Saturday, May 23, 2015

Small Town Shops

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A few days ago I ventured out to the tiny town of Oakland, OR, with a couple of my painting buddies. It had been a long time since I painted in a town, where other people could casually walk by and...interrupt. : ) You plein air painters know exactly what I'm talking about, hey? At any rate, I did this one twice. The first time was super tight and absolutely horrible. The second one (this one) I did in about half the time, and the relative looseness of it totally saved things. The only unfortunate part was that the cars constantly came and went, so I had to pick one to be in front and then try and remember what it looked like. Tough!

Friday, May 22, 2015

No Place Like Home

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The photo reference for this one (from NYC) was a bit dull and gray, so I decided to liven it up. As soon as I decided that, the sidewalk started screaming to be yellow. And the street, blue. Apparently they don't talk until you give them permission.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Front Yard Bonanza

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Here's another scene from around Eugene. To paint the flowers I started with the whitest bits and got them all just where I wanted them, design-wise. Then I put in the flowers that are in shadow. Then I painted the green stuff all around it, and the rest of the scene. Then I went back in and re-evaluated everything, breaking up white shapes that were too big and not "flowery" enough, and putting in a few more teensy flowers around the periphery. Just in case you wanted to know. : )

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

White Picket Fence

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This is a little scene from around my town (Eugene). The fence actually turned out JUST how I wanted it. The approach I took was to paint it as a solid object, really paying attention to the various "whites," like how it gets bluer as it goes around the corner, and gets darker at the bottom-left. And then I cut in around it with the greens, and then put on the little highlights right at the end.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Calm Spot

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This is actually a scene from right here in Oregon, done from a photo I took last year at Sweet Creek. I find that a lot of the creek scenes lend themselves to a wide format. Landscapes in general do ... I guess that's why this is called the "landscape" format? Huh.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Perfect Spot

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It is unfortunate that these horizontal images don't display any larger. Because this one looks SO good in person! So please, please click on the image to enlarge it!

This is another one from California. I had to drive up a twisty one-lane road, and then hike up about an hour to get to this spot. The trail was called Eagle View, and this was the spot where you sat and looked out at the view (behind me). It was pretty spectacular, but I thought the view looking back this way was far more paint-able.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dapple in the Water

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This is another one from California - a creek in the Sunol Wilderness Area. I've tried before to paint this kind of scene from life. Sometimes it works out, but most of the time I end up frustrated because of how fast the dapples change. So I did this from a photo when I got home. And I'm quite happy with the result.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Light in the Forest

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On my last day in Mendocino, my friend and I drove down to the redwoods. She had a particular park in mind, but it was closed, so we drove on until we found a logging road. It had an ominous "no trespassing" sign, but we, uh...kind of went in anyway. Seeing that it was late afternoon, and no one was about, we set up and painted. My painting was really terrible. I knew the scene was going to change fast, so I hurried and did a terrible job on the composition. But the colors were good so I took what I did home as a study, and used it and photos to create this one in my studio. I'm SO glad I had the study because the colors in my photos were dull and lifeless. I learned a TON from this, and highly recommend the process.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Loud Water

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This scene is the view from a winery near Mendocino, CA. (what a view, huh?!) My friend and I positioned ourselves up on a cliff in a spot where it wasn't quite so windy, but by the end I have to admit I was a bit frazzled, and cold. This was after my umbrella turned completely inside out and nearly blew me and all my gear off the cliff. Let me just say - painting moving water is hard! And clearly I have much to learn. But I captured the feeling, of the mist and the rocks and the waves, and for that (and for surviving the experience), I am proud.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Distant Cliffs

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This one has what I was really hoping to achieve in California - atmosphere! I find that it is MUCH easier to see AND paint this when you've got one (closer) layer directly in front of another (further away) layer. As was the case for this scene.

Another thing that made it easier to SEE the atmosphere, was to have a tear in one contact. Yep. It was so bad I had to throw it away. Luckily it was the one for my left eye, so my dominant eye was still clear. All I had to do was close my right eye to see everything fuzzy, which helped me see the whole scene and all the relationships at once. This is something I preach about in my workshops (squinting for the same effect), but somehow I get stupid when I'm outside.

Meanwhile, I didn't post Sunday night because my family took a little impromptu camping trip. If you're interested, you can read about it/see pictures on my new beginnings blog.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Coastal Cave

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I did this painting in Mendocino, where I stayed for a few days last week painting with my friend and fabulous artist, Erin Dertner. This view was literally a 3 minute walk from her house. The whole time I was there I kept saying, "Wow, you LIVE here!!!" While I was painting this one in particular, some people walked past me and asked if I'd seen the whales swimming by. Dang! I was so wrapped up in my painting I completely missed them.

I promised more info about the wet panel carrier I built and here it is (pictures below). First of all, I had some 12x24" Ampersand gessobord panels that my husband cut up for me into 6x12" panels. Because of the width of the table saw, there were a few short ones at the end, so I'll use those for something else.

Then I had him make the little wooden inserts/dividers that you see on the inside of the box. These are made of wood, which works fine, but if I had it to do over again I would buy some plastic ones from Raymar. Each slot holds 2 wet panels, back-to-back. Raymar also carries a variety of these boxes made from a kind of corrugated plastic (like cardboard but plastic) and the ONLY reason I built this one myself is because they don't carry this particular size.

I crafted my box from black (because I had some) foam core and black Guerrilla Tape (amazingly strong!). I was VERY careful to measure everything 5 times and really think about how the box would be put together. A small error means the whole box is worthless (I know this well because of previous attempts!). I taped everything well, and used some velcro strips to create a closure for the lid (cutting a strip of tape for the top of the velcro).

The only thing I wish I'd done was fashion some kind of strap for easier carrying. I'll do that soon.

my custom built 6x12" wet panel carrier

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Way Under Tree

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This is another scene from the Sunol Wilderness Area (in California). When I saw it, I thought maybe it was too obvious so I kept walking, but after a few minutes I circled back. It's the smallest painting I did on this trip, but one of my favorites.

Upon request, I will take pictures and post about my 6x12in. panels and holder in a few days. : )

Friday, May 08, 2015

Hayfield Road

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My first stop in California was the sweet little town of Pleasanton, where my very good friend Randi lives (pictured to the right, top-left, along with a very goofy-haired me). I spent the first day exploring the area while she worked. I found the lovely Sunol wilderness area, where I ended up doing my first 2 paintings the second day. It doesn't look hilly in the painting, but I had to hike up quite a bit to get this view. I had the inspiration to cut some wide panels right before I left, and even made a special box to hold them (which I will post about if any are interested). I will post the second painting tomorrow.

The next day we drove down to Big Sur (top-right). Unfortunately it was completely socked in with fog for most of the day, so we mostly just took pictures and drove/walked around. Wow - what a place!

Thursday, May 07, 2015


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I am home from California! No, I didn't paint this there - I just had one more to post from before I left. After that I'll post the landscapes I did. None are perfect, but I hope you will agree that I made some progress. And that little success made me pretty excited to do more.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Tomato Club

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I am still in California, having a lovely time! I've done a couple of plein air paintings so far, taken a TON of photos, and done lots of exploring. Unfortunately my day in Big Sur turned out to be incredibly foggy, so I didn't get anything done there other than just looking. Apparently I'm going to have to come back!

Above are some tomatoes I painted before I left on this trip.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tomato Overlord

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I have a 10-yr-old son. He chose the title for this one. Need I say more?

I am California bound tomorrow and won't be home until May 7th or so. Unfortunately this means I won't be able to ship any paintings or books until I return. My apologies for the inconvenience! But hopefully I'll have a few landscapes to post from the trip. : )

Monday, April 27, 2015

Observing Chaos

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Often when I'm teaching a workshop, setting up for a still life demo, my students will say, "Tell us what you're thinking!" But at this point (and always when I'm setting up a composition) I'm simply playing with my subjects, moving them around, looking (through my viewfinder) for fun things to happen with the light and the arrangement. When I see something good, I then look around for problems - there are usually several. I try to solve the problems (usually just awkward moments) without losing the cool thing. If I can't, I go back to playing. I never stick with any collection of items for very long - I'll swap things out or switch to a different set altogether every few minutes. When I can find a cool thing AND fix all the problems, I paint it. Sometimes this takes 5 minutes (oh heavenly day!) but mostly it takes longer - anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for these little 6x6 compositions. On a tough day it can be longer.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Garlic Layers

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Another blocky still life. In a few days I'll be heading off to California to paint some landscapes! Until then, I'll have a few more still lifes for you.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hot Stuff

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A few mornings ago, before I was fully awake, I had a vision of this in my head. So I painted it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Enlightened Tomato

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Once again I am lured back to still life. I pulled out this old fabric with painted on circle-polka-dots for a background. I feel like I've gotten a bit tight lately, so I'm really striving for loose and chunky.