Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Orange Rose

9 x 12
Oil on Canvas Board
I did this one last Sunday. I snapped a picture of a rose in the park. It was by a gray wall and in the shade. The wall was full of blue light, and to me, it made the yellow and orange roses pop. There were even blue highlights on the rose. I tried to paint what I saw, but I could not get it exactly how I wanted it. I like everything but the orange rose. I think when I get better, I will do this one again. But overall, I think it's pretty good for my beginning level. I worked on it from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. I would say half of that time was just on trying to get the orange rose correct. The rest of the painting was relatively easy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Plein Air Demo: Santa Barbara Mission

These are the steps I went through to create the Santa Barbara Mission painting. Plein Air paintings have to be done in a couple of hours because the sun moves, which changes the angle of the shadows and the color of the light.

If you want to get more detail into your picture, you have to learn to do everything faster: accurate sketches, mixing color, and blocking in. You can't be fooling around, reworking something to death. The more you fuss with a brushstroke, the more you weaken its impact in the picture. You have to put it down, and then move on to the next element. The sooner you get everything down, the sooner to can punch up the details at the end.

You need to establish your values in the under painting sketch before you apply the colors so that you won’t make mud. The dark layer needs to be put down very thinly so it can get tacky, and other colors will sit on top of it. In general, many dark colors are transparent, and light colors are opaque. If you put a thick light color on a thin dark color, it will stay. But if you try to put transparent dark on top of thick light, it will just get swallowed up, and you wind up dabbling around with it and getting sucked into a Tar Baby.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Santa Barbara Mountains

9 x 12
Oil on Canvas Board

The last painting of the workshop was a beautiful view of the mountains. The mountains were nice lavender with buff colored rocks in them. All the students tried to paint the rocks, but no one could get it to look right. I finally painted over my attempt, and then just decided to leave the mountains lavender.I don’t think any of the paintings I did in during this workshop are phenomenal, but I learned so much about the Plein Air process. I feel confident now to do Plein Air paintings on my own.

Santa Barbara Mission

11 x 14
Oil on Canvas

The last day of the workshop was at the Santa Barbara Mission. The Santa Barbara Mission is in a beautiful setting: a rose garden across the street, mountains on one side, and the ocean on the other. We were told to show up at 9:00 and start painting. I got there first, and picked a great view of the Mission with a hedge of red roses in the foreground. I know it’s cliché, but it was really pretty. The teacher showed up and said it would be too hard for me to paint in the sun, and she wanted me to move under the shade.

I wanted to get the proportions of the Mission correct, so I took my time with the preliminary sketch and painting. Then it was a matter of filling in the blanks. It still took two hours though. During that time, two weddings took place in the Mission, and both times the Mission Bells rang. Also, people set up for a wedding in the rose garden, and they had the Mission for a backdrop. It was a very pretty day, perfect for a wedding.

Honestly, my painting doesn’t do the Mission justice. I am not clever enough yet to capture mood or anything else esoteric. I am struggling to get my subject matter and the colors correct.I was still working on my Mission painting when the teacher said it was time to start our second painting. Everyone was moving to another shady tree at the other end of the rose garden since the sun had moved. I stayed put and finished my painting. Then I had to hunt down the rest of the class.

Stone Steps

6 x 8
Oil on Canvas Board

For my fourth workshop painting, the teacher said we had to paint a small painting. My pallet was already full of mixed colors, so I painted some stone steps. I finished them in one hour.

I went around to see what the other students were doing, and I found some were still noodling around with their first paintings. Some were having a tough time with their second paintings. The problem I noticed most was that they were putting the under painting on thickly, so the details would not stick to the under painting. It was like trying to put butter on top of butter: it just goops around.

Two Olive Trees

11 x 14
Oil on Canvas Board

On the second day of the Plein Air workshop, we went to the home of one of the students. It was a gorgeous Mission Style house on one acre, all landscaped.

The teacher gave a demo, just like before. I picked up some more tips. Everyone knows that you put paint on the canvas with a brush, but I noticed this time that the teacher took a lot of paint off with Q-tips and Kleenexes.When she made her under painting sketch, she put in the dark values with a brush, and wiped off the highlights with Kleenexes and Q-tips. During the painting, she wanted to put bright pink bougainvillea flowers on dark green leaves. She just lifted out the paint with a Q-tip, and dropped the flowers in without making mud. When she wanted to put in branches, she made lines with the Q-tip where the branches would go. When she wanted to put leaves in front of the house, she thinned that part of the house with a Kleenex.

I went in the backyard to paint some olive trees that were backlit, and it was very windy. I put up my umbrella so that the sun would not be on me, but I spent most of my time holding onto the umbrella with one hand, and painting with other. It was really stupid. The teacher came by and told me that it was time to stop, even though I had only painted 1 ½ hours, and we were supposed to have two hours. I didn’t get to tidy it up.

Hotel Palms

9 x 12
Oil on Canvas Board

This was also painted on the first day of the Plein Air workshop.

In the afternoon the sun moved, and we had to face away from the ocean. There was a pretty Mission Style hotel across the street, so I decided to paint some of the palm trees in the landscaping. The first painting of the beach really took me three hours, and I only had two hours left to paint this one, so I got a more sloppy.

We were told to make the under painting in a reddish color, so I decided to leave that to show through for the tile roof. I put in the darks and lights, but the sun was setting, and the shadows were moving. There were lots of nice shrubs, and they were all different shades of green, and I was having a hard time making that many different greens to distinguish them. I was only able to block in most of the colors and leave it at that. Even though this picture does not have as good a composition, I learned how to speed it up a bit.Because my initial drawing was haphazard, the final painting suffered. I learned I should spend more time on the drawing, so that the blocking in will be more exact.

Butterfly Beach

9 x 12
Oil on Canvas Board

I took a Plein Air workshop. Plein Air is so intimidating to me. How do the artists knock out a painting in just two hours? For me, it was as exciting as Christmas to know that I was going to finally learn the secrets.

The workshop was held at a beach in Santa Barbara. Our teacher gave us a two-hour demonstration about the techniques. She has a system that was full of shortcuts. The coastline was beautiful, so she used that for her subject. After the demonstration, the students started to paint the coast. The teacher said, “Okay, you have two hours, and then I will say stop, and you have to stop”.I was intimidated to imagine I could do what I just saw the teacher do. Plus, the water on the beach would not hold still.

I did my sketch as quickly as I could. Then I started painting, blocking in the darks, then the lights, etc. I could not get the sand right, and the far away mountains were giving me trouble. After a while, I decided to take a break and see the other’s paintings. I could see that I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated; some were still working on their drawings.
I worked on the painting some more. The teacher kept coming by and telling me to "orange up" the cliffs.I could see the teacher's demo painting from where I sat, and I would check my painting against it. My surf didn't look right to me, but hers looked similar to mine. I was so afraid that I would not finish in two hours, but the teacher never did tell us to stop. Finally she told me that I was done, and I should start a new painting. I was very happy just to complete the painting. I think it looks like the coast, but to me, it doesn’t have any pop.