This weekend I’m headed up to Alta to paint the Sierras. I’m staying with Sam and Phil, close friends that have us up at their home on Alta lake a couple of times a year. I hope there’s snow at the lake, as there are compositions ready to be painted everywhere! I also may head up to Blackwood Canyon, just outside Tahoe City. I completed a series of autumn Aspen paintings there this past Fall. Can’t way to see it in Winter. Maybe I’ll paint the same location/composition to compare. Might be interesting, much like Kevin MacPherson’s great project.
If I can figure out how to blog and post new images from my cell phone using Flickr, I’ll try and update my blog remotely.
I’m re-reading Edgar Payne’s Composition of Outdoor Painting. What a classic! I think it was Kevin Macpherson who said he re-read the classic art books often, because he learned something new each time. Sometimes your own experience painting informs your ability to really understand what the book is trying to teach. Design is, I think, the most important thing to learn. A well designed painting can easily overcome other short-comings.
Seirra Morning, by Edgar Alvin Payne
What’s the connection between painting, the flue, and skunks? Well, generally none, although last week I experienced all three.
I’ve been working on a sunrise commission for a good collector of mine (hi, Noel), and frankly have had a hard time with it. Getting up EARLY is not my strong suit. I’m a late-night cat. Anyway, I did get some decent studies in Carmel a few months ago, but none that really knocked me out, so I thought I’d try last week.
I noticed that we had some pretty spectacular sunrises (from my bedroom window, just getting up), so figured it was worth gettnig up and trying to get some good plein air studies painted. I got up at around 5:30am to get set up for painting by about 6:30 at Baylands Preserve, a great spot for capturing both sunrises and sunsets, due to the fact there are locations with depth of field (hills, so on) and water combinations to get those great reflections. So I arrive, and it’s FREEZING and there are skunks everywhere. A couple kind of “charged me”. I don’t know much about skunks, but they seemed to approach me on their hind legs. Weird, I know. Well, I avoided the skunks, but got the flu. It was so dam cold, I was quite sick the next day, and out the whole week. I know, it’s a virus, but I’m sure that painting experience weakened me. Or, you know, I just like to show how much PAIN is involved in creating art.
In the end, I did get this little study done, as well as a couple others I ended up wiping off. I’ll let you know what I end up with for Noel.
BTW, paintings of sunsets are available to see on my main web site, on the Miscellany page.
While study with Ted Georschner last year, I stayed at a Motel 6 in Buelton (outside Solvang). I captured the “golden light” view from my room. I was too tired to paint, but did this little painting (8×10) when I got home. I project images from my digital camera on a TV in my studio. It really helps to illuminate the image. Painting from photos is really a drag. The darks all become black, and the highlights all average out. Much better to paint from a project image.
Wheeler Canyon is in Santa Paula (Ventura County). It’s a really beautiful area, much of it unspoiled farms and ranches. In the 30’s and 40’s it was often visited and painted by some of the great early California impressionsists, including Cornelis & Jesse Arms Botke (who lived there).
I was inspired by the fact so many artists visited the canyon and found so much to capture. I’ve listed below some links to other artists’ works.
My partner, Mike, grew up in Santa Paula, and was always aware of the art history of the town. If fact, the town banker, Douglas Shively, wanted to be an artist but was forbidden by his father to do so as he was told he needed to run the family business. Nevertheless, Douglas Shively continued to paint, and has done some wonderful work. We have a large painting of his of Morro Bay. Some day, maybe I’ll do a post on him. He led an interesting life.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my painting of this historic location.
My show at Viewpoints Gallery is winding down. I’ve received lots of great feedback from attending artists, thank you! Most who attended commented that the paintings where at new level, and I really appreciate that. I worked hard on this show, and am proud of what went into it. Although I’ll be moving from the front wall on Jan 29, I’ll leave the paintings on another wall (near the desk) until at least the first week of February.
The next big event will be Open Studios (May 20/21), although I’ll continue to show at Viewpoints Gallery continuously.
When I’m out painting, I’m often asked “How long does it take you to paint that?” I know most people are well-meaning and just plain curious, but the reality is an entire lifetime of experience and years of training go into each work of art. You can’t translate two hours of work into an hourly rate. If you did, all artist’s would be rich! But guess what, the vast majority are poor. Why?
The simple answer is consistency. The greats can create great paintings, one after the other, while the rest (like me) will maybe decide to show 1 in 4 paintings in a gallery, and then go on to sell 1 in 4 of those. So, do the math 🙂 I had to paint approximately 1,400 paintings to paint this little masterpiece.
What does all this have to do with this painting? Well, it’s one of those real winners. One in which everything I’ve every learned came together at once. It practically “painted itself”. I often hear that phrase from artist’s when a painting is going well. Everything you’ve learned becomes automatic, and you’re able to respond in an emotional way to the subject. Not in a complex, overt way, but one of elegant simplicity. This is a simple painting–look how few colors there are–but to me, it just glows.
So, more to come! I’m still working on my Aspen Series, and hope to have them done for my show in January, 2006. I know this study is a winner, and will end up being a 20×24, or perhaps even bigger. I still have a 3’x5′ canvas crowding my studio, white as winter, ready for the glow of Fall.