Monday, January 30, 2012

The Hills of Green Valley Road

Sunday was a magnificent day for painting.  Our group gathered off Green Valley Road in Cordelia, CA.  Everyone did a wonderful painting, whether it was the hills or the vineyards.  The rain that arrived last week made everything very green. These smooth hills always look like they are covered with velour and I have this fantasy of riding a motorcycle over them. 
I painted the hills and gave them some roundness by using graded washes.  All was quiet out there.  I didn't see any birds so left them out.  I wish there were a couple of cows to add.  When I use this sketch for a studio painting, I will put some cows on this beautiful green pasture.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Along the Herring River

While watching my 49ers in the playoffs on Sunday, I painted a scene that I remembered from Cape Cod. I live close to the Herring River and have painted sections of the river many times in the past. This one is from the brain bank. I had fun painting it on a half sheet and then went and painted it again on a full sheet. (Had to deal with the frustrations of a last minute loss to NY Giants.)
What I like about the painting is the eye path created by the river with the focal point almost at the end of the trip.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Main Street, Locke, CA

Last Sunday, I painted with my group in the historic Chinese town of Locke. The narrow main street with all the tall buildings is very appealing to the artist. The porches are supported with rather thin rickety posts and they are not square but leaning. There is so much detail. I tried to to simplify and also stay with a red yellow palette to give it an oriental or Asian feel. This is a painting that will be used in the studio on a rainy day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow and Birches

We have not had rain in Northern California since November. Today, it looks like it is going to happen. The skiers will rejoice hoping for the mother of all storms in the Sierras.
I am posting a recent painting that I did of Birch trees. They are like soccer balls for the artist because of the white black contrast. Add a little snow and threatening sky and it makes a nice composition. We are waiting for a storm.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Locke Alley

Painted in Locke, CA this Sunday. There is always the want to put everything into a painting done in this old historic Chinese town. There is so much subject matter. This sketch and painting was quick at the end of the day. It was my second. There was still some sun on the alley way but it quickly disappeared and got very cold. You discover that only the main elements get put into the painting when you are rushed and cold. I didn't like the composition or color at first, but now, I look at it and find many things that worked.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mexican Laundry

Painted this from a quick sketch of laundry. Tried to make the building more interesting by giving it pseudo-sophistication and placing it in town. Everybody hangs laundry whether in Portofino, Italy or Bombay. My hometown once had a city ordinance prohibiting clotheslines. That was quickly changed when pointed out to town officials. I put some lines on the roof indicating rebar sticking up. It seems that most Mexican buildings have rebar which saves on taxes, I am told. If the building is not finished, the full assessment is delayed. Makes a good story.

Note the difference in shade color; blue shade on white buildings and red with some green for the red building.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Napa Valley Vineyard

It was a glorious day last Thursday. Perfect for painting and the mustard was in full bloom between the rows of vines. This is a worm's eye view of the the rows as I painted it from the ditch running in front. There were a few people on this very back road in the heart of grape country. What a great day to be out and painting.

My aim was to compose a different perspective on the vineyard and try to avoid the repartition which is so monotonous. So, nothing is really defined except the posts in the foreground.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Desert Living

Looking back at the mountains surrounding Palm Desert creates a great perspective. The mountains and the spindly tall palms dwarf these mobile home communities which are backed up against them. It's late afternoon and the peaks turn blue in the distance. It is very serene.

I have spent very little time in the desert but recently found lots of things to sketch and paint. The architecture of these desert buildings is so different and is done in so many variations. I will be back.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Study with Complementary Colors

The challenge was to use only 3 complementary colors; violet, cad orange and sap green. Paint something in an hour. It is good to do these exercises. I love the green made from cad orange and sap green. It is more vegetable than some of the others I've mixed. Mixing the orange with violet allowed all of the browns in the elephant subject.

Cadmium orange is a color that I use only for small details or sparingly mix. It is so powerful that it takes over. I mix colors to get violets so using it out of the tube was new for me. All in all, a worthwhile study that opens up new colors.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back Roads of Davis, CA

We are enjoying the clear crisp weather and went as a group to the outer roads at the University of California at Davis. The trees have lost their green and this dense growth is really all sticks and stems. Sort of challenging to paint. I did a little boning-out of the nearest trees but decreased the values as the road moved into the distance. I felt that the little shed and birds gave the composition some informal balance.
It is good for your painting to be plunked down at a location that you would not choose and try to put together a composition.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bit of Tuscany in California

My neighborhood has all sorts of houses and most are on very small lots. As you can see from the actual photo, this is a big house and someone planted a small vineyard right next to it. I jog by quite often and am brought back to Italy by the architecture and pines. I did take some license with the arrangement but had fun painting it from across the gulley that runs along side. It started out as a cold morning but warmed up and was a great day for painting.