Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Haven't painted for the last two weeks...

Hi all, two weeks ago my mother had a slip and fall and consequentially broke her hip. She is recovering from surgery for it in the hospital, so not much time has been available to paint. She is mending fine, and should be released soon. I hope to be painting soon and back to my weekly postings.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Plein Air from a value study...read on

"Smoketrees" 12" x 9" from en plein air sketch, acrylic on canvas SOLD
(colour is as close as scanning and monitor will allow, but never as good as the original painting)

Sometimes as an artist, I will see something, and right at that moment have to paint it. Well, that's what happened here. Last Thursday morning, Aug. 27, which is my weekly en plein air painting day...but I usually paint late afternoon or early evening --I stepped outdoors to get a feel of the weather, we have had some very hot humid days lately, and my eye was drawn to the trees on the east side of our house. The day was very muggy, and somewhat fog like, and I was attracted to the nuances of colour and light around these trees. I quickly ran inside and grabbed a sheet of paper and a carbon pencil and back out to the deck where I sat gathering values. For a painter, if you know the values and approximate colour you can make sense of the information and translate it into a fairly good painting.

You can see my thumbnail value study at the right, where I also marked colour information in the margins. I write these for me to understand and make sense from using colour descriptions such as "Soft gray brite blue sky" and "Brite flesh pink blue white tassels" and so on. These colour descriptions are not only the hue, but in most cases, the trailing colour names indicate what colours I will use to mix them. I made this sketch because I knew that special hazy light wouldn't wait for me to get a canvas in place and paint it, nor would a photo record it properly.
After making the value sketch as quickly as I could, I took it back into my studio and painted from it. I popped back out a couple more times for branch and bloom detail knowing the light would be wrong, but the most of above painting was made from my sketch and memory. I was very happy to capture that specific colour mood, especially the soft creamyness of the sky.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Scallion Sun

"Scallion Sun" acrylic on canvas 12" x 9" SOLD
(colour is as close as scanning and monitor will allow, but never as good as the original painting)

Another painting in the En Plein Air phase of the Open Air III: Art & Architecture that I painted Tuesday July 18, 2006. So far the weather has been either too hot to paint or threatening rain, I painted this bistro called Scallions because I particularly liked the lighting and bright colours. It offered good solid shadow as well as reflected shadow, and also very bright sunlight. This was painted between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm and it was very gusty, my thumbnail study blew away, with no hope of it being retrieved. There is a large office building in the background that looks for all intents and purposes like the sky with panel dividers, (almost a continuation of the sky which was interesting both visually, as well as to paint).

I hope you enjoy this urban landscape.

Here is a detail of the brushwork, there were a great number of tables and chairs in the patio area which I used a series of simple straight lines to achieve. I painted them all in dark strokes, and then with a bit smaller round brush, I added some highlights. As well, there were two people sitting in the sun and I wanted them in the painting. I always carry a digital camera and shoot reference shots, which came in handy here, because I had to add the people in back in my studio, and again, just a couple of well placed strokes put them in. If you click on the small insets, you'll see a bit bigger view of the detail.

This is my reference shot, I dropped in a yellow frame to show you the area I was painting. You can see the large building in the background in this shot, and now how I chose to crop the painting to include it as well as the beauty of the resturant and patio which was my main painting goal. The building was way too tall to include even if I turned the canvas to portrait --but it is a beautiful building especially under certain lighting conditions, and would be a great subject for a painting all on it's own. Again, click on it to view it larger.

Please leave me a comment by clicking below, its the only way I know if you like my blog and if you find it informative, or if I have an audience for my paintings.

To see more of my paintings, (I have examples of my studio work, and a demonstration page) or if you'd like more info on me or to contact me, be sure to click to my web site,
  • www.rcmfineart.com
  • Sunday, July 16, 2006

    En Plein Air Paint Out

    "On The Street" Acrylic on canvas 12" x 9" SOLD

    This is the first painting in the En Plein Air phase of the Open Air III: Art & Architecture that I painted Friday July 14, 2006. I was located about a foot from the street, in the shade at 9:00 am. There were about 4 other artists in about the same street section with me. It was hot with the loud noise of the traffic. So hot, that I packed it in at about 11:30, and went back to my air conditioned studio to finish the painting. I normally would have stuck it out, but too many people stopped to talk, I did a TV interview as well and really lost the original light because of the many distractions. Wow! That last sentence makes me sound like I'm famous...it was non network, cable TV and it aired with the 5:00 pm local news featuring the event, not just me. To me though, it was my couple of minutes of fame ;-)

    I sometimes use a french easel, but I wasn't sure about how far I'd be walking to set up, so I use my simple tri-pod easel. As some of you know, I am an acrylic painter, and for the first time I used a fishing tackle box, which closes fairly air tight. I got the idea from Marcia Burtt's web site and thought I'd give it a try. Marcia is a fantastic plein air painter, and she thinks it's a good way to paint, and I do to, now. You can see in the photo that I had some of my available plein air paintings with me to sell, so I brought my dolly to pack everything on...since I knew I'd be on concrete I figured "why not?".

    Here is a close up of some of the preliminary blocking in of the painting. I underpainted the canvas with that pink hue as my first step, then started painting shapes.

    A thumbnail sketch, a highly important part of any successful painting--about 2" x 1" carbon pencil

    Here is my thumbnail, and what this does, is it establishes a design for the painting. I was most happy with the triangle of dark vs. the opposite triange of light, so this was the only thumbnail I did. I usually do 2-3 until I get a layout I'm happy with. If you can't see a good painting in your thumbnail you won't see one on your canvas, so it is an important step for me. Besides the design of the painting, I also use the pencil sketch to establish the values--don't worry about detail, squint your eyes, (man, there were some funny looks at me when I was squinting as the people passed by) this lets all the tones group into large patterns (shapes) and only draw SHAPES, just SHAPES of tone. I constantly use this thumbnail as my guide as I paint, it was right beside my water container as you can see by the splashes. I look at it and say to myself, "no, all the colours in that area are dark" or "no, all the colours are middle", you get the idea. Otherwise I could slip-up and with a quick look put values in the wrong places.

    "On The Street" --detail area
    This is a detail area of the painting, keep in mind the painting is just 12'' wide by 9" tall, but this will give you a better idea of the up close brushwork. This view mainly shows the shadowed right side, and the beautifully sun washed street at the end of the block.

    Hopefully, one more picture to come
    I had a friend walk by who snapped a picture of me working-- he took it with his cell phone and was going to email it to me so I could post it...if I get it I'll post it. So check back in a day or so.

    Please comment, I really enjoy everyone's input.


    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Open air technique in the studio

    "Below The Falls" acrylic on masonite 20" x 16"

    Below The Falls, somewhat real, somewhat imaginary. I painted this from photo reference, mostly as an experiment, to see the differences compaired to en plein air. I used very large brushes for most of this painting, and painted it in en plein air technique. I am very happy with the results, and the energy in this painting...so I will be painting more in this style. See close-up detail below, to get an idea of the fun and enjoyment I had making this painting.

    "Below The Falls" DETAIL

    Here you can see the energy in the brushwork, the en plein air style brushstrokes and colour. I use mostly straight strokes everywhere, and I paint directly to the canvas...no pre-drawing...this painting evolves directly from my brush, and the faster I painted, the more control I seemed to have.

    I really enjoy making paintings that look quite real at about 6 feet back and when viewed up close, you see the heavy brushwork.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Thursday July 6 Painting.

    "From the Forks" acrylic on canvas 12" x 9"

    I have been painting a lot of trees and water, so for this week's painting, I wanted to do some buildings. As most know, I live in London, Canada, and we are very fortunate and have beautiful park facilities. This painting location is right in the heart of London, at the Forks of the Thames river, which divides in two directions where the park is located. The park has bike and walking paths, play areas and a water fun area, but it also has a magnificent view of the city, and that was what I was after for this painting.
    This painting took a little longer than my usual 2 hours, because I did some of the finishing work on it in my studio. Even without the subject in front of me, I could vividly remember colour and detail as I altered values and added detail--that is the unique part of En Plein Air painting...it etches the subject into your brain.
    For anyone interested, in the painting almost invisible behind the trees, lower-mid left is the art gallery with its unique multiple-rounded roof line; the large building in the centre is the court house; the old jail (now a museum) has the peeked green (copper) roof; just behind that is the old court house, which looks like a castle.

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Here is the 3rd in my Thursday series...

    Evening Bridge acrylic on canvas 12" x 10" SOLD

    Painted Thursday June 29, 2006. The bridge is the Adelaide St. North, here in London, CA, and I went out at 6:30 pm and back in my studio at 8:30. The river flows at the back of a baseball and soccer sports fields, and there were games going on, and plenty of passers-by stopping to see what I was doing. Everyone liked my work, which is encouraging. It really is a very active river, there were 2 canoes paddled by, a couple of geese families, fishermen, and one plein air painter (me).

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Painting for June 22, 2006

    "My Garden" 11" x 14" acrylic on canvas
    Well, Thursday looked like rain, and I didn't want to get caught in it so I painted this one on my deck. It was fairly bright, but overcast, and as you can see a bright spot or so in the clouds. For this painting, I did a thumbnail in pencil using just two values with no detail, just flat shapes. Working from that thumbnail, I painted the colours on the canvas in the approx values of the pencil shapes as my guide.

    Plein Air Painting Every Thursday

    Thames At Windermere,
    acrylic on canvas 12" x 10" SOLD

    This is the painting I did last night, Thursday June 15, 2006. The location is just about 5 minutes from my home. I arrived at about 6:45 pm and painted until about 8:45 pm. Back at my studio, I changed a couple of colour values, to make the painting read better, and that's it.
    I started this painting with an full backgroung under coating of a light pink/ochre mixture ( more pink). Then I started to block in the dark shape with a burnt umber, I drew with the brush, no charcoal layout, I got right to it. I didn't want to run out of daylight, and I am just getting the feel for this outdoor "live" painting, so next time, I'll likely make a charcoal sketch on the canvas, then put in the darks. After the darks and some of the linear outlining, I started adding middle values in local colours. Then it was a free-for-all as I jumped around adding lights, and colour/shape recognition. The fast running water occupied most of my attention, as I wanted it to look convincing.
    I had a great time doing this painting, and will be trying to post one every Friday (I hope that's not too ambitious for me)


    Art in the Village

    "Art In The Village" 14" x 11" acrylic on canvas---SOLD
    I paint in acrylic, and I now have a pretty good way of keeping the paint from drying out, and I was really happy with this session of using it. If anyone would like more info on my method of using acrylic paint, comment me, I'd be glad to describe it.

    This painting was done last Saturday, June 10, at an organized event here in London, Ontario called "Art in the Village". Wortley Village is an vintage district of London, with boutique shops, like a village within a city. I had my exhibitor tent with some of my paintings, and I thought I'd try to offer a demonstration as well. I started the painting at about 9:00 am, but Saturday was a very unseasonably cold day, only 16 degrees C, about 60 degrees F, but there was also a nasty, biting cold wind blowing. The point I'm making is that this 11" x 14" painting took about 1.5 hours of painting time, but stretched out over 7 hours of the day--mostly because of the cold, (I was standing in the shade as well, and the trouble with a cool summer day is that you dress for summer, if it was early spring, or winter I would have been dressed warmer, and it would have been perfect).

    In 7 hours, the light changes, and I had to keep reminding myself to ignore the shadows and translate everything I saw back to where the light was in the morning. I think it worked out ok in this painting, but I hope for a warmer day for my next painting, which I am planning for this Thursday evening.

    But anyway, what I really want to relate here is that if you are an artist, get out there and paint outdoors...you'll love it, and you'll love what you create. If you are an art collector, you are not going to get a more vibrant, fresh work of art, so look for and support En Plein Aire art and artists' everywhere.