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