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!