Monday, September 26, 2011

A painting of landscape shrouded in fog at our Carmel Paintout

"Fog over Monterey Peninsula"
20" x 16" Watercolor

Here is the first piece I painted on the Carmel Paintout. I left sunny San Jose and travelled to cool and foggy Pacific Grove. I was one of the first artists to arrive. I looked across the water towards Monterey from Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. The trees were just muted shapes in the fog. I painted them wet-into-wet using Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, and Magenta.

The sandstone cliffs were topped by the rusty color of the prolific ice plant. The rocks were awash in breaking waves. Below my perch, the surfers were already out and their voices drifted up from the water.

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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Live clothed model session

"Jane with Attitude"
Graphite and watercolor
15 minute pose

Three friends who are very successful artists now share a large studio in Sunnyvale. Today they hosted a two hour session with a live model. Jane Ferguson, one of the three artists, is one of my favorite models. I've posted other pieces with Jane on this blog. Jane changes several times and we have a new challenge with each outfit. Don't you love the bright pink hat -- it was covered with sequins.

We began with 2 minute poses and worked up to 5, 10, and finally 15. I always feel a bit intimidated surrounded by so many excellent artists, but I figure I have to learn. Doing these quick gesture drawings really helps warm us up for longer poses. I used vine charcoal so I smudge out lines as necessary. You can see my proportions are off.

Gestural drawing for 5 minute pose

We moved to two 10 minute poses and I challenged myself to use the broad Copic pen in sepia. It made me be more sure and deliberate with my marks. You can see that I tend to shorten the lower half of the body during these quick pieces. I corrected.

"Jane Relaxed"
Copic Pen and Watercolor
10 minute pose

The final two poses were 15 minutes each. On the last one, Jane posed as herself, an artist at her easel. What I show below is two pieces done in the last 15 minute pose. First I did the complete body, then I moved on to doing a portrait of the upper body. I received kudos from a couple fellow artists on this final piece; they commented that it really captured Jane.

"Jane Paints"
Part of 15 minute pose

"Jane the Artist"
Cretacolor graphite
Part of 15 minute pose

Myrna Wacknov participated in the session using her I-Pad2 and an app that simulates watercolor painting. Myrna is always so experimental and she's won many awards internationally. She is also a terrific instructor who travels the world teaching art. Hopefully she will post some of her sketches from today, so check back on the link to her blog in the next few days. There is a sample of a sketch she did last night on the blog.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shiny surfaces

Shiny Bottle
10" x 12" Pastel

I finally got to attend my regular Monday morning drawing class. Jury duty, art society meetings, and Labor Day have precluded attending class. We had a small group today and Bob took us back to basics of modeling forms and highlights on various surfaces. We had several choices and I took this bottle to challenge my ability to achieve transparency and specular highlights. I had some guidance from Bob on values (push it more in the shadow on the label) and adding more chroma to the bottle. There is quite a mixture of colors to achieve the shifting values on the glass. Bob was pleased with the results.

Tomorrow I go to The Forum Retirement Community to meet with the person in charge of art shows. I was invited by a friend who lives there to do a show early next year. I have the car loaded with a photo portolio of sample work of my various genres -- landscape, florals, people, still life, and experimental. I also have a large portfolio case with some matted originals and several framed plein air pieces. Most of the work is watercolor, but I have some collage, acrylic, pastel, and charcoal.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Walking Tampico Road

"Fall on Tampico Road"
North Danville, VT
12" x 18" Watercolor

I am on a roll with Vermont landscapes. Of course, this traditional look is not avante garde at all, but I enjoy recalling my visits to the small town of North Danville when the colors were emerging at the end of summer. I saw this scene last year when attending my high school reunion.

Walking is rewarding in my son Jeff''s small town. There are 5 dirt roads that take off within a few hundred feet of the driveway. I always venture out early in the morning to get my constitutional. Every road offers stunning views, this one down toward the village and across to Jamison Hill. Some roads have vistas of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, visible across the Connecticut River Valley just southwest of St. Johnsbury, VT.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vermont on my mind

"Nightfall on Lake Champlain"
21" x 14" watercolor

A simple landscape as my thoughts turn to family in Vermont, where people continue to be affected by damage from widespread flooding from Hurricane Irene and promises of more flash flooding from Tropical Lulu. Today, my older son is picking corn for the farm stand at the Paquet Farm (take the link, below on the right, to see various paintings and musings about our heritage farm). He texted that a storm just passed through briefly. Most of our family made out fine, but one branch of the family has an unliveable home in Waterbury because the first floor flooded last weekend.

My son posted a few photos on Facebook of early evening over Lake Champlain looking toward the Adirondack Mountains of New York state. I believe the photos were taken near Burlington, VT. The painting above was inspired by the photos, with some artistic license taken, of course. (Ever since I received that license in an Arne Westerman workshop in 2004, I've been using it a lot.) Having just taken a landscape workshop in Provence from Maggie Siner, I was thinking simple with planes of recession.

Bob and I spent many days crossing the Adirondacks on our tandem bicycle in our cross country ride of 2008. We did a lot of climbing and descending, with a fair amount of rain falling on us. Lake Champlain is very special to our family. My Thibault grandparents built a two-story "camp" on Mallets Bay, near Burlington, in 1927. When I was growing up, each of their nine children were invited to select a week to bring the family and stay with them. With seven children, these almost free vacations were very precious to our family and are my fondest summer memories as a child and teen. Later, attending the University of Vermont, the lake was ever present in our daily life. Today, the waterfront has been redeveloped and is a great spot to hang out, ride bikes, walk, run, and be entertained. If you visit Burlington, be sure to hike yourself down to lakefront at the bottom of the hill for maximum enjoyment.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another dancer

"Dancing on the Plaza"
Mixed Media
18" x 13.5"

Our neighbors went on a Mexican cruise a while back and shared this snapshot of a beautiful woman dancing at one of their ports of call. Jim gave me permission to use his photograph in my art. I tried a full sheet of this dancer once using acrylic paint and I wasn't happy with it. I began this and decided to rework the background. I am using Arches 300 lb hot press paper here, which can take a lot of abuse. I did some scrubbing out and used some gouche and gesso along with my watercolor .

I enjoy painting dancers, and you can take the dancer label on the lower right frame to find other paintings I've done related to tango and gaucho dancing inspired by our South American trip. Bob and I have taken ballroom dancing lessons for several years and we often dance as many as four times a week. It's great exercise, fun, and a nice shared activity, like our travel and bicycling.