Sunday, October 26, 2014

Four Days In Fort Bragg, California




Once again I journeyed to Ft. Bragg to join good art friends on a four day painting trip to Ft. Bragg and Mendocino.  It was another workshop by artist instructor Howard Rees of Jackson, California.  A quick scan back over my 170 blog posts shows that this was the fourth such trip I’ve recorded here.  Many Ft. Bragg trip veterans showed up: it’s become something of an October event and gathering as well as a workshop.

The weather forecast in the week leading up to the trip was grim.  Every day was forecast as cold and overcast, with rain on the two days smack dab in the middle of the time.  But as we got closer to the time, the forecast began to change slightly for the better.   In fact, the plein air gods smiled on us and we had simply beautiful days the entire trip except for the second day of the trip which was very overcast.  

Our first day was a Monday morning.   First we did an exercise Howard wanted us to try and it was a good reminder of some fundamental rules for plein air.   The idea was to paint a small landscape on 8 x 10 canvas using no more than 50 brush strokes.  And you had to put a dot on the side of the canvas for each stroke.  In other words, PLAN every stroke, EXECUTE with plenty of paint every time, and NO NOODLING and LICKING!  Put it down and leave it!  As you can see, the idea isn't to produce a great work of art, but to loosen up and begin to think before you paint.  Great ice breaker exercise!  
 
50 stroke practice  oil on 8 x 10 panel  Sand and insects borrowed from Ft. Bragg


Then we moved on to the mouth of Noyo Harbor and I painted this 8 x 16 view of the buildings at the entry of the harbor.   

Entering Noyo Harbor   Oil on 8 x 16 canvas panel
 On the second cloudy grey day, I really struggled.  I’m not sure why, but it was one of those days when I simply forgot everything.  I didn’t have a plan, I started without an end in mind, I mixed color and applied paint without thought and as though I had never done either before.  I wiped down both paintings that day.   That’s a lousy feeling and something I HATE to do.  Giving up is the wrong decision always.  I know that, and yet I could not get past it.  The next day found me with the same listless feeling and I thought for a while that I would crash and burn again, but the day was beautiful and I worked my way through the funk.  Thanks go to Howard too…he’s been there done that…and he wasn’t going to let me chicken out again.  “No wiping,” he said. “ Finish what you start and bring it to critique tonight.”   Well, I had to have something to show up with, so the die was cast.  I painted a two simple landscapes on a smaller panel…which was a good choice.  It sure was a nicer feeling to complete something.   Here’s the first of the two:

Mendocino Memories  Oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel
 The second was almost the same view, but much closer to the tree and the cliff.  However, other than the lighting, it looks virtually the same as the first.  Crazy as it seems, I didn't even realize how similar they were until I was home.  It probably reflects that I was not all there even on the third day! 
Mendocino Afternoon   Oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel
Our last day was back in the harbor again, but this time a little farther up the river to ‘Dolphin Cove”.   We only painted in the morning, then enjoyed a terrific lunch at a diner in the Cove…and then it was head for home time.  In the morning, the sun was blocked for several hours by the hills and forest above the cove, but finally it reach the boats at dock and I painted this 12 x 16 of one called “BBBeezy Bill”.   I think it was my most success painting of the trip.
 
Dolphin Cove Morning   Oil on 12 x 16 canvas panel 
     

It was another fantastic outing with good friends and talented artists.  My thanks to Howard and Janey Rees for patient mentoring and making sure the trip was a success.  And a sincere thanks for the painting memories to Ted, Norm (and Dianna), Ruth, Julie, Vickie (and Jack), Andy (and Cindy), Renee (and Noni) Brian, Judy (and Larry) and Bob Engle, who drove from Texas (I'm serious) to be with us again. 



My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Door to the Past - Plein Air painting in Locke CA.

 On this Saturday morning, I journeyed to the little Delta town of Locke.  It's been a while since I've been to Locke to paint, so it was good to spend a few hours there, see a few artist friends and paint for the morning.   By noon, the day was warming up considerably and I was noodling the painting, so I packed it up.

This is a 9" x 12" panel, which is a comfortable size for plein air work for me.  It's large enough to allow a little freedom, but small enough to handle in a short plein air session.  Even though I painted only for about two hours...perhaps even a little less...the shadows had changed considerably in that time. For most plein air scenes, that's probably as much time as you can spend without risking 'chasing the shadows'.

I love the looseness of this painting.   As I look at it now, I wonder if it couldn't benefit from some careful 'definition' to aide in modeling the structure, but doing that without a careful plan would risk messing up the loose feeling...so I will leave it alone.

This painting captures some of the derelict feeling of Main Street in Locke.  It has a frozen in time feeling that I love so much.


Door to the Past   Locke CA   plein air oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel
To PURCHASE or BID on this original plein air oil painting, click HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back to Basics....Life Drawing

Update:
I'm continuing to attend the Friday morning life drawing sessions at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center.  I'm finding that it's great practice, and I've started to concentrate on charcoal for sketching.  It has a lot of similarities to painting.  Meanwhile the sessions help sharpen the eye and built an awareness of proportions. 



2 minute poses- charcoal on newsprint

Charcoal on drawing paper  20 min pose
Life drawing   About 30 minutes



Studio study from photo reference  Charcoal on dwg paper
 Lately I've been feeling uninspired about painting.  It happens to all painters now and then I suppose, but its  an unpleasant feeling.  There's a nagging voice saying, "Get out there and paint!" and a whining voice saying, "I'm tired, and I don't have anything to paint anyway and besides....."  I was feeling just that way yesterday (Friday) as I sipped my morning coffee.  And then it occurred to me that on Fridays, the Sacramento Fine Arts Center (SFAC) has a open studio life drawing session.  I have gone in the past, but Friday's are a part of my work week and it's not always possible.  But I decided to find my drawing materials, get myself moving and get over there.  I'm glad I did.

Oh my, am I rusty.  I felt a lot of nervousness about the whole thing.   And I got there late, so I had the worst possible location in relation to the model.  And then there was setting up and deciding whether to use charcoal or conte or pencil or pastels or.....?   Yes, my "You can't do this! Who are you kidding?" voice was working overtime.  I can always depend on that old  faithful "friend" to show up.  I remember reading once that the louder the inner voice is yelling at you to quit, go home, cease and desist....the more you can be sure you're doing the right thing!

My figure drawing skills need a LOT of improvement, but going down there and drawing was exactly what was needed.  Not only did I spend three hours of much needed drawing practice but I felt so energized when I returned home that I spent another three hours in the studio painting a still life.  It was a good day.  I'll be going back to the SFAC for life drawing whenever I can.

We did a lot of quick sketches followed by some longer poses.  I think these were both 15 minute sketches.  Both are charcoal. 





My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Carnie" Figure in Oil

This "Carnie" (or "Carney") was spotted at the Carnival section of the Amador County Fair a few weeks ago.  It was mid afternoon on a very hot summer day and business was a little slow, apparently.  I had stopped to enjoy a corn dog and beer when I spotted him.

This is an 11 x 14 on stretched canvas.  I tried to keep the very busy background as loose and abstract as I could.  I wanted only the Carnie and the Sledge Hammer Bell Tower to stand out.  This painting was completed in about 3 -4 hours in two sessions.   The first was the block in kept very abstract and the second was spent defining the elements that I wanted to have as the focus.

I really enjoyed the way this painting came together.  It seemed almost effortless.  Having a great subject matter definately helped!  (The corn dog and the COLD beer was good too!)

Carnie   11 x 14 Oil on stretched canvas 


Here's the block in at the end of the first session.

Carnie   WIP



My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Friday, July 18, 2014

White Vase - Still life

Painting still life is a restful and cathartic experience for me.  I've been distracted from the easel lately by many things.  Home improvement projects have demanded a lot of time and mental energy for planning and negotiating...but so far have gone well, thankfully.  And the office is busier than it has been in a long time as we finally begin to recover from the long recession / depression.  These are all good things, but they demand mental energy that might otherwise be channeled into the studio.

At these times when creative energy is at a low and the urge to paint is almost nonexistent, still life comes to the rescue.   In this case, I found some fake - yes, not real - 'flowers', a vase, and a brass bowl.  With a few apples and an orange, I was ready to go and painting in minutes.  I didn't worry about 'symbolism' or complexity....I just wanted to paint and forget other demands for awhile.

White Vase    Oil on stretched canvas   16 x 20

The very light area at the right is a light reflection ....that area is actually very dark.  


My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Monday, July 14, 2014

Campaspe - Best in Show!





Well, talk about pleasant surprises!  I checked in with the Sacramento Fine Arts Center to see if my version of John Godward's Campaspe had been accepted into the "In the Style of the Old Masters" show at their gallery....and I found that not only had it been accepted, but it won Best In Show!

I'd love to take full credit, but obviously Mr. Godward created the beautiful "Campaspe" about 100 years or more before I even knew what (or who) a "Campaspe" was.  I thoroughly enjoyed copying  a portion of his incredible work...and maybe modernizing it just slightly, more from a lack of ability to copy his work faithfully than from a plan.  The work of these artists of the "classical" period has been unappreciated for a long time, but the more I learn about and study them, the more I am at a loss to explain why.  John W. Godward created a masterful work in every way.








My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Copying the Masters - Campaspe by J.W. Godward


 I've been in a bit of a painting slump for the last month or so.  Things have gotten very busy at the office and I've had less time for the studio.  I find, too, that when things are busier and more intense with the business, it is much more difficult to switch mental gears and paint.

Anyway, the Sacramento Fine Arts Center announced a show "Influenced by the Masters" and I thought that was an intriguing idea and a 'guided' way to get a little painting in.  I've copied Masters before.  It's a fabulous exercise - humbling too, I might add.   Several years ago, I copied "Classic Beauty" by John William Godward, an English artist (b 1861- d 1922) and so I went back to his works to search for another painting to copy.   I found "Campaspe" in the Art Renewal Center ( http://www.artrenewal.org/ ) library, which is an incredible place.  I highly recommend it.  The original is a very tall and vertical painting, but I wanted something a little less challenging, so I turned it into a horizontal of just a portion of the original.  If you haven't painted from the Masters, you should.  It's a wonderful learning experience....and it will give you new-found respect for what they were able to do.

Because I wanted to copy the style of the painting as much as possible (it isn't possible!) I did a fair amount of glazing on this painting, something I typically don't do. Where Godward captured exquiste form and detail, I was forced to suggest it - both by time and ability.   But wow, this is fun to do.  How these brilliant painters did the incredible work they did is beyond me.  I can only marvel and appreciate.

The plein air frame was the only gold frame I had at hand.  The painting gets submitted today, so it will have to do.  Actually, I kind of like it.

Copy of a portion of Campaspe by J.W. Godward    Oil on stretched linen  12 x 16
Here is John William Godward's exquisite work

Campaspe   John William Godward


 By the way, Campaspe was a mistress of Alexander the Great and a prominent citizen of Larissa.  She was reportedly a model for several great works. In this painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the ancient Greek artist Apelles paints Campaspe as Alexander keeps a watchful (and suspicious?) eye on the proceedings. 
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Painting from the Masters is just an all around great experience.  Try it!



My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art