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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Sense of Crystal Cove State Beach

I went to Crystal Cove this past Saturday in order to paint, at least I brought my supplies to do so. I went past my schedule by going to a lecture at the Laguna Art Museum on William Wendt. I also stopped by a local Laguna gallery and chatted with an artist friend Jean Glass for a long time. By the time I arrived at Crystal Cove, the sun was descending rapidly. Instead of painting, I opened up all of my senses and my camera lens to absorb this wonderful moment of watching the sunset. I wrote this on the beach right after it set in my sketchbook:

"Watched the sun go gradually down. When it set, a form of clouds erupted to the south in tails of pink pointing towards the "Beaches" cottage. Bands of crimson streaks spread out like fireworks above Catalina Island cast in deep violet. Reflections of the clouds were all over the sea and wet sand like oil spots. Looking up north, the cottage windows reflected the warm lights in the skies. Bands of pink cast across the sky to the cliffs which the cottages were tucked into. The lights along the cottage entries began to come on with a soft roundness. The air was warm and had a tropical breeze flowing around your skin ever so softly. Scents of grilled food permeated the air from the Beachcomber. Darkness was setting in. People's voices were everywhere as kid's playing and grown-ups chatting. Waves repeated their muffled roar and simmering sounds. Seaweed washed ashore, left to dry, released it's salty essence of the sea into each breath you took. It was the end of another perfect day at Crystal Cove."

Look for some inspirational studio paintings to come forth from this visit. I felt every sense within me absorbed by this day. Those clouds were awe inspiring. The smell in the air, the touch of the warm breeze, the sounds of the waves and happy beach goers. There was one more sense, the sixth sense. I was enlightened by my own spirit driving me to go here this day by a vision I had in the early morning. I saw myself in the tunnel that goes under the coast highway. When I saw the tunnel, I knew where it was and felt I must go there for some reason, I hadn't planned to earlier at all. But when my spirit sends me a visual, I follow it's suggestion. It proved a point, I was going to miss out on a most fulfilling sunset and day of tonality with the sea if I didn't go. I am blessed to have that inner sight and this spiritual place to visit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Of Interest to Artists, Painters -Life Attracts

People will pay attention to the beauty of a well painted landscape by a good artist. But the instant that a sign of life is placed in the point of view, it attracts more interest from the viewer. Why do you think this is the case? Because human beings are more drawn to focusing their attention to the movement (action) of life forms. Trees, grassy meadows, bushes, hills do not move unless there is some wind. Animals, natures creatures and the human figure provide the action that automatically draws the human eye to observe. Great artists, our forefathers have known this and skillfully placed life forms into their works more than paintings of just landscapes, seascapes, etc... that do not show a sign of a creature of any type.
I am not saying to always express a human figure involvement into your landscapes and such. Sometimes the peaceful containment of an inanimate landscape or seascape is inspiring to us all. Although, it is important to recognize that this psychological aspect of the eyes being attracted to people, creatures and their forms of movement will also attract more people being interested in looking at your art if it contains them.
So, put a little more time into studying the human figure or creatures by sketching them often. When you are comfortable, place them into your paintings, not going overboard with detail. It will change the direction of focus in your painting but it also gives it life. Or try to paint more figural works instead of landscape, seascapes, still lifes, etc... Life is happening all around you, see it and record it on canvas or whatever medium you choose. I am going to do this more often too.

The above painting is titled "Surfside of Pier - San Clemente" 16"W x 12"H, oil on linen, Plein Air style. I consider this a workstudy to enable me to be more experienced in painting surfer scenes. They are difficult to paint en plein air as the surfer does not stay still. I kept watching this guy and quickly painted the exterior lines of his pose as I saw it, then filled it in with various shades, but kept him slender. You do not want to paint blobs, humans have limbs and heads that bend. I painted this location twice during the Paint San Clemente Plein Air Competition last June, the first without a surfer, this one with a surfer. I will try to dig up the first one to show how lifeless it is, I felt it was only a preliminary study in comparison to the above painting showing life and action as it is seen by this pier. Until then, just put your finger over the surfer and watch the life disappear from the scene, see what I mean? I intend to further my studies and paintings of surfers, it is a subject I love. Who doesn't like watching surfers ride the waves? This will be up for auction on eBay, click here to go my eBay auctions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monet's beliefs on Outdoor Painting, Plein Air

Today I came across a statement I read from "Monet A Retrospective" book: 'Monet was drawn to realize that the three principal elements in daylight as against light in a studio or within a room are - intensity, diffusion and mobility. Monet learned his expansive style from Courbet, the vigorous strokes of spacious brushwork. It solved the problem of movement as Monet saw it could be painted with speed.'

I have read the above 381 page book 2-3 times over. I love Monet. Those words above are a small part of the book that are ingrained in my brain, I feel it is of utmost importance to capture the light effects outdoors when painting. Paint as much as you can outdoors, do work studies, sketches and compliment them with digital images with the highest quality SLR camera to capture true colors and lighting. Take notes on where the light is coming from, what colors you see, time of day, your feelings in prose... Otherwise your studio paintings will look like they are painted from a photo without feeling. The problem with even the best cameras are incorrect intensity of color, diffusion of light and dark shadows, plus the mobility of nature. You will see a red-orange cliff outside in the sunset, but the camera takes a yellow orche hue of that cliff. You will see soft shadows across the sands and the camera makes them highly contrasted. The wind blows a gentle breeze through the trees and you capture a static pose. I even take a small video recorder with me to capture a cinema look including mobility to compare at home with what I saw on sight.
So, when you want to start a series of larger paintings based on a certain area, or just one painting in your studio, think how much better you will feel when you have all that outdoor knowledge of the area with your little workstudies, sketches, notes and digital images by your side. I still prefer to get as much as possible done on location. It is a pursuit of TRUTH to me. Then, when I go to make that large painting on a canvas that I can not take outdoors, I feel like I am staying truthful to the location's essence and will succeed in capturing it LARGE.

Esther J. Williams - Gallery Paintings

Note: I have removed these paintings from the gallery due to a group show setting up that I chose not to enter. They are now available directly from myself. Cafe Mimosa is 20"W x 16"H, oil on canvas in a wide gold plein air frame. Path to Paradise is 18"W x 14"H, oil on canvas in a wide black with gold trim plein air frame. It has received an Honorable Mention award.

The third painting is Aliso Creek Canyon. 12"W x 16"H, oil on linen. I could not find a zoomed in image, this was taken right after I was done painting it en plein air. I think I added more sky effects at home but did not touch the rest of the painting, it was a winner. It is of the creekside entering into the Aliso Creek Lodge in South Laguna, CA. Very modern looking plein air, gorgeous!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Montage Viewpoint" 12x12, Oil on canvas, 1-1/2" gallery sides painted. $150.00 plus S&H.

SOLD At the San Clemente Art Gallery, is "Lido Theatre Night" 10"W x 8"H, oil on linen. $145.00 in a wide gold plein air frame. This painting was complimented on by the prestigious Jean Stern, an orange county museum director. How about that? He liked the excitement I placed into this nocturnal painting. He wants me to paint a much larger canvas of it. I will next year when it is warm again! Click to go to San Clemente Art Gallery for directions or info.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Crystal Cove Expressions Oil Painting

"Crystal Cove Expressions"
Oil on Linen, Stretched on stretcher bars, not on board. 16"W x 12"H. I did say this was an expressive painting and it is! SOLD

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Laguna Beach, Main Beach Oil Painting

Here is a little gem, titled "Laguna Beach Shore", 12"W x9"H oil on stretched linen. It is a plein air impressionistic oil painting done on location. $125.00 plus S&H. SOLD

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Low Tide Afternoon, Crystal Cove Painting

This was a feat! I wanted to paint a very special impressionistic piece of Crystal Cove from the tide pools, so here it is. It is 20"W x 10"H, oil on linen, stretched. The title is Low Tide Afternoon - Crystal Cove. I got lucky when the tide went out and stayed out over the reef and rocks. It left a beautiful blue reflection in the water that lingered around the rocks, accented against the warm colored, wet sand in the foreground. By standing out here I got a great panoramic view of the cottages along the shoreline. It turned out very well, I am extremely pleased with the variations of colors in values and mixing of yellow orange, orange, greens, yellow greens, violets, mauves, pinks and blues.
I am going to enter this into some exhibition, I am not sure which one yet. I was going to place it into the San Clemente Art Gallery, but I decided not to because it is just so gorgeous, I wanted to look at it a bit more. I will also do limited edition giclees because it is a becoming viewpoint of the popular Crystal Cove beach getaway. The original will be placed in a wide black frame with gold trim. Price will be $450.00.

This is another smaller Crystal Cove painting I just placed at the San Clemente Art Gallery in a wide gold plein air frame for $145.00, tax included.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Democracy of Art quote

Something I found today in a 104 year old book by Williams Morris,

"What I want to do is to put definitely before you a cause for which to strive. That cause is the Democracy of Art, the ennobling of daily and common work, which will one day put hope and pleasure in the place of fear and pain, as forces which move men to labor and keep the world a-going." William Morris

He was an English author. 1834-1896. This was a preface quote in the Text Books of Art Education by The Prang Educational Company. It is a series of eight books put out for children in the early years to learn about the subject of art. It is so well written that I, a grown up adult practicing art for decades, find much useful knowledge that can be for the present day artist. The authors of these books take one back to the basics of art, first objectively then subjectively. Art is normally taught from an objective viewpoint, studying things rather than principles. To understand art as a subjective 'Design' principle will give the creator the power to truly make beautiful works of art.

I feel here is a time in my life that I want to go back and be a kid again, theoretically to re-visit the fundamentals of art and see how I fly afterwards. I am already placing some of these elementary principles into a work of art right as I speak.
Bye for now, I must paint...

PS, funny thing, when I was a young 12-15 year old, (back in the 60's) I had a black metal Prang watercolor box with a snapping lid. I loved that double row set and all the colors I used to make from the tiny squares. I still have the empty box today in my old art storage somewhere. Of course it was empty, I used every last color in those trays! I will find it someday and take a picture of it, then post it here.

Meanwhile here is a picture of myself with a mean looking pirate at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. I wanted to kiss him but my daughter's wouldn't let me, so I was laughing here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

En Plein Air at Crystal Cove Beach

I could not ask for better weather when my husband & I stayed at a Crystal Cove cottage on Monday night this week. It was 70 degrees during the day, but dropped down into the 40's at night. The skies were crystal clear and so was the water, I got a true sense of the reason they named this place Crystal Cove. When I looked down from our deck to the water, I could see through it's seafoam green to the seaweed on the shallow ocean floor. The afternoon we got there, the winter storms two weeks ago had carved out a shelf that went so far inland, it washed down the rusty red picket fences near the abandoned cottages. I saw the concrete slabs and old asphalt that had been hiding under tons of sand for ages. It was very interesting to see the history of the former areas where old tents and summer shelters once stood long ago. I even saw an old plastic toy soldier from the 60's who washed up and someone placed him on the old boardwalk. Little things like that are so special to see here. I could not paint that afternoon because of the immense curiosity in me to explore all along the north shore and observe the carved out sand bank right in front of the cottages. I took many digital images to record this rare event. The sunlight was a brilliant burnt orange and it color cast each cottage in a technicolor gold, the sandstone bluffs turned a red-orange that was like it was on fire. I got high on those colors, my gigabyte camera chip became filled with precious images of rustic cottages bathed in warm light. It was a dreamy evening and I could not sleep well as I was looking forward to rising with the sun and paint the early morning hours.
I got off to an early start and hiked with my Radio Flyer wagon to the shoreline by the "Beaches" cottage. I wanted to paint it again but chose a 16x12 to include more water. I scrambled fast to get this size of a canvas done in 3 hours, it was a challenge. When I was done I thought it looked okay, but I didn't like the large mass of sand in the front and the all blue sky. I brought that painting home and proceeded to change it's look by making it more contemporary/abstract looking.

I show it here from painting in plein air. I will add another image tomorrow or Saturday to show the abstracted look. I turned it upside down in my studio and worked on it so it would look okay if you saw it upside down, that is a trick that famous artists like Richard Schmid use to balance out a composition or design. I like to be different once in awhile, it turned out much better to me.
After that, I had some breakfast with my husband, we checked out of the cottage and prepared our picnic lunch for later. I went back down the hill and got an idea to act like a kid. I placed my knee on the back of the Radio Flyer and headed south down the driveway. It was fun but I immediately started to go out of control and tried to skid to a stop with my sandal. It didn't slow it down and I rolled over, first hitting my knee and then skinning the top of my foot and stubbing my toe. I was laughing the whole time, I think some other people did too. How silly it must've looked for a grown woman to be rolling over. When I was a 5 yr old kid in 1960, we used to have a red Radio Flyer wagon in Oneonta, NY. I would take it down a steep hill and turn the corner right at the last minute to avoid going into Main Street. I do not know how I did it, must've been the small size of me and the blind foolishness. Ten years ago, I found a vintage Radio Flyer just like that one and now use it to carry my art supplies. How I love this wagon. I proved I can still be foolish today, I got the bandaids all over my leg and it smarts.
I decided to drag my wagon down to the tidepools since the tide was way out and look back along the shoreline and paint a panorama. You can see here the beginning oil sketch in burnt sienna on the 20x10 linen I used. It is in the works at this point, I got about one-third done and felt drained and full of aches and pains. I could not do two paintings that were larger canvases in one day. It is very promising looking and I will post the finished piece later.
My husband, Tom took this image of me painting en plein air. There's that wagon, it makes a great table too. I hated to leave this wonderful place again, but I know I will be able to come back and paint again here. In the winter, the temperature gets pretty cold as soon as the sun starts to go down. I long for the summer already to be able to paint in comfort. Long Johns are great for winter, I wore them in the early morning hours! I changed to lighter clothes for the afternoon.
We partied on New Years Eve, it was my husband's and my 16th anniversary, we went to the Renaissance in Dana Point with another couple, it was a ball dancing all night. My feet are sore today, but I am glad it is 2009 and we are in for big changes this year as a country and people. I am growing as an artist, a mother and wife too. This is going to be interesting this year to say the least! Happy New Year to all!