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

San Luis Obispo Plein Air: one last painting

A big thank you to those that participated in my poll yesterday to select the top 3 paintings.  I’m going with your recommendations, BUT, adding this new one below.

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!

Wave of Rock (Avila Cove), Oil on Linen, 16x12
Wave of Rock (Avila Cove), Oil on Linen, 16x12

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.

Help me choose the best painting!

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.

[polldaddy poll=2062321]

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.

Avila Cove Bluffs & Caves, Oil on Linen, 11x14
Avila Cove Bluffs & Caves, Oil on Linen, 11x14

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?

Avila Rocks & Surf, Late Afternoon, Oil on Linen, 11x14
Avila Rocks & Surf, Late Afternoon, Oil on Linen, 11x14

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.

Avila Cove Cave, Oil on Linen, 9x12
Avila Cove Cave, Oil on Linen, 9x12

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.

White Bluffs of Avila Cove, Oil on Linen 12x9
White Bluffs of Avila Cove, Oil on Linen 12x9

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.

Overcast Day Rocks, Oil on Linen, 16x12
Overcast Day Rocks, Oil on Linen, 16x12

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?

Late Afternoon Light, Oil on Linen, 12x16
Late Afternoon Light, Oil on Linen, 12x16

Peggi Kroll-Roberts Workshop, Day 5

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.

Figure Study 1
Figure Study 1
Figure Study 2
Figure Study 2
Figure Study 3
Figure Study 3
Figure Study 4
Figure Study 4

Peggi Kroll-Roberts Workshop Day 4

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.

Monochromatic Head Study 1
Monochromatic Head Study 1

Monocrhromatic Head Study 2

And finally, a study in color!

Color Head Study 1
Color Head Study 1

Be sure to visit at l’Atelier aux Couleurs for a list of upcoming workshops.  They have some great teachers!

Peggi Kroll-Roberts Workshop Day 3

Day 3: “High Key” Painting

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:

High Key Study 1
High Key Study 1
High Key Study 2
High Key Study 2

Finally, this isn’t high key, but just a regular “full key” study.

Figure Study
Figure Study

Peggi Kroll-Roberts Workshop, Day 2

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.

Limitted Brushstroke Study, 1
Limitted Brushstroke Study, 1

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.

Limitted Brushstroke Study, 2
Limitted Brushstroke Study, 2

And finally, this quick figure study

Figure Study
Figure Study

The painting adventures of Ed Terpening