Self-Portrait, Video Demo

Still feeling really challenged by learning the figure.  Reminds of a quote by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do something every day that scares you.”  I need this.  I took snap shots as I progressed so I could review with my teacher Al Tofanelli (at l’Atelier aux Couleurs), so he could advise me.  It’s interesting, I think a personal style in portraiture is emerging at a faster pace than landscape.  Not sure why.  Enjoy!

Self-Portrait, Oil on Linen, 12x10"
Self-Portrait, Oil on Linen, 12x10"

And here’s the video on YouTube

Mike ala Pompeii

To prepare for studying the figure with Al Tofanelli (at l’Atelier aux Couleurs) I’ve been painting the figure from reference photos. It’s going to be so great to paint from live models Friday! I like painting the figure, it’s a real challenge, and I like to play with color. Mike has wonderful warm-violet skin tones. Once I laid in a solid drawing, I practically destroyed it early on with broad strokes of color (once you get a drawing right, don’t worry, you can paint over it…it will always come back).

When I showed this to Mike, he really liked it, but he had a funny observation. It reminded him of the frescos in Italy (and most recently, Turkey/Istanbul). The eyes of those figures are somewhat exagerated, as I think his might be here. No matter, I was going for that spark of life and happiness, so why not exaggerate a bit?

Mike, ala Pompei - Oil on Canvas - 10x8
Mike, ala Pompei - Oil on Canvas - 10x8

Inspiration? Separated at birth? Here’s an example of a Pompeiii fresco that Mike thought of when he saw my painting. Smart man!

Pompeii, House VII, 2, 6: Paquius Proculus and his wife
Pompeii, House VII, 2, 6: Paquius Proculus and his wife

Tahoe Swim

Last year I was inching back to a focus on the figure, and it’s now official!  This will be my focus in 2010: the figure alone, in interiors and in the landscape.  Starting next week, I’m will start studying weekly with Al Tofanelli (Fridays, 9am-1pm at l’Atelier aux Couleurs in Petaluma).  My workshop with Peggi Kroll-Roberts last year re-invigorated my interest.

This painting was done from a reference photo taken while staying with good friends in Lake Tahoe last summer. I’d painted this similar painting last year. While the figures are small in this painting, I spent a lot of time on them.  The smallest errors in the figure really stand out, so it’s a great challenge (and I need that this year!).

Enjoy, your feedback/critique always appreciated!

Tahoe Swim
Tahoe Swim, Oil on Linen, 12x16

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Buena Vista Park, Late Afternoon

Another image from Buena Vista Park.  I took a picture of clear, afternoon light striking the Monterey Pines.  I painted the same type of trees in this park in a high-key approach, and it’s interesting to compare the two.  The technical approaches are very different. When I paint high-key, I tend to use a lot of paint, with fairly consistent texture on the canvas.  A “full key” painting like this one starts with thin washes, and builds up to thicker passages. Enjoy!

Buena Vista Park, Late Afternoon
Buena Vista Park, Late Afternoon - Oil on Linen - 12x9"

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Seascape Video Demo

While painting this seascape the other night, I took snapshots of progress so I could create a demonstration video.  I think the process I followed here is somewhat typical, but I always feel free to alter it to meet the needs of the moment. See my YouTube channel for more of my own demos, as well as those by Peggi Kroll-Roberts, John Ebersberger, Kevin Weckback, Mark Kerckhoff, and Skip Whitcomb. These are just vidoes I’ve taken myself, but I also have a more extensive list of demos in my “Plein Air Demos” playlist (over 60).  If you have a demo on YouTube that you’d like added to my plein air demos playlist, leave a comment with the video URL.  Thanks!

California Coast, Oil on Canvas, 9x12
California Coast, Oil on Canvas, 9x12

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Video

California Coast Painting Demonstration

Turbulent Times

It’s been a turbulent few weeks, so I’ve not painted much.

Spoiler alert: this story does have a happy ending. Some of you may know I was diagnosed with cancer in July. I had a rare malignant tumor in my ear canal. After 2 painful operations–one that completely reconstructed my canal–I was told I still wasn’t in the clear. If you’ve gone through something like this, you know how it can make you re-assess life and your priorities. In fact, a similar health scare in 2000 is what propelled me into art. Without a clear end, I decided to get a third opinion, Dr. Jack Resneck at UCSF. In our first meeting I formed an opinion of him as a careful, thoughtful doctor. He believed the diagnosis was rare enough that a re-test of all my biopsies and tumor were in order. I got the good news the week before Thanksgiving: I didn’t have cancer! The growth was benign. I was relieved and pissed off at the same time, but thankful in the end that the treatment could end and I don’t have to worry about it. I’ve lost a bit of hearing in that ear, and have some scars, but I’ll take that over the alternative.

An hour after I got the good news (while at work) that my tumor was benign, I got a call from my husband, Mike: his mother was dying. Talk about a roller-coaster. We both left work right away, and we made it to her bedside less than 24 hours before she passed. It was very sad, but she’d been suffering for some time, and was ready. She was really terrific. We’ll miss her.

Amy Estrada, 1929-2009
Amy Estrada, 1929-2009

And yes, there is finally a painting. I’m trying to get life back to normal.

This was done from a reference photo of Avila Beach, while I was there painting for San Luis Obispo Plein Air this year. The “golden hour” light was striking the rocks like fire. It was quite a site. Enjoy!

Cliffs at Avila Beach (Golden Hour), Oil on Canvas, 8x10
Cliffs at Avila Beach (Golden Hour), Oil on Canvas, 8x10

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Hearst Castel Invitational

I received a nice note today from the “Friends of Hearst Castle“, inviting me to be one of 25 artists chosen to participate in their 2nd annual plein air invitational!  A percentage from the sale of the art benefits Friends of Hearst Castle’s artreach program for under-served youth at-risk. Here’s a web page with images from last year’s event.

It should be fun.  I’ve driven by the historic landmark numerous times, but never been on the property.  Do you have any tips?  What do you like most about Hearst Castle?

I’ll be painting there May 12, 13 and the show is June 5, 2010.  I’ll post more information as it becomes available.  I assume you can visit the landmark the two days I’m painting there to watch, but will confirm in January.

The Entertainer

Jerry Wheeler was my best friend in high school. I remember we met on the back steps of the band room for my first ever class at Cypress High, which was “beginning jazz band” in summer school. As I recall, the first song was “Down Home”. I’d never played jazz before, but knew I had to try it. We had a great time in band together the following 3 years.

While I did develop well as a musician in school, I had serious doubts about making a living, so I went for the big bucks: Computer Science. In 1979, that was pretty early. Jerry stuck with music, and today is a great performer.

I’d been thinking about Jerry lately, since I was to see him perform this week, after 20 years away living in the Bay Area. In looking through his photos on Facebook, I found one taken by his friend Jeannen Calvin that really spoke to me. I think of Jerry’s connection to music, whether playing trombone or singing, as deep and spiritual. Although it’s a great joy, I know it’s also something that he’s spent a great deal of time perfecting. He makes it look easy.

After 20 years in high-tech, and splitting my time now between social media marketing and art, in a way, I’ve come full circle. Although I did enjoy my tech career, there’s nothing like art—and today, for me it’s not playing the trombone, it’s painting. I hope this painting brings together those two passions: the performer in Jerry, and the painter in me.

The Entertainer (Jerry Wheeler), Oil on Canvas, 12x9
The Entertainer (Jerry Wheeler), Oil on Canvas, 12x9

Buena Vista Park Redux

Buena Vista Park’s recent “remodel” is complete! It’s great. They’ve added lots of new walkways, wooden bridgets and stairs.  A friend of mine (Eric W) is a regular volunteer at the park, and should take some credit (thank you, Eric!).  It’s a really beautiful place.

I painted this from a reference photo.  The sun was setting through the trees, and since the photo was over-exposed, it actually made good reference for a relatively “high key” painting.  If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve been exploring this method. I’m finding it really helpful to fine tune my understanding of value and color temperature.

Faint Sunset (Buena Vista Park), Oil on Canvas, 12x9
Faint Sunset (Buena Vista Park), Oil on Canvas, 12x9

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Lake Tahoe from the Rubicon Trail

Painted this little study in my studio the other night from a reference photo.  The view is from the Rubicon Trail looking down onto Lake Tahoe, which in this part of the lake is the deepest near shore. I painted in my usual “full key” (full value range), which allowed me to use rich colors and sharp value contrasts.

From the Rubicon Trail (Lake Tahoe), Oil on Linen, 8x10
From the Rubicon Trail (Lake Tahoe), Oil on Linen, 8x10

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I set this painting next to my most recent “high key” value painting.  It was striking to see the sharp contrast, and you can really see that the photo of the previous painting wasn’t over exposed, but really quite light.  Coincidentally, both paintings had trees in them, and when side by side, the curve of the land connects, as if they’re part of the same scene.

So which painting gives the best feeling of light?  Perhaps that’s an individual choice. I’m still very interested in this technique, so will continue to pursue it.

“High Key” Riverbed Study

“Full Key” Tahoe Study

Riverbed, again

I took another shot at this composition, but intended to take the high-key concept further, but failed really.  I like the way the painting came out, just felt I could have made it ever more “high key”.  I’m going to continue to work on this.  I painted a “full key” painting from a reference photo taken at Lake Tahoe this past summer.  As soon as it dries, I’ll can it and post, because I think it really illustrates the dramatic difference between low and full-key painting.

Riverbed, high-key painting study

I’m continuing my exploration of high-key painting, which I define as painting in a narrow range of values, in the higher key of lights.  I don’t know where this is going to lead, but it’s great to practice the control in value needed to get these paintings to work.  I think I’m going to paint this scene again, perhaps a few times, each time narrowing the values further.  I know looking at this now I could have taken it further, and made my darkest darks much lighter.  I usually paint in a more dramatic, contrast’y way, but every technique I learn builds me as an artist.  What do you think?

Riverbed, High-key Study - Oil on Linen - 6x8
Riverbed, High-key Study - Oil on Linen - 6x8"

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Related Information

The painting adventures of Ed Terpening