Leonardo da Vinci

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.

--Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, September 30, 2011

Texture, texture, texture......

Quinault Summer Rise
One of my goals on our vacation a few weeks ago, was to paint a plein air painting on multiple day settings. Going back to the same place and re-working the same panel is a good challenge, especially at a place where the weather changes quickly. So, i landed on this composition near our cabin that i have enjoyed for a long time and decided this was my challenge piece.
Day one was a good start with calm water and nice reflections
Day two, weather was socked in and no sun to be had (no work on this piece)
Day three, sun was out again, but the water changed and my foliage reflections diminished, so the painting changed too.
Day four, well there was no day four on this painting, at least en plein air. Over the next couple weeks it was studio noodled for it was not as textured or as deep as i wanted it to be.
Layer upon layer did color get applied, worked, re-worked, then worked again in an effort to blend and use broken color so the under painting would show through and the texture would be evident. I think i accomplished this.
As i think about my favorite parts of this painting; the foreground foliage, the way the sky blends with the evergreens, the middle ground foliage was fun too. Actually the entire painting was fun for i gave myself the freedom that nothing was sacred. All was fair game for re-work.
The biggest challenge of this piece was the foreground water, and it was what i spent the most time on. A lot of thought, a lot of mixing of color, a lot of making shapes, and a lot of layering took place in this area. It was at times frustrating, but i was determined to get believable texture, and giving myself the "nothings sacred" frame of mind made all the difference.
I also remembered and implemented the mirror trick. Viewing a painting in a mirror, really gives a different perspective and allows the "problem areas" to become more obvious. It should also be no surprise that this painting came on the heels of Pacific NW Plein Air art show in Hood River at the Columbia Art Gallery, where Eric Jacobsen took First Place with "Peaceful Evening". The juror was the acclaimed painter Jim Lamb. Now, i am in no way saying that my stuff is on the level of Eric's, but his work is a huge inspiration for me and he is a dear friend.
Good friend and fellow artist, Celeste Bergin, also took Honorable Mention with "Serenade". Great going Celeste!
Click on the link to see the award winning paintings of that show:

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Moods of Steigerwald

Fall's Approaching
Last saturday i took another trip to the Steigerwald Lake Refuge, knowing and anticipating the first rains of the season were coming. One of my goals this Fall and Winter is to go experience the elements while painting en plein air in an effort to have those elements show up in my work. Its easy to go paint when its nice out, but what about the rain and snow? Not such a pleasant thought, but i am really looking forward to seeing how that truth, that raw weathering, impacts my paintings. I am sure that some will be touched up in the studio, but some will stay as they are and that is exciting to me.
The two paintings i did while there were a challenge; a challenge to adjust from summers high-key colors to rainy grays. I did get rained on a couple times which was a bit troublesome, but i am determined to capture the moods and attitude of these subjects, which is focused directly on Steigerwald. "Fall's Approaching" did get reworked in the studio, i just didn't feel it was strong enough, but "Path to Rain" remained true to the spirit of plein air painting and i resisted the temptation to fiddle with it.
Path to Rain
Towards the end of my paint time, i met a group of 20 or so nature lovers. Wilson Cady, Environmental Education chair, Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards, was leading an annual Fall tour for The Friends of the Gorge. I really enjoyed meeting this group and we share similar passions; A passion for natural beauty and inspiring others. My hope is that my art will inspire others to experience the very places i visit while painting, inspire others to get passionate about art, whether that be appreciating it or creating it.
Being a plein air painter is interesting, for i have met some great people. Two weeks ago, while at Steigerwald, i met a couple from Wisconsin and we had a nice visit. It was great to chat with someone that is vacationing here to take in the beauty of the Pacific NW.
Don't forget to follow them on facebook....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tomatoes - Ya just can't not paint em'....

Corner of Color
The three series of paintings i have strongly focused on (Vancouver Historical Architecture, Steigerwald Refuge, and Lake Quinault) are primarily landscapes. So when i saw our recent tomato and squash harvest i realized how much i was missing still life painting. And since the tomatoes have a fairly short life expectancy (at least while i'm around) it was time to jump on it.
I did not spend much time setting up this composition, i just added the tomatoes and squash to what was already sitting on the kitchen counter and started in. I set up my gear just inside the dining room where i could peer into the kitchen and get a perfect view of my subject. I don't know if it's just me or not, but every time i paint in a part of the house not designated for painting it feels a little strange. Here i am blocking an entry to the kitchen with turpentine and oil paints in the dining room. It's kind of like taking a super soaker to church, it just doesn't seem quite right.
Anyway, i had a blast and since i don't use Cadmium Red all that much it gave me some quality time with a friend who doesn't get on my palette enough. If you look close, you can see Cad. Red, or Red, as i like to call him, sitting in the far right of the bowl in the painting and thrusting his right arm in the air yelling,
"YEAH!, you see what I can do once you put me in the game".
I think he's just vying for a contract extension that expires at the end of this year, looks like i might have to renew it.
"Tell you what Red, i'll double your salary....."
That ought to shut him up. Until he realizes what double of nothin' is.....
Seriously though, the tomatoes added some great color and really brought a cheery feeling to the painting.
Don't forget to look around your house for interesting things to add to your still life paintings. Brushes up!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Willaby Creek Falls

Willaby Creek Falls
I have started a series of paintings of the Lake Quinault area on the Olympic Penninsula in the great state of Washington. My wife and i have a small cabin on the lake and it is not difficult to find inspiration at every turn, so i think its time that i come up with a collection depicting the amazing scenery. If you have ever been to Lake Quinault and hiked the network of trails, then you've probably seen and photographed this very scene near the Willaby Creek Campground.
Now, I'm sure that most have not heard of Lake Quniault, it's not what you would call a hotspot, but it is like taking a leap back in time and getting in touch with nature. The bizarre thing is, a good portion of tourists are from Europe.
Being that Lake Qunault is in the only temperate rain forest in North America, a place that get's an annual rainfall of around 15', it's not hard to find green. This can present a particular challenge for the plain air painter trying to capture the color notes of what they are seeing, and i'm here to tell you, you've probably never seen so many variations of the wonderful color known as - Green.