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.

 

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

Click to bid here

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.

Today’s Maters.

August 26, 2013

Today's Maters.  6"x6" ID#

Today’s Maters. 6″x6″ ID#

Available soon! – Click here to Bid!

Today’s Maters are today’s paintings.
This trio of tomatoes offer another chance to explore complimentary balance of cobalt and cadmium.  Though the ellipses and lighting tones of the plate proved a bit of more tricky.

Glad to have time to work through paintings again.
Need to acquire more produce to fill my bowls for new paint inspirations.

Summer Tomatoes!

August 25, 2013

Summer Tomatoes. 6"x6"   oil on panel.  ID#2013.08.25

Summer Tomatoes. 6″x6″ oil on panel. ID#2013.08.25

Click to Bid here!
Got to love the local farmers markets.  You never know what you can find.  Daily dose of vegetables leads to daily painting. 🙂  I have been waiting to paint these summer tomatoes since yesterday morning!  I love the subtle under tones of cadmium and thought it would be a fun contrast against my favorite blue bowls.

So after a few sketches and wipe offs, I settled into this birds-eye composition.   I focused on simplifying the shapes and layers to build up the depth.  While playing with the balance of the complimentary color scheme. Turned out nicely.

Spring Break Inspirations

March 13, 2013

Well it’s hump day of our spring break here.
Since my Easy-L tripod is in the shop for repairs I am limited to painting at home this week. So I started looking for fun painting inspiration here at home.   A good day for peanut butter sandwiches and painting!

Still life for lunch.

Still life for lunch.

Course lunch time can not be missed, and must be served on the favorite blue plate with rectangle sandwiches. ~for fear of the tummy monster might unexpectedly visit.

Thus today, I found inspiration in my son’s lunch. 🙂
After scraping my palettes, I laid out fresh clean paint.  2 yellows, 2 blues, 2 reds. Specifically: cad red light and cad red medium and white.  I laid out my under painting with a wash mixture of cad red light and violet (alizarin & ultramarine).  Then borrowing a few notes from a recent workshop with Carol Marine I set to painting islands and oceans of clean grays.

Easy-L palette at work.

Easy-L palette at work.

Turns out it made a great complimentary study.  Yes, Blue and Orange or opposites on the color wheel.
2013_03_13 Spring Break lunch 6x6
I think I had just as much fun painting the bread and crusts of the sandwich as I did defining the orange.   It was a good painting hump-day indeed.

 

 

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.
IMAG0166

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

The Value of a painting?

August 2, 2011

Really now, So what’s in the value of a painting?

Well truthfully there are 2 parts to that.

  • 1. the $$$ someone will trade for an intrinsic item of interest.
  • 2. the light and dark that compose the painting.

For now I’m particularly interested in the Value definition that describes the light and dark of a painting. The human eye can see all the subtle gradations of light as it illuminates an object.  Painting a recognizable object on a flat surface requires relating the values as they describe the object in space.

Since I have been away from my studio for a spell, trying to sort out other details, my paintings have been drying and cooking (sort of).  So the next time I get to start a painting around here I have to go back to a clean slate and fresh mixed paints if I intend to maintain clean paintings.  That actually requires mixing 11 distinct values of gray from my white and black.  The outer most (1) being closer to white, 5 being the middle range, and (11) black the last on the corresponding gradation.  I limit my scales to 5 when working plein air.

Gray Value Scale (11 steps)

Why?  The gray-scale establishes a consistent means to measure and test the lightness / darkness of any additional color mixtures I want to paint with.  This allows me to establish credible depth within a flat surface and limited plane.  Color or hue is all relative to its surrounding environment.  But the value or lightness / darkness of yellow measures differently when compared to blue or red.  Not to mention the infinite possibilities we can create from mixing pigments.  The more variations you have of a single color (hue) the more depth ranges you can create, even within a monochromatic (single) color study.

Color value mix. Oil samples.

But why do I mix new paint? As paint ages it dries and oxidizes.  It looses it’s luster and wetness and frequently darkens in value (especially common with oils and acrylics).  This is why I find it critical to mix fresh values regularly when I paint.   This provides a fresh clean scales to judge my other mixtures against or even more importantly try to match against.  Notice that I have taken a few extra steps for checking the relative light or dark of mixing colors by adding a piece of middle gray under my glass palette as well as a few small strips of the value scale to check against as I mix.

Taking the time to mix clean accurate values will take you r paintings a long way to helping push the contrast and add more visual interest without overloading the colors.

In the end it’s always about achieving a readable balance when we are painting –  regardless of subject or style.  It even is applicable to abstracts.   So next time you are looking at a painting, photo or cartoon that grabs your attention see how many different values you can distinguish and consider if it really does add $value$ too.