Thursday, January 31, 2013

30 in 30, #30! — High Noon at the Back Bay

High Noon at the Back Bay, 8"x8", oil on board

#30!! We did it! I started a day late, used a watercolor sketch once, and doubled up a few times, but I completed 30 paintings in 30 days. Kudos to Leslie Saeta, who created this challenge!

This was painted today at my plein air class with Kim VanDerHoek, at the Newport Back Bay. We shared the small area with about 200 elementary school kids who were on a field trip, so it was a bit noisy. But it was a gorgeous sunny day, and painting outside was a good way to spend it.

It's been a crazy month. With all the painting going on, not a lot of other stuff has been happening. We did get the Christmas things put back in the garage (the last box was yesterday) but it took a while. I'm pretty sure the bills have been paid. There have been a lot of nights when at 7:00 pm, I said "How about if we have a salad for dinner?" and my husband has been a trooper.

I have learned so much. I've learned new things I like to paint, and new surfaces, and tried new colors and mixtures. I've painted en plein air, and I've painted on the dining room table in a vacation condo. I like painting in my studio best, and I LOVE my new 27" monitor. I can zoom in and rotate reference photos, and best of all, I can see them clearly.

February will be different, for sure. I'm hoping to paint most every day, but won't finish a painting every day. I want to do some studying, and will be taking an amazing workshop for five days next week. I'll post about it, since I know it will be something I want to remember.

Thank you, everyone who has looked and/or commented, and been so kind. I'm very fortunate to be doing something I love.

30 in 30, #29 — Highway 38, Early Summer

Highway 38, Early Summer, 6"x6", oil on panel

I find landscape painting quite challenging, although I love it. I took a series of photos over 10 years ago, from the car window while whizzing down Highway 38 from Big Bear to Redlands, "down the mountain." The sky was stunning with fluffy but heavy clouds coming in and throwing a shadow over the mountains. There had been quite a bit of rain that year, so the shrubs were still bright green. 

I found the photos the other day, and pulled a composite together for this painting. It reminds me of many years of going "down the mountain" after a weekend at the cabin. 

I will be double-dipping today — this is #29, and #30 will be posted tonight. I started this challenge a day later than most, but am determined to finish in January. Happy last day of January, everyone!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30 in 30, #28 — Patience

Patience, 7"x5", oil on gessoed board, SOLD!

Evidently, I'm a slow learner. Today I picked up a new type of panel that I had gessoed with the same gesso I used on yesterday's canvas. And yep, it reacted the same way to the paint. I've used this same jar of gesso for a year or so and never had any problem, so evidently something has changed. Painting on this surface reminded me of gouache, but at least today I knew what I was getting into, and being stubborn, finished the painting.

This panel is a hardboard I found at the local art supply store. It's charm is that it is 3/8" thick, and has hanging holes built into the back, so it can be easily hung without a frame. I painted the edges very carefully, and as I was turning to put it in my drying area, it flipped over and landed face down on the floor. Floor and painting were rescued. Since the painting was a commission, it had to be!

As my husband (famously) said when he was a child, "Patience will never hurt you!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

30 in 30, #27 — Humility

Humility, 6"x6", oil on canvas, NFS

Well, another challenge. I thought I was painting a fun "mums in my window" view, but it didn't turn out that way. I'm starting to run low on my 6" panels, so I grabbed a 6" canvas that I had "wiped" a while back. I had put a couple of coats of gesso on it and thought it would be fine.

Oops. Something weird happened. The surface was like painting on clay — the oil in the paint was absorbed within minutes, leaving matte color. After an hour, paint was almost dry to touch. Not normal with oil paints. Nothing was working like it was supposed to. A good "frosting" with a painting knife saved me; at least I could get the paint to look like paint instead of chalk. I'm afraid to go back and look at it in case the paint has disappeared.

I was frustrated, but kept going, determined to have something to post for my 27th painting. This is about learning. I do not like painting on canvas. I ordered more Gessobord panels tonight. Yay!

(Next morning; the paint is still there. I took it outside and got a much better photo.)

I should have realized something strange was happening when I had to go over the sketch twice.

Monday, January 28, 2013

30 in 30, #26 — Ruddell's

Ruddell's, 6"x6", oil on panel

This one was a challenge, indeed. 

Ruddell's Smokehouse is a tiny place in the tiny town of Cayucos, California. Once you have eaten one of Jim's smoked pork loin tacos, you will be happy to drive 30 miles out of your way to get another one, like we did last November on our way north. I've never had anything else like it, and it is one of my favorite "road food" stops. I have quite a few photos of Ruddell's, but as you can see, it's not the kind of painting I usually do.

So that is the challenge part of today's painting. I wanted to capture the tiny building with the signs and the red trash can, and well, what else can I say? I think what I really want is a smoked pork loin taco. I will tell you that it has apples in it — have you ever had a taco with apples before?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

30 in 30, #25 — Welcome to Seal Beach

Welcome to Seal Beach, 6"x6", oil on panel, $100

Click here to purchase

This 30 in 30 Challenge is all about two things for me: painting consistently (daily), and challenging myself with each painting. The first couple of paintings this month were just getting my brushes wet again after a long holiday. I've done a lot of flowers, tried a few new paint colors, some new paint mixes, a boat on a blistering hot beach (literally), and some interior bed and pillow scenes. I've really enjoyed painting things in my kitchen window.

Today I painted a scene that I see at least once a week, the City Hall of Seal Beach. Our church is across the street, so I see this view most every Sunday. It's a charming building, and my reference photos encouraged me to push the sky color a bit, but it really looks like this. To make it more of a challenge, I used a new brand of paints, and a very limited palette of five colors plus white. I had planned to use only four plus white, but had to add a touch of pthalo blue to get the sky color where I wanted it.

Seal Beach is a great town. The best day of the year is the last Saturday in April, when about 550 classic cars are parked along Main Street and Ocean Boulevard, and about 30,000 people descend on the little town. It's crazy, but so much fun. Maybe I need to paint some scenes from the car show. Hmmm.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

30 in 30, #24 — Good Morning!

Good Morning!, 6"x6", oil on board, Sold

The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more. 
~Wilson Mizener

More shapes; more pillows — I'm having a lot of fun with color. Wouldn't it be fun to have a closet full of accent pillows and accessories, and change up your room according to your mood? This one gives me energy and sort of a "good morning, now let's get to it!" feel.

Friday, January 25, 2013

30 in 30, #23 — Naptime

Naptime, 6"x6", oil on panel, SOLD

Click here to purchase

O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.
~Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg - Her Dream

Plein Air class was cancelled today, because of — yes, rain. Here in California, in January, imagine. Our heat wave is over and it was a lovely day to stay in and paint. But no lovely sunshine to paint, so I had to get creative.

I've been saving some reference photos for ages, and one of them gave me this idea. I love the shapes the pillows make — this could be a series!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

30 in 30, #22 – Jungle Lily

Jungle Lily, 6"x6", oil on panel, sold

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers, and not pick one! — Edna St. Vincent Millay

I have loved daylilies for years — I've done many watercolor studies of them, and taken hundreds of photos. Last summer, we were at the Los Angeles Arboretum at prime daylily season, and I was in a spot of heaven. The daylily garden there is really amazing. I did not want to leave.

This is painted from a photo from that day. Red daylilies are pretty exotic, and this painting reminds me of a jungle. Leaves going every which way, deep colors.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

30 in 30, #21 – Canyon Sycamore

Canyon Sycamore, 6"x6", oil on panel, $100

Last October, my husband and I went for a walk in Laguna Canyon. We came around a corner and saw this sycamore. It was really the only one that was golden (the others had either lost their leaves or were more of a tacky beige). I brought back several photos, but this is my first attempt to capture the beauty of that tree. It was a glorious spot.

So good to be back to painting today! I so appreciate all the wonderful comments and encouragement.  

30 in 30, #14 – Reaching for the Light

Reaching for the Light, 6"x6", oil on panel, $100

Click to Purchase through PayPal

Every moment of light and dark is a miracle. — Walt Whitman

Mums again! I loved the view of these little mums as they were sitting in the sunny kitchen window. Instead of looking head-on at the flowers, my view was of the bottoms of the blooms reaching up toward the sun. 

I put a bit of a wash on the panel before sketching
I have a south-facing large kitchen window. For many years, we had large trees facing the window that shaded the house from the low winter sun. The trees are gone, so now the sun streams into the kitchen for a good part of the day. It's pretty annoying when you're trying to cook – the glare drives me nuts. But this window is where I am getting such great reference photos for these daily paintings! I am loving the lights and darks I am seeing in these.
Blocked in the darks, started the shadow shapes of the petals

30 in 30, #15 – Winter Cheer

Winter Cheer, 6"x6", oil on board, $100

Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer. —Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 I am just fascinated by the sun streaming through the window onto whatever I put up on the sill. The little bowl of mums is still beautiful and I decided to see what magic the sunshine would work.

oil sketch; darks

middle values

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

30 in 30, #20 – Beached at Balboa

Beached at Balboa, study, 8"x10", oil on canvas panel, $100

Click to purchase through PayPal

This study was done last week at Balboa Island, California, under a bright blue sky and full sun. The sun was so warm that I ended up with a heat rash where my black jeans were in the direct sun. I thought this little boat would be a good quick study. It had a cover pulled over it, so it wasn't going to move anytime soon and the values were clear and definite. After I did a quick value study in black and white paint, and sketched the scene on my canvas with thinned paint, I started to put in my darks. And along came a guy in another small boat, who pulled his boat up right alongside "my" boat. He hopped out and took off down the street. As Kim said, "Welcome to plein air!" Even though my view was blocked, I decided to carry on, and the guy came back about 20 minutes later and took off. 

We are home from our long weekend trip. It was a really fun time, and I discovered some new painting destinations for the future. I'm looking forward to getting back to painting daily. (I had painted a couple of paintings ahead last week so I could post them while I was gone.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

30 in 30, #19 – Up the Road

Up the Road, 6"x6", oil on panel
Well, it is a challenge to get a painting done when you are on vacation, especially when you are staying in a condo with friends and doing lots of other things. After sightseeing all day yesterday, we stayed close to home today. The guys wanted to watch football this afternoon, so I took the chance to paint a scene from our drive yesterday. Yes, the grass was really that shade of green; our winter rains and this week's warm weather turned the world chartreuse. IPhone photo did something weird to the sky color though.

I talked Leslie into painting with me, and she painted her first oil painting, using a size 4 filbert brush and a rigger. We improvised: her palette was a couple of paper plates, and her canvas was taped to a cardboard.

Leslie did a great job! Here is her painting; it is of the same corner of the Demetria Estate Winery patio that I did a sketch of yesterday.

Demetria Corner by Leslie Fagan, 5"x5", oil on canvas

Saturday, January 19, 2013

30 in 30, #18 – 75 degrees in January

Fortunately, I didn't commit to posting a finished painting every day this month, or an oil painting, or a good painting. We spent the day enjoying a gift of a sunny, 75-degree, beautiful day with some friends, and visited a couple of wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley. My oil paints were in the car, but I was enjoying other things and didn't feel like setting them up. So I grabbed my sketchbook and my trusty Winsor & Newton pocket watercolor box and did a quick sketch of a corner of the patio at the Demetria Estate Winery. What you can't see in this sketch are the 200 other people crowded in the patio area, two of whom were sitting at that table in the corner. I was trying to capture a few of the color notes, but the wash and the iPhone photo turned everything blue but the bit of gold wall. It was very crowded, but oh my, it was a beautiful day. The landscaping of the winery grounds is gorgeous, and God's frosting on the cake was the low winter light, turning everything to gold. I hope to return and have a few hours to paint one day.

30 in 30, #17 – Storm's Coming

Storm's Coming, 6"x6", oil on canvas panel

 You know you're an Arizona native when a rainy day puts you in a good mood. 
     — Marshall Trimble

I realized that I'm getting comfortable with the flower paintings, so decided to take a different direction.

I took the reference photo for this painting somewhere on Interstate 10, between Phoenix and Quartzite, Arizona, last summer. It had been a very hot trip (118 degrees F on the way to Phoenix), and we were enjoying the storm clouds coming over the desert on our return home. The Arizona desert is beautiful, especially when there is "weather." (And
yes, I am an Arizona native.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

30 in 30, #16 – Oh Happy Day

Oh Happy Day, 5"x5", oil on board

This is a bouquet from our daughter's wedding in 2011, and painting it has brought back so much emotion and memories. It was a glorious day, full of love and family and sunshine and friends and good food and fun.

Love you, Em & Mason.

oil sketch


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

30 in 30, #13 – End of the Season

End of the Season, 6"x6",  oil on panel

“The sunflower is mine, in a way.”

― Vincent van Gogh

This sunflower was at Earthbound Organic Farm in Carmel Valley, California last November. It was pretty bedraggled, but caught my attention. Sunflowers are fun to paint; their colors and sheer size demand our attention. Hasn't every oil painter painted a sunflower at least once?

I painted this on a black-gessoed panel. I enjoy using a black panel now and then — it really makes me pay attention. The shadows were fun to paint on this; I'm especially pleased with the petals in shadow at the bottom.

I want to give a shout-out to Karen at K. Rike Gallery. She and her husband make these wonderful panel holders that were designed by Carol and David Marine. I had a problem with mine, and she made it good immediately. Fabulous customer service, and a wonderful product as well.

oil sketch

put the lights in first when painting on black;
you can see the leaf that I wiped out later

Monday, January 14, 2013

30 in 30, #12 – Prince Eugène

Prince Eugène, 6"x6", oil on panel
Let me introduce you to my all-time favorite rose. This is Eugène de Beauharnais, an old China/Bourbon rose, bred in France in 1838, and named for Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, son of Josephine and stepson of Emperor Napoleon. It is fairly small, grows in a large pot, and has deep red-magenta blooms with the most incredible fragrance. The blooms don't last when cut, darn, but it blooms most of the year and there is almost always a bloom for me to admire and smell when I walk by. I don't know why it is not more widely grown, especially here in a mild climate where it fits so well into our smaller yards and patios.

I've never attempted to paint Eugène, but since this is my challenge month, I thought I'd try. This particular bloom had three centers, with hundreds (maybe) of petals. Way too much to put on a small painting, but I think I got the gist of it. 

Here's my reference photo, and a couple of progress shots. I really enjoy seeing other artists' process, so have been trying to include a few shots of mine.

Eugène de Beauharnais, China/Bourbon, 1838

sketch and blocking in darks

main shapes; trying to get the values clear while not losing the hues. 
Or getting the hues while not losing the values?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

30 in 30, #11 – Lit by the Sun

Lit by the Sun, 5"x5", oil on panel

Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth. — C.S. Lewis

Isn't this a great quote? Somewhat applicable to those of us who are suddenly painting every day...

I've enjoyed watching my bunch of freesias slowly open. They are incredibly graceful. I had put the vase on the living room mantel to replace the Christmas garlands, but brought it into the kitchen this morning to see what it would look like with the sun shining through the window. I shot some photos, and one of them had the sunlit blooms highlighted against a dark background. That inspired me to try this very different version of freesias. Their transparency is challenging to paint, but still so lovely.

I so appreciate the wonderful comments; you are so encouraging!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

30 in 30, #10 – Promise of Spring

Promise of Spring, 12"x6", oil on gessoed 3/4" cradled hardboard.

"If I see freesias anywhere, I will be very disappointed." -- Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada

Just the opposite for me. I adore freesias. The hardy bulbs are sending up their leaves now, in all the odd places in our yard where I've stuck them over the years. I look forward to the blooms and once in a while I can get a whiff of fragrance while walking through the yard. Glimpse of heaven!

These freesias are from Trader Joe's, and are sadly not as fragrant as the home-grown kind. But they are so graceful and elegant (and inexpensive and available), and remind me that spring will come. (And that reminds me to put the brush/laptop down and go finish pruning the roses.) I may come back and do a bit more work on this one.

graphite sketch on panel

Friday, January 11, 2013

30 in 30; #9 – Winter Sunshine

Winter Sunshine, 6"x6", oil on panel

It was cold, windy, and raining Thursday morning, and my plein air class was cancelled. I was unpacking the CSA produce box that had arrived and plopped these radishes on a little plate and set them in the window. A few minutes later, the sun came out and lit the radishes up. What a cold and beautiful day we had!

I took a few photos of the radishes and tried out the 27" monitor/tv that my husband gave me for Christmas. Technology is so cool – I put the SD card from my camera in a USB card reader and popped it into the port on the monitor, and there were my radishes on the screen. Magic!

I did a pencil/value sketch first, and then wiped off two oil sketches before I was happy with the composition.

I've been spending a lot of time painting lately (no kidding), so I decided to give myself a time limit on this one. It worked. I didn't have time to "noodle" it to death, and I like it.

oil sketch, first color

Thursday, January 10, 2013

30 in 30, #8 - A Rose by Any Other Name

A Rose by Any Other Name, 6"x6", oil on panel

I originally titled this painting "Rosarium Eutersen" – probably only about 500 people on earth (and none reading this blog) would know why. That's the name of this rose, which was named after a rose garden in Germany. It is a fabulous rose, which deserves to be much more widely known, and I'm so glad I planted one years ago. It's a moderate climber, and the spring flush it produces is breathtaking, even among the bounty of a Southern California spring.

So this bunch is one small clipping that showed up in November on my plant. I brought it in to enjoy, and snapped a couple of photos for a future painting. The color is really unusual, a very coral-pink. I actually bought a new paint color to try to capture it; came close but not completely there.

I don't paint roses often, although I love them and have about 25 varieties in my yard. This was a good challenge. Basic shapes, values, don't get too fancy with details.

I want to thank those who leave comments – you can't imagine how encouraging they are to me.

oil sketch, first darks

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

30 in 30, #7 – All We Like Sheep

All We Like Sheep, 8"x10", oil on canvas

No, there are no mums in this painting. This was done in my weekly painting class, taught by the amazing Kim VanDerHoek. Kim thought the class would enjoy painting a bucolic scene of a meadow, hillside, trees, and a whole lot of sheep. Our reference photo had a lot of material in it, and Kim told us to find a part of the photo that we wanted to paint. I'm not sure she was ready for the amount of complaining she heard. Evidently, this was not our favorite project.

I have learned that I learn from every painting I do, and I learn even more in class. Often, I'll come home and paint the same subject again, and I usually like the second one even better. Instead, I ended up "fixing" this painting the next day. I removed an anemic hill that was confusing, beefed up the trees, darkened the sky a touch, and corrected the value of the grass. This fellow looks like he is about to go astray, no?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

30 in 30, #6 – Left Behind

"Left Behind", 5"x5", oil on panel
There is a time in almost every painting I do that I call the "why do I think I can do this?" moment. I start out pretty excited – a subject I like, fresh piles of paint on the palette, I may even nail the sketch. Blocking in shapes may go okay. And then, yuck. While I was working on values, I messed up the composition. Or I got carried away following my drawing before realizing that a major horizon line is chopping my focal point in half (I do that one a lot). Usually I can step way back, squint, turn the painting upside down, go make a cup of tea and feed the cat, and then come back and figure out how to fix it. Sometimes the fix is to scrape it off with a knife and start over (did that on yesterday's bowl of mums). Sometimes I just need to keep going and it comes together. And then sometimes it doesn't, and I consider that a lesson piece.

This painting worked pretty well. I'm still in mums-land and wanted to play with the greys again. I sketched in the shapes and quickly realized that the bowl at the top wasn't working. Easy; wiped it out. As I was finishing the two larger mums, I decided a third was needed and there was a little one on the table ready for me. So I never really hit crisis mode with this one; the adjustments came pretty smoothly. I don't think I even had a cup of tea while painting it.

started with the bowl but didn't like the composition

oil sketch (bowl later wiped out)

Monday, January 7, 2013

30 in 30, #5 – A Bowl Full of .... Mums

A Bowl Full of ... Mums,  5"x7", oil on panel

 My friend Leslie just gave me this darling rose bowl, which I filled with mums from Trader Joe's. Yes, they do have other kinds of flowers, and I even bought some freesias for another day. 

When I painted in watercolor, flowers were my favorite subject. Ad nauseum. I've painted very few flowers in oil, until this week. A petunia pot, a sunflower (everyone has to paint sunflowers), and then those stressful poinsettias. But now I seem to be all about the mums. It will pass soon, I'm sure of it. 

Part of this 30 in 30 challenge for me is to challenge myself to learn. I used some new color combinations in this one that I really enjoyed. That yummy blue is pthalo blue mixed with some cadmium red light and a bit of white. Some of the gray in the petals is pthalo green (yellow shade) with a bit of alizarin crimson. I don't usually use the pthalo colors (scary! intense! messy!) but this is a great opportunity to try something new.

no, I didn't paint the dots

oil sketch

after block-in, before the fun stuff

Sunday, January 6, 2013

30 in 30, #4 – Mum's the Word!

 Mum's the Word, 6"x6", oil on panel

The friendly yellow mums needed another chance, so I pulled out another black gessoed panel. Since I broke off one of the stems and my little green bottle was handy, the bottle got to appear in another painting. I can see myself going in circles here....

Lots of knife work in this one. Flowers with many petals like to be painted with a knife, so I am not going to argue. I'm not sure about the dark background with the dark leaves. I was thinking about Edgar Payne's "two-thirds dark and one-third light or two-thirds light and one-third dark" rule; I may have gotten carried away. 

rough sketches

sketch on panel

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