Monday, August 31, 2009

From the Beach at the Tickle Inn before the Nippers Appear

At Cape Onion there are three significant Islands that form a beautiful vista.  This scene is facing north off the beach looking at The Onion and the tip of Big Head.  Whales play here in a daily matinee.  A distraction to painting, but such is plein air.  Here I painted one in the series from the beach in front of the Tickle Inn.

Big Head and the Onion, No Nippers Yet, 10x12, Oil on board

Given the time, late in the day, and the unbalanced composition this painting had its challenges.  In order to create subtle separation in the islands I relied on colour temperature and texture.  Warm temperatures with texture advance in the picture plane.  To create some balance I used some rocks and a few splashes of colours observed while on site.  These do not show in my photo reference.  So, emphasize them so the viewer will see them.

For this painting I used a #12 and #8 bristle filbert.  The palette consisted of Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Alizarin, Mineral Violet and Titanium White.  For earth tones I mix them.  They are always richer than the tube colours.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

After Review in the Studio

People often ask "do you finish the painting out side"?  Well, if I can.  After a typical trip I find that one or two of every 10 are "finished".  If I am lucky I can finish off the rest in the studio.  Often the raw sketch is beyond repair or I cannot bring back the feeling of being there or what the main idea was at the time.  These are "skimmers" or for the fire barrel.

White Cape Harbour, 10x12, Oil on board

This image required a few minor colour and value changes.  The biggest was pushing the ice berg back. The changes took about 5 minutes.  The original on site effort was about one hour of painting and one hour of visiting the owner of the stage.  Seems it was rebuilt in"87 after the sinking of the Ocean Ranger.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Change Takes How Many Days?

I have a new pochade box on the way.  It is a self contained unit aimed at hiking in as opposed to car side painting.  It is quite light and of course it has a few limitations.  The only one that is forcing a change is that the brushes are stored diagonally across the painting surface in travel mode.  This means that I will have to change my palette arrangement since I leave my unused paint on the palette between paintings.  I don't need to get the paint off brushes before I start.

Sun or Shade, 10x12, Oil on board

Here is my palette moving forward.  The mineral violet I have placed at the far left of the palette has moved to the far right to make room for eventual brush storage.  I am already confusing it for Ultramarine Blue and it looks more blue on this side of the palette - those surrounding colours!  I will do the same on my studio palette so it becomes habit.  You don't want to be looking around for a pigment for mixing.  The rest of the palette remains unchanged.  There is no rule for this, no right and wrong.  I lay out my palette with light yellow in the middle.  The I go green, blue, violet to the right, and yellow, orange, red to the left.  The pigment is laid out as "worms" to facilitate crisp clean colours, and the worms are significant so as to avoid a starving palette which forces one to interrupt the painting process to squeeze out for a top up.  Normally in Plein Air I use 3-5 pigments.  Here you see 7 plus white.

By the way, the colour key on the painting has been ambiguous all session.  That will be addressed in the studio along with a couple of composition details.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Plein Air Preparations Gone Wrong

Another case of "do as I say". Didn't pack recently cleaned brushes, so make do. Here I had one new #10 filbert bristle brush, and I guess my fingers. So on we go. I usually use a #12 along with say a #8. Fortunately my teacher got me into the big brush years ago. "You can make small marks with a big brush when you practice". It is true. There are many edges on a brush, so learn to use them.

August Change, 10x12, Oil on board

However, I tend to use at least one additional brush for convenience and to minimize cleaning. The big brush helps keep you away from detail - at least early in the painting process. It also facilitates a quick first stage in the painting - getting the canvas covered so you can begin to compare masses for value, hue, and intensity. I find that students tend to try to get to the end of a painting (details) before going through the beginning and middle. The big brush helps cure that problem. Then in time you find that you can "infer" detail with the big brush. The look is quite different. It focuses on shapes as opposed to things, and that helps develop the eye to "see". By this I mean you discover pieces of colour and then realize that colour for plane changes is what creates dimension and in turn detail.

This was painted in bright sun at Scottsdale farm in 45 minutes. Quite a different scene compared to spring time. The palette was Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Alizarin, and Titanium White.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back in the Studio

These days I am split between hiding from the heat and going at it directly. This image is from the Newfoundland trip. It was done in the evening around 9 PM after a fried cod dinner at the local diner in Rocky Harbour NL. Just happened to have my gear in the car so I set up quickly beside the fish plant and quickly caught the sunset. I have just reviewed it under cover from the heat and added a few touches of colour variation in the masses per my sketch notes.

Lobster Cove, 6x8, Oil on board

When everything is moving quickly, as in the sun setting, the key is to help with painting speed. To do this in this instance I chose a small board and used my trusty #12 bristle filbert.

This was my first opportunity to set up my palette in Newfoundland so I squeezed out my basic palette and left the remaining piles of pigment for the next effort. It consisted of Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Alizarin, and Titanium White. For future paintings on the trip I used this basic palette sometimes adding another pigment.

I will show you my direct attack on the heat in a new post.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Shed

Just outside Cornerbrook the south shore runs along the Bay of Islands through the Blow Me Downs to Bottle Cove. On the sunny day visit I stopped to paint in a fishing village. I asked the young lady if I might paint on the road outside her house. She told me to make myself welcome. So I set up in the shade to paint. Then the challenge began. Everyone stopped to see what I was up to. After all, I looked to be from away.

Fisherman's Cove, 11x14, Oil on canvas

One visitor came along, stopped his truck in the middle of the oncoming traffic lane, got out with his son and proceeded to yak about painting and painting his boat ( a crab boat) and how and why I did what I did. When asked, I received a full explanation of stopping on the wrong side of the highway. Seemed not to bother anyone. He parted wishing me well and promising to do a better job painting his boat next time. No sooner had he left and a young feller stopped in the drive way. He was home for a spell from Fort McMurray. He left and the parade continued.

The sun was bright as I tried to catch the small orange wooden boats used to fish and to visit cabins on the islands. The shed, one's most important possession glowed in the light. So, which one is the leading actor in your opinion?

The painting was done with bristle filbert brushes #6 and #8 (couldn't get the #12 working between visits). The paint on the palette was Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium orange, Alizarin, and Titanium white.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recording History

This barn lost most of its west wall during a storm in late winter 2009. It is ready to go. Painting a structure that disappears from the landscape and memory shortly after is a satisfying activity for an artist. This year the barn is surrounded by wheat. Last year it was canola. It has gained significant character. Painting it will provide a painting for the archives to be shown one day as a memory amongst a series of memories.

For this paint out we attracted 5 artists and one who desperately wishes to paint this subject. You'll have to wait for another day Bob. We were fortunate that the wheat has not been harvested. In addition, we had a fabulous day for painting - 20C, low humidity, sun and cloud with a breeze, and not many bugs. Here we see David right into it, working with watercolours and a big brush.

Everyone sees the subject differently. Some establish the darks and hold 'em, others loose 'em. Some experiment, some record their feelings. Everyone has a smile. Jokes and friendly insults float about. Some ignore the patter as they get to that other place. Finally we break for lunch. Some will add work in the studio. It is so different working from life.

Hockley History, 11x14, Oil on canvas

Done with 2 #6 bristle filberts and a #8 bristle filbert. Paint on the palette was Cerulean Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Middle, Cadmium Orange, Alizarin, and Titanium White.

Looking at the painting here the rendition of the wheat near the barn appears too yellow. Wheat is a grayed version of orange. What do you think? More work for the studio?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Heat of It

After trying an outdoor show yesterday I have confirmed my inability to deal with heat. So here is a subject painted in the morning before I fell to to the enemy. The suns rays burnt me quickly as they hit directly, bounced off the sand and water, and found their way to my unprotected face any way they could.

Cool Off, 12x16, Oil on canvas

The painting is about the light and the heat. In order to suggest the hot feeling I used warm underpainting colours in each colour mass in the sunlight. That included the sky and water. The shadows were underpainted in warmer cool colours such as violet, cerulean blue, and cadmium green. The final layers were added as my eye saw them. proceeding in this way aids the eyes ability to see the colours really there as opposed to those colours we have conditioned ourselves to accept. Vibrant colour depends on training the eye to see in this manner.

The painting was done with a # 12 bristle filbert and two # 8 bristle filberts. On the palette I squeezed out Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium orange, Alizarine, Pthalo Violet, and Titanium white. The painting was done wet in wet.