Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Plein Air in Malibu, El Matador State Beach

"Cormorants Watching the Sunset" - 8"x10" - Oil on linen

I started this little painting at the end of a relaxing day at El Matador beach in Malibu. The sun had just started to set, cuing my favorite time of the day to paint.

At this time of day, I usually spend between 10-20 minutes roughing in the general tones and colors, and finish it with pictures and memory in the studio. I always love the challenge of painting fast and getting an accurate representation of the light, while it changes constantly. You have to learn to stick with your choices, because within a few minutes things will look very different.

FUN FACT: Minutes before the commencement of this painting, Logan bumped into Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which is one of his favorite bands. Logan is the second person in his family to meet Flea by random circumstance. So, in addition to the good luck this painting will bring to it's collector, it will also make the lucky individual pretty much famous by association.

More cormorants, hanging out. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Plein Air Painting in Zion

It seems that I have a little theme going of having a great time on my painting trips, despite ridiculous things happening. Well, to be accurate... it is less "things happening" and more "me causing." This time, it was going to Zion, UT, home of the most beautiful red rocks, and forgetting the color red. I don't even know how. Don't think about it too much.

I enjoyed a hearty chuckle about that one and was about to head out on our first painting hike with 7 kinds of brown and almost-reds, when I discovered I also left an important part of my easel at home. I was not quite as good-humored about that one, let me tell you!

So anyway, that's why in the pictures you'll see me painting out of a little cigar box, which I brought as an afterthought,

and painting laughably small canvases on a laughably big French Easel:

(Thank you for letting me borrow your easel, Melissa! I may whine a lot, but you saved my butt, big time!)

So after that fun little surprise, I proceeded to have 4 amazing days of non-stop hiking and painting with my dear friend, who is good at every single thing in the world and made much better paintings than me, even though she hasn't painted in 5 years or something.

It rained on us every day, which in some ways made the trip even better. It kept us cool and made all the colors deep and beautiful. It also helped us greatly in the body odor department, since there were no showers at the campsite.

Stinkiness aside, I was so happy on the last day when that blue sky came out and gave me some shadows to paint!

 "After the Storm" - 6"x6" - oil on linen

"Sun on Their Backs" - 5"x7" - oil on panel

Deer munching on sunflowers by the campsite.

Trying to paint in the car on a particularly rainy day. Still need some practice with this one! Need shorter brush handles or shorter arms.

One thing about the wilderness, is that it has bugs. This gigantic bug with gigantic antennae flew onto my easel and reminded me why I like living in the city. (Melissa, who is good at everything as previously mentioned, was not afraid of the bug.)

Big hat: check. I'm really turning into that dorkiest of plein air painters. And it feels good. Kind of.

I will try and post the rest of my Zion paintings once I get to the finishing touches. I leave you with a couple more pictures which I hope will inspire you to make the trip to this incredible national park! It is probably the most beautiful place I've ever been.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunset painting

Here's a little sunset painting I did yesterday, from some very blurry pictures I took on the freeway. It might not end up on my website for awhile, or at all--so enjoy! :)

"210 West" - 8"x10" - Oil on linen

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ray Roberts workshop

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to assist Ray Roberts during a workshop, through the California Art Club's mentorship program. It was a four-day workshop called, "From Field Sketch to Studio Painting." The first 2 1/2 days were spent painting on location, in Eaton Canyon near Pasadena, and the last day and a half were spent in the studio, where we learned how to utilize those little sketches and make a nicely composed and interesting picture.

I'd never received any instruction on landscape painting before, even from a book, so I was really excited to get acquainted with this area. Although I still have lots to learn, I really got a LOT out of this workshop. By the way, if you aren't familiar with Ray Roberts, here are a couple of his beautiful paintings:

Ray Roberts Paintings

I have to admit, I find it pretty difficult to get excited about landscapes. But Ray is one of the handful of landscape painters that I just love.

So during the workshop I did five paintings over the 2 1/2 days on location. The first four were "learning experiences", and I'd rather not tarnish my rather large and impression reputation by posting them. We didn't have a lot of luck with the sun--it was sort of hazy and cloudy for most of the time, so it was trickier to find an interesting subject. Luckily, the sun came out on the last outdoor day and my fifth painting was one I was happy with and interested in turning into a larger painting during our time in the studio:

Plein air sketch, backlit tree in Eaton Canyon

I probably painted for about 45 minutes to maybe an hour. You can see at this point the light was totally different and wasn't lighting up the tree at all anymore. This is what makes plein air painting fun. And frustrating, if you don't work fast. 

Here's how my painting began once we were in the studio--figuring out a light and dark composition that I liked:

Check out the difference between what's on my computer screen and the color study I did (below the painting). Amazing how much of a difference it made to have that color study on hand to refer to. It's so easy to lose the essence of what you saw in person that made you want to paint something, when you're just going off a photograph.

Here's the finished painting. Ray had a great tip that I never would've thought of: He said after my painting was dry, to put plastic wrap over it and paint over the plastic wrap, to see if I like something before I do it. Brilliant, eh? If anyone is interested I will try to get around to another post where I can go over more of the awesome stuff I learned during the workshop.

The Golden Hour -- 14"x18" --oil on canvas