Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Road Trip on the West Coast

Today I travelled south on the Oregon coast. Cannon Beach presented lots of surf and sand. For the split complementary colour scheme I added Naples yellow to the palette. In order to speed the painting of this small I used a previously colored ground (grey applied transparently). There are a number of colour temperature passages employed in this painting. The paint is applied with bristle brushes and a palette knife. Most of the paint is applied opaquely. Some passages are translucent and a few are transparent. After the Canadian Rockies the beach is a complete mental shift.

Next the road trip heads back east towards Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. No doubt these will present challenges in geography and colour.

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Location:Cannon Beach Oregon

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Little Bit of Moraine

The limited time I have for doing smalls has lead to both a change in palette and some improvised technique. I have been doing my transparent wash the day before, guessing on what the pigment should be. So I start off the painting session applying the wash for the next session, then taking out the panel washed the day before and now completely dry. I have added Violet Grey (Old holland), Cerulean Blue (Gamblin), and Warm Grey (Kama) to my palette. These join Alizarin, Viridian, Yellow Deep, and Mineral Violet.

Here is a view of Moraine Lake from the rock pile. Yes, I did get rain. Every day of the road trip so far. Tonight I write from Astoria on the Oregon coast. Looks like I will revaluate my palette tomorrow.

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Location:Canadian Rockies

Monday, June 21, 2010

Size and Space Distortion

The mass of the mountains does something to your judgement. We have had superb weather here after 10 days of rain. To help, I did the foreground first after brushing on a transparent wash. The foreground values were much easier to determine. Then I could fill in the layers in values relative to the foreground. This scene was painted into the morning sun to give interesting shadows as well as burning me right through a generous slather of 45 sun screen. The water reflection and the high altitude sure do the trick. As usual there are passages of transparent, translucent, and opaque paint.

Hopefully I will paint at Moraine Lake tomorrow.

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Location:Hoho Park, Lake Ohara

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Edgy in the Rain

Eight days out and seven days of rain. The one sunny day was an all out driving day. I have only been on the brush for very short periods when it threatened to clear only to tease and go back to continuous showers. A few themes have emerged. Islands, flat with big sky and patterns, and towering mountains in mist rain and fog. Lots of this reference.

An example painted quickly in Lake of the Woods at Devils Gap.

Pretty grey. I am getting used to it.

They have changed the forecast for tomorrow to rain. Hopefully it will let up Saturday and Sunday when we go into Lake Ohara.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010


A lady asked me today about painting en plein air.  "Why do you do it?  You ignore what you see anyway."  Well, I train my eye to see shapes, not things, values, colours, and edges.  In this example I am looking to see shapes.  There are a few, but there there are two distinct kinds, natural, and man made.  In a landscape a man made shape attracts the eye over the organic shapes.  Even if the organics dominate in terms of size.  If your CONCEPT is to subordinate the man made shape you have to work at it.  Here we found a bit of shade with a nice breeze in low humidity - a gift this spring/summer - and we painted for an hour.

Breeze Relief, 10x12, Oil on Board

The colour strategy is a split complementary with greens - yellow to blue - and Alizarin.  Paint is applied transparent, translucent, and opaque.  Can you see which is where?  Can you see the approaches used to subordinate and emphasize shapes?  Which actor wins out?  What else could be done?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Plein Air Class

The Orangeville Art Group had a plein air workshop on a beautiful day last Sunday.  Rosemarie Armstrong made her country home and grounds available.  We gathered around the pond and spread out from there.

In the Shade - or Caught by the Sun

My remarks were aimed at strategies for painting en plein air including why one might paint en plein air (as well as from life, imagination and memory).  We dealt briefly with dealing with the moving sun - put in the shadows and darks, work quickly, use a simplified palette, use of a thumbnail to plan, squinting, and then stopping the thinking process to paint.  We did an informal show and tell before lunch and at the end of the day aimed at seeing if the "Concept" was achieved.  One always learns from this exercise.

"Interesting Colour Strategy"

There were numerous motifs to choose from.  The "Ruins" was a favourite.

"Squint for Shapes, Value, and Edges"

I did a quick demo showing the difference between starting with an outline (to fill in a la colouring book) as opposed to "massing".  We talked about shadows, getting the eye to go where you want it to go, and how the eye works.

Greenhouse, 7x12, Oil on Board

Everyone managed to take a couple of images at least to the point where they could finish off in the studio.  Colour strategies were well done by the group.  Now to keep on painting.