Even though I felt I had a pretty good selection of paintings for the show tomorrow, I cranked out one last painting this morning. I think it’s the best of the week. It really paid off for me to stick to one area all week, and really study it. Even though this one doesn’t include the sea, there’s a peak (lower right) of the bluffs I’d been painting all week. I’d noticed this rock structure before (“the wave”), and how it had incredible reflected light in the morning. It just glowed. I think I was able to capture it, and although this scene is pretty complex, I think the eye is lead around the composition well and lands on that center of interest. I hope you enjoy it!
The show opens tomorrow at the Art Center with a Collector’s Party from 4-6PM, and then public exhibition as part of the art walk from 6-9PM. If you’d like to watch me paint, I’ll be participating in the “Quick Draw” in the square around the Mission on Saturday from 9:30-11:30AM, and then a public auction of the artist’s quick draw paintings from noon-2:30PM, also in the park in front of the mission. The show will run through Sunday until 4PM.
I have one more day of painting tomorrow for the San Luis Obispo Plein Air show opening Friday, but I need your help. I must select my top three paintings for the show. I’ve posted the first 6 I’ve painted this week. What do you think, which should I choose for my top 3? Do you have a favorite? You can vote here, and read more about these images (and see larger versions) below the poll box.
I did this one this morning. After spending 3 days at this site, I was able to more quickly capture accurate color. This was painted in the early morning, and the shadow of the white-water in the arched cave was my center of interest. I made it the most intense color in the painting, and plated my lightest light and darkest dark there (and old trick!). I wonder if this is too simple? I do think it’s important to simplify, but perhaps I should have more eye candy here.
I love painting in the late afternoon, but I have to paint incredibly fast, given the quickly shifting sun. In this painting, I focused on the planes of the rock, and tried to carefully differentiate the colors of planes against all the other colors in the painting. I think it captures a good sense of light, but wonder if it’s too colorful?
This was a fun one! Again, I focused on the planes of rock (I guess the Peggi Kroll-Roberts workshop at l’Atelier aux Couleurs has really influenced me!) and color separation. Yes, I could have softened some edges here, but I like the frank, directness of it. It’s also nearly abstract, whici I like as well.
This was a quick morning study of the bluffs. I think I lost control of some of the color effects, and frankly started making things up! While it’s true in the end we have to make a painting and not a direct representation, I feel this could have had a stronger foundation.
This was my first painting of the trip. Monday morning the fog and overcast sky continued until well after 2pm. The good news is, that means a nice steady stream of consistent light! Of course the bad news is you lack the kind of dramatic shadows that can make a painting have force. I was happy with the delicate tones of the rocks here, and think it captures that calm morning.
More late afternoon light painting. I really had to paint this quickly, and had to contend with some onlookers asking questions (which actually wasn’t bad, it’s nice to have people appreciate what you do). I’m just not sure either way on this one, and think it may be among the weaker paintings. What do you think?
It’s been a long week! Everyone worked really hard, so today, we just focused on painting after a brief demo. I learned a lot from Peggi, and can highly recommend her. Her next workshop is at the Scottsdale Artist’s School in November.
As for these studies, I’m most happy with 2 and 3, and especially 3. What do you think? By the way, people have been emailing me about buying studies. I didn’t paint these to sell, so while they’re not in my online gallery store, just email me with an offer if you’d like to purchase one.
Today Peggi Kroll-Roberts focused on the structure of the head. If you think of the head as a structure of planes, it becomes easier to paint. Each plane has a relative size, shape and direction. The direction (facing up, down, towards light, away from light) gives you clues about how it should look. For example, planes that face down towards a green shirt, will have reflected green light; planes facing the sky outdoors, will reflect blue on a clear day.
Here’s a video of Peggi explaining her approach, and the measures she uses to structure the head. Peggi will emphasize that these are not rules, but guidelines. The reality is that when you’re facing with a model, they’re rarely going to be facing you straight on at eye level–but you can transpose these rules to heads that are tilted, swiveled, etc. The bottom line is you need to learn to see and draw accurately. There are no short-cuts.
Here are my own head studies from the day. So we could focus on fewer variables, the first few studies where done mono-chromatically. By the end of the day, I had time to do one study in color.
Day 3 of the Peggi Kroll-Roberts workshop at l’Atelier aux Couleurs focused on painting “high-key” paintings. This approach to painting is focused on a narrow range of values at the high end (light) of the value scale. I’ve recently experimented with this approach (here, here). I think it’s ironic that these paintings seem to give a much better sense of light that high-contrast paintings. You’d think that an object painted in near white next to near black would give the best sense of light (and sometimes, it can work), but a high-key painting seems to work even better. I think it’s because the painting overall is much lighter, the darkest shadows are readable and not so dark they loose their vibrancy.
So, I have a treat! If you 8 minutes and 49 seconds to spare, I have a full start-to-finish demo of Peggi using this technique in a 20 minute demo.
Here are some of my own high key studies:
Finally, this isn’t high key, but just a regular “full key” study.
Peggi taught us a couple more tools for painting. This was an interesting idea: paint a study with as few brushstrokes as possible. You design and then draw a composition that allows you to paint with as few big shapes as possible. This is a great exercise for a couple reasons: first, it’s always a good design practice to divide your space in as few big shapes as possible, no more than 5-7. This forces you to do that. Second, because each stroke must be continuous, you learn to really load your brush so the single stroke will cover as much area as possible. For the large background, for example, I loaded the brush (with marbeled color, to make it interesting) and sculpted around objects and covered the space in one go. I think I painted this in about 13 strokes.
I was very happy with this study as well, although it doesn’t seem to photograph well. I’ll try scanning it when I get home.
Today was the first day of a 5-day Peggi Kroll-Roberts at l’Atelier aux Couleurs in Petaluma. Peggi has a wonderful unique style for painting the figure, so I’ve looked forward to studying with her for some time. She’s also a lot of fun.
Today, we started simple: gray scale paintings. These are done, much like Notan sketches, to both build compositional skills and learn to simplify. This two-scale gray study clearly separates light from dark. This is a great exercise. Normally, I’d do something like this with a black sharpie on white paper, but painting this just gives you that much more experience handling paint. It also let’s you make corrections in drawing as you go.
Throughout the day, we kept adding levels of gray. I was able to get to 4, in this study. While some students went on to color, I actually liked spending time on these a lot. Removing color from the equation, and simply focusing on value and composition is somewhat liberating. I’m happy with the way this turned out. If I can keep to values this accurate in color, I’ll be a happy camper.
I painted all of today’s study on a single large board, which I simply divided up into 6 areas for my studies.
Tomorrow, we get to paint the figure! I believe she said we’d start that in shades of gray first, then graduate to color. Stay tuned.
Concentrated on just one painting today, the last day of North Tahoe Plein Air. While I was looking for a spot, I ran into judge ZeeZee Mott, who was painting on the shore even after just arriving home from Africa the day before! She was in great spirits, and we talked about my relation to Howard Terpning (a distant relation).
It’s been over a year since I’ve participated in a plein air event, and boy, I feel rusty! The day started with checking in and getting my panels stamped. Ran into lots of old friends!
I spent most of the day at DL Bliss State Park, near the Rubicon Trail. This is the deepest, steepest part of the lake, which creates an incredible variety of blues, from violet to green. Since it’s been a while, I started the day with smaller canvas, 8×10. Did two from the same spot, perched on some boulders.
Here’s my first effort
And for my second, I focused on just rocks and water, and finding the slight color variation within the rocks. These early studies, where I focus on just a few things, help set me up for a successful next couple days. These are warm up exercises!
I completed another composition from my Avila Beach reference photos last night in my studio. I’d worked on this on/off for a couple weeks. I wanted to include the sky, so I could work on relating the light from the sky to the ground and shadow planes. I also tried to balance rich color with grays. I think a painting should be balanced in many ways, from values of the big shapes, to color temperature, light and shadow, and color in terms of grays vs full saturation.
I’m preparing for a return to San Luis Obispo September 27 to October 4th to participate in San Luis Obispo Plein Air. Also, I’ll be painting in Lake Tahoe next week, for North Tahoe Plein Air, September 9-13. If you’re in the area, stop by for the show. The public exhibit and sale will be Saturday, September 12, from noon to 7:00 pm and Sunday, September 13, from 11:00 – 4:00. This all takes place at the Village at Northstar the same weekend as the Autumn Food and Wine Festival, but you don’t need tickets for the North Tahoe Plein Air event. It’s my first plein air event in a quite a while, so looking forward to connecting with old friends there.
I enjoy adding figures to the landscape because they help give it scale. Don’t these boulders look huge! Well, they were 🙂 This is a 12×9″ painting, so these figures are tiny, just spots of color, really. Even so, given it’s a figure, I needed to get proportions, posture, all that correct, otherwise it would of detracted from the painting. I’m focusing on the figure again in a few weeks, as I’m to study with Peggy Kroll Roberts at l’Atelier aux Couleurs in Petaluma (a wonderful school, BTW).
I combined brushwork and palette knife in this one, starting the painting with transparent washes, then building up paint once I got the correct values and color temperature.
Here’s a detail of the figures to show you what I mean.
This is from another reference photo taken from the Laderman’s speed boat. When we got close to these guys, they stopped diving. We weren’t close enough to interfere at all, but I don’t think they wanted an audience. Makes sense. Enjoy!