Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Brass Bowl with Wine Bottles

When it comes to photographing oil paintings and getting faithful reproductions of the original there's a lot to learn.  I've read many sources on the subject, and I'm still floundering.  Then, to add further to the challenge, I'm trying out my new Nikon DSLR for the first time.  I've had a chance to review some of the manual settings and I was very pleased with the resulting picture. I was able to save it in Photoshop without any adjustments except for the normal cropping.  However, now I'm experiencing problems with imported image into Blogger.  The picture below is not the quality of the original image that I have in Photoshop.  I have not had this problem before.   Obviously more to learn! 

This simple still life is done on 12 x 12 linen panel.  I enjoy painting these still life setups.  They are truely painting "from life" - something I think most artists don't do enough of - but they will sit patiently for you as you struggle along...and even wait overnight for the next session.  I appreciate that!

Brass Bowl Oranges Apples and Wine Bottles   12 x 12 oil on linen panel

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Thursday, December 11, 2014

".....home from the sea." Oil on canvas

"...home from the sea" started as a photo taken from my Hotel balcony in Ft. Bragg, California this fall.   I did a small oil study (8x10) to try out some approaches to the night scene and then did this 20 x 24 final painting.  The study was actually the second I've done of night scenes in Noyo Harbor and this is the first larger painting done from either.  I plan to start the second one shortly.

I've really enjoyed trying to capture this night scene.  The fact that there is some intense light in the scene which illuminates other portions of the painting to differing degrees adds to the challenge.  The water is Ultramarine with Thalo Green added to darken the value...and just a touch of Cad Red Medium to gray it slightly.  I used Rembrandt Cold Gray extensively in mixes with other colors, particularly in the buildings and dock of the middle distance.

Overall this image is slightly lighter than the painting, and even of the picture used to import the image, but it's reasonably close.  

home from the sea   20 x 24" oil on stretched canvas
This painting is available framed or unframed.  Please contact me by email for more information

This is the 8 x 10 study done in preparation:
Home from the Sea  Oil Study on 8 x 10 canvas panel

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Friday, November 28, 2014

Selected as "Featured Artist" by Fine Art Studios Online

I am very pleased to have been honored by Fine Arts Studio Online (FASO) as a "Featured Artist" for my plein air paintings.  FASO can be found at this link  if you'd like to learn more about them.

With the permission of FASO, I have included their very nice article below: 

FASO Featured Artists: Artist Bruce Hancock

by Carrie Turner on 11/23/2014 11:45:54 AM

This article is by Carrie Turner, editor of FineArtViews. During her tenure as editor, FineArtViews has been mentioned or referenced by The Huffington Post, MLive, WorldNetDaily (WND), artnet, COMPANY, American Artist Magazine, ArtBizBlog, The Abundant Artist, EmptyEasel and many other publications and blogs. FASO Featured Artists (FFA) is a regular blog series on FineArtViews. Art critic Brian Sherwin is a consultant for the FFA series.  The FFA selections are featured prominently on the FineArtViews newsletter -- and are shared with over 26,115+ subscribers. You can read about other recent FASO Featured Artists by clicking here.

The Old Foundry - Sutter Creek by artist Bruce Hancock

Artist Bruce Hancock strives to capture the people, places, color and culture of America in oil. His plein air paintings are a joy to observe -- each image offers a reflective look at a moment caught in time. Bruce notes that he is devoted to the study and practice of the art of painting.

Bodega Bay Afternoon by artist Bruce Hancock
(Oil on Canvas Panel)

Bruce Hancock offered some thoughts about his life as an artist: "Coming late in life to the easel has presented me with challenges and opportunities in abundance.   After the initial excitement of returning to painting, I began to understand how much I had to learn.  To grow as an artist, I regularly study through workshops and studio sessions with gifted artists I admire.  I have to admit that I feel the pressure of time.  There is so much to learn and to experience and to try.  But I understand too that the artist’s journey has no end, no matter when in life it began."

Art critic Brian Sherwin, editor of The Art Edge, offered some thoughts about Hancock's plein air paintings. Sherwin stated, "Bruce captures the energy of a scene by utilizing bold marks and color. The expressive nature of his work documents a moment caught in time.

Final Rest at Noyo Harbor by artist Bruce Hancock
(Oil on Canvas)

You can learn more about artist Bruce Hancock by visiting

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Night in Noyo Harbor - Oil Study

Each time I've traveled to Ft. Bragg, California to paint, I've stayed in a motel that overlooks the Noyo Harbor.  And each time I've taken many pictures of the harbor from my balcony.  My particular favorites have been at night, when the lights from the restaurants and other businesses, as well as a few lights from the fishing industry buildings, sparkle in the deep dark of the valley that surrounds the harbor.  I've often thought of painting from the photographs, but I've never tried a night painting before.

Today I decided to do a small 9 x 12 study as a practice, with the thought that I might try something bigger if that worked out.   Here's my study, done in about 1 1/2 hours this morning.

Night in Noyo Harbor - Study   9x12 oil on canvas panel 

I used only a few colors here.  Primarily, the darks are Ultramarine with Cold Gray to lighten and red or Alizarin to darken.  Of course, there are lights done with Cad Yellow Lemon, Cad Yellow Deep, and some Cad Red Medium.  Here and there are some hints of green done by mixing the yellow and blue.  

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dolphin Cove Morning

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had an opportunity to paint with friends in the Ft. Bragg and Mendocino areas just this October.   On the last morning there, we visited Dolphin Cove, which is just a little way further up the Noyo River from Noyo Harbor, a place I have painted many, many times.

When I arrived at the Cove at about 9 in the morning, it was still in deep shade.  The high bluffs and fir trees forming the east and south rim around the harbor blocked the sun even this late in the morning.  However I could see that the track of the sun would soon bring it over the ridgeline and the light would begin to reach the boats in the harbor.  I set up my easel at the water's edge and by the time I was ready to paint, the sun had reached the boats on my side of the docking area, while the boats and the hillside on the other side remained in shadow.  It made a dramatic scene of light against dark.

I painted a 12 x 16 plein air piece of two of the boats in front of me.  It's posted below.  After returning I decided I wanted to do a slightly larger and more finished studio version of the same scene.  Fortunately, I had taken a couple of pictures to use along with the plein air painting as reference.

Painting in the studio, I was able to carry the painting further.  In particular I wanted to emphasize the brilliant intensity of the morning light against the dark background.  Of course, my studio painting does not have the immediacy of the plein air experience, but in exchange I was able to develop areas and details a bit further.  At the same time, I tired to concentrate on maintaining some looseness in areas of the painting...and to be careful not to over paint.

Dolphin Cove Morning  20 x 16  Oil on stretched canvas

 This is the plein air work of the same scene.

I've begun to pare down my palette lately - both when painting in plein air and in the studio.  Both of the paintings above were done with the limited palette for the most part. I'm not rigid about it and I feel free to add any tube color I feel might be useful, but I am generally using only about 4-5 colors plus white.  I've borrowed Kathleen's Dumphy's palette pretty much, which she generously shares on her blog along with huge amounts of wonderful information about her painting experience and technique.  The palette is Naples Yellow Deep, Cad Yellow Lemon, Cad Red Medium, Ultramarine Deep, Transparent Oxide Red, and Titanium White.  All of the colors are Rembrandt except the Cad Yellow Lemon, which at Kathleen's suggestion is Utrecht.  The TOR is my addition to the palette.  It's a color I find invaluable in so many ways.  I would have a difficult time painting without it...and it's easily my most used color. (I'm cutting way down on white also, except when it is an obvious color in the scene, as in the two paintings above.)   Kathleen rounds out her limited palette with Rembrandt Cold Gray.  I have it on my palette too, but I haven't learned to use it comfortably yet.  I will be taking a workshop from Kathleen in April and I hope to remedy that!

I rarely have a tube green on my palette.  Mixing greens from blue and yellow and modifying them with red or TOR gives a nice variety and I don't often feel the need for the tube greens.  I still find uses for's a distinctive color that I can't mix.  For many years I used large amounts of yellow ochre and I still squeeze it out nearly every time out of habit.  But I'm finding less and less need for it and I'm now wasting way more than I'm using.

I find the limited palette very comfortable.  As I said, I don't feel constrained to use only those few colors...this isn't some kind of challenge or test...but the more I paint with the limited palette,the less often I feel the need for other colors.  

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

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

 To PURCHASE or BUY "Mendocino Memories", please click HERE.

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 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

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 ( ) 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

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sutter Creek Scene - Plein Air

Howard Rees and I met up in Sutter Creek on Friday to enjoy the beautiful summer weather and get some plein air painting in.  The morning couldn't have been more pleasant.  We went to the small park which is pinched between a parking lot and a small stream which bisects the town.  If you didn't know it was there, you'd probably never find it.

I have been working in my studio very sporadically on a copy of a painting by John Godward.  Other than that I haven't been behind the easel much for several weeks.  It was good to get out there once again.

This is the rear of a group of buildings which border the creek.  I was on one side of the water, in the park, looking across.  I've painted the main building's the home of Pizza Plus, definitely great pizza!  And cold beer. 

Sutter Creek Scene   12 x 16 oil primed linen panel. 
To PURCHASE or BID on this original plein air oil painting, CLICK HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Stylin' A Model A "portrait" in oil

Recently I visited a most unusual show of antique Caterpillar tractors along with collections of other antique 'working' vehicles, including logging trucks.  The Hangtown As, a Model A restoration club out of Placerville, California ( once called Hangtown in the Gold Rush days) joined the show.   I got some great pictures of all of the equipment.

This beautiful Model A convertible is a 1931 vintage I believe.  She is stunning in bright yellow on a summer day.  I couldn't really do her justice, but it was fun to try.

Stylin'     oil on 8 x 10 linen panel  

To PURCHASE or BID on this original oil painting, please click HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tools of the Trade - Still Life in Oil

I guess painting a vase full of paint brushes is more or less required at some point.  In my case, it happened because I got the urge to paint about 8 pm.   I didn't want to spend a lot of time gathering flowers and props, so I reached for what was in the studio.   In this case, I found a bottle of walnut oil, some W&N linseed oil, a small brown vase and some brushes. 

I used a linen panel that I had prepared some time back with a tone of burnt umber, I think.  When I applied the tone I experimented with adding some texture with a crumpled paper towel.  Generally, most of this would be hidden, even in a vignette style painting, but in this case I let it become the background.  I'm still undecided about whether it worked or not, but this was a quick sketch...something to have fun with on a Thursday I'll leave it as is.  I tried not to get fussy with this one.  When I started messing around with the brush shadows, I knew it was time to quit.  It was a pleasant two hours of painting.

Tools of the Trade   Oil on linen panel   12" x 12"

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blue Vase with Oranges and Grapes

The composition in this painting evolved as it was painted.  That's not a good way to do things, but it was a good learning experience.   I started out with just the blue vase, the copper bowl, grapes and oranges.  But the arrangement left a large empty background to the right...and even some empty table space right below it.  When the painting was nearly complete I decided to see if I could fix the awkward and unbalanced composition by adding the vine leaves and small flowers and the apple along with a couple of grapes.  I think it addressed one problem, but created a second one, albeit less noticeable in my opinion.   Now I have a vertical on the right as well as the left!  An odd composition for sure, but at least the canvas is no longer empty.  I'd say the 'fix' worked overall.

I love this vase.  I've never used it in a still life before, but I will again.  And it is a natural and complimentary foil to the oranges.  I enjoyed creating this painting...and I also enjoyed the challenge of the in-progress adjustments. 

Blue Vase with Oranges and Grapes.    12 x 16 oil on canvas panel.

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Plein Air Painting Near Plymouth, California

Sometimes I get very discouraged by my plein air painting efforts.  But then I look at a picture like this and I realize that being an artist....even a struggling such a wonderful gift.  Every day out side is a blessing to be enjoyed and remembered.  On this day, I joined Julie Trail, Vickie Chew and Howard Rees at the Old Shenendoah School House near Plymouth California, in the gold rush country of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The photo really says it all.  Julie (left) and Vickie begin painting an old barn just off to the left of this photo.  Howard was on the other side already well into his painting.  Can you look at this and not be just a little envious of us?   We are lucky indeed to be artists in this beautiful time and place.

And my painting was....well...OK.  But the company was great and the morning was exquisite, so who's complaining!(I spent a few minutes in the studio on the painting-particularly on the ground in front of the barn.)

Old Barn near Plymouth California   Oil on 9x12 linen panel

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wine Bottle with Pears - Still Life Oil

Still life painting still intrigues me.  I'm finding that the more I paint from "life", the more the prospect of painting from photographs seems to be lacking.  The reality is, of course, that for practical reasons, painting from photos is almost unavoidable for most of us. Access to models whenever we want to paint a portrait or a figure just isn't possible and plein air painting opportunities are not as frequent as we might like.  Still life painting represents "instant" opportunities for painting from life almost anytime the urge strikes. And the added benefit is that I get to create the composition before I set a brush to canvas - and that's  a lesson in itself.

I completed this still life about two weeks ago, but I've been undecided about it.  After looking at it for some time, I lightened the table top a little and called it done. 

Wine Bottle with Pears and Grapes   Oil on stretched canvas  12 x 16

To Purchase this painting, click HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Trio - Still Life in Oil

I spent Thursday wrestling with a painting that included, what a challenge that is!  I must have wiped the flowers out three times.  Finally I called it quits with that awful feeling of frustration and failure.  But I resisted the urge to wipe off the painting.  On Friday I returned to the painting and made a final attempt.  I finished the least, I've done all I'm going to do on it.  By now I realized that the roses were not the only problem with the painting.  The composition was weak and the whole setup lacked energy and interest.  Another lesson learned.

Still filled with that feeling of frustration, I immediately set up a more familiar still bottles and grapes.  And I used the darker background again.  It's my favorite so far.  Anyway, in a short two hour session, I painted this still life.  I returned for another hour on Saturday to finish it up.  I really enjoy doing this type of painting.  I love the subtle lighting and the value relationships are a real test. 

The title "Trio" refers to the label on the bottle of wine.  It's a cabernet that was given to me many years ago by a business friend.  His family had purchased a vineyard and this wine was made from grapes grown there.  The "Trio" name refers to the members of the ownership group, if I remember right.  The bottle is now some 13 years old.  It's the last of several bottles that had and the wine was delicious, but I hate to open it. I think I'll just leave it makes a great still life subject and brings back memories of a great guy, long retired and moved to greener pastures.

Trio    oil on 12" x 16" linen panel 
My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Friday, April 18, 2014

White Pitcher with Flowers - Still Life Oil Painting

This is another high key still life.  These brighter paintings are still a learning process for me, but I do enjoy the opportunity for playing with the light and color.

White Pitcher with Flowers    Oil on 9 x 12 linen panel

To Purchase this painting, please click HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Monday, April 14, 2014

White Pitcher with Oranges = Still life in Oil

I continue to experiment with still life subjects.  I'm enjoying painting these relatively small works.  This is another with a dark background, but in this painting I've tried to keep all the objects in the painting in fairly strong light. That makes for lots of color...and the painting seems brighter (naturally), but the trade off is that the "mystery" of the darker paintings is lost.  I do like the opportunity to play with the light and reflections, though.  I guess it isn't really a loss, but simply a trade-off.  It's just a matter of what appeals to the viewer.

This is painted on stretched canvas (3/4" thick) ....9 x 12 turned horizontally this time.

White Pitcher with Oranges   Oil on linen panel   9 x 12
To Purchase this painting please click HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Friday, April 11, 2014

Join Me? Still Life Oil Painting

Another Still Life oil painting!  I'm hoping to do quite a few of these small still life paintings as a practice and learning tool.   I feel like the process of creating them has already helped me somewhat in my landscape plein air paintings.  When I'm out painting, I try hard to concentrate on the landscape in front of me and treat it as if it were a still life subject.   In many ways it is, of course, and by using the same approach I would as though painting a still life, I feel that the somewhat chaotic plein air process that I've been following becomes more methodical and planned.

So here's another still life once again using good ol' Johnny Walker as a prop.  I like the beautiful burnished copper color of the scotch and painting glass is really fun.

To Purchase this painting, Please click HERE

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Main Street Volcano, CA -Plein Air Oil

Our little painting group of Julie Trail, Vickie Chew, Ruth Andre, Howard Rees and me have been meeting weekly for plein air painting in the Gold Country.  The spring weather is too much to resist.  Everything is green, the poppies are creating blankets of amazing color.  It's a feast for any painter.  Ruth couldn't make it on this trip but the rest of the group ventured to the small town of Volcano, CA.  It's a fascinating little place, though not as popular with tourist visitors as some of the Gold Rush towns, probably because it's a bit out of the way.  Maybe that's good, because it retains a strong feel of the mining days. The surrounding hills create a valley that the first explorers to the area mistook for the rim of an extinct volcano, thus the name for the little settlement that was built there. 

Some of the larger masonry and rock buildings that once lined main street have collapsed with only the front wall remaining in some cases.   But several little wooden stores and shops still remain.  The general store is open and cooking up some cheeseburgers for those who do visit.

We set up in various places around the little town.  The weather couldn't have been more beautiful and by early afternoon, it was actually beginning to get warm, and shade was welcome.  I painted these two small buildings along Main Street.  The bright light changed as the morning went on and the shadows and dappled light from the trees created some challenges as they moved constantly.  But hey, the cheeseburger and the beer made it all worthwhile!

Main Street Volcano, CA    oil on 12 x 16 Ampersand panel.  

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Drytown and the Old Well Cafe

Drytown is a tiny town in the heart of the California Gold Rush countryside.  It's one of the first places I ever did plein air painting...and it is always fun to return there.  I'm not knowledgeable about Drytown's history, but I'm told that the name does not refer to any kind of 'prohibition'.  Quite the contrary.  In it's hayday, Drytown had 65 bars!  I have no idea where 65 bars could have fit into tiny Drytown....but apparently it was a bit larger than it is today.   The little white building is the Old Well Cafe.  I don't know its history either except it's been there forever, apparently.  Funky would describe it best, I think.

I painted in Drytown on Friday with artist friends Ruth Andre, Julie Trail and Howard Rees.  It was a nice day...a lull between welcome rain storms.   We painted all morning and then had lunch in the Old Well Cafe.   A good day. 

Drytown and the Old Well Cafe   Plein air oil on linen 9x12

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art