Saturday, December 22, 2012
While sketching along San Francisco Bay I was fascinated by a crew working on a pile driver. The engine was cranking away, making a racket. I did several sketches and, then decided to get out the paints. My paints were back in my parked car. When I returned, the entire rig with crane was headed out to sea with a motor boat pushing from behind. I wound bet that it hadn't moved for over a year and, just when I wanted to paint, it was gone.
I ran across my sketches the other day and tried another time to paint it. The tall crane and reflection lends itself nicely to a vertical format.
Friday, December 21, 2012
The landscape view can generate a lonely mood. When I visit my summer cottage in winter, it is quiet, dark and lacks the frenetic energy that comes with summer and people. Things are put away and there may even be cobwebs attesting to their inertia. This was an imagined scene that I painted with the feeling of abandonment and dying. There is a little fire in the tree foliage but even that is dying. It is easier to create a lonely mood with landscape composition than a closeup. A predominance of cool colors helps along with the emptiness of everything.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
What is it about boats, especially tugboats? Maybe it stems from children's books about overcoming great odds, like 'The Little Engine That Could' or 'Tuffy, the Tugboat'. When I lived by the wharfs in San Francisco, I witnessed alot of Tugboats at work. The new modern version tugboat does not have a big smoke stack nor rubber tires attached. They are muscle boats with improved windows on top and many search lights. When I see one of these vintage editions, as in this painting, I just stop and take it in.
I saw this photo and wanted to paint a tugboat. I found some hot press paper which I rarely use and wet it. With no pencil marks I put in a sky, and while wet, put in the hull and housing of the boat. Next, the shoreline in the background was done and the paper was still wet. I waited for some more dryness and lifted out the white for the top and then did some detail. It all stayed together.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Simple subjects always make the best compositions. Some hills, houses and a boat lead to a peaceful scene. You can see the value changes from back to front which create depth and a third dimension. I started this painting by wetting my paper and putting in the sky. Usually, I turn my paper upside down and progress from yellow to red to blue. I then tilt my paper (which is on a board) to allow some running of the color across the paper. This is what I like about watercolor media. The colors run, and their transparency creates new colors.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
I awoke from this dream of being somewhere in the middle east. Maybe it was provoked by the nightly newscast. I got up and painted some of what I imagined or dreamed. I did it wet into wet so it was done very quickly and there are lost and soft edges. I did wait for it to dry and put in shade and cast shadow but otherwise, let the paint run. I have tried painting dream scenes before, but never remember detail.
At a younger age, I wondered whether my dreams were in color. I only remembered the black and white ones and wondered if I was being cheated. After all, dreams can be wonderful fantasies, and it would be so much less if only in black and white instead of technicolor. Could I be having Grade B dreams? I began taking notes when I first awoke and could still recall my dreams. Specifically, I noted whether there was color. The first time I was sure of color was in a dream with a red fire truck. Wow. Never made anymore notes.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
I loved playing with fog and mountain ranges. The water reflections are easy to pull out if you do them when the paper is wet. Getting soft edges is a matter of timing in a watercolor. I put the sky in with a graded wash and then, while still wet, tilt my board up and run water down. I keep adding water to wash out the sky color and put in some bumps to soften the fast line created by the water. I then return to painting the mountain in the foreground and stretching the trees up into the cleared fog area. The fog then falls behind and gives the composition some depth. I let the painting dictate when it is ready for the next phase.
Monday, December 3, 2012
This was a fun venture with my watercolor class. It was a brush with the abstract. On plain white paper using no pencil, we charged ahead with heads and then gesture bodies. Everyone tried it and were surprised. It was all done in 20-30 minutes. They were definitely out of their comfort zone, but let loose and came up with some pretty interesting groups. Each painting seemed to have a story. So often, we paint a landscape that just calls for a human figure but pass it up because of fear of painting figures. Hopefully, we are over that phobia, anyone can put in a gesture figure.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I spend a day a week sketching 2 and 4 minute gesture poses. It is a wonderful exercise to sharpen your eye and drawing skills. We start with 10 two minute poses and I try all sorts of things to make each one different. I use charcoal, sharpie, pencil, and watercolor. I try circles, contour drawing, and negative space approaches. At the end of the session, I am tired. Drawing the human figure from short poses is work.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
I pass this old boat in front of the marina on my trips to Sausalito. It probably will not last too much longer as boards have sprung and there is plenty of rot. In the past I painted it on site but this time I stopped and took photos. It sits on a bed of ice plant, propped up on a skid and cinder blocks.
What I want to happen, is for a repair crew to come and resuscitate this grand model of fishing craft. As I think back on the scenes that attract me to painting, I keep finding old retired equipment, dilapidated houses, broken fences, etc. Is this a result of my aging?
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Just returned from painting at Muller Ranch in Yolo, CA. What a beautiful day for plein air painting. My painting location was found at the first stop on this huge ranch of vineyards and olive trees. I am fascinated with old farm equipment and there was plenty of stuff here, although, not very old or bone like. The owner told me that they replace stuff all the time so nothing remains for long. The colors caught my eye in this nice sunny spot.
I tried to connect all of the 'stuff'. Putting things in front of or overlapping creates new subjects and ties them into the composition. For example, the barrel was off alone and I painted it in front of the bright yellow box which overlaps the grey box. It wasn't difficult because most of the stuff was already pushed together.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
I have played with this scene several times over the past year. A very similar composition was accepted in the 44th Annual Watercolor West Juried Exhibition. I like the simplicity of the painting. Originally, it was done plein air on a river in West Harwich on Cape Cod. This time, I chose only a single structure, creating a sense of loneliness in the wild. The structure is the focal point. One eye path is the river with a pointer (the stake) that appears on a point of land directing you to the hideaway. There is also a graded wash on the river which goes from foreground to the structure. Finally, there is a white track leading to the white house.
Most of my painting is done plein air. Occasionally, I will work in my studio with a painting that I particularly like, and make some changes. It is easier to do, when you have been looking at the original for awhile.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
This painting resulted from my class demonstration of side lighting. The purpose was to show shade and shadow projections. It was totally imaginary but served its need.
There are plenty of water towers around my area of California. Because of the extensive farming, the tower was a part of the farm. Now many are used for other purposes.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
What a fun place to be as families arrive to pick out pumpkins for their Halloween celebration. Larry's Produce Stand in Vacaville, CA, is always busy, but it goes all out for Halloween. There are mazes with hay bales, huge pumpkins, old farm equipment, hay rides, drinks, etc that are added for the shoppers. The produce is always the best and inexpensive. You can even pick your own. The shopping is done in wheelbarrows.
I had plenty of visitors as I painted. Kids wanted to tell me about their paintings. Others debated which pumpkin to buy. The general rule that I heard from several parents, 'you have to be able to carry it to the car'. This is a plein air painting experience that is among the best.
Friday, November 9, 2012
We have such glorious weather for painting. I was at my favorite site, the Davis Depot, for some plein air painting. It was quieter than in the morning. Major train traffic occurs mornings and late afternoon from my experience. The southwestern architecture of this building appeals to me and by catching it at different times, the shadow and shading change. This creates a new scene for my painting of a familiar landmark in Davis California. I can make the composition just the way I want it by moving something or leaving it out. Everyone still knows where the place is from the painting.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Little known secret: Dixon California has a train station even though no trains stop there. The station is currently used by the Chamber of Commerce. The train tracks run along the front and there is a path across them. While I was painting, many trains came whistling through at high speed. The warnings at the crossings all go off and gates come down on roads that cross the tracks.
Some day, when the population increases to some size that warrants a stop, this station will be in business.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The Davis Train Depot is rather iconic for the city. It is my favorite place to paint when home. There are many people coming and going, especially students whose bicycles are left all over the place. This is a first, painting from this vantage point. It is down the tracks and behind the iron gated fence that prevents wandering onto the track. I didn't expect any visitors but one women from Pittsburgh was very interested and came to chat. Fortunately, someone yelled to her as they climbed aboard the Chicago bound train. They had to hold the train as she had to circle back for her luggage and then get out to the train.
I finished in about 2hr which is the parking limit. Davis has very efficient parking attendants who hand out lots of tickets.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Took a long break in October but did a lot of painting. This is the last of my watercolor paintings from my time in Italy this summer. We took a water taxi from Amalfi to our hotel. The view from the water is very different than from the road. I did this painting on Arches 140 lb paper that is glued to board. No wrinkling and painting on paper is soooo much better than fabric or clayboard. I am interested to see how it holds up.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Painted this from a picture. This was another example of direct glazing of the 'growies' up on the sand bank. The value change is evident with the diminished intensity of the palm in distance and lighter sand color. There is back lighting so the shadows cascade down the beach.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
It was a beautiful morning for plein air painting. At first, a little nip in the air, but then warmed up so that you would be most comfortable in shorts. I was painting out on the levee of Cache Creek. The creek has little water but the oak trees are magnificent. They drip like candles or like willows. There was a bright blue sky with only a cloud or two.
I painted this wet into wet. I started with the sky followed by painting the leaf canopy in raw sienna, then direct glazed with sap green and then direct glazed with ultramarine blue. When still wet I put in the trunk and limbs using wet lines and adding colors. When all dried I finished the leaf canopy with an indirect glaze of cobalt blue and added shadows.
The shed had a horse who showed only once and I kept waiting to put it in the painting but it never showed again. What a great feeling to be out painting.
Monday, October 8, 2012
This painting was done in approximately 45 minutes. The adage, 'the fewest strokes wins' is not only good for golf but for watercolor. You simplify or edit the scene to only essentials and proceed to painting in as few brush strokes as possible. There is some direct glazing done, which is using a wet transparent color over a wet color. It gives a more painterly impression. Careful attention is paid to value change which occurs with every plane change. By using a gradated wash of the ocean going from dark in the distance to lighter in the foreground, it brings the eye to the focal point which are the figures. All the whites are connected up rather than isolated. It is always good to practice these rules.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Here is a switch from my Italian travels. This landscape is seen while in bed, looking over my toes at San Francisco Bay. It is a one point perspective so that the closer objects are seen from above and the distant ones tend to be more righted. Kind of fun to paint this and it was a very quick painting, since I left the water in the Bay unpainted.
Friday, October 5, 2012
I sketched this Italian scene with a flood of morning light coming down the street between buildings. It was in a hilltop town in Tuscany. Many people were up and the coffee bar was busy. The cast shadow from the two tourists was magnified giving them gigantic proportions. My quick sketch didn't note any of the colors, so, when painting, I chose a group of earthen colors that would be in harmony and typical of the village.
I feel right back in Italy as I work on these sketches and paintings. Accompanied with music from the Italian tenors, all that is missing is the magnificent food.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
This is the view from my hotel on the coast. I took the elevator down to minus 6 for my room. It was down another few levels before reaching the walkway that wound further down to the water. Quite a spectacular view. The vertical format was chosen to emphasize the vastness of the stone wall. I painted the road and tunnel above to give an idea of how exciting the driving is on the Amalfi Coast. The house was there and I included it in the painting to allow something for comparative size. I left the beach and water inlet white or near white to give the painting a focal point.
By the way, the water was warm and I did plenty of swimming.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Been doing some traveling in Italy. Came home with some of my sketches and paintings to do at my studio. This is the town of Amalfi. I have plenty of quick sketches of the great sloping coast line that drops precipitously into the blue ocean. The buildings are on small flat outcroppings or along the roadway. The roadway is a story in itself. Amalfi is a wonderful place for painters and photographers. You forget what is going on in the rest of the world.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
The light is from the right at three quarters. The large tree on the right really popped out as it was back lighted or silhouetted. It made me change my value.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
This morning was very sunny and I tried to capture the intense cast shadows on the structures. They changed quickly as the morning moved on. I had several sketches to mark the shading and cast shadows and this was a great help. I will be back.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Plein aire painting has so many features. Seeing shadows dance across surfaces and appreciating values of distant and close objects are just two. Sounds just add to the adventure.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Friday, June 15, 2012
I tried to paint the bridge in a recognizable likeness, but did not want it dominant. The canoe is the focal point. I used the bridge cast shadow and supports to direct the attention to it.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Shadows are so important to painting. After all, it is the light that we are after and shade with cast shadow show off this light. It gives contour to the hill and is directional for the viewer.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
I had requests for painting lots of things but did this quick painting of birches in about 20min leaving time to go over work from the previous session. Birches are easy and gratifying to paint into scenes.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
With all of my travels this month, I have not been posting to the blog. Will get some of my recent pleine air work up.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Brewster General Store is an icon for the town of Brewster on Cape Cod. It is draped in patriotic bunting and there are always kids with ice cream. It is a favorite family stop.