Scouting Paintings

April 21, 2016

Spring is here! It has been most of 5 winter months, with very little plein air painting.  I have ventured out a few times since January to paint.  Only to return home with frozen paint fingers and very little actual painting started.

Now that spring is definitely here.   Everything is blooming in a wide range of colors and compositions.  Spring offers lots of opportunities to paint, especially with the wide variety of Texas wild flowers here that deckle our rich historical architecture and homes. It’s truly inspiring but can be overwhelming too.   The challenge is selecting a location to paint.  To discover a spot that will still be interesting at the end of the painting.

So a few weeks back I opted to just look for painting locations.   Luckily the local town was founded in 1848 and has a large selection of historic architecture and homes nestled among wild flower and poppy gardens.  So there is a lot to choose from.    Thankfully, the weather was quite comfortable for walking through the neighborhoods. I happily spent my Saturday morning, just scouting out new opportunities looking for possible compositions.

As with all plein air painting there are challenges to consider, like location, safety, shelter from elements, or traffic?  Is it safe to park and set up your easel in a new area?  Is there sufficient shade shelter to protect you from the sun or unexpected shower?  How much street traffic can have a major impact on the ability to start let alone finish a painting on-site.   Is there a decent spot to stand without disturbing any unwanted pests like fire ants or wasps?

 

I also find it very helpful to include pictures of the street signs to help remember where my best locations are. Lastly,  it always a good idea to introduce your self to the locals before you discover you are in “someone’s spot.”

Luckily my scouting about the poppies worked out.  As I was recording possible spots, I stumbled upon a lovely side street garden.  It was so inspiring!  I decided to introduce my self and say thank you for such a wonderful spot.  Now I have another place to go and share the fun of painting new garden stories.

Since then it has rained a fair amount with more rain.  Which means my plein air painting outside will be very limited for me in the next few weeks.  So I have been perusing my stash of pictures scored on my outing and working out preliminary sketches.  Which means should I get the chance to go paint I will know just where is my next stop!

prepping fresh ideas...

Fresh ideas to choose from~ lots more to paint.

I can’t believe it has only been two weeks since my recent painting retreat.  It was a much-needed break just for painting!

I found my self so excited to paint.  Yet, the analytical part of my artist was overwhelmed with cataloging the variety of compositions and palette possibilities.   Everything was already painted in raw pigments and it changed every few minutes.  No kidding, the morning light changed so quickly we could barely contain our excitement let alone finish drink our coffee.  The afternoon and evening  sun was just as dramatic.  I could barely record it all on my camera.  So I painted what I could, and came back home to paint more in my studio.

I came home ready to paint.  Over the next few days I walked into my studio and promptly froze at the easel trying to pick a painting to start next.  It should not be this difficult.  It’s not, I was just over complicating it ~ trying to guess what the next sale could be.  And yet, there I stood.  I turned around and walked out of my studio more frustrated than I realized.

A few hours later I had regrouped, cropped and printed most of 20 plus thumbnail images from my recent adventures as well as other local plein-air treks. These were all in my “to paint” files.  I took them upstairs and sat on my studio floor.  Meanwhile I lined up all of my fresh RETREAT paintings to remind me of what I wanted to paint.

I made a fresh cup of tea and just looked at the images. I spent a few more hours just evaluating the unique interest I had with each printed reference.  Eventually, the exciting ones made it into a smaller pile, which I then taped to my easel wall.    I discovered I was looking for a certain tangible energy in my subjects and paints.  I realized I was finally gaining a bit more clarity in my studio again for a little while before family life returned.

I came back with some great paintings but I also came back with a few new realizations for determining what is driving me to paint these days.

  1. Paint the Exciting!
  2. Fresh Paint, Clean Paint!
  3. Don’t wreck it trying to “fix it“.

In the past week I have painted a least 7 paintings.  I  have wiped away several of these after realizing they were “fix its”.  I realized I could revisit the composition in a new way any time I wanted.  Or I could simply paint something else EXCITING at the moment and see where it might lead.  I have definitely scored a few surprises as well!

I will blog more on the 3 realizations later in the week…

 

A Retreat on Painting!

October 11, 2015

After spending very little of my summer painting I was beginning to feel the frustration of bottled paintings.  I was definitely looking forward to some much-needed focused down time just for painting.

Last weekend I was able to take a much-needed Retreat on Painting.

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North view from Dutch Mountain, Llano County.

Several of my Plein Air Austin buddies booked the remote ranch on Dutch Mountain in Llano county for a weekend of painting.   We eagerly ventured out of cellular reception and drove into the remote dirt roads of Llano county.   A 3 day weekend of Glamping (camping in a remote area with a glorious hot shower and full kitchen!) and painting – Plein Air style. No internet, no painting quotas, just take it in, and paint what you find.  Look, relax, recharge, Paint, recharge, Paint…It was fantastic.

North view from Dutch Mountain, Llano Cnty.

Each morning I found my self awestruck and giggling with the joy of simply watching an unobstructed view of the sun rise across granite basalts and open scrub brush and paint the sky in new tones of pinks and blues every few minutes!  Then watching as hushed deer calmly walked across the grounds.  And the views were simply amazing!

Then we would grab our breakfast and coffee before packing up and driving out into the mesquite brush and harsh granite rock hills.   The 5 mph drive trough Sandy Creek and UP to high point was a feat all its own, to which I was amazed I managed it so many times.

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But it was so totally worth it to park at the top and look across the miles to watch people the size of ants pop up on top of Enchanted rock as we painted the morning lights and shadows.

AlexisMcCarthyArt Ampersand panels

Amongst all the excitement and giggles I did actually manage to paint a few the first day and a fourth on the last day.  To which I must say I am rather pleased and even some what enchanted with them as well.  I can admit I do  a little happy dance inside every time I see these paintings on my shelf.  My only regret was not remembering to bring my 35mm camera and zoom lens for better pictures.  But I was not disappointed by the 12 megapixel camera my phone had to offer.
But I had gone there to paint and paint I did.  Now I can’t wait for the next paint out!

Back in the Atmosphere!

February 21, 2015

I’m back in the atmosphere…of Plein Air painting that is.    It did take a push and a shove but I am getting there.  So I am learning to make the most of my time to enjoy what I love most.  Painting and visiting new places…so en Plein Air it is!

Today, we were graced with awesome weather and even a spot of sun now & then.  So I ventured out to the stomping grounds of older Austin – Hyde Park. Oh, but what will I paint?  There was so much to choose from, I finally just started painting where I was standing.

Quacks Corner Table - Hyde Park, Austin

Quacks Corner Table – Hyde Park, Austin

The trick is to find an agreeable spot, off the sidewalk jet not obscuring the painting view.  The limited sunlight did prove challenging in mixing accurate colors.  But I mustered my brushed and pushed paint.

The neighborhood is so active and hospitable!  I was so busy painting, I did not have time to take in all the yummy smells from the well-known restaurants.   There is so much more to capture.  Yes, I shall go back.

For now, I hope you enjoy my posts and stay tuned for future painting ventures.

 

Barton Creek Cliffs

October 23, 2013

Barton Creek Cliff. 7"x5"

Barton Creek Cliff. 7″x5″

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One of the local joys of living in Austin area is Barton Creek.  It reaches across a wide area of Austin, through changing terrain, dried up creek beds, and hidden water holes that offer a cooling summer spot.  Until bountiful rains recharge the creeks and the waters gurgle past crashing rocks and overgrown tree lines.

Beauty is found in the changing rock cliffs before and after each rain season. The contrast of soft mossy greens and local sun bleached sandstone crevices and pooling water are inspiring. They can be quite a joy to capture the glow and depth of the rock cliffs.  This is another inspired little gem.

Lost creek cliffs…

October 17, 2013

The recent rains have overflowed many of our creek beds including Barton Creek.  More importantly we are beginning to see the edges of fall colors too!  But not before the wildflowers have one more crazy burst of colors.  So I ventured out to Lost Creek to find a bit of inspiration from our great weather and local terrain.

Lost Creek Cliffside Trail 2013_10_17

Lost Creek Cliffside Trail 2013_10_17

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Thursday paint out  offered a chance to capture the play of morning light on the lower cliffs along the swollen rushing creek bed of Lost Creek in the west hills of Austin.
It was a bit crisp for an early start but the warm sun very energizing.  It was a nice change to paint the early kiss of fall colors beginning to transform our landscapes.

Archway to the Oasis.

October 8, 2013

Archway to the Oasis.

Archway to the Oasis. 6×6 2013_09_21_02

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The Oasis offers panoramic views of the Texas hill country as the Colorado river winds its way to the dam, even in our record droughts, it is still beautiful.  But all must enter through this archway to the Oasis.  I felt drawn to painting it as the morning sun began to warm the stack stone work and the people began to trickle into grab an early lunch on the balcony.
The Oasis on has a long history of great views on Lake Austin.  The original structure burned down some years back and the family rebuilt the existing complex of multilevel balconies and scenic views.  Good to know that there is still a great place to see our hills stretch far into the horizon over a bite to eat.

Painting at the Oasis!

October 5, 2013

Wow! I painted…

Oasis view of Bagby Beach 6x6 2013_09_21

Oasis view of Bagby Beach 6×6 2013_09_21

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The rains have had a welcomed cooling effect for us.  For a moment, the rain looked to dampen any planned paint outs.   But I was willing to risk painting rain or shine.  Good thing we had lined up painting at a great spot regardless of the weather.

Non other than out at the Oasis west of Austin, TX .
The Oasis offers sweeping west views of the Lake and all its Texas size hills rolling off into the distance.  We were graciously shown to a 3 floor balcony with amazing views of  the lake.The crisp autumn weather greeted us with lovely lights and shadows playing across the hill scape.

The challenge is settling on a spot to paint with so many views to choose from.    But I found it intriguing to watch the light play along the rocky shores echoing the water line and ridges of the hills playing along the Colorado River as it snakes down to the dam.  That was my inspiration for this first painting.

Saturday offered a beautiful sunny morning although cold to once more venture out for painting here in Austin with our local Plein Air Austin goup.

Of all places to visit Rainey Street!
Rainey street can be found north of the river just east of Congress Ave. The neighborhood has a long history of quaint bungalow style homes from around 1934 here in Austin.  The past few years have seen a new revival of the area in the form of restaurants and Beer gardens.  Now the tiny houses are shadowed by the growing high-rise condos and boom of life in downtown Austin.

Rainey Street

Rainey Street

For myself this paint out offers a stroll down memory lane.  Rainey Street was / is the very same street my grandmother spent many summers playing as a child.   So I bundled up and set off to find my painting inspirations.

My first stop was to find 80 Rainey Street.
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Long before the dams were built the river rose almost every year and the lower edge of Rainey Street was often under water.  Several houses were washed out, so each time my grandmother’s family would move higher up the hill.  80 Rainey was her child hood home.
So surreal to see so many homes renewing along the street and know several more are simply no more. Gone are the homes at 60 and 68 and 82 and the old oak tree in the back yard where she once practiced her coronet.  But the house at 80 Rainey still remains, the challenge was to find beauty in the play between light and shadow.

80 Rainey ~ Memaw's childhood home.

80 Rainey ~ Memaw’s childhood home.

So I set up my easel, broke out my brushes and paint.  It was great to enjoy painting out side even in the brisk cold.  I decided to crop in on the recognizable feature of the house the corner bungalow windows and the lovely shadow patterns.
My intention was to capture the once love of a family home many generations ago and I believe that I did just that.  In such a simple morning paint-outI might have found new inspiration to delve a little deeper in the Austin city and landscapes.  There are more paintings to waiting to be found.