Monday, July 26, 2010

A Rainy Afternoon in Fair Oaks

Winters get me down, and this winter dragged on forever.  During one particularly heavy downpour in April, facing yet another gray day locked inside, I got in the car and drove around town just to get out of the house.  The sound of the rain on the car roof was comforting, the wipers rhythmic. As I entered Fair Oaks Village the rain began to come down in torrents and I pulled to the side of the road to watch.  Ahead of me the warmth of the light from the coffee shop stood out as a welcoming beacon in a world of gray.  I snapped a couple of pictures while sitting in the car.  Later I was looking for some painting inspiration and came across the photographs.  I liked them and decide to make a few sketches and create a panoramic view of the cafe, street and the edge of the park.  The first sketch looked like this....

I liked the idea and I sketched it again, this time with a little more attention to the shapes. 

I thought it was beginning to shape up, so I made one more sketch, this time going for a elongated panorama.

I felt that the concept was working nicely, but I was also very conscious of the potential imbalance of the composition, particularly with the only bright light to the right of the painting. In my notes on my sketches I wrote that the lightest area in the painting other than the sky and the reflections on the ground was actually the building to the left.  I decided to try a 'color sketch', not something I've ever done before, to see if this would bring some balance to the composition.  I was reluctant to use a new canvas on this experiment, so I taped off a 8"x16" section on a slightly used canvas and with oils I did a direct study in color.  I spent a little extra time on the sign trying to learn to paint neon for the first time...

Without really planning it, I moved the buildings slightly to the right, and inadvertently solved another problem.  The left hand vertical line of the building faces no longer bisects the canvas.  A big improvement.  At this point, I'm very happy with the subject.  I think the composition is OK and I feel like the grayness of the day has been captured.  I really like the subtle colors of the neon sign and the window.  I want to avoid the fictionalized Kincaid look, but I do want to have this light the focal point of the painting. And I want it to be the invitation to come in from the old and it was in real life.
The struggle continues in Part 2

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Painting Day on the River

Sometimes, in spite of my best efforts to screw up a good thing, it all works out right.  Case in point: a day of painting on the River with Cindy and Bill Corp on their houseboat.  Bill and Cindy had extended an invitation to join them with the plan being that we would paint on the River and at the same time, work with Cindy, who is an emerging painter.  As Bill put it, Cindy would "learn from your putt".   It sounded like a heckofva deal to me and I accepted...and then promptly forgot the date.  Sunday morning I set off for a painting day at the Wildlife Refuge off I-5 and Twin Cities Road to paint.  Partway there, Bill called.  "just checking to make sure you haven't forgotten us."  OMG.  Of course I had forgotten!  But miracles do happen and there I was, car loaded with painting gear and heading in the right direction, if not the right place!  A quick detour and I found Cindy, Bill and Ernie Wester already on the Corp's lovely house boat ready to go.  (Ernie is the very accomplished painter from Locke...a great guy, great painting companion and even greater artist.)
Our Floating Painting Platform!  And Restaurant! Cindy and Bill's Houseboat!

Ernie Wester...not only a fine painter, but he can cast off a houseboat like a pro!
After a brief cruise of likely painting locales, we settled on a small island and decided to paint from the dock.  Cindy and I picked a sailboat at anchor in the River and Ernie found shade under a tree and painted it.

Cindy and I picked this vista for our paintings.

 We set up on the dock.....

Ernie finished early and watched Cindy and I struggle.
and painted this lovely scene.

Cindy showing off the afternoon's results...a nice landscape.
My only photo of Bill, taken with iPhone. 
 This beautiful afternoon was topped off by a delicious dinner prepared by Bill as the rest of us goofed off and painted. Here Bill gets a well deserved break after dinner is finished and the table has been cleared.

What a perfect day on the river...beautiful scenery, good company and great hosts.  Thank you Bill and Cindy!