Category Archives: Landscapes

Catching up with new work

I have a couple of different recent paintings to share as I continue to explore new ideas and materials.

I painted this plein air work in San Miguel de Allende a few months ago, but it sat in my studio unfinished for a while. It needed just a few adjustments.

San Miguel de Allende Chapel, Oil on Linen, 12x9
San Miguel de Allende Chapel, Oil on Linen, 12x9

I love painting a dramatic sky!  This was painted from a reference photo I took while staying at Red Rocks for the 1st Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo.  I liked the counterbalance between the drama of the sky and the distant lights of the Las Vegas Strip.

Vegas vs Nature, Oil on Linen, 12x16
Vegas vs Nature, Oil on Linen, 12x16

And finally, I’ve been experimenting with new materials.  This oil on paper work was done with new Cobra water soluble oils.  I love the idea of painting with solvents!  So far I like the, although I don’t have enough colors to truly judge–and I haven’t painted on anything other than paper so far.   You may recognize this study, based on another done plein air in regular oil paint.

Desert Color Study, Oil on Paper, 8x10
Desert Color Study, Oil on Paper, 8x10

Painting in Vegas

I have a few new plein air studies to share from my recent trip to Las Vegas. To be honest, not my favorite city, but I was there for the 1st Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo. It was held at the Red Rocks Casino & Spa. I’d stayed there before, but had no idea there was so much to paint just a few miles away. I’ve always found the subtle color variations in the desert landscape inspiring. I hope you enjoy–and if you’re an artist, check back in a week, as I’m planning an extended blog post on the convention, complete with videos of demos.

Desert Color Study (Red Rocks Park, Las Legas, NV), Oil on Canvas, 8x10
Desert Color Study (Red Rocks Park, Las Legas, NV), Oil on Canvas, 8x10
Red Rocks (Las Vegas, NV; April 15, 2012), Oil on Linen, 10x8
Red Rocks (Las Vegas, NV; April 15, 2012), Oil on Linen, 10x8
Mountain Springs State Park (Las-Vegas NV - April14, 2012), Oil on Linen, 10x8
Mountain Springs State Park (Las-Vegas NV - April14, 2012), Oil on Linen, 10x8

 

The whole art: San Miguel de Allende

I just returned from one of the best workshops I’ve ever attended, with Frank Gardner in San Miguel de Allende.  What made it great?  It was a “whole” experience: painting (yes, of course!) and great insights from Frank, but what it made it extra special was the food, music, culture and the unbelievably welcoming vibe of San Miguel de Allende.

While there was always the threat of scorpions repelling from the ceiling (see New Adventures of the Ginger Gringo blog), Casa Santa Ana was a great home base for the class. We had the option of painting from the roof (first painting, below) or interiors in the casa.  Frank also took us out to a couple of ranches during our stay (see slideshow below).

This trip is on my calendar for next year.  Enjoy!

San Miguel de Allende, Oil on Linen, 8x10
San Miguel de Allende, Oil on Linen, 8x10
Sunset, San Miguel de Allende (March 10, 2012), Oil on Linen, 8x10
Sunset, San Miguel de Allende (March 10, 2012), Oil on Linen, 8x10
Wall in Shadow (Holly's Place), Oil on Linen, 9x12
Wall in Shadow (Holly's Place), Oil on Linen, 9x12
White Sofa, Casa Santa Ana (San Migue de Allende), Oil on Linen, 12x9
White Sofa, Casa Santa Ana (San Migue de Allende), Oil on Linen, 12x9
Pink Chair, Casa Schuck (San Miguel de Allende), Oil on Linen, 12x9
Pink Chair, Casa Schuck (San Miguel de Allende), Oil on Linen, 12x9
Potted Flowers (Casa Santa Ana), Oil on Linen, 12x9
Potted Flowers (Casa Santa Ana), Oil on Linen, 12x9

Here’s a slide show:

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Studying watercolor

Painting in watercolor is SO different from oil.  It’s a real challenge, but I’m enjoying it.  I decided to take a short break from oil painting to learn a new medium.  I’m sure I’ll return to oil soon, but enjoying the immediacy and delicacy required to paint watercolor.  Enjoy!

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San Luis Obispo Plein Air 2011

It has been an exhausting but inspiring and productive week preparing for the San Luis Obispo Plein Air show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. The show opened today and runs throughout Sunday. Here are some of my works in the show. It was a week of dramatic weather, so I focused on that, particularly the clouds.

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Sunset, Oil/Linen, 12×9

 

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San Simeon, Oil/Linen, 12×16

 

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After the Rain, Oil/Linen, 11×14

 

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Rough Seas, Oil/Linen, 16×20

 

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Sunrise, Oil/Linen, 11×14

 

Desert Light

The colors of the desert are so distinctive.  Yes, there are spots of bright color here and there, but in general, I find the colors to be “mellow”, varied and yet quite harmonious.  This was painted from a reference photo I took outside Tucson, Arizona.  I started with transparent washes across the entire painting, from the dull green at the top to the blue-violet in the foreground.  You can still see much of this initial wash in the finished painting.

Desert Light, OIl on Linen, 9x12
Desert Light, OIl on Linen, 9x12

Timberfield 10 Reception

Last year, Christopher Forbes and Stephen Doherty invited a group of 10 artists to paint at the Forbes family estate in New Jersey. We had inspirational landscapes, interiors and models to work from. Those artists have been invited to share work done that week, or later work inspired by the trip. The artists attending included Camie Davis, John Patrick Campbell, Rob Clarke, Bryan Le Boeuf, George Towne, Wendy Walworth, Timothy Jahn, Ed Terpening, Patricia Watwood and John Dowd. Tonight was really special, my first group show in New York, and an opportunity to reconnect with this exceptional group!

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To view my work on display in the show, click here.

UPDATE: Here’s a slide show:

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Big Sur Mountians

Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.
Henry David Thoreau

One of the challenges I (and I know many other landscape painters face) is learning how to simplify.  Capturing the essence of your subject with as few marks or shapes as possible makes for a strong design (one you can read across the room) and in general makes a stronger statement.  I love this example of how Picasso evolved the drawing of a bull from a detailed representation to just a few lines.

To work on this skill, I selected a reference photo with as few shapes and color variations as possible.  This painting was done from a reference photo I took in Big Sur, CA.  Notice in this study how there are very few shapes and only about 7 main color mixtures.  I could have rendered this more fully and modeled the clouds or other shapes, but I think (at least for this composition and study) it would have detracted from the impression.  Of course, this is also somewhat a matter of personal taste.  It fits the bill for me, as I strive towards more abstraction in my work. Simplification is part of that path.

Big Sur Mountains, Oil on Linen, 12x9  (Big Sur, CA)
Big Sur Mountains, Oil on Linen, 12×9

 

Palm Canyons Shadow Study

I used a reference photo of “Indian Canyons” park in Palm Springs, Ca to study shadow color.  The color of shadow on a surface is influenced by it’s local color, as well as the environment: objects facing the sky tend to have bluer shadows than shadows that don’t reflect the sky. A good area of the painting to observe is the top left quadrant.  The large boulder there has a striking blue shadow.  The color of the rock is near white (with some blue in it), but the reason the blue is so strong is the influence of the sky.  That sky color reflects into the shadows.  Compare that top shadow with the shadow on the left of the boulder, as it hits the river bed. There are several shadow colors there.  The side of the rock is a warm shadow,  it doesn’t face the sky plane, but instead has warm palm tree leaves to reflect. Yet the side also takes on an orange hue reflecting from the water below it.  That same cast shadow of the boulder’s left side hits the water, and and a smaller boulder behind.  That small rock is facing the sky at an angle, so has a deep blue shadow.The cast shadow on the water is more violet, as it is not getting as much sun as the top of the rock.

Indian Canyon Shadows Study, Oil on Linen, 11x14
Indian Canyon Shadows Study, Oil on Linen, 11x14

Tucson Trail

Revisiting the colors of the desert landscape.  I had some trouble with the distant shadows, and kept alternating darker/lighter.  This photo seems to show them lighter than they appear in life. In the end, the distant shadows are probably a bit too light, because when I removed color from this image to make it black & white, the shadows and light of the hills appear the same value.  It’s interesting to see how color temperature can telegraph shadows as well as value. I guess that’s where the colorists of the Henche School are coming from.

Tucson Trail (AZ), Oil on Linen, 11x14
Tucson Trail, Oil on Linen, 11x14