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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Montage Resort Viewpoint

On Friday, October 17th, I painted on a bluff at the Montage Resort Hotel property. There were several other Southern California Plein Air Painters (SOCALPAPA) on a paint-out there. I am a member of that association. I got there early and stayed by myself to concentrate. I found the third bluff to be a great viewpoint looking southeast. I could see a strong composition in the close bougainvilleas, jade plants and other plants that lead into the ocean cliffs and waves, then the distant shoreline and South Laguna hillside. The amount of diffusion in color and value from the foreground to background was complicated and I felt a need to simplify it poetically. I placed warm and strong colors on the garden plants and carried the warmth into the next bluff that was lit by the sunlight. Onward to the second bluff, it was in shadow and cool, such a beautiful contrast that was a joy to represent by grays, muted greens and blues. The Montage buildings were nestled on the cliff which I noted very basically to not draw attention but give a sense of place. Off to the right on the bluff was the bright sunlight dancing on the waves and shoreline. A cool morning marine layer lingered up the Coast Royale neighborhood up in the hills. The palms are a nice added detail that also represent the actual landscaping. It was a very clear day and warm, I spent most of my time preparing the colors I saw on my palette after I painted in a very warm-red-orange under layer. I sculpted out the composition into this base sketch so I could capture the morning shadows and lights in their specific design. Once I made all my piles of colors and various hues and values, I packed up and left. That wasn't how I wanted to do it, but with kids in school, I had to go. So, later in the evening at my home studio, all I had to do is download my digital images on my laptop and pour a glass of chardonnay, turn on the classical music and paint for three straight hours. The painting process flowed so well because I had focused so well on the scene earlier, made up the color puddles that I saw while on location and had a tight preliminary drawing of shadows and lights ready to guide me. The digital image on my laptop served as a reference, but my artist spirit and wisdom did the rest. I am very happy how this painting turned out as it really takes you into to the canvas and carries you along the cliffs to the shore and off to the sky. There is a melody to the seascape, maybe it was the music, I love Classical music. It places my emotions at ease and enables me to relax my body. I stroke the brush to the rhythms of the music sometimes like a conductor, it is so liberating. Just as music is full of many notes and changes in tempo, a painting's brushstrokes are also just as diverse. Both are art and one enriches the other. I will always play music to help me be more expressive in my art. I show two images, the first is the seascape on location with my fire red looking sketch. That color really helped the painting as it shows through in little tidbits of the finished piece to truly warm it up. This is a 12" X 12" gallery canvas, 1-1/2" thick sides, I painted them a blue-green. It does not need a frame. The title is "A Montage Viewpoint" and it is available. email me if interested. Price is $250.00 and is hung at the San Clemente Art Gallery until either sold or by January 9th 2009. Just an added note: This painting received an honorable mention in this Winter Judged show at the San Clemente Art Gallery!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Crystal Cove, Ca paint-out

On Thursday, October 16th, the Laguna Plein Air Painters had a paint out with a demo by Armand Cabrera who is an artist in the Laguna Art Museum's 10th Annual Plein Air Invitational. I arrived a little late and wasted no time to run down the beach to set up my easel facing south. Instead of watching the demo, I wanted to paint the subdued morning light. I saw a beautiful arrangement of low light on the last cottage with a point of perspective on the bluff beyond that faded out to a second misty bluff. Over the edge of the bluff was the kiss of light upon it and I was swooned. When I opened up my easle, I realized that I forgot my paints. I ran back towards the demonstration spot and asked Nancy Egan if I could borrow her oils, she was so kind to hand me her tub of Classic Oil Paints. I hadn't tried them yet so I ran back to my place and squeezed out my palette and then ran back to return the paints. I really didn't want to loose that special morning light. I moved very fast to set up the worksketch on the linen canvas. As soon as I was done with my preliminary sketch, the sun came over the bluff and shined on that last brown shake cottage with blue trim. All of that low light was gone. Incidentally, that is the cottage that was used for the set of "Beaches" with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. So, I had already put down the shadows in my sketch and lifted out the light areas and I was ready to lay in my colors from memory. I spent three hours on my little 8X10, 1 hour was used to eat my breakfast on the sand and contemplate how I would finish the painting to make it special. I felt a fire in me this day to churn out a beauty. I wanted it to be done alla prima, an 8X10 would be no problem for me. It turned out better than I thought it would in fact. I wondered if it had anything to do with the Classic Oil Paints? They went onto the linen with the ease of a gliding iron, the ending sheen was brilliant. I was excited as I neared the end of the painting. I had to leave to pick up a daughter from high school, so I thought I better not have anything more to do on it when I leave. All went as planned and I even had nice compliments from a Crystal Cove worker plus some visitors. It was a fine day that left me feeling so good to be alive and thankful to be an artist. The title of this little jewel is "Edge of Morning". email me if you would like to purchase one like this for $150.00. I have given this one to my husband, Tom, who fell in love with it. I can paint another but not exactly alike this one. I can place it into a beautiful dark wood plein air frame for another $80.00.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pondscape explorations

A new painting! This one took me a week, it started last Friday October 3rd at the San Juan Capistrano Mission. I had personal family problems off and on the whole week. One absurdity after another, no wonder I am a crazy artist. So, I worked on this in segments in the studio. It turned out to be a good thing as I discovered ways to layer the wet oil paint over dry oil paint that added multiple auras of color. This is one rich painting in the sense of 3 dimensions because I carefully chose each color layer with alternating values. Say, the gold Koi, he is not just one value of orange and not just orange either, he is layers of deep rusty orange, gray, mauve, ice cream orange and so on with a compliment of blue streaked across him to convey he is under water. He is swimming through dark murky waters and the light gradually reveals his shape. I staggered the lily pads around in a design from warms to cools, they lead up to the violet lily on the left with the unopened pods behind it. Then your eyes go back upwards to the second lily which is lighter in value and hue. That lily touches the reflections of water Iris reeds that are actually out of the scope of the painting, but their reflection tells you they are just on the edge of the pond. At the front of the painting there are also reflections of the trees overhead. The lily pad in the bottom right is dying and half sunk into the dark waters. All of this is to give you a real feeling of the pond's depth, the koi's motion, the lily flowers and pads resting on water and the light reflecting off the water's surface. It's all a wholesome, cohesive pondscape. Hence the title, "Pondscape #1." Oh, there will be more of these paintings, I am becoming immersed in this type of landscape, which really is not a landscape since there isn't any land. My big mistake was entering the previous 30" wide painting into a landscape exhibition. It was rejected and I cried for a bit, but I am over it now. Next time, I will drive out to the country and paint a bunch of trees over the dirt. I'll make it pretty, don't worry. I could've slapped myself for being so ignorant about 'landscapes', but my artist spirit was too wrapped up in the lily pond at the mission. I was thinking of Monet too, his waterlily masterpieces are huge and not showing the land at all. It is all on dirt though. I could paint a much larger painting next time to show the whole fountain, the trees, the mission arches, the Koi, lilies and the works. It would have to be huge, a least 4 feet wide. I think I just convinced myself, I happen to have several gallery canvases that big. Since the weather is turning cold, I can do studio paintings until next spring. Ah, but the call of the wild gets to me and I have to pack my plein air easle and head for the coast. I will be painting at Crystal Cove next Thursday in fact with LPAPA in fact. The moon is getting near full and I live on top of a canyon overlooking San Juan Capistrano Hills. I could do a moonlit landscape, oh the possibilities! Right now though, my head is light, no food for six hours. Bye for now. I think I am going to list this "Pondscape #1" on eBay. CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE AUCTION.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Refreshing Waterlily Pond

I have entered this piece into the Southern California Artist's Association exhibit called Points of View. I also just became a member of that group. I am excited about this membership as it encompasses several styles of art, not just plein air. So, I can freely enter studio pieces into several exhibits each year. This latest waterlily piece measures 30" W X 12" H and is oil on hand stretched Belgian linen. After reading up on several of my art books on Monet this week, I was ready to delve into my own rendition of waterlilies. Mind you, I didn't just study Monet for a few days, he has been the focal point of my old master, great artist studies for years. I've been to see countless paintings of his in several museums, I am in awe of his work. I read his Retrospective book of 400 pages twice. So, when I read that sometimes he used a pink undercoating on his canvas, that is what I experimented with on this piece. Little peeks of it show through the layers of paint to lend a cool atmosphere and compliment the yellow-green lily pads and flower stalks. Very warm colors are in the foreground. Compliments and split compliments are dragged to create a scintillating effect in this piece. There is a dancing light effect across the pond and the delicate waterfall cascading down the fountain. I felt that was the refreshing part of the whole reason I painted this scene. The way the water hit the pond and caused the ripples, the coolness of the air surrounding the pond kept me wanting to stay there forever. Although I only took this canvas there for two hours, captured the bones of the painting and finished it at my home studio. I worked from my former lily painting, digital images, Monet's influence and my own artist soul. I was amazed at how I departed from the first worksketch that is on this blog into a wider more light filled abstraction. I discovered how an artist can truly evolve by doing a succession of paintings based on the same subject. I will like to go further the next time, painting an even larger piece, it sparked a pleasant monster out of me.