearby. The list of artists teaching there is very impressive.  Price includes lodging and two meals a day. Take a peek:

If anyone out there has been to a workshop here, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jeffrey T. Larson

Can't remember where I found this link, but check out this site when you have some time to spare. Since this is a landscape painting blog, I'll include a link to his landscape page. But click around his site, and your jaw will drop. The sad thing is, I didn't see any workshops listed on his site.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Organizing your palette

I admit I probably break all the rules when it comes to laying out paint. Maybe it's from being self-taught, or maybe it's from being cheap. But when I get ready to paint, I don't squeeze out blobs of all my colors, or put them in the same order every time. If I'm not going to use cadmium orange, I don't put it on my palette. I think white is the only color I put in the same place every time. I know everyone says to be consistent in how you put your paint on your palette. What do you do?

Just in the books I have, I've read these strategies for organizing your palette:

1. Opaque paints on one side, transparent on the other.
2. Warm colors on one side, cool on the other.
3. In spectrum order, regardless of these other properties (i.e., white, follow the color wheel basics).
4. Earth tones first, then spectrum colors.

This is what Mitchell Albala says in his book "Landscape Painting:"
The palette is more than just a place on which to squeeze out colors. It can be a roadmap for thinking about color and color mixing. Always lay out your pigments in a consistent and logical order; this will allow you to work faster and smarter. Avoid the "spotty palette syndrome," with colors randomly placed in different spots each time you paint.
Uh-oh. Guilty as charged. Something else to work on -- curing my "spotty palette syndrome!"