Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Carmel Paintout" - a local art adventure

"Lover's Point Sentinel"
Pacific Grove, CA
16" x 20" Watercolor

For quite a number of years, the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society has hosted a three-day event, the Carmel Paintout, each September. My home is about a 1.5 hour drive to the area at most. Two years ago I actually stayed at Asilomar for two nights and had just a wonderful time painting plein air at different locations. This year, with a change in management, Asilomar priced itself out of artist range, so people signed up with the agreement they would find their own lodging. Sadly, you miss the comradery of staying in the same place, where I became fast friends with several artist I had not met.

This year we met to paint, do critique, and go to dinner at a local restaurant. I decided at the last minute I would attend just Thursday. Karen, friend and leader of this outing, invited me to stay overnight at her lovely second home in the area, along with four other artist guests. Thus I stayed on and painted a bit at Monterey Fisherman's Wharf. With commitments and family arriving from the East Coast, I missed the third day of painting at breathtaking Point Lobos.

We were roughly 18 artists gathered at Lover's Point on Thursday morning. I arrived about 10 a.m. and the fog was still thick. I have a bit more work to do on my first fog-bound painting and then will post it here. Later in the day, the fog cleared and I did the painting posted here. I set my easel next to a picnic table, so supplies were laid out conveniently. This view looks out over Lover's Point, though most of the amazing rocks were not visible in my limited landscape. This is the area where singer John Denver crashed his plane into Monterey Bay some years ago.

I had the perfect day -- doing art in one of the beauty spots of the world. I enjoyed mixing the colors in the tree foliage on the Arches 140 cold press block paper. Mostly I used Winsor Blue Green, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Scarlet, and Magenta, with a bit of French Ultramarine Blue. The graying effect comes from the mingling of the blue green and the scarlet. I started with a wash in the sky area, then I painted each of the foliage areas starting with a blue green/cadmium yellow mix, and charging in the other colors while the paper was damp. I had to use care in the amount of water to paint so as not to get mud. I mostly used my favorite squirrel mop brush by Isabey, very large (close to an inch in diameter) to the hold a lot of water and paint and shapeable to a lovely point for small areas.

I had grabbed my limited palette that I used in Provence with no Burnt Sienna which I often use with Ultramarine Blue to create darks. I mixed Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber, and Ultramarine Blue to achieve the suggestion of the rocks. Lastly I created the sunlit foreground and painted in the blue of the ocean.

To get a sense for my use of artistic license, here is an image of my view in closeup. Notice I removed the low bushes and placed the rocks where they created the strongest design. The tree was one of a grove of three trees. The piece received a favorable critique with one suggestion, place a bit of the blue of the ocean into the foreground, which I did at home before creating this post.
A photograph of my view from the picnic table of Lover's Point

We gathered in a sheltered spot as the day was cool and damp (the coast micro climate is very different from warm, sunny San Jose). Two women from California Watercolor Association who joined the paintout did the critique. Susan and Ilona were gentle with their observations. At 5 p.m. we adjourned to The Fishwife Restaurant near Asilomar for a fish dinner. At Karen's home we six artists sat around the dining table with nibbles, talking art and life until bedtime.

If you are in the area, join our watercolor society with over 400 members and participate in the many great events, such as frequent plein air adventures, exhibitions, and workshops given by world class instructors. The membership fee of just $35 for 2012 is an exceptional value. I will be the leader in 2012 and look forward to meeting new members.


Barbra Joan said...

Mary, you've outdone yourself in this one, it's really good. I love the touches of Scarlet , the grays and I know the exact place. and Point Lobos , have pictures of that.. and that whole Gods'country area ..
My dream has always been to visit Asilomar ever since I'd first heard about it.. guess that is one dream I can forget.. but you do it for me.... hugs' BJ

Christiane Kingsley said...

Mary, I love your design and your colors! Thank you for the detailed description of your process.
I have never done plein air painting, but your certainly make me feel like trying it:-)

AutumnLeaves said...

Love that artistic license, Mary. This is beautiful!

hw (hallie) farber said...

This is just beautiful, Mary. Thanks for telling us how you worked; I just received an order of watercolors and am in the mood to play with them. (I had some but felt I needed more!)

Mary Paquet said...

Barbra Joan, this area is indeed God's Country. May you get to visit Asilomar.

Christiane, the simple design appealed to me. I believe you would have fun with plein air.

Sherri, just today my drawing instructor was talking about how we need to be selective when we paint a landscape and improve the shapes if needed.

Hallie, I can't wait to see what you produce with the watercolors. Your work is always so unique.