Sunday, January 20, 2013

Plein Air Along Bruceville Road

For the second day in a row, I joined the Sacramento Plein Air Painters.  Today, unlike yesterday, was wonderfully warm.  The sky was blue and cloudless.  We had permission to go onto farm acreage normally closed as private property.  It's impossible to describe the wealth of subject matter everywhere one looked.  Old barns, vehicles, sheds, open vistas....just amazing. 

I was in a bit of a hurry to get back home by half time in the 49er game for the League Championship, so I selected a little piece of all the scenery...probably a good idea, no matter how much time I have. 

Tractor and Shed along Bruceville Rd   Plein Air  Oil on 9" x 12" Canvas Panel

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Plein Air at the Capitol

Today I joined with about a dozen other members of the Sacramento Plein Air Painters to paint in Capitol Park.   It was a cold clear and crisp day.  Standing in the shadows for a long time was not recommended!  But it was a good day to be outside. 

I did this study of the east(back) side of the Capitol building as seen from deep in the park.  I had hoped to capture the brilliance of the building against the darker foliage, while also having a feeling of atmosphere and depth.  I think I was only partially successful.  Now that I've had a chance to sit back and look at it, the size of the building is much too large. It looms over the middle ground trees, which was not the case.  This is a common problem for me.  I tend to make my subject too large on the canvas. Often it's just a matter of composition, but in this case, that tendency has worked against the feeling of distance.  If the size of the building was about 3/4 what it is now, I think the depth of the painting would have been much enhanced.  Yet another lesson to be learned...or in this case, re-learned.  

 I'd like to return to try it again another day.

It's on a Raymar panel,  12" x 9"

California Capitol  East Side   12" x 9" canvas panel. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

South Fork Yuba River - A Small Study

Many, many years ago, I spent some of the best summer vacations of my life in a large cabin along the South Fork of the Yuba River, not far from the little town of North San Juan.  My cousins and the life-long friends of theirs who owed the place all called it "The Ranch".  There were half wild horses, forests and the cold clear river.  And, of course, the "diving rock".  Unfortunately it burned down some time ago, but the good memories of swimming all day in the river will remain with me forever.

A few years ago, my cousin Karen and I took a drive back into the past to North San Juan.  Although we couldn't locate where the Ranch had been, we knew we were close.  I took this photo very near the spot where we once swam as kids.  Today I was in the studio, came across it and did this small study.

Memories of The Ranch  oil on 8" x 6" panel

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Cold Morning in Locke!

This morning I joined the Sacramento Plein Air Painters Meetup Group for the regular "first Saturday of the month" paint out in Locke.  It's one of my favorite plein air locations.  Martha Esch led a small group of artists into the slough area behind Locke for a hiking and sketching trip while I stayed behind and painted the town!

In the early morning, the sun was out and, although it was chilly, it felt comfortable.  However, as the morning wore on, it got colder and colder...or so it seemed to me.  Standing virtually motionless at the easel for the better part of two hours was no doubt a large part of the challenge.  Fortunately, hot coffee was available just a walk down main street at Al the Wop's famous dive bar and restaurant.

This little plein air study is 12" x 9" on a raymar canvas panel.  I started out with a pencil sketch and even went so far as to establish my vanishing point and horizon line (thank you Terry Muira!)  And speaking of Terry, I shamelessly stole his technique as well -at least as well as I could - but then that's why I took the workshop, right Terry??  When I returned to the studio this afternoon, I added a few palette knife strokes to establish a few edges, suggest the direction of the building siding, and put in the powerlines.

Locke Cultural Center  Plein Air oil on 12" x 9" canvas panel
  Martha Esch returned with her group and snapped this photo as I was finishing up. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Texas School Boy, 1942

I've long been intrigued by this photo of a Texas School Boy, c 1942.  Over the long holiday weekend, I decided to try it on a smaller scale.  The actual photo is somewhat different, and has several other boys in it.  I made a couple of sketches and decided to paint the one boy and move him to the left.  This left quite a bit of area to the right with nothing in it.  The original canvas is 9 x 12, but I am going to crop it to 9 x 9 as I have done in this photo.

I used a fair amount of walnut oil medium in the painting, which makes it very glossy.  I was also painting on a canvas that I had gessoed several times in addition to the manufacturer's gesso.  This makes for a hard non-absorbent surface which I am growing to like.  The paint sits on the surface and retains gorgeous color in most cases. The walnut oil drys very slowly, which allows for several sessions over a couple of days of wet blending.  That was helpful.  I will probably continue to develop the overalls a bit, and the windows bug me so I may revisit them as well, but here is the work in progress as of today.
Texas School Boy 1942  (work in progress)  Oil on 9" x 9" canvas panel

Accepted! SFAC Juried "Celebrating California" Show

I'm pleased to say that my painting, "Final Rest - Noyo Harbor" was accepted in the Sacramento Fine Arts Center juried show, "Celebrating California."  The show is currently on-going at the Art Center.

Final Rest - Noyo Harbor    Plein Air oil on canvas  16 x 20

  The best in show award went to Steve Walters for a striking full sheet watercolor.  Steve captured an amazing sense of light and summertime.  It's more and more obvious to me that in paintings that stand out from the group, the artist has "captured the light."  As I look at my painting above, I see that I didn't do that.  When I started the painting, there was a very strong, clear morning light coming from the left that is missing in my painting.  In trying to think why that is so, I suspect that by the time I was bringing the painting to a close that light had changed to a general midday sun without real distinction.  Even in that case, however, I don't have a strong sense of light in the painting.  Something to think about and learn from.  There's so much to learn!  Wow, painting is such a challenge!