Yesterday’s Eggs!

April 9, 2012

What does one do with all the leftover eggs after the Easter egg hunt?
Well, paint them of course.

One of the reasons kids love to decorate and dye eggs are for all the colors that can be created with just a few dyes.
Then even more fun to hide, hunt crack and eat them.

Course I like to dye and decorate them too. But it’s more fun to paint them.
So here is today’s daily fun paint adventure with our leftover eggs.

Yesterday's Eggs 5x7 #2012.04.09

Definitely challenging trying to model the elliptical egg shapes as they overlap and their local colors reflect against one another.  The glass dish added another level of interest trying to depict it’s soft curves and reflections with out over painting it.

April Flowers

April 6, 2012

Wow, the Spring flowers are so vivid this year.  Which is quite amazing since we are still suffering from a severe drought here in Texas.

But I can still appreciate the wild flowers that pop up in my own backyard.  Still no private collection of Blue bonnets but quite a lot of wild Black-eyed Susan’s this year.
So before I push on though my spring I grabbed a few to paint.  This is my result.

Black Eyed Susans_5x7_#2012.04.06.

I intentionally went for a complimentary balance of Red-orange and Blue-violet and focused on a warm light cool shadow composition.
Not so bad for a morning with laundry, dishes and a 5 year old asking where the toy of the moment is.
Back to the Mommy mode.

It’s March and spring is mostly here. We are finally receiving small blessings of rain to quench the dry creek beds and slowly refill a few of our rivers and lakes.  Yes, only a few,  in the past 2 weeks we have received most of 3-4 inches. Our famous spring flowers and Texas Blue bonnets are sprouting hungrily to take advantage of our spring rains.

Though it does not end our drought conditions by any means, it does make for fun finding the spots for spring paintings.  I’ve managed a few small paintings despite our wet season.

Leander Hills, West view. 6x6" #2012_03_03

Even the cloudy days are a welcomed site.  Offering softer changing shadows and colors.  Hazy days easily show atmospheric perspective in our distant soft rolling hills here and occasionally reflect the warm glow of early morning sun as it peeks through the cloud cover.

Stewart Ranch, Dripping Springs. 6"x6" 2012_03_08

The trick is remembering to scale down all the visual noise or info and simply look for the shapes and rhythms found throughout the hilly landscapes.  I find myself often reciting a mantra to remind me of my conscience depiction of cool light warm shadows for cloudy days or warm light and cool shadows on sunny mornings with distant blue hills familiar to the Austin vistas.

Working quickly and settling on you composition is 50% of capturing what you find.  The other part is knowing you palette ranges and remembering to simply suggest the terrain, since it is often a study to work out larger studio paintings.

Picking plein air locations are as much fun as planning a spring walk or picnic venture, only I get to paint what I find too.  More spring colors are blooming each morning so there’s plenty to inspire with our vast blues hills.

New Paint! New paintings…

February 11, 2012

New Paint!

New Paint has arrived!

A new year has started and is moving along.  It’s already into February of our New Year here with our colder winter spell too. I have been stealing time in my studio as weather temps permit, since my studio is in the garage. It’s currently nearly 50 degrees out there.  So it takes a bit of time to get it comfortable to work out there. Paint has a happy temp for optimum working conditions, and below 50 degrees is not it.

Between cold spells I plan the next stage of paintings and continue to push on new projects currently underway here in the studio. But that growth requires more supplies.  Thus More Paint!  I have officially moved onto ordering the super tubes in hopes of making it through the bigger projects.

Hamilton Pools *BIG Sky* stage 1

My BIG project for Hamilton Pools is well underway. Notice I have the smaller 18″x36″ painting study above the panels here for comparison.

It's going to be this BIG!

By BIG, sort of, I mean a 3foot by 6foot painting.  And yet, sometimes it’s not quite big enough to relate the magnitude and majesty of a Texas sized treasure. Yet with all large paintings larger quantities of paint are required.  Mixing the calculated colors and values are again a critical part of paint consistency.  Matching values changes ensures the ability to relate visual atmosphere and depth of such a large project.

Hamilton Pool *Big Rocks* stage 2

Stay tuned to watch the growth of this painting project.  Time to catch up, lots to do here. Will post more later.

Soo Cold & Plein on SoCo

December 10, 2011

So Co Cold.. But I still want to paint the hustle & bustle of our Winter season here in Austin.

Winter painting comes with many challenges. Most importantly COLD!

SoCo Skyline

Our winter in a damp cold this season. It seeps past the layers of socks and denim to wick away what body heat is left after the warmer temps have fled.  It has definitely set in full force here with high temps in the 50’s for the past week, not to mention the wind.   No, I don’t adapt to cold very well.  Our summers are in the triple digits, I can tolerate being hot.  But being cold is just plane miserable.  Yes. I have figured out how to mostly stay warm when I’m out.  mostly.  But cold toes are Miserable.  The damp always finds it’s way to my poor toes, even with wool socks. So I can only bare painting for most of an hour.  After that’s its just torture.

Secondly, the lighting effects caused by hazy winter sky’s (which make it colder too).  Natural light reflects differently from sunny afternoons and colors appear to be more muted in the haze, but warmer in contrast to the cool winter light.  Which means adjusting my palette to accurately record what I see, when I’m out on sight.

SoCo Colors

This morning’s paint outing with Plein Air Austin was one of our local favorite spots.
SoCo!  in Austin.

South Congress offers eclectic shopping in vibrant little shops sprinkled with unique artisan tents and colorful food trailers.  One of a kind shops like BigTop, Turquoise Door, Continental Club, Austin Boots and more.

SoCo overlooks the state capital building and downtown skyline below the river.  It is a popular tourist attraction and favorite place to shop for many Austinites.

Today’s painting pic was a popular spot on a cold morning: JO’S.  Another great example of Austin’s charm and colorful buildings

Winter cup of JO's, 5x7, 2011_12_10

Notice how washed out the building is in the background.  That is a great example of the change in natural Winter light.

SoCo Jo's 2011.12.10 5x7

Updated image of the color study

My studio was not so chilly,  today.
Many more corners await to be painted.

Plein and Simple

November 9, 2011

Yes, Plein and Simple Painting can be just as fun.

This past Sunday I met up with other painters out at Westlake Beach here in Austin.  I decided that I would simplify my painting materials for this trip since I had invited my family to join me and didn’t want all the added burden of my larger plein air palette pack.  That’s a side satchel that weighs about 8-10lbs when packed.  And there was the possible weather to consider as well with 40% rain expected and an early setting sun as well.

So my solution was simple. I grabbed my Homee watercolor palette a few sheets of paper and my sketch book.  It offered a wide range of available color in a clean transport and manageable in a tight spots.  It also allowed me to quickly adapt to my subjects as the light changed.

water color travel palette

Westlake beach is small, but neatly nestled at the base of the hills on the south side of the lake created by the dam below.

South View

It also offered a stretch of grass and covered picnic tables to host our picnic.  Not to mention offered a dry spot between the rain spells.  Yes, you will endure painting in the rain when you have had little rain in the past year.  It was much welcomed to see the stormy sky line. The changing weather offered interesting play of lights and the setting sun broke through the moving clouds to guild the distant hills along the water.  I was glad to have my watercolors for a change.  However I think I will add a few bull-dog clips to clamp my paper and prevent unwanted kites as the wind picks up.

Westlake Watercolors South View. 2011.11.05 size5x7.

Not bad for a quick little outing.

 

 

Plein Air Painting Again

October 15, 2011

It has been a spell since I managed to squeeze in a bit of Plein Air painting in the Austin hills.  Though I spent last Saturday at the Round Rock Chalk Walk and finished a small city scape. It’s not quite the same as venturing into our local creeks and hills to paint. There is just something special and energizing about painting out in nature.

Painting under the Oak tree.

Today, I joined fellow Plein Air Austin artists for painting adventures. I trekked out to Bull Creek Park located on the West side of Austin.  The park has recently been reworked to feature restrooms, plenty of picnic tables, hiking trails and a pavilion near the creak as well.  There you find limestone cliffs chiseled and weathered into  wonderful cliff faces.  Large rock slabs make up the beautifully carved creek bed of Bull Creek nestled amongst hiking trails and large shading oaks. There was even a bit of trickling water to sooth the mind for a spell of painting before the sun rose to high over the hills this morning.

Bull Creek offers plenty of great spots to paint. The hard part to plein air painting is of course toting all of your paints and easel to where you want to paint. The second part is settling on a spot and finding a workable composition. So today, I settled in under a trusty oak tree near enough to hear the babble of the creek but still offer plenty of shade and 2 agreeable compositions. On of the hill side shadows and a second of the rock slabs.

I find it best to stick with small formats (3.5×5 up to 5×7) when in the field.  This ensures completing a scene before the lighting changes significantly.  Yes, some times I can manage to paint more than 1 while out, like today.  But that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with the results.  So I cam home to put a few finishing touches on the hill-side and try to resolve the rock slabs.  But even with good reference pictures of the rocks, I still struggled to get it together even here in the studio. I have to venture out another day for a better chance at resolving the rocks in to a solid composition.

So I shall conclude today’s painting with just the one little gem.  Yes, there are actually houses on the top of the hill edge, up there.

Bull Creek, South East face. 2011.10.15. image: 4.5" x 5"

The Next Stage

October 3, 2011

Yes, I know it has been several weeks since I have managed to post to my Blog.  I have been recovering from Bronchitis an juggling several other projects here as well.   So tonight I’ll offer you a sampling of my latest painting project and walk you through it’s stages of development.

What is this new subject?  Hamilton Pools!
For those new to our lovely hill country, Hamilton Pools is a gem in our own backyard just outside of Austin. Best known for it’s scenic sunken grotto featuring 45ft waterfalls, massive rock overhangs and hiking trails to the Perdenales River.  Well, it’s somewhat more like dripping falls in our drought here.  Even in the warmest summer, the natural lake is quite cool.  It is however , most of a 1/2 mile high down to the pool. But it’s definitely humbling and breathtaking to see and worth planning a day for picnicking to calm your nerves a bit..

Photographs hardly capture the beauty of this marvel. Seriously, I had to piece several photos together to reference the distance across the lake, not to mention to adjust for the change in lighting under the cavern.  I can only hope that I can capture it’s impression and vastness with my painting.  I realized after a few initial sketches it was very clear that a small painting would always feel cramped and and limited in translating the vastness of Hamilton Pools.

But I do have to start somewhere. So Once I had determined that I definitely wanted to work the composition in a 1:3 ratio. I started by enlarging my sketch to 18″x36″ drawing to work out the scale and values. It will simplify conversions for a larger panels later as well.

Sketch for Hamilton Pool.

I prepped this color study on two 18″ square panel boards, and designed the composition across them.  Why, did I choose panels rather than canvas? The cradle board panels offer the ability to seamlessly piece multiple panels together.  Not to mention the added advantage of less warping, square gallery depth edges and they don’t require a frame later.

The second part of the challenge would come in determining a workable color scheme.  Establishing solid atmospheric perspective (depth) will be influenced by the color choices.  I started by laying in a violet under painting, to establish warmth and depth for the cliff work.

Underpainting.

I continued to layer colors and work the transitions between warm and cool patterns.

Hamilton Pool, stage 1.

Hamilton Pool, stage 5.

The study is close but not quite there yet.

Test editing

So in my time away from the studio, I have used photo shop to work out what I want to develop further.  It helps me test potential color changes before I jump back into it.  It lets me live with it a bit too.  I’ll post an updated version soon with the resolved areas.  So stay tuned.

Chapel Dulcinea, West view. 5x7. 2011.08.20

Well, It has been most of 3 weeks since I have managed anything worth claiming from my studio much less the opportunity to paint en-plein-air.  Today, I cheerfully took the drive out to the southern edge of our Austin hills here to explore the Chapel Dulcinea.  And it is a bit of a trek from the rocks north of Austin, with lots to distract along the way.

Chapel Dulcinea is a small open air chapel perched on the edge of the cliff.  The Spanish style stucco and roof tiles offer and old world contrast to the rugged hills of the central Texas. The walking paths tucked among the Chapel offer sweet spots to stop in the morning shade trees to take in the view of the open hill country that makes up the lower part of Travis / Hays county and the Edwards aquifer recharge zone.  It is a favorite for hikers and bikers on most any day.

But today I am all packed up and ready to explore with paint!

Painting on site today with my EasyL.

I am glad I stuck with the plan.  Find the perfect shade spot, sketch quickly. set up my EasyL, layout palette, mix values, and paint.  I managed to finish this sweet little gem all before the sun was high in the sky.  I can’t wait to go back for a sunset!

Five more Minutes, Pink Piggy. 5x7. 2011.08.09

Well it has been a full day here working to get back into my studio.   This morning I trekked out to a place I have been trying to get to and gather fresh reference materials for another project.   Then came home to upload & sort my images while prepping new ideas for the next few paintings. But I have managed to squeeze in a bit of paint here while the dishes waited.

It has been nearly 2 weeks  since I have cracked open my paint and worked on anything other than framing or resumes.  As with anything requiring muscle memory and strategy, the longer you are away from it the more challenging it is to get back to where you were before.   My paints were rather gummy and resistant. SO tomorrow I shall scrape my palette down and mix fresh again for more fresh painting.

Five More Minutes is a sweet little study towards an allegorical depiction of life in all it’s ironies.   You know what I’m talking about. Can’t go to bed too much to do, Need five more minutes to get moving again.  It is intentionally darker and not entirely happy pink yet.  It is after all first morning light cast on the sleeping piggy here. So I think I will completely want to sleep in much like Pink Piggy here.

It is the first of 3, I have planned, maybe more, thinking much bigger than 5″x7″ too.  But in due time.

It is the first of 3, I have planned, maybe more, thinking much bigger than 5″x7″ too.  But in due time.