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!

My wall easel is done and all ready to accommodate larger paintings awaiting my attention.  The wall easel has a minimal depth requirement but can accommodate a 7’x8′ painting easily enough or multiples pieces at the same time.

Wall easel & Clamps complete!

Wall easel & Clamps complete!

Two weeks ago, I started building the wall easel for my studio inspired by artist Jason Tueller’s design and handy work.  The first weekend, I knocked out most of the build project, installing wall braces and vertical rails in an earlier blog Oct 14 (Studio set up).

However, I still needed to make the clamping bars to hold my paintings on the easel.  It has been slower process to fabricate those parts.

Canvas clamping bars

Canvas clamping bars

I had to trouble shoot how to notch out the back part of the clamp to fit around the vertical rails.  I definitely wanted to have them adjustable in height to accommodate small and large pieces.  So I had to plan my process to keep the wood blocks true during and after the build to provide a better fit on the vertical rails.

I have limited tools.  I have a circular saw, a drill and other basic carpentry tools.  I did not have access to a table saw or sanding table that might have made quicker work of the pieces I needed.

back plate

back plate

I am a smart girl, so I used set the depth on my circular saws to score out a 1/4″ deep notch. Then set to removing a six-inch section were needed.  Sanded it a bit to remove any splinters.  Then clamped the matching pieces, drilled peg holes and securing threaded flanges.

clamping the pieces.

clamping the pieces.

I will admit they many not be flawless, but they definitely work!  Now I am all set for starting and finishing my next big project!

Studio – Lights (part 2)

October 14, 2013

Stage 2 for my studio – Lights!

Every studio requires sufficient balance of warm and cool lighting.  Most painting artists prefer the northern light balance, however, not every studio has norther windows to provide sufficient light.  Fortunately, today, fluorescent lights come in a wide range of color spectrum.  So it is easier to manage daylight northern light spectrum inside any space with a simple install of light fixtures.

Next step was to upgrade my studio lighting.

Fluorescent light strips are set!

Fluorescent light strips are set!

I hung two 4ft fluorescent fixtures to run parallel my easel space.  I installed daylight spectrum fluorescent in each fixture.  I was sure not to cast multiple light angles or shadows.  A giant upgrade from the standard incandescent 6owatt fixture.
Side note, Though I love my large window, I soon found that the double pane window was bouncing the natural light as well.  So I hung a light blocking drape to better control the light balance.

Tah Dah, there will be light!
I can accurately mix and gauge true color mixtures!

Updated lighting arrangements in next post..

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.

Prepared for another year.

September 5, 2011

My birthday.

Other than waking to the pops of local hunters in the distant. It is the first hint that fall temps are on their way to cooling the summer heat. The promise of a long weekend figuring out what to do next? Perhaps shopping Labor day sales. A relative quiet day spent baking for others.  I even had the joy of visiting my sister and helping with my new nephew.  It was a quite day for myself.

But even more so heart breaking to hear and relive the stress and fear associated with emergency evacuations and disasters.  Especially as hundreds are evac’d from there home in the wake of the large wild fires not so far from us. Many of whom are my new friends since relocating to our new home.

I have experienced being pushed from my home at wee hours and in a flurry to get to safety.  The first time was numbing and agonizing to literally drive out at 8miles p/hour slower then the impending hurricane Rita bearing down on our regions at the time.  The reality of knowing that all you may have left is packed into you car hoping to get to a love one’s refuge in time to wait it out is even more exhausting.  It was even more awful to sit and listen /watch the news and ticker to gleam any word of our community in all the events of the storm.   You should sleep, but you can’t possibly rest or sleep from all the anxiety of not knowing the fate of your home and community.  All 4 times, it was a similar numbing experience, 2005, 2006 (we stayed) 2008 -twice more.

We have been here for 3 years now, removed from the threat of coastal hurricanes.  And I find myself remembering the long hours prepping for EVAC orders and waiting for the all clear to return home to assess and rebuild.  I am realizing that we have yet to restock our emergency EVAC supplies.  (Yes, I had that for 4+ years). What do I pack?  I have a clear plastic tote filled with emergency numbers, policies, prescriptions, resume/transcripts (if available), a change of clothes, sweater, for each member of my family, pet tags and vaccinations, batteries, maps (local and national), dry rations.   I would actually leave it out during hurricane season.  Now I am reconsidering how I would change my supply box if I did not have a car to get out with.

The difference with wild fires is that they can move blindly and just as quickly as a storm. Pushing across open land as fast as the driving winds. But they leave little time to prepare let alone get out to safety.

My learned advice.  #1. Turn the TV off.  You don’t need the sensationalism.  Contact a friend or loved one, let them know you are safe.  Ask someone to help you stay on top of any breaking news, without bombarding you with all the sensationalism that will be attached to the disaster. Go to a museum or public space to help get your mind off the situation. Try to keep you phone line free for any necessary emergency contacts required.  And remember that all the official phone lines will be overwhelmed with calls to inquire about the status and others trying to do the same.

I know that one little blogger may not be the answer to a difficult situation, but take time to consider what you need before you need it.

Friend’s note’s after the fire:

Advice after the Fire by Trish Aikman

Shoshwrites: Rebuilding house and life after a fire.
Emergency Supply list Sites:

The grand Scale of things.

August 21, 2011

It has been 3 months since I completed my Master’s degree. YAY!  or so I thought.  I have yet to throw a celebratory party since I figured it best to find a solid job.  Looks like that’s postponed too.

See apparently while I was attending classes and working on a preferred degree for career advancement the job market most effectively shut down.  So these days I spend my days updating resumes and cover letters to submit for new listings in a wide range of active job postings.  Or researching software tutorials to get updates on the new software requirements. Honestly, I have more than 30 active applications out from recruiting to office assistant, with little activity thus far.  But I still have all the bills piling in all the faster and wanting payment.

These past 3 months have been crusher, from emergency room visits to major house repairs. We have cut and trimmed back everything we can think of.   No, we don’t have cable we dropped that 8 months back.  We have to keep the web access for my husband’s job access but nothing else in the extravagant category.  Shopping is limited strictly to necessities and critical food options.  And the attrition of numbers still grow longer than the gravy train while our last reserves dwindle into the negatives here.

I’m still pushing against the rock trying to get up the hill.  Every day I hear:

Where do I want to go these days?  Well, working would be a start.   As an artist would be a bonus!  Realistically, I know very limited availability these days. I have plenty of real skills too. I have plenty of quality ideas but no means to capitalize on them because that requires more capital i don’t have.

What do you want to do?  I would be happy starting the day knowing I could contribute intellectual value and help someplace or some one grow in the community.  I am a jack of most trades have worked everything from retail to non-profit to public education.  I went back for the masters because I was loosing out on good job opportunities without it.  So now what?  Go back to classes for more software instructions that will be outdated as soon as I complete the courses?

More recently, I keep hearing from random sources look on the bright side of things. You have your education now!  The right thing will come along.  Maybe your supposed to do “something else”.

As an artist I have been most productive, completing more than 30 paintings in the last 2-3 months. I didn’t paint for most of the last 3 weeks b/c of other obligations.  I have prepped and hung 2 shows and saw a total of 6 people visit between the two.  I’m still trying to focus on the next one lined up, but it’s a bit disheartening to see so little turn out in an area that loves the arts so much.

But the Reality of it?  I have a brain, and I can see that it means at this pace I am going to lose everything we have worked to keep through all the other set backs and catastrophes.  Including the house we haven’t been able to sell in 3 years.  So I’m still at the bottom of the hill.

I am a working artist, on the starving list, trying to push the what paints I have left, but the rest is bogged up on the hill waiting…

Prepping and Framing

July 24, 2011

Some days you just have do the prep work.

Today, I wanted to paint.

But spent the day prepping and framing paintings for the Georgetown show on August 13th.   The second stage to finishing a painting is of course signing it clean and legibly.  That requires the right brush and paint consistency applied with a smooth steady hand.

Framing art is not terribly difficult and I actually enjoy it.  But it is somewhat tedious, time consuming, and somewhat costly if you make a critical error.

Always Measure twice and mark your spots before you drill the brackets into the frames.  Some frames can crack easily if you are not careful.

Assemble all necessary tools and to reduce frustration and time lost hunting for the missing drill or brackets. Tools you will need: small and large wire clippers, needle nose pliers, screw driver, small cordless drill is very handy, ruler and tape measure, and pencil.  I keep my framing tools in a designated tote for easy access. And added portability when I deliver art work for any required quick fixes.  I also keep small band aids for unexpected nicks or cuts when framing paintings.

I should mention that it is very handy to have small portable tables to add works space when framing.  I have 2 small 2’x4′ folding tables be sure to clean them before you start framing to avoid any unwanted spotting on art work or frames.   It’s always a good idea to watch for curious little ones interested in you tools, accidents happen very quickly and can be very serious with framing or sharp tools.

Lastly there is recording important inventory details on each painting like title, subject, media, dates, and sizes for printing labels and contracts.  So that’s been a day of counting, checking, prepping, and recording just to get the work hung for August.  So I try to keep a system and check them off as I go.