Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wild Irish Roses (step I, unfinished)

11"x14" oil on canvas mounted on board

This was quite the rainy day in Ireland this July, but this wild, forgotten stand of roses were the happiest sight in surroundings of grayed greens. What a wonderful surprise to find this around the bend in the road!

This is just the initial lay-in of the darks. I think this one is going to be so much fun - I keep thinking what a great surprise it was to see such simple beauty in the middle of no-where on such a rainy day. More progress tomorrow!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cottage with the Blue Door, Ireland - sold

5"x7" oil on gessoed masonite

I saw this stone cottage on the road to St. Brendan's well (while on the island of Valentia, southwest of Ireland). I fell in love with the brilliant blue door, and the ancient carved gate.It was already late in the evening when we were on our walk, but still plenty of light out to see.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

O'Shea's - Next Pint New York - sold

5"x7" oil on gessoed masonite

This little house is one of the western most structures in Europe! Apparently used in a commercial & made to look like a pub, the side is painted with "O'Shea's - Next Pint New York". Struck me funny, that's a long way for a pint! You are looking north across Dingle Bay, & out west off the cliffs is the Atlantic! Summer evenings stay light out til past 10pm.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Montbresia (finished!) - sold

11"x14" oil on oil primed linen mounted on board

This was indeed a delight to paint. I had wanted to paint these flowers ever since I had seen my friend Barbara's painting of these things growing close to where she lives in Ireland. First came the questions - "What are these flowers?!" "When are they in bloom?" (July) - last year I visited in June - so I knew I had to come back in the month of July! I was in luck this year - they just started blooming mid-week during my visit.
Funny thing last year....when I returned from my visit in June last year, the local garden center here in CT had these potted up for sale. Of course I had my doubts, Valentia island in Ireland does NOT get as cold as CT does in the winter!! I knew that without asking because of the whopper sized plants I saw growing wild there that I had also seen growing in San Diego (and NOT in CT)! My chances were slim, but I suckered in for a couple pots of the stuff. Enjoyed it alot last summer, but of course it didn't make it through last winter. That was one heck of an expensive "annual". My strategy for gardening is 'survival of the fittest' = totally Darwin.

I also used a somewhat different technique in this painting than I usually do. I usually don't use any additional medium when I paint. Only paint out of the tube as it is. I have certain brands that I like for their color & their body or consistance. But I wanted to try something that I had learned at a workshop with Tracey Frugoli back in April. She uses a walnut oil alkyd medium for her initial layers. I do like this, it does enable you to keep the darks thin & transparent like I like. It dries within 24 hours, and then you can layer your additional layers in with heavier paint (as I like to do). I usually paint "alla prima" or all at once - but I will do whatever it takes to get the job done. If that involves several sittings, so be it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Montbresia, part 2!

a bit further today, until other duties called...

more to follow....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Montbresia, underpainting

11"x14" oil on oil primed linen, mounted on board

Here is just the beginning, an underpainting of what is to come. I really fell in love with the beautiful wildflowers over in Ireland. I found myself staring at the hedgerows with everything popping out of them. In the late evening, the long shadows hit them just right - and I'm gathering data as quick as I can. I know I've got some good reference material to work from.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Proof of Enchantment - sold

4"x4" oil on gessoed masonite

During my last two trips to Ireland, I found myself in constant amazement of the bountiful growth of these fuscia plants - in Valentia, off the southwest end of Ireland, these grow in huge, gargantuan, hedgerows of the stuff! Back here in the states.....from the east coast to the west coast, I can't tell you how many hanging pots of these delicate babies I have killed off! Can't keep them longer than a few months. I always do too much of something to them, either water, sun, shade, you name it, I can't keep them long at all. Over there, they are obviously among the living & thriving. Call them enchanted or blessed- they are all of that.....proof of the divine!

I'll get back to yesterday's post another day...I want to give it a rest before I tackle the problems that need 'fixing'. While it's summer I do want to enjoy some time with my daughters while I'm able. One was at work, but the other had time off today. So after lunch we went over to the beach, sat & hunted for sea glass. Wow, we came up with several really pretty pieces. And she even found a BLUE piece! What a lucky girl she is! Today was a terrific summer day..... that I know my mind will drift back to all winter long!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fuscia, Knightstown, Valentia, Ireland - unfinished

9"x12" oil on oil primed linen

This one was begun plein air while I was over in Ireland. It was the one frustrating one that I brought home unfinished. I tinkered around with it today - but I'm still not ready to declare it done. It was a busy late afternoon/evening when we set up here to work. Only one in the group did actually finish this one on site (or close enough to declare victory!). Then it was time to pack it up for a late dinner, it was close to 8pm - and the light still looked like 6pm if we were back home in the US. There had been a funeral, cars were coming and going, and the one delightful distraction was a dog that layed in the middle of this intersection where 3 lanes come together, and he was not moving! Yeah, he owned the road.

Whether or not I end up happy with this painting remains to be seen - but in any case- it still is much better than coming home with a post card. I stood here for a few hours & watched life happen, recorded it as fast as I could to the best of current conditions. Most likely when I see this painting, I will remember my fellow painters, the people walking & driving by, the changing light of the passing day - and that hilarious dog with the big case of attitude! HA! -oh and the fabulous meal that we ate at the restaurant the following day! Fuscia Restaurant is the first building on the left, with the flowers in the half barrels and in the window boxes on the 2nd floor windows. Delightful place for an amazing meal!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cooking Together - sold

12"x9" oil on oil primed linen mounted on board (Raymar)

Final tweaking & it's done. There's always joy in cooking together (whether you are related or not!)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Valentia Island Artist's Retreat

9"x12" oil on oil primed linen mounted on board

On the last day of our retreat, Saturday July 14th - We all took time to tweak any paintings done in the previous days - OR begin a new one! I chose to do just one more - the home of our hosts for the retreat - Barbara & Tom Mastaglio. During this week - it was not just enriching for the artistic side of me - but I found myself involved in the best story, the most beautiful setting, surrounded by interesting characters, (fellow artists as well as residents of Valentia!). I felt like I was wandering through a novel (or at least a series of great short stories) and living right in the moment! Sure it sounds corny - but a week like this opens my eyes to all the wonderful things I have at home. I find myself looking at things with a changed point of view - as George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life". It's a rare vacation/holiday that can refresh your mental state like that. After painting every day, I wrote every evening. The long days (daylight from 5am til 10:30pm) really energized me - and I know that now at home again (once the laundry is done!) I'll be back to painting up a storm again!

This scene is in the afternoon. In the morning the sun hits the front of the house, but by afternoon, it comes around from behind & is backlit. This day was sunny & bright the whole day. The air was clear & it was easy to see the skelligs (10 miles out are little skellig & Skellig Michael). The shore over on the Portmagee side glows a brilliant green. The tall grass in the fields wave & rustle in the breeze and wildflowers pop through the rock walls. The cows are mooing on the hills behind me! The cloud shapes are ever changing though there is plenty of blue in the sky this day - a perfect day! Can you tell I'm already thinking about what I'd like to paint there next year?!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bally Carberry Castle, Ireland - sold

9"x12" oil on oil primed linen mounted on board

On the afternoon of Thursday, July 12th, we headed over to Bally Carberry Castle to paint again. We stopped at one of the ring forts nearby it to get an up close view of the fortress. They are so incredible!

One of the things our group found especially challenging was the quickly changing weather conditions. You could waste a lot of time chasing a particular cloud (or clouds in this case - things go from grey to blue and back again rather quickly) - you must make your decision and stick with it - or you would never finish a painting!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Towards Bray Head, Valentia, Ireland - sold

9"x12" oil on oil primed linen mounted on board

On the morning of Thursday, July 12, we painted at the base of the trail to Bray Head. There are fabulous views in all directions. I wanted to paint the slope of the hill rising towards Bray Head, but capture the cottages, and the fields of sheep that lay before me. The whole time I painted the only sounds were the wind in the grasses and the waves crashing behind me, and the sheep baaa-aaing to each other! The sky began to change rapidly before me....gray clouds began to blow away & out came the sun & that clear, cerulean blue sky color re-appeared (YAY!). And that sky does affect every color on earth below it! It is fun to watch this change "before your very eyes"!.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Waterville Lake, Ireland

9"x12" oil on oil-primed linen mounted on board

After a morning of painting at Finian's Bay, we went over to Waterville for lunch at the Lobster and then over to Waterville Lake. Here we found a secluded spot with several small boats resting between the rocks and reeds....a delightful scene...except for the fact the light rain was getting heavier. It did remind me of several Girl Scout campouts in the distant past...and I couldn't help but laugh. You really do feel young & silly playing in the rain!! But luckily the oil & water on the canvas don't mix & it made me paint faster! I could push away water with my fully loaded brush. It was really beginning to be fun - and probably the most satisfying painting for me of the week!

Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing this painting: roxannesteed@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cliffside, St. Finan's Bay - sold

9"x12" oil on oil primed linen mounted on board

Here's where we spent last Wednesday, July 11th. Standing cliffside at St. Finan's (St.Finian's)Bay. There are interesting views in all directions, last year I painted the opposite side of the cliffs, across the beach below. When we arrived & through most of the time we were there painting, there was a thick fog that had settled in the area - by the time we were finishing our paintings & packing up - another hillside appeared beyond the house on the right! (Glad it wasn't me driving through this fog either! ).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

View Over Portmagee From Valentia - sold

9"x12" oil on oil primed linen mounted on board

Every day of our trip was packed full of amazing things. This was last Tuesday, July 10, - in the morning we caught the skellig boat "Shelluna" and took the trip out to Skellig Michael. Last year the place was covered with puffins, but this year they seemed to be all out fishing. But we did get to explore the stone beehive huts of the ancient monastary at the top of this place which looks like a huge rock, ten miles offshore in the Atlantic.

After the trip back to our host's house for lunch, we painted outside in her lower pasture, which overlooks several pastures down the hill and all the way across to Portmagee on the other side. I swear she has the most beautiful site to live in all of Valentia. (Ireland). Last year I really struggled with this scene - how to condense all this mass of various greens into a 9x12 space and represent long distances?! I had been thinking about this all year - and I think I've got it here.

It stays light out until late - around 11pm - so you can pack a lot into one day!! (I really love this part!). After our painting session we went back to "The Bridge Bar" in Portmagee for dinner AND the Tuesday night tradition Irish night. My friends had arranged for me to loan a fiddle to play a tune (the pub owner would invite anyone with an instrument to play, trad. Irish- of course) So I played a reel, "The Banshee". What a thrill! ....but next year - I'm bringing my own fiddle!

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Valentia Light" - sold

9"x12" oil on oil primed Belgian linen mounted on board

On our arrival in Ireland on Sunday (July 8th) we drove from Shannon airport through the Dingle peninsula, stopping at a few places & finally making our way into Valentia, unpacking & getting oriented to our new 'home' for the week. Our point was to stay awake until 8pm that first day before finally going to bed - so we'd get our bodies used to the 5 hour time difference from the east coast of the US. On Monday - we headed over to the Valentia Lighthouse, one of my favorite places to paint there. We did have every sort of weather blow through during the time we stood there. A bit of sun, a bit of rain...and a GREAT DEAL OF WIND. My portable easel (made by EasyL) held up famously during the high winds. But keeping my hand steady was a big challenge. This week would hold some great weather challenges for our group - but we are a hardy- tough bunch of plein-aire painters!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Country Sunshine - sold

6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite

This is another one (paired with yesterday's sunflower) that I spent a bit of time tweaking....strengthening the values. Now I love it...I'm much happier with it.

Got lots done today, shipped one painting, framed up 4 & delivered to a show. Had the car serviced (no I'm not driving to Ireland! ha, but I do have a long way to the airport!). Now, to finish that packing!!! (the part I like least!). Hope my family remembers to feed the cat while I'm gone!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Valentia Island Artist's Retreat

I'm almost packed for my "Artist's Retreat" to Ireland. I've been looking forward to this since I got home last summer from the last one! I'll be spending the week on Valentia Island, off the west coast of Ireland, painting everyday. Barbara & Tom Mastaglio are our hosts - they make sure you have a great experience. Visit their website - you may want to plan a retreat next summer! On Saturday, my family drives me up to the airport in Boston to send me on my way (I do hope they miss me!).

Sun Lovers

6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite

Whenever it's dreary outside, I always think of sunny places & days where I enjoyed the outdoors & all it's beauty & warmth. I had been looking at this little painting & decided it needed some tweaking to strengthen the values (give it a stronger sense of sun light warming their faces). Those 'ah-ha' moments are such a good feeling! Just like these flowers make me feel!

This painting is available from me EBay Store. To visit and bid, click here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Calm on the Cove - sold

5"x7" oil on gessoed masonite

When they say paint what you know....it's true that is makes the painting of familiar things so enjoyable. I see this view most every morning on my daily walk. The pretty boats are a calm, enjoyable sight for me.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Cooking Together

12"x9" oil on linen mounted on board (Raymar board)

This painting was beginning to look like it was "more about what was going on outside" & not the 2 figures cooking. And I felt it was getting nit-pickier than I wanted it to be. I wanted to keep the focus on the figures and keep it painterly. So I really had to dig a bit....now I'm closer to that goal! So I'll percolate on this & see if I'm really done...or where I'd like to tweak it a bit. I'm much happier with this today - now it's in the right direction.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Cooking Together

12"x9" oil on linen mounted on board (Raymar board)

Here I've gotten a little further today. I hope to have a bigger block of time to finish up tomorrow. I'm getting ready for my upcoming painting trip to Ireland. I need to make sure all my supplies are ready, stuff packed ...and figure out who in my family is taking me to the airport! That could be the tricky part!

It will be a busy week, 2 paintings to mail out tomorrow that are finally dry! Plumbers coming, van to get a headlight replaced. One painting to pick up from a show & several others to drop off.....I must be forgetting something?!