Sunday, February 15, 2015

Amador City Shops - Plein air

Yesterday my friend Howard Rees and I met in Amador City to paint.  It was a wonderful spring day with a clear blue sky and temperatures in the low 70s.   I tried to remember my last plein air outing.  I think it might have been with Howard and a group of painters in Ft. Bragg and Mendocino last October!  Wow, could that be?  If so, that's far too long between outings.  I've mentioned here in the past that I have a love / hate relationship with plein air painting.  I find it so frustrating at times, and yet it is always invigorating and inspiring to get outside, set up the easel and just absorb it all.

After we were done, Howard and I had pizza and beer in a favorite place in Sutter Creek and we talked about plein air painting and the need to shake off constraints and accept that some - many - paintings will not be successful in their own right.  That's always easy to say and difficult to accept, but learning and growing is as much about what you do that doesn't work as it is about what you do well.

On this wonderful bright day, I picked a simple subject.  Perhaps I should have tried some of the more picturesque old western structures in Amador City, but I found these dark shaded shop doorways against a brightly lit building front to be interesting.  As I painted I experimented with a palette knife for texture and interest.  As I did so, I was thinking of famous artist Tibor Nagy and my friend Ruth Andre for inspiration.  I admire the palette knife work of both. (Ruth was going to join Howard and I but had to cancel due to not feeling well.)  I was judicious in my palette knife use - 'letting go' is still a struggle for me - but I think the texture created with the knife saved this painting and gives it some character. I'll be taking a workshop with Kathleen Dunphy in April, so I used her limited palette of cad yellow lemon, naples yellow deep, permanent red medium, ultramarine deep, gold grey and white.  It's a palette I use more and more anyway, with some variations, so this was a good time to stick strictly to those colors only and get in a little more practice. 

Back in  the studio I restated the darks using a knife and lost some edges using mostly my fingers and then signed it.  It was a super day.  Howard and I vowed to get out again soon.

Amador City Shops   Oil on 12 x 12 linen panel

Setting up in Amador City on a gorgeous Valentine's Day

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art


  1. Bruce, This is such a nice painting. I see you found the old post office door way and a shop entrance as well. I love the textural quality of the paint. Lovely work.

  2. Yeah! I like this one! Vickie

  3. Hi Vickie! Thanks! I'm going to be painting in your neighborhood next beautiful up there. I'm really looking forward to it.

    1. Where U painting and when? Want company?