Wednesday, June 19, 2013


A sunny day for painting and a lot of comments.  The urban landscape group set up on 33rd St. next to a popular breakfast spot.  Those who dined indoors, came out right where we were painting.  Everyone was pleased with breakfast and very chatty about painting.  The usual 'I can't draw a straight line' and 'do you sell your paintings' comments were there along with my favorite, 'how long does it take you to do a painting'.  My answer is 45 years.

I chose the site because of the warm color notes and cast shadows.  The power lines and poles clinched the deal.  We did worry about the one hour parking but received a gift.  The meter maid came around the corner and the little truck went up in smoke.  Following a major kerfuffle, the tow truck came and hauled it away- unlimited parking for the rest of the day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oak Park Salon

Painted with the Urban Landscape Painters in Oak Park.  We meet on Wednesday and find an urban venue for painting.  A bright sun was shining from the left onto this building.  The tree cast strong cool shadows on the side and this caught my eye.  I quickly sketched the shadows which were changing.  Then set up my easel and started.  The structure was first done with raw sienna and while still wet, I did some direct watercolor glazing with manganese blue.  There is always risk in direct glazing since you have to wait for the final color to develop with drying.  The method does produce more vivid hues.

Lots of visitors; some offering advice like, 'be sure and get the trees behind'.  I love this urban scene for subject matter.  Oak Park was once a very elegant neighborhood and is currently undergoing major changes.  You still do not have to go far to find the old face of Oak Park.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Painted yesterday at a sketchy spot in the next town.  This motel has the old signage that attracted me.  When I set up I realized this was the run down part of town.  A 'good morning' to a passerby is more or less a challenge.  Maybe they are fighting a hangover or a pulsating eyeball, but in general, they nobody was  pleasant.  The motel had steel doors on the units which were occupied.  At times it takes diplomacy doing plein aire painting.  The painting was done wet on wet and when dried, I added some dry brush strokes.  The paper curled up on me, so I will have to rewet and flatten it out. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Final Bottling

The old Coca Cola Bottling Plant on Stockton Blvd is closing down.  The Urban Landscape Plein Aire Painters were out yesterday and we chose the structure as our subject.  It was a beautiful morning for painting and there were nice shadows at the time. We set up across the street in a shady park that was perfect.
I know the area very well as I traveled by it daily on my way to work.  I once brought my 7 y/o son and we had a tour of the place.  It was impressive with all of the bottling equipment going.  Inside, there is very little space that isn't occupied by the stainless steel tanks and tracks.
I'm unsure of what will happen to this landmark but it will be missed.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


This is a large (24x28 inch) watercolor painting.  It includes several of my favorite subjects like barns, tractors and Volkswagen bus.  I just finished up a teaching session and while doing a demonstration, I thought of this composition.  The light is from the left casting shadows so it could be morning.  The sky is a warm yellow and the painting is warm.  The gradated wash of the sky gives a depth to the distance.  I like the composition and the story.  I am reminded of a rural location in Northern California or Oregon.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Plein Aire Painting in Davis

Just finished teaching a 5 week watercolor course and it was a success.  I actually got people outside several times to experience plein aire painting.  They all agreed that it is more difficult than painting from a photo.  It was especially difficult to edit what you see and simplify.  Many had their greatest challenge with perspective and wanted to know how I do it.  This was difficult to answer since I rarely think about it.  I choose the tallest structure in my composition and then sketch what goes off to the right and left.  My left brain supplies the logic and my right does the creative thing.  Overall, it was appreciated that you could see details and value changes that were not there in a photo.  When you sketch and add color to your sketch on location, you go back to the studio and it is just as you remember.  That doesn't happen with a photo.
When I do a sketch, I give it a name so I have a record of what story I was trying to tell.

There is such gratification from my teaching.  I love doing it.