Thursday, May 24, 2018

Remembering Good Fish

Was at a workshop in Folsom this week and was asked to paint a picture that shows value. I had no sketches and was in a poorly lighted hotel room with 21 other attendees. I had a dream the previous night of being back on Cape Cod. I was raking in clams and eating fresh fish. This is what they call 'day boat' in restaurants. It brought a picture to mind. The local fish shack. Don't you remember the longest days of your life were waiting for school to end so you could get on with summer vacation. It's all packed into this scene of best memories.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Man on a Boom

Despite thunder, lightning and rain, we headed out for plein air painting. We went nearly to Birds Landing and turned off at Shilo Road. The rain had stopped and the sun was out. The sky to the west was still black and all we had were some puffy clouds moving quickly. I was here before. The church that I painted has been restored. The church grounds with a grave yard are meticulously manicured. That is not what I like for subject matter. I sketched some trees and hills and was now ready for another location. In getting out to my car I realized all the activity on the road. There are very tall eucalyptus trees being trimmed and all the equipment was in action. A man hung high above in a bucket at the end of a long boom. Another was high in the trees. Both were cutting limbs and dropping them to the ground. Later, they would be ground up. I was captured and why not try sketching and painting the scene?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

An Almost Green Scene

The sun is shining, the sky is blue without a cloud and our Wednesday plein air gang are ready to paint. This venue is off a small country road that runs along a huge olive tree orchard. Very little traffic passes. Plenty of birds are communicating. Everything growing is green from the fantastic weather we are having. Even the creek has a green color. I have been here before and seen the creek encrusted with a blanket of algae. It is on its way. I started with wet paper and put in the sky and pond. They nearly dried in minutes so I blocked out a tree and growies on the left. It was a matter of squinting and adding darks to give some depth to these. My initial sketch had a value change from background light to dark in the foreground. You can learn so much from being there, on location and painting.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


This is my friend Fenway. She is my daughter's dog. I have painted her before but never a closeup. I took a photo and painted an image in a very loose manner on wet paper. These projects are challenging and fun. I know an art instructor that enlarges an animal photo, prints it and then sends his students to the window to trace it onto their art paper. They then paint in the colors like a 'paint by the number' project. Everyone goes home satisfied with a finished painting. I'm sure there is merit in this exercise but little originality is exercised.

The Chair Metaphor Painting

When authority has no support it is useless. This exercise was to paint the chair as a metaphor. Most chose to paint a negative image of a chair. I used my iPhone flash light to project shadows of a chair. Several different chair angles were projected with light and roughly drawn with a pencil and then painted. The exaggeration can be appreciated when compared to the actual chair size shown on the left. The images can be very large but are only a shadow of a chair without any support. It needs legs to stand up. Have you ever encountered a chair that only projected a shadow?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Value Training

We have spent 3 weeks on value change using watercolor media. These last two demos were for graded washes and tree shapes with value change. Everyone has worked hard on this series and produced good results. It amazes me how quiet the class becomes as they try to determine how to paint shapes that are determined by value. I'm sure their squinting at projected images have added many new wrinkles to their faces. It is so rewarding to have a class get this involved.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Spring Mud Puddles

Our group went out a country road to find a painting location. A large stack of wet rotting hay next to a pickup truck was my subject. You can see the tracks where cars or trucks have driven through the wet mud. I was challenged to paint these mud puddles and get some cast reflections. In the background is the blue mountain chain of Winters. All went well until time to leave and I got my car caught in the mud. The front of my car just went deeper as I tried to rock my way out. The hay bales saved me. With lots of help from my fellow artists who stuck pads of hay under my tires, I eventually got out. The car was covered with mud. Stopped in a carwash on my way home but some mud still remains. I also have plenty of mud inside. Quite an outing.