Category Archives: Citiscapes

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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Rarity: Sunny San Francisco Morning

Fear can be an effective motivator, at least for me.  I was scheduled to teach a short demo/workshop Saturday with the East Bay Plein Air painters.  Demos are scary!  What if I “crash and burn” in front of 20 artists taking notes, pictures for their blogs, etc.  To ensure my Saturday demo went well, I headed to the assigned spot (Legion of Honor) to paint the day before.  The weather was unusually warm.  If we’re lucky, San Francisco will have a day or two of temps in the 80’s.  It was that kind of week, a perfect morning to paint my pre-demo test.

This is the result.  I’m happy with it, and the following day I practically painted the same thing, only larger.  The group did a great job documenting the demo.  I’ll post their PDFs/pics in the next few days.  Until then, enjoy this light-filled study, and if you know San Francisco, you’ll recognize the two steeples on the horizon.

Sunny San Francisco Morning, Oil on Linen, 12x9


Hearst Castle Plein Air Invitational

It’s been a wonderful couple days here at Hearst Castle for the invitational.  The artists and staff of the castle have been great.  I can’t wait to see everyone’s work framed for the show June 5. Tickets are available for $175 for the Friends of Hearst Castle’sTwilight on the Terrace” fundraiser benefiting art programs for at risk youth.

Ed Terpening, Hearst Castle, May 13, 2010
Ed Terpening, Hearst Castle, May 13, 2010

My first effort was painting “Casa del Mar”, a guest house on the South Terrace of the castle. I got to take a peak inside…wow.  Opulent doesn’t begin to describe it.  Hearst himself spent his final years in this house.  This is just about done, I think a couple minor tweaks when I get back to my studio should do it.

Casa Del Marr, Hearst Castle - Oil on Linen - 10x12
Casa Del Marr, Hearst Castle - Oil on Linen - 10x12

My next effort was painting this white marble statue, which I imagine is Cupid (sans arrow).  While in full sun is always a joy for me to paint, as white takes on so many colors and reflections of light. I’m not sure the color of reflect light is quite right, so I may make some adjustments before I call this one done.

Cupid (Hearst Castle), Oil on Linen, 12x9
Cupid (Hearst Castle), Oil on Linen, 12x9

And on my final day, again on the South Terrace outside Casa del Mar, I painted this fountain and gold statue of a princess holding a frog. I realize the princess statue on top looks like an Oscar statuette, but that’s really what it looks like!  Even the shadow side on the gold had a red glow. I’m happy with this one.  It’s interesting to me because it almost looks like two different painters/styles: the fountain is high-key, colorist, and the background trees and distant shore are more traditional value painting.

South Terrace View (Hearst Castle), Oil on Linen, 12x9
South Terrace View (Hearst Castle), Oil on Linen, 12x9

As you can see, all of these paintings push color a bit.  With full sun available, I didn’t paint much tonally.  To make sure these colors are still on track, I look at the images in black & white as well.  If light and shadow read well in black/white, it almost doesn’t matter what color you choose to paint (see my 2007 post on values). I think the light/shadow patterns read in this black/white versions, so these seem to be working.

And here’s the group of painters.

Balboa Park (Last Light)

I am on my way tomorrow to Hearst Castle to paint for an invitational, and taking my time, driving down the coast from Carmel to Cambria with a stop in Big Sur a couple days.  To prepare for painting the castle’s architecture, I got out some reference photos of Balboa Park in San Diego.   I hope to post all week along the way, but my first priority is painting, so no promises!

Click to enlarge
Balboa Park (Last Light), Oil on Linen, 12x9"

Saint i’s from Buena Vista Park

Saint Ignatius is a San Francisco landmark in the Western Addition.  The school was founded in 1855, moved several times, and was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The building in this painting was built in 1914.  Today, it’s the University of San Francisco.

The building is well lit at night, and because it’s on a hill, is visible from many vantage points in the city. When I walk Gracie in Buena Vista Park across from the street from our home, this church is a glowing sentinel.  This view was painted from a photo taken between sunset and dusk.  It’s at this time (before the lights come on) that the steeples just get a beautiful reflection from the setting sun.  Enjoy!

Saint I's from Buena Vista Park
Saint I's from Buena Vista Park, Oil on Linen, 6x8


Brantes, France

In the Summer of 2003 I got to paint in the south of France for a few weeks with Brigette Curt and Jim Smyth.  It was probably the most memorable painting experience of my life.  The smells of Provence (Lavender, Lindent trees, herbs) and light are just incredible. If you’d like to join them, check out their site.

This is Brantes, France, in the Vaucluse area of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

Brantes, France – Oil on Linen – 10×8


More “high-key” painting studies

I continue to experiment with painting in a higher key.  While I’m getting there, I’m not as light as I’d like to be (see Bato Dugarzhapov, a Russian artist I greatly admire).  Here are  a couple more studies, and a YouTube video of the first painting in progress:

Sonoma Road – Oil on Canvas – 10×8


This painting was done from a reference photo I took when Mike and I visited The Mediterranean last year.  It’s Corfu, Greece, a really beautiful island.

Walking in Corfu (Greece) – Oil on Canvas – 10×8


Randall Sexton Workshop

I was privileged to study with Randall Sexton at l’Atelier aux Couleurs, the Henche art academy in Petaluma this week.  The school is run by artist friends Carole Gray-Weihman and Al Tofanell, and is hosting a great line-up of teachers this year.  I’m going back to study with John Ebersberger in July and Peggi Kroll-Roberts in September.  It’s great to take workshops locally and aoid the expense of travel.

I had a pretty mixed week.  Did a couple scrapers, and other days just didn’t produce nearly as much as usually do.  The last day, Friday, I did a lot better.
I had fun with this study, really piling on the paint and using lots of direct, decisive brushwork. It’s a simply study, but I’m happy with it.


On Lee’s Ranch, Oil on Linen, 8×10


I spent a lot of time working on this old Ford truck.  Painting cars is a lot like painting portraits: the proportions and drawing have to be just right. Randy thought at one point it was looking more like a Rambler than a Ford, so he pointed out some drawing mistakes that brought the painting back.  I’m happy with this one, because I was able to balance accurate drawing with the loose brushwork I’m striving for.  It can be difficult to strike that balance. I’m also happy with the color harmony here.


Red Ford, Oil on Linen, 9×12


I think I painted this on Weds…it was 90+ degrees in Petaluma.  I had trouble finding something to paint. One of the things I’m working on is learning to simplify.  Painting an entire house is a challenge, so I found a more intimate scene, and kept it simple, focusing on light and value.  Randy called it “Hopper-esque“, a nice complement.


Simply Light & Shadow, Oil on Linen, 10×8


More to come!

Venice Shadows

It’s not exactly original to say I’m an artist and like Venice!  The water, architecture, interesting shapes, incredible light…it makes it one of the best place to paint ever.  I didn’t paint this plein air, but rather from a photograph.  Last time I was there, it was a family trip, so not really easy (or polite) to take off for hours at a time to paint. I’ll go back someday for dedicated painting time.  Until then, enjoy this one.