Friday, December 17, 2010

Oil Painting workshop in New Zealand

I wrote previously about a watercolor painting holiday in New Zealand in February 2012, just over a year from now. We are considering adding another week, working in oils this time, with Michael Chesley Johnson. Michael lives in Canada in the summer, Sedona, AZ in the winter and he teaches lots of workshops. He likes the idea of our relaxed itinerary in New Zealand and if we have enough interest, he would be willing to do it the week after we finish the first one with Adele Earnshaw and Joe Garcia. That would make it the first week in March, 2012, which in New Zealand, is late summer. A perfect time to be there!

The painting above is one of Michael's, not mine. He has titled it Low Tide at Friar's Bay, and I think it is one of his Canadian pieces. I lifted it (with his permission) from his website. New Zealand has similar scenery, with oceans and beaches, but we also have rain forest and pastures. It is a unique country, and one worth visiting. Let me know if you think you might have interest in joining us in New Zealand and I will send you more info.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Colorful Colorado

When I went to Rico (near Telluride Colorado) to attend Jill Carver's fabulous workshop, I stopped and took photos both coming and going. The color was just incredible! It was the last week in September, which is peak time for most mountain areas, and this region was no exception. The photo I used as reference for this was taken on a side road on the Dallas Divide.
One of the women who attended the workshop was Shirley Novak, the wife of artist Ralph Oberg. While Shirley and I and the rest of the workshop attendees were out painting, Ralph and his friend and fellow artist, Dan Young (also from Colorado) went out and painted every day too. The amount of work they turned out was incredible! They each did at least one, and most days two, 11x14 or larger plein air paintings. I was amazed at how quickly they worked and what great paintings they produced.
Getting back to taking photos on the Dallas Divide, it seemed that everywhere I stopped as I headed north to go home, Dan Young was also stopping to take photos, so perhaps one day you will see this same scene, or something close to it, in a Dan Young painting. I am sure he would do a better job on it than I did, but I had fun with the yellow and purple combination.
BTW, Jill is doing another workshop in Rico in June 2011. I have already signed up and am looking forward to it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What's in a title?

I have a heck of a time coming up with titles. When I do, I find I have already used them on another painting. I ended up calling this one Ranch Pond, which is very uninspired and if I can find something better, I will change it. I already used Reflecting and others that say similar things on other paintings. As often as I paint water and fall, I go through the titles pretty quickly. Any ideas will be appreciated! ( I have already used Double Vision, which would be appropriate).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One fine day

Combining two of my favorite themes, fall color and water. I love to paint reflections. I made a conscious effort on this one to not do purple mountains! At this time of year they get gold and even red as the tundra grasses change color, so why not? Purple and blue mountains sometimes seem a bit trite, but most of the time the color is dead on. This day was different and that is why I liked the reference photo I used for this painting. BTW, if you would like to read a good article about plein air painting, my sister found a great article in Huffington Post, of all places.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Trail West

Another in my series of the landmark mountain in our county, Buffalo Mountain. I have been trying to approach it from different angles and in different seasons. I have hiked this mountain three times now, and saw mountain goats on it twice. I have lots of photos! I am attempting to paint the goats too, and so far have not produced anything worth posting. I am not much of an animal painter, but will keep trying and might post one, one of these days! This is a little larger than I have been painting in the past, at 11x14. I have been working on some 12x16s too and do like larger pieces for a change.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Blue River painting

I have been painting with my sister Adele this week, and have been turning them out, which is good! Here is one of the best of the week so far. Two of my more favorite subjects together; the Blue River and fall colors. I took a lot of photos this fall so have plenty to work on over the winter. As my color laser printer is having some issues, I decided to get some of my digital photos printed. I tried WalMart, Walgreens and the local grocery store, but wasn't really happy with any of them. Most were too dark. Have any of you had any luck with other places?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Painting in Arizona this week

I am spending the week at my sister's house in Arizona, and when I go there, I paint almost all day, every day. She lives in a canyon and my cell phone doesn't have service there, so work doesn't interfere and I can just paint away. I have been turning out 12x16's (one a day so far) and feeling good about them. I haven't photographed them yet, as I need to look at them for a day or two to be sure there are no glaring errors. Sometimes I just don't see the mistakes until I am looking at them with a fresh eye again. Then it pops out and I wonder how I ever missed it!

Here is one I did last time I was here. I bring photos with me rather than try to paint the red rocks! My sister Adele is also an artist, and she routinely paints every day, so I just grab an easel and try not to stand in her light or back up over one of her wet paintings.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Painting after Monet

I am taking a class at our local junior college called "Painting after Monet" and it is about painting in series. I tend to do that anyway, as I get stuck on one subject and like to really explore it. My subject for this series is Buffalo Mountain, a prominent landmark no matter where you are in the county. This one was actually done before the class started and I settled on a subject, but I enjoyed doing this so decided I would like to do more. I have aobuat 5 or 6 more to do!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finally, a new painting!

I have been off this blog too long, but I just haven't had time to paint much. Therefore, I have had little new to post. The last week I have managed to get some painting time in, and here is the latest.

This is the start of a series of paintings I will do as part of a class I am taking through our local junior college. The title of the course is "Painting after Monet" and the idea is to explore one subject matter thoroughly by painting it repeatedly, but differently. I decided that I would like to paint a very prominent local mountain called Buffalo. I chose it for two reasons; first, I am just beginning to learn that distant mountains are better painted with temperature changes rather than lots of value changes, and I thought I would reinforce that by painting many mountains. Second, Buffalo is a somewhat solitary mountain with a very defined rounded shape. That will create composition challenges. It will be good for me to have to work through and I will post them as I get them done.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Will Paint for Food! Small format show

The co-op gallery in Breckenridge that I have my work in is doing a small format show this holiday season to benefit our local food bank. We are calling the show "Will Paint for Food" and we have asked the artists to use the food theme for their artwork. It doesn't have to be a bowl of food as I have above (onions) but it could be cows in a field, a cafe scene, a sign; anything that relates to the food theme somehow. We will have prizes and also a "people's choice" award. Our visitors always like being a part of the show, and we are asking them for a can a food or $1 for each vote. They can vote as often as they like for their favorite! In fact, we would love it if they stuff the ballot box. Anyone can enter, and if you are interested, you will find the info on our website at Just go to the Small Format show section and click on the "application" link for information.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What fun, a New Zealand watercolor workshop!

I was born in New Zealand. It is a fabulous little country with wonderful, friendly people and I go back there as often as possible. I have mentioned here that my sister, Adele, is an artist. She has taught many watercolor painting workshops in Italy, France, and here in the States.
She and I have noticed that no one does workshops in New Zealand. There are lots of offerings in Italy, France, England, Portugal, even Croatia! But none in our favorite spot in all the world. We decided to fix that, and she and her good friend, artist Joe Garcia are going to teach one, or maybe two, watercolor workshops in February/March 2012, about 18 months away. I take workshops, not teach them, and I am an oil painter. However, I get to go and be the van driver, breakfast maker, and chief cook and bottlewasher. I am thrilled! We will be in the North Island of New Zealand where Adele and I grew up, so anyone going will have tour guides who really know the area and all the great painting locations. Joe and his wife, Anne, have vacationed there with us many times, and know it about as well as we do.
We must have hit on a something, because after she mentioned it on facebook and her blog, she had a huge response, and we are now considering adding a second session a few days after the first one. I am really looking forward to it, and hope to spend an extra month there after the workshops are over. If you have any interest, let her know so you can get a spot. Each group can have up to 20 people, with two instructors.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

After the Jill Carver workshop

I didn't come out with a completed painting! We painted every day, and I got a couple of good starts, but nothing finished. I did finish one of them today (I think) but haven't photographed it yet. The photo above is of Jill painting a cottonwood as her first demo. I met one of our fellow bloggers there. Pam Holnback also took the workshop. I enjoyed getting to know her and her husband Peter, both former schoolteachers. She did a much better job than I did of posting about the workshop as we took it, and she finished her paintings! I was lucky to get my block ins done.

The workshop was fabulous and I learned a lot! However, it is a bit difficult to see nothing but Cadmium yellow and yet paint using neutrals (greys). The color in Rico was awesome, and whole hillsides were bright yellow and orange! I commented on how orange one little patch of trees in the distance was against the dark pines, and Jill told me that it wasn't really orange, but a "peachy pinky grey". She is the master and I am just the student, so I believed her, but I sure wanted to use my Cad yellow and Indian yellow!

The second photo was taken at Trout Lake, just over Lizard Head pass from Rico, about halfway to Telluride. I loved the orange color in the mountain. In some lights it was really bright orange, and I wondered who would believe me if I actually painted it that color. They would think I was taking a little artistic license.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Before and after

I did a couple of plein air paintings this weekend in Westcliffe. They weren't particularly good, but at least I didn't turp them out. I thought I would post one here as a "before" the Jill Carver workshop, and I will hopefully post a much better one as an "after". This isn't quite finished as I thought I would tweak the fence posts after it dried a bit. I may never get around to it, as it isn't one of my favorites....maybe it should have been turped out! The two triangular shapes are too similar; I should have make one of them larger and the other smaller. Not a particularly good composition. It also needs a lighter streak of light behind the trees. Perhaps I should never have posted it, but now you know why I am taking this workshop!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Off to a Jill Carver workshop

Tonight I am in Westcliffe, Colorado, a little town in the valley between the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Christo Mountains. I am here with my sister and another artist friend, Joe Garcia, as they have work in a show and sale that benefits the San Isabel Land Trust. Sunday I leave for Rico, Colorado, a small town near Telluride, for a 5 day workshop with Jill Carver. Jill is one of my favorite plein air artists and I am excited to be in her workshop.
I have said that I find plein air painting plain frustrating, and if Jill can't get me to enjoy it more, no one can! Telluride is a beautiful place and the fall leaves should be near their peak. I will try to post some updates while I am there. We have internet in the hotel, so I won't be completely cut off, although cell phone service will be limited during the day as we are out and about. Not a bad thing!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Peak week for fall color

I know it is early for most of you, but winter starts much earlier here! This photo was taken yesterday. We have had daytime temperatures in the low 70's and nights in the mid 30's, so the color has just been exploding! No wind, no rain....just perfect fall weather for almost two weeks now, with more in the forecast.

This is the time of year when my fall aspen paintings sell well, so I am always sure to have plenty in the gallery. One of the little 6x8s sold the other day, so I did another quick one this week. They are simple and don't take long to do, but I like to use new reference each time so I am not just copying them off. I have been running around taking photos most mornings and late afternoons so I have enough to last me until next fall. Above is one I took at Maryland Creek Ranch and below is the latest little aspen study.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where has the summer gone?

I have managed to hike once a week and I have done two outdoor art shows. I sold some real estate (thank goodness, as that is my "real" job!) had a successful launch of the piece that was chosen for the music festival poster in Breckenridge; but did I paint? Not much! Not near enough. So I am reduced to posting paintings I did early in the year. So much for trying to paint every day. This is a little piece (8x10) called "Arnica on the trail" that I did this spring. Arnica is a yellow daisy-like flower with a heart shaped leaf. It grows in drifts, usually under pines and spruces where there is still plenty of sun getting through. They bloom in June and are one of the first wildflowers growing in large displays. I always enjoy seeing them.
I am now taking an art class every Tuesday night and should be able to get back to painting with friends on Sunday night, so hopefully I will be able to post some new pieces soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another river painting (or two)

This is just a little study I did in preparation for a bigger version of it. It is only 6x8 but it really helped me figure out what needed to be important for the 16x20 version (which sold this month. Yaaay!!) I find that doing a smaller one first helps me with composition, drawing, color and anything else I need to work out. The second time through I gave the river more of a curve and emphasized the fall colors. I may have already posted it here, but here it is again. Although the second one is probably the better of the two, I prefer the looseness and spontenatity of the first one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Some come easily, and others not so much!

"Overlook" 16x20 cradleboard. I actually haven't painted the edges yet, but I had thought I would go ahead and post it. This took me just a couple of days of 2-3 hour sessions each. I have been looking at this reference photo for some time, wondering if I should dare attempt it. It is a more complicated scene than I normally do, but it just seemed to flow off the brush. Others are a struggle, and I don't really know what the difference is. I have spent less time than this than I do sometimes on a 9x12!

I took this photo on an August hike a year or two ago. The Chamisa was in full bloom and the clouds were threatening looking, but it never did rain. The aspen hadn't started turning yet but there was plenty of color in the Chamisa. The lake is Lake Dillon and the mountain in the distance is Peak One. The town of Frisco, where I spend a good bit of time, sits at the foot of the mountain, at the edge of the lake. A nice place to live!

Monday, August 9, 2010

More autumn scenery coming up with a new show

Jenn Cram, an excellent clay artist, and I have a show opening this weekend at the Breckenridge Theater Gallery. Titled "Transitions", the show will hang for a month or so. The show title works well with my pieces as so many of them are obviously in different seasons. I have a lot of landscapes with wildflowers in summer, snow in winter, melting snow in spring, and of course, my favorite season to paint with lots of color, autumn.
This scene is a beaver pond that I saw as I was driving home one day at the peak time for fall color. I called it "Reflecting". One day I will figure out a way to think of interesting titles! My nephew, Shane Rebenscheid, calls his paintings names like "The day that Sam lost his watch" and "Covert Diplomacy". Once you see the painting, it makes sense, (mostly) but how he comes up with the titles, I will never know!
The link above takes you to his blog. Shane is a commercial illustrator, doing book covers for the most part, and now he has taken up "fine art" and is doing well. He has a great art education and it is good to see him using all of it! If you want to see his illustration work, go to (another great title!)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Autumn will be here soon

When you live at 9300 feet, the seasons are short, except for winter! Our aspen trees will look like this in about 6 to 8 weeks. By mid-October we won't have leaves left on the trees and ski season will start at the end of October.
I finished this painting this morning, and it is the first one I have done in a month or so. It has been a very busy summer!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wildflower season still going strong

The wildflowers are amazing at this time of year in the Rocky Mountains, especially near the streams. We see Chiming Bells (the blue ones) Parry's Primrose (pink) and many other flowers of all colors anywhere it is wet. There is even a pink one called Elephant Head, as each little flower on the stem looks like an elephant's head with a trunk sticking out from the center. They are fun to try and identify, and even more fun to paint! This painting is just a little 6x8.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sold! (maybe)

It is amazing what the publicity for the Bach Beethoven and Breckenridge poster has done for my business this month. The poster was printed about a month ago, and we had a poster signing and reception July 10th at the gallery that carries it. Suddenly, people think of me as a real artist rather than a wannabe artist. I like that! It is just a local poster and nothing like getting into a national magazine or winning a contest, but I see a lot of them on walls in people's homes and offices. This is the 24th year for the poster and it is a long time tradition, almost always using a local artist.
The painting above was not the one used for the poster, but another I had submitted for it. It is 18x24, and a client who purchased a little 8x10 piece of fall aspens saw it on my website and wants to buy it. I will deliver it for her approval when I go to Denver on Friday for another appointment. The gallery where I did the poster signing has sold a couple of originals and another couple sold through other outlets. It has been a good month. It will help me buy my new car this fall! If they made Subarus the color of aspens in the fall, I might buy one that color, but they don't :(

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wildflower season

There is nothing like summer in the Rocky Mountains. Because our summer season is so short, the flowers are spectacular as they are all blooming at once. I love to paint them, but have to remind myself that masses of flowers paint better than individual single flowers. Letting the eye of the viewer figure out what the individual flowers look like is more interesting to me than painting every little flower by itself. Besides, I hate noodling a painting and I find myself doing it too often!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Breckenridge outdoor show went well

And I have a report on my new Caravan tent. While not as sturdy as a Light Dome or that type of tent, it is worth the money I paid for it. It is much less expensive than the Light Dome at just under $400, but still more than an EZup. I paid a little extra to have a steel frame instead of aluminum. For a person who does a couple of shows a year, it is very adequate. We had some really gusty winds at the end of the first day, and a couple of EZups lost their tops. People were hanging on to the frames for dear life to keep them from flying away too. I decided that not only did I need to attach my weights to the frame, but also to the canopy. There are a couple of D rings on the top of each corner of the canopy. I bought some more bungees and ran them from the canopy to the weights and after that we were very secure. Unless you have the extra bungees, the canopy is attached only with velcro.

My husband made the weights using PVC pipe and concrete. He made them fairly long, and they ended up weighing about 55lbs each. They are heavier than I wanted, but your weights really cannot be too heavy, especially when the winds pick up. We also had rain showers off and on the first day. Nothing more than a sprinkle, but still, enough to ruin frames. We had a corner booth and were also using the outside walls, so we would pull stuff in, then put it back out, and bring it in again, then put it out again.....several times. That night I picked up some clear plastic, taped it to the top of the outside walls and rolled it up so that we could lower it easily if it rained. Of course, it didn't, but hey, that is ok. That is an easy way to keep the rain away!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting ready for an outdoor show

The first outdoor show of my season is this weekend, in Breckenridge, Colorado. I bought my own tent this year, after borrowing one from a friend the last two years. I did some research and ended up buying a Caravan tent. It is similar in style and just as easy to use as the EZup tents, but heavier and more substantial. If I did lots of shows I would probably have a Light Dome or something of that type, but they are much more expensive. For less than $400, the Caravan tent should be a good fit for my needs. I plan on two shows this year. The second one will be in Evergreen in August.
This painting will be available at the Breckenridge show. I painted it last summer at a local pond, and as I was painting, fishermen were pulling out fish after fish. I titled it "Good Fishing". It is one of my few plein air paintings. I need to paint outside more, but find it a bit frustrating as the light changes so often. People keep telling me it will improve my painting skills, but I don't see any improvement yet. I should do it more....I need the practice. I throw away or wipe off about three of every four I do. When I get one that works, it feels good, but mostly it is just plein frustrating!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Colorado

This 6x8 oil painting is called "Heading Home" because it is from a photo I took last September as I headed back to Summit County from Westcliffe, Colorado. The road follows the Arkansas river a good part of the way, and in places, has cut canyons that you drive through. It was about 5pm as I came out of a canyon into the sunshine and I had to stop and take photos because the light was so nice. I do this drive every year, and I always look forward to it because the leaves are peaking at the end of September.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Changing Colorado weather

June 13th, and we woke up to snow this morning! It has mostly melted now, but we expect cold temperatures tonight so my tender plants are inside. Typical Colorado! It made me think it might be a good time to post this painting that is titled "Weather Change".

Friday, June 11, 2010

Beaver Pond near Lake Dillon

Those Beavers are busy guys! I rember once camping near a stream, and when we went back three years later the stream had been eaten up by a large series of ponds. The beavers had been hard at work all that time.
This painting was a challenge to myself to use many shades of greens, which can be difficult! The photo is a little cooler than the actual painting. It may be one that people consider boring and never buy, but I liked the way it came out. Sometimes the ones you like best, no one else seems to like enough to buy! And one that you weren't as happy with is the first one to go the week you take it to the gallery. It is strange how that works, and I have given up trying to predict what will sell and what won't.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Finally, summer is here!

Summer in Colorado is fabulous, when it finally gets here. I photographed this flower container in front of a Victorian style house several years ago in Redstone, Colorado, and decided that this would be a good time to paint it. Redstone is a wonderful little artsy, historic town not too far from Aspen and Glenwood Springs, but you find these type of flower displays all through the mountains. Breckenridge and the area I live in have some of the best! Colorado summers are really nice because our temperatures are cool (no AC needed) and the sun is strong, intensifying colors. Everything seems to bloom at once because it season is so short. It is a great time to live here!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A pet portrait

I don't do pet portraits, and I really prefer to paint landscapes. This painting, titled "Littermates" is of two of my cats. They are 14 years old now, and Delilah (the fluffy one) has kidney problems, so who knows how much longer I will have them? I decided it was time to paint them in my favorite pose.
We got Dusty and Delilah as tiny kittens from the local shelter. I had planned on only getting one cat, but took a friend with me who insisted I take her brother too, and I am glad I did. They are Siamese mixes. Dusty looks very Siamese but Delilah is soft and very fluffy. She does have darker tail and ears, typical of Siamese. They have always slept like this, provided Dusty gets in the kitty bed first, then Delilah can join him. If she gets in first, he chases her out, but then lets her back in after he gets the prime spot. She always has her paws around him as she does here. She puts up with a lot from him, but she seems to realize it is a fact of life in her world!
A painting tip from from my sister that I will pass on. Normally I try not to paint with anything smaller than a number 4 bristle brush. It is tough to do fine lines with it though, and a rigger doesn't really give me the control of the line that I want. Adele, now an oil painter, used to be a watercolor artist. She suggested a water color brush that comes to a fine point. I happen to have one and it works like a charm. It allows you to put down that fine line you need for whiskers, and also lets you to make it even finer by cutting into it from the side, picking up paint you don't want. It is absorbent, so with a little turps on it, will take out a line that is in the wrong place completely. I waited until the painting was pretty dry to add the whiskers, and that made it easier.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A quickie

I got home late yesterday afternoon and only had about an hour of good light left. I had been trying to get to my paints all day but my work just got in the way! I don't like painting under artificial light, so I did a little quick 6x8 and finished it just as my light was fading.

This painting looks a little lighter on my monitor than it actually is; it is really rather dark. I named it "Last light" as it is a scene I often see as I drive home when the sun is setting, catching the tops of the mountains with the last rays. I thought the name was appropriate as I painted it with the last light too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good news!

Last November I entered two paintings into a competition for poster for the Breckenridge Music Festival. It is called "Bach Beethoven and Breckenridge" and even though it has a music theme, landscape paintings have often been used on the poster. I found out about it two weeks before the deadline and quickly got a couple of 18x24 landscapes painted and entered them both. One was selected as a finalist and I was thrilled!

Rather than the Music Festival doing the poster, it was produced by a person who had the contract to make the selection and pay to print the poster. He would pay the artist for the work and get all rights to the image. After donating a certain number of prints to the music festival (along with the original painting) he would then wholesale the posters to other print stores and galleries in the area. They have always been good sellers, and you often see them on the walls of local homes and businesses.

This year, that guy went out of business. He closed his store and is moving away. I thought that the poster project was dead and that even though I came close to winning, it would never happen. Yesterday I got a phone call that the Buffalo Mountain Gallery has bought the program and will be printing the poster using my image! It was a lovely surprise and I am excited that it is finally going to happen.

As you have seen from the work I post on this blog, I like color and I like to paint Colorado aspens in the fall. That is what this work also is, and it has the really original name of "Colorado Color." It probably could have used a better name, but sometimes I just run out of ideas. Hopefully it will reproduce well as a poster. Luckily they are not relying on my photo of it for the poster, but will have it professionally photographed.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer will be short and sweet

Where I live, in the mountains of Colorado, summer is always short, and therefore, sweet! But this year it is shorter than usual. My last post, about a week ago, featured a snowy photo from my studio window. This week I have daffodils! The painting above was done from a study and photos I took at Mayflower Gulch one June, and you can see even then there still was a lot of snow. It stays on the peaks for a long time, but lower down, the wildflowers are incredible.
This year I am working on the "Art and Wildflower Celebration" a benefit for The Continental Divide Land Trust. It will be in mid July, and we have about 14 or 15 plein air artists who will paint at trailheads and other parts of the area known for wildflowers during the week prior. To me, painting plein air is plein frustrating, so I am the coordinator rather than a painter. I will submit one piece into the "studio" segment of the event, and will be one of about 14 more artists with studio pieces. We hope the artwork will sell out and raise lots of money for the land trust. This is the third year for the event and each year it gets bigger and better. I have really enjoyed getting to know some of the artists, among them Beth Erlund, Amy Evans, Tricia Bass, Debby McAllister, Ann Weaver, Ginger Whellock, Barrett Edwards, Kate Keisler, Kim Barrick, Sandi Bruns, Mary Lou Johns, Joan Hilliard, Marty Rohde, Mark Johnson and CJ Chadwell. Lots of good Colorado people!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ready for spring

I don't know that spring will ever get here! We live at an elevation of 9,000' feet, high up in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. We love snow. We play in it all winter, but the ski areas closed a month ago, and look at what it is still doing! This has been the view out my studio window for the last few mornings. It is not a black and white photo. It is fresh snow. But tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 50s and on Monday in the 60's! We will all have our shorts and sandals on. I have to go to Denver to buy my ski pass for next season, and perhaps I will stop and pick up some flowers. I will still need to cover anything less hardy than pansies for at least two more weeks, and maybe four, but I am ready for summer!
Now can you see why I paint lots of summer wildflowers and fall foliage?

We can get snow here at almost any time, and I remember watching fireworks in a snowstorm one July 4th. Our summers are short, but that is why the wildflowers are so fabulous in the Rocky Mountains; they are all blooming at once! I hike a lot in the summer, and my camera goes with me. I spend the summer and fall photographing it all so that I can paint it in the winter, when it is all white outside again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another water painting.

Still Water. 8x10
Seems like I am on a water binge. Last time I did a series it was Spruce trees and flowers.
From a photograph I took in Westcliffe Colorado, late last summer. Where I live, at 9,000 feet, the leaves had already turned, but further south and at lower elevation, they were just beginning. I paint so much fall color that it is a nice change to paint green leaves. I had to have a touch of orange and yellow though! It is more challenging to give the greens some variety, but thinking about what is warm and and what should be cool helps. Bob Rohm's book, mentioned in my last post, helped me with the water. He says to paint the reflections with vertical strokes and to use horizontal brush strokes on the water. He also suggests vertical brush strokes on the sky when there are no clouds. I tried it here, but am not so sure I like it as much as my usual random brushstrokes. I will try it again though before giving up on it. He recommends vertical strokes because it gives the sky an uplifted feeling.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Painterly Approach

I was at Borders the other day, and always check out their selection of art books when I am there. I came across a new Northlight book by Bob Rohm titled "The Painterly Approach". It is a wonderful book! I have a lot of art books, but this is one of my favorites because he has many really good suggestions that I know will help me in painting landscapes. As I have no formal art training, many of these things are either new to me, or it is the right time for me to hear them again. Here are some that I found very relevant.
"A dark cast shadow on the ground is filled with the reflected light of the
sky and is never as dark as an upright shadow.
Trees are warmer closer to the ground and cool as they grow to the sky."
(Especially true of aspen trunks - my note.)
"Color looks intense when surrounded by grayed hues.
Too many obvious edges make a work busy. Too many soft ones make the work
Very slight value shifts are all it takes to show form.
Thick paint, hard edges, strong color, value contrasts and vigorous
brushwork come forward while soft edges and cool, thin color recede.
The shadow must contain the same color as the sky.
Reflected light can be any color based on what is causing it, while the
reflection of the sky is always whatever color the sky is.
A blue sky calls for a blue shadow and a purple shadow needs a purple sky.
The stronger the sunlight, the more noticeable the reflected light
Dark storm clouds are never as dark as the shadows on the land.
Generally speaking, shadow areas are thin, soft and mysterious, while very
light areas are thick and opaque."
I could go on and on! Perhaps I will do a second post with more of his suggestions. If you get a chance, buy or borrow this book!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Continuing the fall theme

A quick little 6x8 painting I did as an experiment in being loose. I call it "Windblown". It took me about 45 minutes to paint and then a couple of days to look at it and see if I liked it or not. Then I spent another half hour tweaking it :)
The hardest thing for me to do is to make a confident, yet casual, brush stroke. I see confidence and edges as the two main things that separate amateur from professional. Laying that brush stroke down and knowing it is in the right place, with the right value and color, is hard for me. I tend to put it there, and then change it. Not confident at all! But I am gradually getting there.
Now I look at this photo, I see one or two things I need to change, but heck, maybe I will just leave it alone.....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gallery wrap or frames?

Another Colorado fall color painting. It actually is very similar to the one I used with my last post. Just a different view of the same river, from photos taken the same day. My other painting is only a 9x12, and I liked it well enough, I decided to do this one larger, so it is 20x24 and painted on cradle board. Cradle board is similar to a gallery wrap except that it is a masonite panel with 1 1/2" edges versus canvas wrapped around the stretcher bars. This time I continued the image around the edges for the first time. On other cradle boards I have used, I just painted the edges a solid color.

What sells best? A framed piece or gallery wrap? Do you charge differently for one like this versus one in a frame that cost $100-200? I don't know the answer to that, as I have just started doing larger pieces in the last few months. In this economy, I find that smaller pieces sell better, so I have not done a lot of large paintings. However, I will be doing some outdoor shows this summer and will need some larger pieces to have impact as people walk by the booth. Hopefully I will be able to tell you what sells best by the end of the summer!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My favorite color

This is the painting I like best from the ones I did last week in my sister's studio in Arizona. It is called "Autumn on the Blue" and it is from a photo I took of the Blue River in Summit County, Colorado. Of course, tomorrow my favorite could be a different one, but it will probably have fall color in it! Indian Yellow is one of my most used colors of paint. Adding white to any color cools it and makes it chalky. Adding Indian Yellow warms it right up again but as it is transparent, it doesn't change values or opacity. I can't paint Colorado landscapes with aspen and cottonwoods in the fall without Indian Yellow! It gives a much nicer color than mixing any of the oranges or reds that I have tried to mix with Cad Yellow.
My palette is pretty limited, intentionally. Perhaps it is time I started trying a few other colors as well. I usually have a warm and a cool of each primary, plus white and Burnt Umber (and Indian Yellow!) My sister swears by Permanent Rose, so I guess I should give it a try one day.
Every time I attend a workshop, I always make sure I have all the colors on the materials list, but I find I still continue to use the ones I am used to. Mixing is easier when you know what you are going to get! Then again, visit Karin Jurick's blog and watch the video of her laying out her palette. It takes about 5 or 6 minutes and she uses about 50 different colors. Ahh, to paint like Karin Jurick!! Do you think if I buy all the colors she uses I will paint like her? I wish it were that easy.....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Painting for summer shows

I spent last week at my sister's house in Arizona. She is an artist, so I get lots of time painting in her studio with her. I took plenty of reference with me as I need to get a lot of work done for various summer events. In total, I did about 6 pieces that I will be happy with once I tweak one or two of them a bit. One is 16x20 and the others were 9x12 or smaller. When it goes well, I paint quickly, but if I have to labor over it, I am better of wiping it out and doing something else. I had a couple of days of wiping out, but had a couple of good days too.

I have two outdoor shows I have committed to this summer, plus the Continental Divide Land Trust has a fundraiser that I am involved in. I am coordinating the artists for the plein air event, plus I will submit a piece for the studio artist's segment of the sale. The theme for this year is wildflowers and this is the 9x12 piece that I will probably use for it. It is titled Rock Garden, and the reference I used was a photo I took on a hike one summer when the wildflowers were particularly good. I did a couple of other, similar pieces in Arizona, but this one talks more about the flowers than the others, so this may be it. Hopefully it will sell and raise money so that the Land Trust can protect more land from development, keeping the wildflowers blooming.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Making an easel for an artist

My husband is retired, lucky guy. He is playing with clay and wood these days. He likes to sculpt, but his most fun comes from figuring out HOW to do things, rather than actually doing them.

My sister has said for some time that she really needs a new easel, and what she would love to have is a counterweighted easel that will move up and down with just a touch so she can easily adjust the height of the piece she is working on. I came across plans for such an easel on Joshua Been's website a while ago, and Jim (my husband) decided he would like to build one for Adele. It looked pretty simple as it just took a few two by fours, plywood and some hardware, but turned out to be more complicated than we thought it might be. First, the easel is about 10' high and 4' wide. My sister only has 8' ceilings, so it needed to be shortened a bit. Second, the base was 4'x4', which takes up a lot of space, and all the plywood makes it very heavy. So Jim did a little modifying and ended up with and easel just under 8' tall and about 3' wide. The front of it has masonite on it rather than plywood and he left the base open to eliminate some weight.

We drove it out to Arizona and unloaded into Adele's house. We hadn't told her about it yet, and she was thrilled to see it! She is the guinea pig and Jim is asking for suggestions to change the design and make it even better. She has already come up with a couple, which he implemented right away. One was to eliminate a portion of the lip on the tray that holds the canvas or panel in place. He cut out about 6" which now allows her to paint all the way to the bottom of the panel (handy for cradle board and gallery wraps) without the lip getting in the way. He didn't remove the lip entirely as it is needed to keep the canvas from falling off the easel. Second, because she sits to paint, she wanted a footrest, which he added at the bottom. She also wanted plywood in the base so that she could store stuff behind the easel and get it out of the way. I don't know of anyone's studio that has enough space for storage and hers doesn't either. He also had to add more weight in the back to make it easier to move the tray up and down. For that, he used nylon rope tied to round weights with a hole in the middle (free weights that you use while exercising).

Now she just needs to use the easel and give Jim suggestions to improve it further. He may make more easels, and thinks that perhaps he will use beetle killed pine that is so prevalent in our part of the Rocky Mountains. It is an environmentally friendly way to use unwanted wood. With this basic plan, he will be able to custom make each easel for the size of studio it is going in and the needs of the person using it.

Maybe my easel will be next! Do you have suggestions for the next one? I know as Jim makes them, each one will get better than the one before. I know Adele will have her input too!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What to do with my failed paintings?

I have quite a few of them! I have been painting less than five years. As a beginner, I have lots of terrible paintings, but I have never thrown one away. Every so often I go through the pile just to show myself that I really have improved! My stack of panels is getting pretty big and I am running out of storage space. I usually use either Pintura panels or RayMar panels, so throwing them away is a bit difficult as I think about how much I have invested in them. This painting did not come from that pile, and it is one I just finished. I must admit part of it was painted twice though!

My artist sister, Adele Earnshaw, calls me at least once a year to tell me that she has found her perfect painting surface. A couple of years ago, it was a very nubby textured linen. That was it! Her masterpieces had a texture she really liked. Then it was gatorboard with clear gesso on it. I tried the clear gesso. It is a bit like painting on blotting paper. (Does anyone even remember what blotting paper is?). Next came Gessobord, her surface of choice for at least a year now.

Today she called me to say that she has now found the really perfect painting surface....old paintings! Ah-hah! I have a whole pile of old panels that will be able to be used again, but with a much better painting this time. Take a look at the one she did today, over top of an old painting of her own. Do you supppose years from now, a museum will be xraying it to see what is underneath?

Why would she like to paint over an old painting? Because it forces her to use thick paint and nice loose brush strokes. I guess I should give it a try myself. Perhaps I will keep a few of those failed paintings after all.....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hooray, I got in!

I came home yesterday to a letter from the Evergreen Artist's Association informing me that this painting, Beaver Pond, had been accepted into the Evergreen Art Open. It is a juried show, and I am very pleased, as one of 70 out of 265 entries, to be part of the show. The juror was Doug Dawson, a very respected artist who teaches at the Denver Art Students League, among other places.
We leave for Sedona the first week in April, but will need to be home in time to deliver it to the Center for the Arts in Evergreen on the 18th. The reception will be between 5 and 8pm on Friday, April 23rd. The Center for the Arts is at the corner of Hwy 74 and Squaw Pass Rd in Evergreen, next to the Buchanan Recreation Center.
This is the first time I have entered into anything other than our local co-op gallery, so I am very excited to have had it accepted. In a couple of weeks I will hear if I got into two outdoor shows that I entered. I have hopes for one but I hear the other one is tough to get into, so we will see how those go.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blue River Artists show at Zoe's

Zoe's Hair Design in Breckenridge is known locally as a place that displays great art as well as a great place for cuts and color. For years, the owner, Donna Miller, has held art shows in her little salon. She moves all the furniture out, hangs the art on the walls, serves wonderful food and wine and gets a huge turnout at the reception! Not only does she bring in a good crowd, she even sells a lot of the artwork.
Thursday, March 25th, some friends and I will have a reception for our Second Annual show. We call ourselves the Blue River Artists. We paint together weekly in Breckenridge, and Donna is one of our members. Several of us also take classes together at both Colorado Mountain College and The Art Student's League in Denver. Our group is informal, but is a great help when we are stuck, or need a little critique to feel like the painting is finished.
The painting above, titled "Meadow's Edge" was painted in our group on a Sunday night. It is 9x12 and will be one of several at Zoe's.

Our reception is from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday. Hope to see you there!