Saturday, December 26, 2009

Downtown Davis California

I started this picture of the downtown movie theater years ago. While cleaning out my studio, I ran across it and decided to give it a facelift. The theater is still in Davis showing foreign films but the buildings around it have changed.
When I want to paint but can't decide what to start, I find an old unfinished painting and go to work on it. I feel free with it and experiment. It keeps me painting and sometimes is just the trigger I need to fire me up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Clearing Fog on the Bay

Yesterday morning was foggy but it began to brighten and clear before noon. This painting captures the clearing fog with three distant hills of varying intensity or value. The boats are a counter balance to the larger mass on the right. It was done with 3 colors: ultramarine, Paynes grey and burnt sienna. It was pretty wet when I stopped half way through and let it dry. I then put in the water and the snaggle pines give it a story and mystery.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mendocino Water Tower II

Water towers in Mendocino are like hot tubs on high and wide platforms. I tried to be a little more realistic in my painting this time. My calligraphy is not as prominent as seen on the original but it was fun painting this version after doing the previous one. I did not block out and tried to save my whites by painting around them. Next time I think I would block out with something and then they would not appear wobbly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mendocino Water Tower

A very common site in Mendocino are the water towers that remain from the past. It is cold and frosty in California these days so paintings are from memories instead of plein air. I love painting outside, on site, but not when it's cold or windy. One remedy for the cold is to paint warmer scenes. It is the placebo effect; you get lost in the painting and warm up. Save the snow scenes for hot summer days.

Monday, December 7, 2009

San Francisco Experience

I finished this painting last week and had it framed and ready to send to South Africa. When I found out the rate for shipping, I found another way to send a gift. I could have bought a one-way plane ticket for the shipping cost.
The planes make this painting of interest. The steepness of the hill is evident with several planes below and wires overhead. The silhouettes of people leaning toward the subject help to resolve the conflict of verticals and direct the viewer.

The Fixer-Upper

This house was on a photo I had from Mendocino, CA. Today, in California, there was cold with wind and I canceled my plans to go outside and paint. Instead, I played with the painting and tried a lot of different shapes. Notice the 3 eucalyptus trees in the left background and the puddles in the foreground. The laundry on the line was a balance to the painting. There is a lot in this painting and I usually only feature one subject with everything else subordinate. This is what happens when plans suddenly change. It was fun experimenting.

Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting

Have you ever tried to paint on a wet surface with watery color. You need to keep a couple of steps ahead with your plan and get it all on before the painting dries. One can add a couple of drops of glycerin to the water to slow the drying. It is difficult to judge the intensity of the color and, in general, it dries at a much lighter value than it appears at first. This is my attempt at a 15-20min wet on wet watercolor. The second one was done with more intense color because of the experience with the first.

This one took even less time, and I was able to save the whites. It is uneven with the intensities but the water reflections are somewhat forgiving. An artist I know that is successful with this technique uses only Lanaquerelle watercolor paper. This is more blotter-like and gives soft edges to everything.
I think that I will need a lot of trials to get one of these wet-on-wet paintings to my satisfaction. In the meantime, I will stay with washes and dry into wet.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

San Francisco Streets

This is a painting of Chestnut St in San Francisco. I was on Stockton and looking down. Had plenty of people to talk with as it was a nice day and many were out. I will have to go back and move up one street to do Lombard, the crookedest street.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Plein Air Painting in Martinez

Last week went off to Martinez, CA to paint with a plein air group. It was a good experience that included new friends, a cookout, and a very friendly critique of everyone's work. There were plenty of good works from this group that meets weekly.
Martinez is a major train hub and I doubt that many get a full night of sleep with all of the whistles that sound from arriving and departing trains. I loved it.
My painting was done on the edge of the marsh with the bright sky emerging. There was no egret, but I needed a focal point and some balance to the weight of objects on the left side.

Davis Joints

Got out early Saturday morning to paint and got a close-up viewpoint of two Davis eateries, side-by-side. The shadows were the attraction for me along with the warm colors of both buildings. The lost edges and cool notes gave me great satisfaction with the painting. There were plenty of early risers from the nearby hotel who were in town for a football game.

It's all about laundry

I have shown this one before but found myself painting another laundry scene yesterday. Must be my helping out at home that has focused me on domestic activities. One group washes in the river and the other hangs the laundry out to dry. Do you know that the ordinance in my town had to be changed to allow hanging laundry out to dry! We are all going green.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wychmere Harbor, Harwich Port

Was home today instead of with my painting group at Sausalito. It seems that the Bay Bridge was closed and I was told to expect big traffic shunting over to the Golden Gate, so I decided not to fight it. Did some sketching of scenes from summertime and went on and painted this imagined Wychmere scene. Had a good feeling about it with the reflections.

Wash Day in Mexico

Back in the early 90's I was in the Acapulco region of Mexico with some painters. I ran across a group of women doing their wash in a shallow river. I stopped, put up my easel and painted them. It was a success and was in a show. Since then, I have been asked by people who saw it whether I still have it. I decided to do it again and had some fun with it. The river is shallow enough to walk all the way across. I remember standing on a garbage dump at the side of the river when painting...much easier when you call up memories and paint inside.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good Morning, Sausalito

Painted in Sausalito on Wednesday on a beautiful day. Tried doing what Jerry did but my sky is more of a morning one. It was pointed out that each boat should be on a different plane which is logical when you think of it. The mirrored reflections of water are always fun and a way to finish off the foreground. This was painted on a new sheet of 140lb watercolor paper but it must have been scraped against something as the watercolor found these ridges to settle into. This was a half sheet and the same was true of the other half. Unfortunately, you cannot detect this until painting on the surface.

Train Station Therapy

There is a wonderful restored Southern Pacific Station in Davis and it has been a source of resuscitation for my painting. It is so therapeutic to set up and paint it with all of the sounds and people rushing off to near and far places. I had the company of Jeff the homeless guy today who gave a running account of the homeless life and why he chose to stay in Davis. He has lots of info about the trains. I finished this painting in 90min as the parking police continuously monitor the parking with some kind of gun. You can not repark, so you have to leave. Jeff was also off to use the internet. It was a good morning.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oak Park; a Renassaince

It was cloudy and misting heavily when I left Davis to paint in the Capitol Plein Air Festival. We went to the 'hood'. For 30 years I drove thru Oak Park on my way to work. It was full of drug dealers, crack houses and men gathered on the street looking for work. They were in old couches and chairs along the side walks. A friend owned a property and was afraid to collect overdue rent. Not any longer, the 'hood' has a new look with proud ownership and cared for homes. This painting is the Oak Park Preschool which is getting a face-lift. Workers were buzzing around, checking out my painting and letting me in on what was going to happen to the building. The sun eventually came out and there were some shadows to paint. It actually got quite hot as I finished up.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Joint on 12th Street

This is the week of the Sacramento Plein Air painting. It runs from Sunday to Friday. Who would have thunk that a typhoon would blow in and wash out painting on Tuesday, Wednesday and part of Thursday. Pretty hard to paint watercolors when it is raining. I painted this Joint on Sunday morning with a bright sun shining. Got lots of attention as I seemed to be on the path of all the homeless who were walking back into town. I did have to wind it up since I had another commitment in the afternoon. It was the shadows that caught my eye.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Plein Air Painting Problems

When it comes to painting on San Francisco Bay, you have to be fast. I was wandering among the Sausalito houseboats looking for something to paint. There was alot of noise and attention given to this crane, so decided to paint it. I took the picture, found my car and gear and returned to sketch. My crane was suddenly on its way out to sea. Pushed by a small outboard motor on a boat, it completely disappeared around the corner. I finished a sketch and painted my version of it on a vertical format.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sausalito Houseboats

It was wonderful being back with the painters on Sausalito Bay. We were on Napa St. where a huge gathering of houseboats are tied up. Many quite obviously built by amateurs and held together with bailing wire and duct tape. I don't think they are held to any code.
I have not been painting for a couple of weeks. It was a glorious day and my attempt was to paint a closeup of the scene. The figures were put in front of a cool window to be a focal point.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Red Sky Over Wychmere

A quick pen and ink sketch and then a line wash with watercolor was done on hot press paper. I have been painting en plein air and expected to meet with my group today but it was called off. I just sat back and drew the scene from memory. I had some hot press paper that I used to be very fond of, but no longer prefer, however, it is the correct thing for line wash painting. Not a wonderful painting but it eased my guilt of settling back after our plein air event was cancelled.

Great show going on at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham. I was accepted into the all cape show and am proud to be with some very talented artists.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wychmere Harbor, Harwich Port, MA

This is Wychmere yesterday with the warm sunny clear skies of fall. What a beautiful day to paint. I have struggled lately with my painting. I am usually good dealing with the tyranny of detail but seem to want everything in my picture when doing this scene. I have done it from memory and it is better done en plein air. The harbor is quite full of boats. I did a loose sketch and then went on to block out the sky. The water was last and I tried to do a gradual wash from bottom to lighter on the top. This is to bring the viewer's eye to the structures above. The entire scene is iconic around Harwich Port.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rocks on the Herring River

Today our plan was to paint rocks. The day was sunny and a bit windy. The rocks are done with a base color, in this case raw sienna, and then, glazed with a darker color, burnt sienna and cobalt blue. The tops are scraped off while still wet and the shapes are developed. It is important to vary the sizes and create sharp planes. You do not want them to look like potatoes.
The area was active with lots of little kids fishing for crabs and everyone getting their last sail. What a beautiful weekend this has been. We finished at high tide, about 2.5hr after starting.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Painting at the Cove

Conditions could not be better for painting. Everything popped with the bright sun and clear air, and things dried quickly. We picked out a few of the boats to paint and fortunately they stayed around. It seemed that every boat owner was taking their boat out for a last sail as it was labor day weekend.
The Cove is in Harwich just off Rt 28. The featured boat is a Cape Cod Cat Boat which is very popular around Cape Cod. It is gaff rigged and comfortable for leisurely sailing. It comes in various sizes.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Painting with Inger

Off to Red River Beach once again. Took my friend Inger and we painted the opening to the river. Just a quick sketch and painting. Put the little house in the background for size reference. What a lovely day and the water is still warm. The beach was starting to populate but definitely not to summer time levels. Came home to steamers, lobster salad and hot dogs. Ready for a little afternoon snooze.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Shaky Bridge at Red River Beach

Out painting with my group this morning at Red River Beach. In the back of the beach is this salt marsh and a shaky rickety bridge that spans the water which can be high when the tide comes in. I actually witnessed 3 people crossing the bridge with kayaks. It holds together but, I am told that it requires rebuilding each summer. Reminds me of one of those bridges in Viet Nam over a rice patty. It was fun to paint from above, away from the bugs, although the sun did not stay out for good shadows.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Red River Beach, Harwich, MA

Went off with the group for some plein air painting on one of the best summer days. They don't get any better on Cape Cod. This is a very long stretch of beach with multiple jettys. No one was on the beach but the life guards were in their stands. I painted this quickly to catch the glow of the sky. It was clouded over 2hr later. It is a watercolor done on 300lb rough paper which is my favorite.
I have been doing a lot of painting but many have gone off to the framer before I took a pic. It is difficult to photograph when the glass is on. Today, I went to photograph as the framer was here and my battery was dead. The summer is quiet now and the weather so perfect, that I will be out early in the morning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Line Wash with Watercolor

This is a quick technique. A pen and ink sketch done roughly and then filled in with watercolor. This is a familiar subject for me and I started with the sky but became engaged with a passerby. Time was running out so put the pen and ink on and washed in the color. It is a twenty minute painting. This is the type of painting you see on greeting cards or children's picture books. They love the line wash painting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Birches Across the Street

There really are no birches across the street but the house was there and I wanted to show someone how to paint birch trees. It was fun. The weather has been like a steam bath here on Cape Cod. I have been painting but with no concentration. Lots going on with house guests and appointments. My show in Woodland is a success. I do have some other work that I need to put up on the blog.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Hot Stove

In the center of Harwich Port is a popular eatery for families. It is usually crowded with a line out the door. Today I painted from across the street. It was not sunny so I had to stage my lighting. It is extremely humid and takes a long time for anything to dry. In addition the paper wrinkles, but once home in the a/c, it dries out and is fine.
My group did not go out today because of the lack of sun, but since I was ready, I got out and painted all day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Herring River, West Harwich, MA

I hurried to finish before the rain came and I didn't quite make it. I started painting in full sunshine and put on plenty of sun bloc. Part of the plein air experience is talking to passersby. I love it, sometimes stopping and chatting. That happened while painting last weekend and then they came to my art show in the park on Monday.
My grandchildren left today and I will miss my beloved chums. We spent a lot of time together. Will have more time for painting.
I have been painting on Arches' 140lb cold press and find it wrinkling and never completely drying out. It is damp here on the Cape. I worry that it will wrinkle when framed. I will switch back to 300lb paper which I prefer for lots of reasons.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bass Maine Lighthouse

This is a redo of an earlier watercolor of the lighthouse. I had it in my mind as I was baby sitting my paintings at Art in the Park. I staged the light from the right so I could bring some color into the rocks. So I whipped out the sticks and knocked off this pesticide free watercolor painting in about 40 minutes. There is something fresh resulting from fast painting. It is like golf; the fewer strokes wins.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sundae School Ice Cream is the best

Back on Cape Cod and painting to get some inventory for my weekly Art in the Park showing. It was a cloudy day and threatened rain but I was able to get a sketch and return home and paint. Our first full session of Art in the Park was last week and I met many of my old clients. Some of them have 6 of my paintings and bought more. It is a great feeling.
Summer is in full swing with lots of guests and I have not missed a meal since arriving. Fresh fish is so good.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gathering Storm Clouds

I never liked paintings of light houses. Now that I have painted a few, I see the attraction. You can have dramatic skies plus reflections in water. The actual building is also interesting. This was from a picture of a light house in Maryland, which I greatly modified. There is no such light house except in my head. What fun.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Davis is Farm Country

This watercolor was done in the afternoon and nobody bothered me except the bugs. It was a beautiful day in Davis, CA and not too hot. The silos are quite tall and I simplified them. The road in and the posts were added as directional tools and to give some idea of depth and size.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Some new paintings

Oops, where has the month of May gone? I have been painting but not tending to my blog. Lots of things going on but put up these paintings done this month. One is a repeat of an old painting done in Mexico this past spring. Thought that I could improve on it and win some competition. The other is a Maine lighthouse.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cantelow Redux

It was such a beautiful day this weekend that I ended back up on Cantelow Road outside of Winters. I just painted away and encouraged the bike riders huffing their way up the hill. What a great spot. That is the Sacramento Valley in the distance between the hills. The hills are still green but with the 90 degree heat this week, they won't stay green too long.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Meditaranean Alley

This was a quick sketch from memory and it turned into a very high key watercolor. I am sure that I could add much more but like the composition and its simplicity. I did the painting on the back of an old painting done on hot press. At one time most of my work was done on hot press watercolor, but I stay away from it now. It is so difficult to do even washes on hot press paper.
With return of warm weather I need to be outside painting plein air. Maybe a trip to a Greek Isle is in order.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Retired Barn

This is another of my Winters' Plein Air paintings done last week. I am not sure how retired this barn is since it had a well worn path to the front. The hills in the background create a nice value in contrast to the warm notes of the grasses. I had plenty of visitors while painting and the sun was warm. The light was almost overhead.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cantelow Road

This is a painting of Cantelow Road which is the best backroad I can ever imagine. I found this place last year while painting in Winters CA. I have now painted it several times. Each time it is awesome. You can see the Sacramento Valley and almost to the Sierra Mountains from atop the road. The other side of the hill offers a view of Pleasant Valley which I want to paint the next time I am there. The painting sold before the reception for the Winters Plein Air Festival. It was fun painting it and meeting the new owner.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Winters Plein Air Painting is Over

This was the 2nd annual paint in which lasted 6 days. Some days were very windy and even cold. I got over to Winters for 3 half days and one full one. It is a wonderful spot for painters with barns, valleys and mountains. I painted at the end of town in my attempt to shield myself from a gusting wind. It was done on 300lb Arches watercolor paper which was previously adhered to quarter inch foam core. This allowed me to use gel and then varnish. I then put it into a float frame that we came up with. Looks like an oil and there is no glass. I was worried that it would turn out 'crafty appearing', but I like it. Anyway, I have this and two others in the show with a reception tonight.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Over the Hill is...

This steep hill leads to some of the finest restaurants around Zihuatanejo. You do have to drive almost out of town to circle back to go over the hill. It is a hot day and nobody is climbing the hill. Of course, I can sit under the shade of a big tree and paint the hill from across the canal. There is also plenty of cold beer nearby to help the imagination. At night the area becomes a beehive of activity.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today's class

This is one of the many water towers on the vineyard next to us in Napa. I teach a watercolor class on Friday morning to about 20 budding artists. So often I hear, "If I try this, I'll probably ruin my picture". Todays' exercise was to banish this timidity. I did a demo that included a sky, mountain, water tower, and front green. I then asked them to add details to their painting. Here are my quick details.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Winter Memories

I was looking at news photos of the latest snow storm in the Northeast and remember the discomfort of getting anywhere. This painting shows a person bundled against the elements and an uncertain path covered with snow. Many a time I navigated the white-out from a blizzard to get to school in Burlington, VT and, also, it was so cold. This scene has varying layers of value as the eye moves from the foreground to the fuzzy snowy distance.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Early Morning Davis Commute

My muse is the Davis Train Station. I have painted it so many times plein air, that I can put a painting together in 20 minutes and it is fun. I tried a yellow, red and blue sky to indicate the rising sun and gave the people long shadows. I have painted the station in the early morning and that is the east where the sun comes up. Because I wanted a tall exaggerated front of the station I painted it on the vertical. Most of my work (99%) is done on a half sheet (15x23") and when I frame, it has a 3.5" mat around it. They are all for sale.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Birches in the Snow

Birch trees are fun to paint and I had fun doing this one. My mountains are a bit heavy handed but my water is definitely cold looking. I am happy to only think about this scene as I really, really hate to be in cold weather. It may come from my days growing up and attending school in New England. I never want to be that cold again.
I tried to put a low lying fog behind the fir trees. I may try this one again but first I need to warm up!