Thursday, October 20, 2016

Political Pumpkins

pumpkin still life oil painting by sarah sedwick
"Political Pumpkins"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas
$200, free shipping

I didn't watch the debate, and only caught a few minutes of it on the radio, but when I saw this comment my painting got on Instagram, I looked up some images. Sure enough, this pair of pumpkins is evocative of our candidates - especially with Hillary in that white power suit! 
Though I feel bad for my orange pumpkin - he doesn't mean to be looming so ominously over his short, white friend. Don't worry, orange pumpkin, I won't do this to you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From Drawing to Painting

pumpkin squash still life oil painting
 "Squash Game"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas

Another painting, mining my maybe-excessive Hillsboro pumpkin patch lode.

I brought them all home from Still Life Open Studios and threw them on the studio table, where they were very conveniently waiting when it was time for my next daily sketch. As I was drawing, I began to see that there was a painting there, somewhere.

There are lots of reasons that artists draw - and there are plenty of artists for whom drawing is the main medium of creation. As a painter, there are several things that make drawing an integral part of my studio practice.
sketch to finish pumpkin squash drawing painting
 For one thing, it keeps me in touch with my love of line. I'm always trying to paint more tonally, with fewer outlines, so junking out on lines and hatchmarks feels really good when I sketch. 

I've got a brand new workshop coming up October 29-30, here in Eugene called "From Sketchbook to Canvas: Drawing to Improve Your Painting." Despite that maybe-excessive title, it's going to be a simple class: we're going to draw, then we're going to paint. And we're all going to learn something about ourselves as artists, and our own unique artistic process. More info and online registration here!
pumpkin squash still life painting by sarah sedwick

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Fall Shopping Spree

pumpkin oil painting by sarah sedwick
 "Ghost Pumpkin"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

I lucked out in more ways than one when I found this farm during the Washington County plein air event last week. Not only did they have gorgeous pear trees, they had lots of pumpkins for sale. So, with Still Life Open Studios in mind, I stocked up:

We had a fun session of SOS last night - and a colorful one! The next one will be Thursday October 20th. Join us!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

In Which I have a Rockstar Moment

 "The Apple Barn"
12 x 24 inches, oil on canvas
Framed, $700

I'm just going to say this at the outset: I'm really proud of this painting. We artists all know the feeling: a piece is working right from the beginning. I say, "It painted itself," "It fell off the brush," or "It was a rockstar moment," but I think the best description of this particular magic is that I felt in control the entire time I was painting it. And that doesn't happen all that often - maybe once every 20 paintings? 

As you can see, it was a heartbreakingly beautiful day - one of those fall afternoons that make you feel grateful to be alive.

I started with a 3-value sketch - oil paint in my sketchbook. This was extremely helpful, especially when it came to painting mid-value areas like the grass and distant hills. Green just doesn't feel all that light to my eye - in general, it's a mid-to-dark value color, and it's very saturated and beautiful in the sunlight. But, referring to my sketch, I told myself to keep it as light as those rooftops. 

Understanding that color has value - and how that works in our paintings - is a huge benefit of practicing in black and white. So, if it's been a while since you went back to basics, give it a might have a "rockstar moment" yourself!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Plein Air for the Still Life Painter

 fruit tree oil painting plein air alla prima by sarah sedwick
 "In the Pear Orchard"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas
Available, contact Sequoia Gallery to inquire

After a morning of painting landscape, this still life painter was ready to get back to more familiar territory. So, I found some fruit to paint - plein air! it even had a tree attached.

I continued using my palette from the morning, now with some lovely leftover greys all mixed up.

 I parked my easel in back of a U-pick farmstand, in a shaded spot between three pear trees. No plein air umbrella needed - perfect!           

I began with those patches of bright sunlight hitting the pears - the very first stroke on the canvas (after my underpainting) was the bright spot on the central pear. Everything else got keyed below that, to really make it pop!

oil painting work-in-progress by Sarah Sedwick

Fresh off the easel. This one was really fun!

plein air oil painting of a pear tree by sarah sedwick

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Plein Air Washington County, Take 1!

white barn oil painting plein air by sarah sedwick
 "Plum Hill Barn"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas
Available through Sequoia Gallery 

I just got back from a fabulous paintout! The Plein Air Washington County event happens every fall just outside of Portland, Oregon in an extremely scenic area chock full of rolling hills, gorgeous vineyards, and farms.  

With so much to choose from, it took me a while to settle down and pick a spot, but I finally did: a weathered white barn on the property of Plum Hill Vineyards.

Sarah sedwick oregon artist plein air painter
I knew I wasn't going to need a lot of greens for this kind of landscape. Two reds, two yellows, two blues and a bonus purple. My kind of split-primary palette!
 And my secret weapon for all plein-air painting: Radiant Blue, by Gamblin. It makes gorgeous skies. The anonymous guy on the far right is Ultramarine blue, by the way.

split primary palette oil paint masterpiece canvas gamblin

I started with a notan sketch, in a mixed dark paint, just in my sketchbook. If you think you can't oil paint in your sketchbook, give it a try sometime! I can't say enough about how helpful these preliminary sketches are - so be forewarned: I will be saying more. Because there were two more days of painting after this one, which I'll save for future posts.

oil painting process notan sketch landscape

So now that I've covered the future, I'll bring up the past.  Here are my posts about the first and second time I did this paintout. And obviously, the third time's the charm: this painting was awarded an honorable mention by judge Eric Jacobsen - and I do indeed feel truly honored!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fall is in the Air

still life apples and pears by sarah sedwick
"Red Into Green"
9 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Well, I had my birthday, and I've broken out the legwarmers, so it must be Fall. I spent yesterday painting outside in some gorgeous weather at the Plein Air Washington County event, and will be heading back up there tomorrow for some more - including their quick draw with costumed models, which I love.

Here's a work-in-progress that shows how this apple came together. Specifically, how I painted out beyond the contour lines and then used the background to refine the shape of the apple, working back and forth to create the edges that I want.
alla prima oil painting work in progress apples and pears 
I'll also mention that this was painted with a limited palette:
hansa yellow, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, titanium white.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Avocado and Tomatoes in Black and White - and More about Notan

fine art black and white oil painting of avocado
 "Avocado and Tomatoes"
approx. 8 x 11 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

After reading this post by James Gurney, I decided to try some notan sketches on brown cardboard as a warmup for this painting - and it was fun! It's so satisfying to put thick white paint over a midtone surface. Why? Who knows - but I'll be back for more. 

notan black and white oil painting of avocado and tomato

The idea with notan is that midtones have to get lumped into either dark or light - you only have two values to work with. These forced choices remind us that we are interpreting, not copying the subject; composition is something we impose on nature. Two artists will not come up with the same value scheme in a notan sketch. There is no right or wrong way to do it. 

Also, it looks cool!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Orange Orbit" oil painting and work-in-progress, notan to finish

art painting oil painting of oranges by Sarah Sedwick
 "Orange Orbit"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

While I had this still life set up, I thought I'd try a vertical rectangle in addition to the square composition I painted first. 

These oranges were really patient! They stuck with me for weeks - and I even ate one of them after I finished this today. So maybe they really were from outer space....orbiting. Hm.

Here's my progression from notan to a 4-value sketch to my underpainting to the finish! No shot of me eating the orange, though. Next time.

art painting oil painting process notan sketch underpainting

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Alla Prima Portrait Sketch; Limited Palette Workshop Demo

 Zorn palette portrait workshop demonstration painting by Sarah Sedwick
 "Sketch of A."
approx 8x11 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

This month marks two years since my first portrait painting workshop. Amazing how time flies! And although I've painted this model quite a few times, it's always nice to revisit a familiar face - especially one with such lovely coloring. I've got pinks, peaches, greens, lavenders, and orangey-browns in those flesh tones - all mixed from three tubes of paint! 

My work-in-progress shows how I painted the face out beyond the contour lines, and then re-drew that edge with the darks in the hair. I also painted the setting of the eye before putting too much detail into the eye itself. 
And the ear - well, I got that on there early and then left it alone, because this.

Zorn palette portrait workshop demonstration painting by Sarah Sedwick

Friday, September 2, 2016

Orbit: A new allaprima still life, plus workshop announcements!

art painting still life oil on canvas by sarah sedwick oranges orange art
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Here's the progression for this one. On the left is a 3-value oil sketch, in which I resolved to keep my lightest lights in the foreground and on the left diagonal half of the composition. In the center is my underpainting, in a mixed up warm orange - you can use any colors you like for this stage as long as you don't add any white. 

art oil painting still life process allaprima  
For a lot more about my process, consider joining me for a workshop! I've got several coming up this fall, but my baby is the 3-day Dynamic Still Life class in Oklahoma City this October:
art painting workshop still life oklahoma city
info and registration here!

If you're looking to try oil painting for the first time - or get a new perspective on a familiar medium - I offer a one-day Intro to Oils every month at Oregon Art Supply. September's is coming up, on Saturday the 10th. 

oil painting class art workshop eugene oregon
Info and Registration here!
More workshops, including two in the Portland, Oregon area, can be found in the right hand sidebar, or here. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pink on the Inside

grapefruit oil painting still life by sarah sedwick
"Pink on the Inside"
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Another piece from my Still Life Open Studio sessions - if you're in the Eugene/Springfield area and looking for some artists to paint or draw with, join us! Next meeting is September 8th.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cozy Cantaloupe

cantaloupe melon fruit oil painting by sarah sedwick
 "Cozy Cantaloupe"
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

There are some truly tricky and subtle oranges going on in cantaloupe. I suspected as much, but I'm not sure I've tried this subject before - at least not in color!
 painting in progress cantaloupe by sarah sedwick
 As you can see, I threw pretty much everything-but-the-kitchen-sink at it, warm-color-wise: clockwise from bottom left - yellow ochre, hansa yellow, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, titanium white, cadmium red light, cadmium red, alizarin crimson. That's a lot of tubes, for this limited palette girl! (The blues are cerulean, ultramarine, and ivory black, in case you're curious).

sarah sedwick oil painting palette

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Color Has Value

cantaloupe oil painting by sarah sedwick
"Cantaloupe Slices"
9 x 9 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

If there's one thing I say over and over again to my students, it's this: you can paint something any color you want, as long as you nail the value, it will work! 
The single most important element of realistic representational painting is value: how light or dark something is on the gray scale. And that's relative to everything else in the painting - so our goal as painters is to train our eyes to perceive that hierarchy of values. 

Sketching is great for this, but black and white oil studies are even better. You kill two birds with one stone, really - focusing on values, and also practicing your mixing and brushwork.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Three Tangelos

oil painting of oranges by Sarah Sedwick
"Three Tangelos"
9 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

These funny looking oranges are a cross between tangerines and grapefruit. Wikipedia claims that they are "juicy at the expense of flesh." Which I think should be the alternate title of this painting, don't you?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Whidbey Island Weekend

 "Dappled Light"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas
Available through Brackenwood Gallery

I had a FANTASTIC weekend, making my second visit to Brackenwood Gallery on Whidbey Island, Washington. (You can read about my first visit here.) 

They call these gallery visits "Artist's Salons," how lovely. And so civilized! I set my easel up outside the gallery doors and chatted with the people who strolled by all afternoon.

 Those gorgeous apples came right out of my hosts' garden on the island, and they were delicious! I know, because I ate them as soon as I was done with this painting. Farm to easel to table? More like ground to hand to mouth. But yes!


Whidbey Island is so great, and so are all the people at Brackenwood Gallery. I'm already looking forward to next year, when rumor has it, I'll be offering a workshop through Whidbey Island Fine Art Studios as well! Exciting!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Self-Portrait, With Video

 "Self-Portrait (Hopeful)"
approx. 8 x 11, oil on Arches oil paper

This self-portrait began as a demo for an online student. At the end of our session, it looked like the first image on the left - so that was about an hour-and-a-half. I worked on it for several more hours, and you can see the progression:

I really enjoy painting for my online students - it's like having excellent company in the studio, with the added bonus of having video documentation of my painting process! I edited this one down to just the block-in - it's about a 15 minute video:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Plum Parade - Now It's a Series!

 "Plum Parade"
approx. 8 x 11 inches, oil on Arches oil paper

Here it is, the one that made it a series. And my third one-dollar auction of the week! You can see the first two here and here.

All three plum paintings, in chronological order. Which is your favorite?

Left to right: "The Red Snake," "The Red Knife," and "Plum Parade," each approx. 8x11 inches.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Red Knife - Another One-Dollar Auction!

"The Red Knife"
approx 8 x 11 inches, oil on Arches oil paper
One-Dollar Auction!

Here is the second in my plums-and-strawberries series. It officially went from a "thing I'm doing" to a "series" when I painted the third installment this morning. Hopefully you'll be seeing that one soon - it still needs its highlights touched up.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Plum Line

 "Plum Line"
9 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

I painted this at Still Life Open Studios - a new project of mine, which is exactly what it sounds like: a drop-in studio session dedicated to my beloved subject, the not-your-momma's still life!

There was a LOT to choose from this week: melons, flowers, strawberries....but I seem to be on a plum kick lately, and I loved using a combination of Ivory black and Alizarin crimson to push those luscious purples as dark as could be.

Just a note: I've got a coupon code for FREE SHIPPING in my Etsy shop this month. It's AUGUST. Go figure!