Thursday, February 26, 2015

trial exercise for watercolor class

i am working on a 6-week, 12-session curriculum for a beginner watercolor class that i am going to teach this summer; just as soon as i am mobile after the planned hip surgery in april. in contemplation of that i wanted to experiment with a little landscape for the second or third session that would use most , if not all, of the techniques we had learned in the prior classes. so, this isn't meant to be finished, regular painting, but and exercise that will leave the students with something to take home that will be at least decent. something they could be proud of. as an aside i am planning to do something like this with increasing complexity each week. that way they will have more than sheet after sheet of random brush strokes, a variety of washes, etc. i am planning the grand finale to be a portrait.

anyway, this starts out with a flat wash for the sky. then a bit of a graded wash over that to bring out the darker value higher in the sky.  some watercolor type of scumbling, scratching out wet washes, wet-in-wet, wet on dry, and dry brush.

i sketched the horses when i was out at kay's ranch last week. i'll let folks know more about the class when i am more certain of the dates. i do know that it will be at the studio gallery 1311 in la crosse. it will be called, "the new golf: a watercolor class for beginner and intermediate painters.

simply and exercise (11"X15")

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"hot day, cool drink" yet another plein aire offering from borrego springs

two days ago i went out to the mustang sanctuary here in borrego springs. kay levie is the owner, rancher, proprietor, chief cook, bottle washer and mucker. she also was our landlady for a couple of years when we stayed at her bunkhouse studio casita. cool place with burro alarm clocks (not models....real donkeys braying at sunrise), 3 border collies, a bunch of horses.

anyway i set up just outside a several acre plot housing a number of animals from the burro, bays, paints, and some mustangs. it was a bright almost clear day with a bit of atmosphere on the surrounding santa rosa and jacinta mountains. almost perfect. this is pretty much what i saw except that i moved the shade-producing tarp to the far left as it was obscuring some of the details i wanted to emphasize and put an opening between the near fence so the rails, etc. wouldn't run over the horses.

the background and sky are pretty well done if i do say so myself. the horses while accurate are a bit stiff. i may redo this on a bit smaller scale (this is 15"X22") to try to get them a bit more relaxed appearing. i like the way the dark shadow from the trees off to the left bring the middle ground into sunny focus. for ease of painting i made the fence wire instead of 2" round "bars" of galvanized pipe. this may have been a mistake.....i'll have to look at this a bit longer. nothing to do abut it now, just for the future.

so, for your edification. "hot day, cool drink".

"hot day, cool drink" (15"X22")

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

...and yet another.....

this view is south out the back of our driveway. painted in two settings with wildly different lighting at opposite ends of the day, it has a bit of a schizoid feel to me. in the second sitting i had to try to remember where shadow, etc. had been. all in all i am fairly pleased with the result. every painting out and about en plein air is a learning experience with a very steep curve....i must say i am really liking it. i got a sorely needed umbrella to shade the painting and me. can't wait to use it later this afternoon.

hope you enjoy "casa borrego nos. 26 and 16" (14"X19") on 300# arches cold press paper.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

four for the road

gotta run with an early tee time but i wanted to post these plein air pieces from last week. more to follow....narrative and everything....the whole shootin' match(never did understand the derivation of that saying).






Friday, January 16, 2015

further pursuits of the landscape.....in plein air, no less

i got my act together earlier this week and got outside to do some plein air painting. granted it wasn't any further than just off our driveway, but such is the environmemt around our abode, paintings in all directions.

i decide to do our neighbor's house as it was simple and convenient, if not terribly interesting. when it was done, my observant spouse joan noted that i had made that "p-o-s" look way better than it actually did (look). who's to argue? at least i tried. so here is the first plein air of the year: " casa borrego nos. 22 and 9"(don't ask).

"casa borrego nos. 22 and 9" (10"X14")

Sunday, January 11, 2015

values, values, values.........and did i mention values

i think it always bears re-stating that values carry a painting. colors are nice......sort of like the sauce on a meal while the values are the "meat and potatoes." when a painting just isn't working for me, i almost always discover that there is a problem with interpreting and rendering the values. the problem sometimes comes in translating values to colors and vice versa. there are some gizmos that help in "seeing" values like a red lens or tinted viewer. one thing that i do to help in the interpretation is to work almost exclusively with black and white photo references when i am in the studio. this leaves only the reproduction of the desired values onto the painting. for this (and admittedly somewhat after the fact) i sometimes resort to taking a photo of a partially (or almost) finished piece, download it into i-photo, and change it to black and white.....voila a value study. this clearly shows me where the values are and whether i have rendered them the way that i intended.

in this cityscape the first time i thought that i had finished (or gotten pretty close to finishing) there was still something that bothered me about it. thinking it was the values i did take a photo and translated it to b+w. this showed me as the first pair of photos depicted below that the values in the mid-page were not strong enough (at least in my opinion).





so back to the easel and i added some darker glazes to the right mid-painting area. i also thought that the darks around the windows and doorways was too dark....so i lightened them. this resulted in the pair of photos depicted below.




i think it is better. what do you think? so, whenever you are in quandary about values this technique may help sort it out.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"labradoodling" (11"X15")

shortly after arriving in borrego springs, i managed to get everything set up and painted a small "portrait" of my sister's dog. i usually try todo a lot of experimentation while out here on the desert. i'm not sure this is much of an experiment, but i did just splash and sling much more randomly and with abandon than usual. as usual, though, just after i decided i couldn't improve on it by further painting, i really didn't like it. however, also as usual, it grew on me with the intervening days and now i actually think its alright.

"labradoodling" (11"X15")
my sister and her empty-nest family are arriving shortly for a two week stay at the local state park campground. i'd love for them to stay here but we can't have pets and, as you can see, a large, sloppy, but lovable labradoodle just isn't going be okay. if my sis likes the painting i will force it on her as she departs for points east