Thursday, May 31, 2012

Roses Before The Rain

12"x16" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

"There  will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting."  -George Carlin

For more information about this painting, please click here.

This little 'courtyard' area is like an inviting little room beside by front door.  It's such a wonderful piece of paradise to sit there, any time of day. 

Yesterday (Wednesday)  I painted outside in my garden hoping to finish before the sky opened up in the rain that was predicted.  Well, no rain ever came, just gray skies, a bit of a mist at one point, but no rain.  The skies may seem subdued on a gray day, but colors of your flowers and shrubs seem a bit richer as the sun isn't "washing them out".  The roses climbing up the porch post have outdone themselves this year. Standing there painting was incredible-  as their fragrance surrounded me!

 Today (Thursday), the sun was out brilliantly- and all those huge white peony blossoms to the left of the bench have plopped over in the heat! The blooms still look fresh, they're just too heavy to hold their heads up!

Hmm, I think tomorrow I'll be painting some cut blossoms in a huge vase!!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Beckons

20"x24" oil on stretched canvas

"Summertime is always the best of what might be." 
-Charles Bowden

For more information about this painting, please visit my website here.
Delightful seaside cottages, summer gardens, here in New England (or any place you can imagine for that matter), cool breezes off the water - can you think of any place you'd rather be?

This one took me longer than usual to finish - it's a bit bigger than I usually paint.  That, plus I spent the whole weekend working in my own piece of paradise- our own garden is over-flowing with blooms right now! It's my favorite time of year!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Garden With An Ocean Breeze

9"x12" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

For more information about this painting, click here.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  ~John Muir

It is such a wonderful thing to have state parks, national parks, city and town parks where we can renew ourselves.

John Muir certainly knew it "way back when", and I think it's truer than ever these days. This particular garden has one walled in area, that breaks into open spaces that over look the sea.  

Ocean breezes make the tall, red montbresia blossoms bounce in the wind  - and how DO those little hummingbirds have such good aim as to drink from their blossoms?

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Wisteria (Harkness Park plein air)

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

I've been waiting to paint this wisteria for the last couple years. It seems I always miss the bloom season in trying to get over to Harkness Park.  I'm either a week too early, or a week too late!  Yesterday was a fine day to get outside and paint- and YAY- my timing was great this year!

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ashlawn Farm, Rain On The Goat Shed

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

For more information about this painting, visit this link.

Goats may look pretty silly, but they must be "smarter than they look"!  When I set up to paint the red barn and out-building (aka goat shed), they were all inside their little hut. One brave soul was peeking out.  It was very overcast and they were calling for some strong showers that day.  The rain held off for a good bit of the morning, and the little goats came out into their long pen. Hmm, I liked that composition better- deciding to wipe out some space to include these short-legged tank-like eating machines.  Then it started raining! All the little goats ran back inside - not wanting to get their little "goat-coats" wet! Who would've guessed- they're secretly neat-niks!   And it wasn't evening raining hard- just barely a sprinkle! I wasn't going to pack up until I had those goats placed in the painting - no matter how briefly I had to do it!  So I worked back into other areas of the painting, the sprinkles stopped momentarily, and I quickly wiped off field greens and painted those goats in there quickly. They weren't going to stand around for long!

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baby Kiss - Happy Mother's Day

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

Happy Mother's Day

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Opening Day (Angelique Tulips) and the importance of reliable, comfortable gear, and LAND SNORKELING

8"x6" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

For more information about this painting, or to purchase, click here.

Named in honor of my daughter Heather's favorite sport, these  tulips are at their peak bloom in my front garden. I'm hoping they'll last a bit longer.  They are one of those plantings that turned out better than I thought they would! I've been messing about with brush AND palette knife lately, and with the small pochade box I was working with, this little painting just didn't lend itself to knife work. Like playing scales for musicians, though, every painting adds to the 'cumulative learning' that goes on to build the next painting.

Usually I stand up to paint. Especially outdoors, where I want to have the mobility to get back from my easel and have a distant look at what I'm attempting to put on canvas.  But there are times when I want to sit, perhaps, as in this case, to have a lower vantage point that's also a bit closer to my subject.

One piece of my normal gear was a small 3-legged folding camp stool. It's light weight, easy to carry along with my back pack, if I need it when I'm painting outdoors. Well....I'm sad to say, after sitting on this thing for 12 years or so (I'm thinking it might even be older than that), the nylon seat finally gave way where the fabric fits over the legs, and voila, it no longer had a seat! I hated to throw it away, but it was beyond repair.

So yesterday, when I wanted to sit at a low point to see these tulips, I went through the garage trying to find something to "make-do" until I replace that little camp-stool.  At first I tried a big plastic flower pot (one that a tree came in). Surely it would hold me. But no, as soon as I sat on it, it began to collapse.  That wouldn't last long, so next, I tried a bucket. It held for a while as I got into my painting.  I was 3/4 of the way to what I thought might be completion, when I realized, this bucket was slowly collapsing too! Ugh. And it is difficult to paint when you are NOT thinking about the painting, but whether you will be sitting on the ground in a heap within a few moments.  Now, I've trolling through and now remember the one I had actually has 4 legs and looks like this.
  I think I might need to ask for one for Mother's Day!

***LAND SNORKELING! or what I learned from Clyde Aspevig at the First Annual Plein Air Convention.   Renowned painter Clyde Aspevig was a presenter at Plein Air Convention last month. But rather than giving a demo, he gave us a very interesting, insightful slide show and presentation.  He and his wife (and fellow painter) Carole Guzman Aspevig are dedicated to environmental causes, and she had come up with the term, "land snorkeling" many years ago.  It is pretty much this- taking the time to savor the aspects of nature that we don't ordinarily see or pay attention to.  I invite you to visit their website on this topic- and join in the discussion of your findings if you you are so interested.

Some other thoughts and discussions for artists that he shared were:
- "What makes you want to paint in the first place?"

- "All those bad paintings are part of that process we must all go through."

-"Why do we want to paint like someone else?- (We have our own voice to find)".

-"Pay attention to the WHOLE, don't get caught up in details."

-"The human brain loves status quo, but also surprises."

I could go on & on...but you get the idea. The discussion was great food for thought, and insightful for everyone there, no matter what level of painter. Amazing thing was, there were a few painters attending  the convention who had never painted 'plein air' before! Good for them for having the courage to go "total immersion"! I hope they have found a world of new possibilities opened to them.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gnarly Trunks (Clucas Field, Lyme, CT)

9"x12" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

For more information about this painting, or to purchase, click here.

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, A wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back in the middle of March." -Robert Lee Frost

Monday was the prettiest day all week, sunshine and brilliance. I went back to Clucas Field to get a different sort of view, since it was so gray when I went there on Saturday to paint. The trees are so wonderful here in a New England spring. When the leaves first start to come in they are a brilliant yellowy-green, sometimes almost a high key burnt orange. My husband and I noticed, that the colors are similar to autumn, but softer, brighter, more airy perhaps? And the limbs- down to each leaf, is so fluffy! When you allow your eyes to rest on a tree line, have you noticed patterns of shapes, and intervals...sort of like musical notes? One or two lone trees making a grand statement, either by their shape or coloring?  

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Angelique Tulips In The Artist's Garden

8"x10" oil on linen mounted on archival panel
For more information about this painting, or to purchase, click here.

"When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you.... merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you."  -Claude Monet

Saturday afternoon I came home to paint in my own front yard. The new tulips we planted last fall are in full bloom and are the most amazing thing. I'm hoping the rainy weather we are having today doesn't beat them up too badly. I'd like to get another painting in of them.
I can tell already- this is going to be an interesting year in the garden! Meaning- lots of fun painting here! And even though it was gray and dreary out all of Saturday, the colors in the garden are still rich and wonderful.

However, here's a closeup of those tulips in the sunshine on Monday:
In the meantime, there's buds forming on the rose bushes, and it won't be long after that, the hydrangeas will be blooming! This is my favorite time of year!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Creekside Color, Gray Day, (Clucas Field, Lyme, CT)

8"x10" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel

For more information about this painting, visit this link.

"The subject doesn't matter. One instant, one aspect of nature is all that is needed...Nature is a most discerning guide, if one submits oneself completely to it." -Claude Monet
Saturday morning rose misty and gray.  I was out in Lyme, at Clucas Field painting with others from Lyme Art Association for an upcoming exhibit in conjunction with the Lyme Land Conservation Trust, and the Lyman Allyn Art Museum. 

One of the things I love about gray days, is that the light is fairly steady. The values are mostly fairly close in range, but there can be some rich color in the shadows.  I took an interesting photo of my work against the woods, sort of blends in! 
At the edge of the field, a creek ran down one side.  The notch of a fallen tree rested on another tree, still barely supported by its stump. A large hole in the base of that tree reminded me of the 'troll holes' we used to look for when my daughters where much younger. I felt like I was "living dangerously" trying to avoid the poison ivy and ticks.  Ugh- I had left my 'wellies' in the garage at home! I had intended to bring them knowing full well that I'd be out tromping through a field, and they would keep wet grass, and biting bugs off of me maybe up to my knees.  All in all, I came home with no itchies, no bug bites, and fairly pleased with this little painting (and reminded of just one more thing I love about Spring, yes- even on gray days- the color is subtle, but lovely)!

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunday Morning Sun at Bonnie Springs, Old Nevada/Last Day of Plein Air Convention

6"x8" oil on Belgian linen mounted on archival panel
For more information about this painting, click here.

Back to blogging,  I have to admit I've been distracted lately. But I've had some wonderful days of plein air painting lately, so I'm determined to catch up.  I've also promised to share some nuggets of information that I learned while at the Plein Air Convention last month.  The last day, Sunday, the weather redeemed itself, and was sunny and bright! What a relief after our very cold & wet Saturday afternoon of painting. I'm usually very prepared when I go painting outdoors, but that afternoon I was not. Now, I've decided to just leave the gloves in my pack at all times. I've even put a pair of rain/wind pants in there, too. Never again will I put up with being wet and cold!
One of my favorite demos (now this is hard, as they were all excellent), was Ken Auster.  Ken completed a 40"x60" painting on stage in two hours! If that wasn't the most inspiring thing I've ever watched, I can't imagine what else might be. Yes, he worked from a photo (since he was on stage in a convention hall). But to be able to follow along as he shared his thoughts while painting....well, it was like seeing magic happen.  His key thoughts that he shared was this-especially when you are painting BIG like this, keep everything rather abstract- except for your focal point. In this case it was a San Francisco cable car.  I'm going to share this with you with just three cell phone photos, sorry, you'll have to believe me, this was truly incredible. Here's his initial marks just to indicate a rough placement of the elements (above). Next, this is a good bit into the painting, probably past the mid-point.  And last is the finished work- see how everything around his focal point is more finished, the rest less so. This is how the eye sees. (We don't see photographically!). 
Well, I certainly have been thinking of this one demo a lot! I have 2 big canvases ready to give it a shot!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Passing Front- Rainy Day at Spring Mountain Ranch- First Annual Plein Air Convention

6"x8" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did.  So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.....Explore. Dream."  -Mark Twain

I'm finally getting around to posting about taking part in the First Annual Plein Air Convention.   So much to cover, but I'm determined to share my favorite insights. It's taken a while to absorb all that I had taken in....and I think I'm still processing this, and will be for some time.  First though, I'd like to thank Eric Rhoads and his staff at Plein Air Magazine for this whole event. This was an opportunity to grow as artists (at whatever level you're at), to network, and gain insights on our own work and others. 

My May edition of  "Cheerfactor" newsletter has more of an overview of  the convention information, and I intend to continue the highlights from here in my blog, until I've said all I can say about it! This month's edition of 'Cheerfactor' has some additional information about Eric's 'Marketing Bootcamp', with links to some helpful information. You can subscribe to my newsletter, here.

The little oil sketch above was painted on the third day of convention, our first opportunity to paint during those days. We were over at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.  Once owned by Howard Hughes, this ranch is at a higher elevation, and for a painter, has a little bit of everything interesting for subject matter.  I could've stayed a few days here, but in actuality, stayed just a few hours.  A rain storm dropped in over the mountains, the temperature dropped quickly, and the most of us were bitter cold, and frankly not prepared for the weather.  Would you believe we actually saw snow flurries mixed in the rain later that afternoon when we left the ranch. (Okay, in CT we call that a wintry mix!).  

Those who did stick it out for a few extra hours, larger & more finished paintings did have the good sense to pack a greater variety of layers for whatever kind of weather might show up, light weight parkas, wind/rain pants, fingerless mittens. Now I'll keep those things rolled up in my pack - for the last several years I always thought I was prepared, but it just goes to show you, there's always something new to learn. Especially if you are painting in unfamiliar territory/climate. 

Learning New Zealand Style:
On the opening day of convention our first artist was Richard Robinson.  I've included a link to his website, as he offers many instructional videos (and yes, some are free to view). Funny and entertaining, he had us giggling when he talked about painting outdoors, "and suddenly this 'finger of God' comes down in a shaft of light that says, "PAINT THIS" ".  Yes, the answer to our composition. But seriously, his presentation included so many helpful things (remember NOTAN?) If you're an artist, and haven't covered this before, this is the BEST description of this, done by Richard on video.  It will give you the understanding of how to make a much stronger composition for your paintings. Check out this video!


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