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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Work 'til you can't stand no more

That's when I have to drop everything and stop painting for awhile. I ran myself ragged last week completing three new plein air paintings. I've been resting a bit lately. I got into one of those frenzied creative states, pursuing the perfect painting. Friday, November 14th I painted at the San Clemente Pier. Steve Kell was demonstrating down there. I took one look and decided to find myself a spot to paint instead before the perfect morning light passed me by. I was mesmerized by the tide coming in by the pier under the heavy posts. Many designs and colors just cried out to be captured. I love water and even love painting it more. So here is "San Clemente Pier-Incoming Tide" 8X10, oil on linen. It is on eBay right now, I will add a link later.

I kept pretty busy at home doing housework during that week also. It hadn't been done in a moon or two. I do my housework in big stunts, like taking apart the whole place and re-arranging everything once it is cleaned. I think that caused the ultimate collapse, the old gray mare just ain't what she used to be. I still didn't fall down yet. I discovered a book by Rex Brandt that I had hiding under some magazines. It is hand signed by him, it is called "The Composition of Landscape Painting." 1959 and it is a fantastic instruction book by this genius of a man. I have been reading it off and on. I am inspired to try out new theories as stated by Rex Brandt on how to arrange the shapes and colors to direct attention in the painting. On November 16th, I went hiking down the canyon to the old orange groves I love so much. Seems the pomegranates were ripening. My husband & I picked bag fulls. I discovered many new fall landscapes to paint on that hike. I made a mental note to come back with sketch book. But I got happens.

On Thursday, November 20th, I met with Jeff Horn and other's from LPAPA at Balboa Island to paint. I saw this pair of boats and the little one, actually called a dinghy had this algae growing on it's top. It glowed in the foggy mist. Then the sun tried to come out and glistened all over the water. The shadow behind this dinghy and the zig-zag reflection of the sail boat mast really cinched the composition. I had to capture that effect. Here is "Take Me On the Water-Balboa", 8X10, oil on linen.

On Friday November 21st, it was another plein air day at Crystal Cove State Park, Pelican Point. I got there fairly early and found a bluff that had a standing area perched right on the edge of a wonderful southern view of the cottages tucked into the bay and the bluffs cascading down the shore. PCH was a line with light dots for cars. The sun was coming over the far hillside and there was smoke along the horizon making the sky a buttery yellow. There was a haze cast over everything, it just looked so soft and dreamy. This was a hard one to paint. I took out a 14X14 gallery thick canvas for lack of another ready canvas. I had a lot to decide upon in placing the composition on the canvas. I think it worked out well. Here is "Crystal Cove Cliffs-Morning Haze" Oil on canvas. Man, do I like this painting, it doesn't show up as well as it looks in real life.
The next day, I went to the Randy Higbee Gallery Auction to see how my fellow artists works were selling. It was a nice crowd but sales were down, still they bid for the works. I almost got into this auction but was too late to drop off my best pieces. The wine was good though and my artist friends were all too funny. We went to Jeff Horn's annual studio sale next. Jeff is so talented, I really like his style. I had more wine and some delicious cake!
So, it was finally time for my body to throw in the white towel. On Sunday, November 23rd, I was a limp noodle. I could not lift my head for very long, my body felt drained of all it's powers. The timing seemed alright to me, I feel that my painting techniques took on a new height, I climbed the mountains and deserved to collapse. There are times when an artist feels they hit upon something big, it is unexplainable. The subconscious knows and the artist feels this newness through the hands onto the canvas. Maybe that's why I was running all over the place, I felt I was going to find something, like a treasure map with the gold at the end. Now I am going to apply the concepts of composition and color and values, lines and texture in a whole new way. Or maybe just a little different than before. Watch my work over the next months, you'll see. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crystal Cove vacation

We (just my husband & I) stayed at Crystal Cove for three days from November 7-10 in a small room in one of the lodges. I didn't mind the small room for I wasn't going to spend much time in it. I did sleep, but not very well, the sound of the waves crashing hard the first night was very loud. I was excited to greet the dawn of light early the next morning. To be at Crystal Cove around the clock for three days was causing my spirit to fly pretty high and be restless. On Saturday I watched Kevin Short do a Demo for the Crystal Cove Alliance. He works so fast, I met some of his collectors and we all had great conversation. I later met with a good friend/artist, Veronica Kortz, whom I invited to come down to paint with me. I think it was too great of a beautiful day as several hundred beach goers came to enjoy the day also. I tried to paint, but the noise and people were too distracting. I thought it was better to enjoy the day on the coast and throw in the towel. So, on Sunday, learning from that lesson, I stayed on my deck of the lodge and set up a canvas. I was high up from the waters edge and the view was fantastic up the coast with the row of un-restored cottages scattered up ahead. The winds were blowing 20 knots and the canvas had to be bungie corded to the rail. I almost needed to be tied down also. But I stayed committed to the scene off the north side of the Cove and pulled off a great painting. The title is "Crystal Cove Relics", 16X12, oil on linen.
Just as I finished a crowd of people checked in one of the other rooms. It was supposed to be two people checking in, but they asked a dozen more to come and party with them. My painting was hung in the large kitchen up high so I wouldn't have to breath the oil paint during the night. I was also worried about people touching it. Sure enough, the party of folks made a big to-do about the painting at the start of their dinner in the kitchen. Everyone wanted to adopt it or show it in their home or walk away with it. Several people said they would be my gallery host. Anyway, they became very excited and vocalized it over that painting, I guess it impressed them! I was honored by the compliments and opened my wine bottle to enjoy the rest of the evening with my husband seeing that they had their fair share of wine already. We had a night walk along the cottages and it really was nice and mysterious, I could feel and hear the spirits of old Crystal Cove in some of those cottages.
On Monday, I tried to paint on the tide pool reefs as the tide was out. I got along pretty well into the painting and my husband showed up with a sandwich. Well, so did a hundred seagulls and one snowy white egret. I took time to photograph them and visit, it broke my concentration along with the tide coming in. I decided one painting in three days was good enough reluctantly. At least I took 500 digitals with my Olympus SLR, it is a fine camera. We enjoyed the sunset and packed up to go home. It was sad leaving there, I could only imagine how the former permanent residents felt when they had to move from there. The good thing is I can do day trips there anytime since we live 20 minutes away. I have fallen in love with this place and will continue to explore it, paint it and photograph it.
Funny thing is, a few days later, I sold a Crystal Cove painting I produced earlier this year on eBay to a former summer resident. She stayed there from the time she was born to her college years, from the early 1950's on. She shared stories with me and I was so delighted to hear them. She also was the niece of Roger Kuntz, a well-known early CA impressionist. The likelyhood of this was uncanny, I feel highly honored that she owns her uncle's art and now one of mine. To your right is Crystal Cove Vintage Cottages, now sold.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Close to Home Landscape

It was a dimly lit afternoon and a storm front was coming in from the west behind me. I had a deadline to paint a 14X11 work for the Socalpapa online exhibition that same day. I drove 2 blocks with my Jeep loaded up with my painting easel and supplies to the edge of the canyon. I live close by a beautiful trail that steeply descends to open space by San Juan Capistrano. On top of the hill it is Laguna Niguel, once you go past the eucalyptus tree on the trail you enter SJC with incredible vistas of hills and valleys. I have admired the majesty of this eucalyptus tree for several years, I knew one day I would paint it. So here it is finally on a 14X11, linen over board, titled "Eucalyptus, Last Glimmer of Light". It was 4pm, the left over splashes of sun between the clouds was actually behind me, it was casting spotty light on the tree's trunks and branches. The scrub weeds in front of the tree had dried flowers also catching some light. Although it was beyond the tree's overhanging branches that I captured the last glimmer of light on the SJC hills way over on the other side of the corridor. That look just sang to me, the arrangement of the natural plant growth appeared to point to the tree, the trail was positioned in a gentle curve and had been trodden upon endlessly by hikers, bikers and horses. The trunk and branches of the tree gave strong lines towards the narrow bit of light on the distant horizon. It was mine to enjoy and render for a short time. I worked furiously while bikers whizzed by, they were surprised to see a painter. I was surprised to see so many mountain bikes, it seems this place is getting more popular through word of mouth. Still, it is open space and just a couple of minutes from my door. I was standing off the trail in a bunch of prickers, it was not smart to wear sandals. I am sure they heard a couple of Ow-ow's from me. Next time I will wear boots. I have been down at the bottom of the canyon to paint the old orange groves before, they are on private land. I always had to wear boots down there because of the many rattle snakes and wood ticks that inhabit this area. So, I was leery to go down the trail on this dark day because I suspected the snakes would startle me. I said to myself, why travel so far when I have an abundance of nature so close to me, waiting to be captured on canvas? I played it safe and was better off for it. I will do this giant tree more honor another time. This is just the first time to try to understand it's design, it's essence, it's glory. I will wait to see the results of this online judging by November 15th before I decide where to offer this for sale.

Orchids Blooming

During a one week period, I acquired an orchid centerpiece from a charity function my husband and I attended. I decided to paint one of the orchids before they wilted on a 6X6 gesso covered board. It was so enjoyable to do. Just as I finished that work, an orchid of my very own decided to open it's annual bloom. I was more than happy to paint it's gorgeous flower. It prompted me to go out and buy orchid fertilizer to get my other ones blooming. I have half a dozen or more. I am anxiously waiting because I love this new series. I might just have to buy a few more orchids. These 6X6 size little works of art are quick daily paintings that offer me satisfaction of doing an alla prima (painted in one session) painting. I placed the subject in a morning light on my dining room table just to capture the natural light of the sun on the flowers. I tilted the little beauties so there was a cast shadow and the focal point was just off-center. I used thick applications of paint for an impasto (raised paint) look. I like how they look so real but are truly an artistic abstraction of each flower. I will probably place these for auction on eBay. I will add a link later. Orchids are actually called epiphytes, a plant that grows on anther plant. I did a report on them back in high school or college and got an A. I have always been attracted to them.