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.
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.
I’m thinking of Summer, which is why I suppose I selected this reference photo to paint. I wanted to depict a sun-filled day (just as we had in San Francisco, today). Speaking of sunny weather, I’m headed to San Miguel de Allende this Friday, where the forecast is low 80’s all week. Although Mike can’t make this trip, I’m looking forward to a full week dedicated to painting with Frank Gardner. I’ll try to post from Mexico, if I have decent WiFi at the hotel. Cheers.
I enjoy alternating between painting the figure and landscape. Painting the figure hones my drawing skills, and landscapes allow me to play a bit more with form, color and brushwork. I’d love to bring that same fluidity to my figure work (and I have achieved that occasionally), but I have trouble being too loose in the figure, because I loose form too quickly. There are some artists that do this extraordinarily well, and they inspire me (eg, Dan McCaw). I’m working on a series of figure paintings for a possible show in San Francisco this year. Cheers!
I think this is the longest period of time I’ve gone without blogging! Feels weird. I’ve a a busy couple months: started a remodel at home; and was hospitalized for kidney stones. No fun! Remember to drink lots of water…apparently, that’s how you can help avoid them.
This is my first painting after being out of commission for a couple weeks. Feels great to get back. I like this enough that I can see painting a larger studio work from it. Hope you enjoy it.
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!
One more Big Sur painting as I prepare to paint the central California coast for San Luis Obispo Plein Air next month. It was fun in this painting to abstract the distance obscured by fog. Let’s hope it’s not foggy when I’m there (although, hey, I’m getting lots of practice). I’m headed to The Sierras tomorrow, where the temperature is scheduled to range between 85-95! I plan to test out water color a bit more, to prepare for my trip to Sydney in November. Cheers!
The California coast delivers weather that varies from bright sunshine to fog–all in the same spot, the same hour! This foggy day version of Big Sur is the other side–the foggy side–of my last sun-lit coastal painting.
As I start to prepare for the San Luis Obispo Plein Air show in October, I’ve been referring back to photos from my recent plein air painting trip to paint studio work. What struck me about this scene was the strong contrast between the sea and sun-lit land, much as represented in by Sorolla in his incredible works of the Spanish coast (like this one). It’s a meeting of two worlds, which is what interests me so much about seascapes.
This was pretty difficult to photograph, by the way. The water is deeper and more varied with subtle greens. It’s seems it’s difficult for the camera to pick up both those details and the subtle land colors at the same time.
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.
After a great plein air painting trip, I’m back to the studio and focusing on the figure. I took snapshots of my progress on this painting so you’ll be able to view as a demo on YouTube.
I know this is an unusual composition, but I like that. This was a great study in warm colors (hence the title, “Warmth”). One of the key objectives I had was to represent warm/cool warm colors, and find a way to have the figure stand out from the rocks behind. It’s a figure, so of course it will always stand out visually, but I also wanted to use color to accomplish the same objective. I typically do that through “color separation” (which I first wrote about on this blog in 2007). The basic idea is to use completely different colors from my palette to represent a color of the same hue family and value. For example, to separate the color of grass in shade and light, each of those two mixtures will have different blue and yellow mixtures (eg, green in shade might be Ultramarine Blue + Yellow Ochre, while in light it might by Cerulean Blue + Cad Yellow). Both make green, but the fact that different base colors are used to mix each helps further separate light from shadow.
In this painting, I kept his flesh in shadow based on Mars Violet, while the base for the rocks was Alizarin Crimson. This was also a fun study to do in terms of brushwork. I was able to get the contrast I wanted by keeping the rocks loose and free-form, while the draftsmanship of the figure is tighter (too tight, actually, I’d love to be able to paint a figure as loose as Dan MacCaw. Someday! The other challenge in this painting was representing the direction of color of light. There’s a cool reflection from the sky in his hair and chest for exmaple, and a very warm reflect light coming from the ground to his chest and parts of his face. That’s always fun to paint!
You may see a larger studio version of this painting as it’s one of those studies that resonates with me. What do you think?
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!
To view my work on display in the show, click here.
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.