Saturday, March 18, 2017

Change and Experimentation

 "Two Oranges (Blue Scrap)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

The last of my 8x8 orange paintings from Playa, and the only piece I made there that I'll be auctioning online. 
It felt good to have familiar subject matter to fall back on during my first week at the residency - in an unfamiliar studio, in an unfamiliar landscape...an unfamiliar landscape with schizophrenic weather, I might add! One morning, I wake up to a rainbow, the next, SNOW! These pictures were taken from the same spot - I was just reluctant to venture all the way out to the railing to take the second one. Can you blame me? (By the way, both shots were taken between 7 and 8 am.)


With nature in such a blatantly experimental mood, I felt inspired to try some new things myself. Here's a pencil sketch on Arches oil paper that I painted over - from memory. It's amazing how having the sketch underneath helped my recall of color details, even with the still life itself dismantled. 

I did spray-fix the graphite before painting on top. 

"Playa Vessels"
6 x 12 inches, graphite and oil paint on Arches oil paper
collection of the artist ;)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Three Oranges, One Video, One Self-Portrait Sketch, and Some Words

 
 "Three Oranges no. 3 (Pattern)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas
$200

Another orange painting from Playa - and a time-lapse video of my underpainting. You can see how I tweak the position of everything just a bit at the very beginning - the best time to make changes like that, for sure! 

(If you're an email subscriber, you may need to click on this link to watch.)

video

Here's another of my daily sketchbook self-portraits - this one done in oils on a ground of gray gesso. When I'm using oil paint in my sketchbook, I actually prefer to paint right on the paper. Gesso, being water-based, makes the paper buckle. Paint thinners like Gamsol don't have the same effect. And, because I get a lot of questions about whether I use a special kind of sketchbook to paint in - the answer is no - it's just your garden variety sketchbook. Pentalic - this one, I think.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Figure Painting Workshop Announcement!

 "In the Gray"
16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas
Sold

I'm taking a break from my slew of Playa residency blog posts to let you all know about a master class workshop I'll be teaching next month at the Conservatory for Classical Art in Edmond, Oklahoma.

It's called "The Alla Prima Figure." Three days of painting from live models, demos, and lots of talk about mixing gorgeous flesh tones. There are several spaces still available, so if you - or someone you know - are in the Oklahoma City area, please consider joining us! 



 This will be my fourth visit to the CCA. I love the energy there, and am really looking forward to it! 

Here I am demonstrating for a class last year:


 ...And another limited palette figure painting - done in one sitting, about three hours. Alla prima! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Back To Basics

 "Three Oranges no. 2 (Yellow Scrap)"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas
$200

After my initial surge of residency-ambition, I had a bit of an 'OMG, what now?' moment. We all have those, right? Well, when I have mine, I usually try to go back to basics. (Sometimes, I go shopping, but at Playa... um, not an option). And the basics for me are shapes and colors - and artificial lighting - with the added bonus that I could work on paintings like this before the sun came up...

and then step outside and take a sunrise shot like this!


 Getting up so early (ugh, yes, I'm a morning person)  has many advantages, but it tends to leave me looking like this by evening self-portrait sketch time. Looking like this - or seeing like this. Tired eyes do some crazy things!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Painting by Window Light

 "Playa Tea"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

As I mentioned yesterday, in the first post about my Playa residency, one of my goals was to paint with natural light on my still lives. For the past two years, I've been in a studio with very little window light - which has its advantages, but is limiting as well. Although I really enjoy composing with the dramatic shadows cast by clip-lamps, and exploring all the warm glowing colors created by halogen light bulbs, there's just something so serene about sunlight. So window light vs. artificial light is not an either-or proposition for me - I enjoy both - but having the choice? Love it! 

 Here's my setup, on a nice little ledge built above the studio heater, next to a north-facing window. I painted this one in morning light, switching to the feather painting I posted yesterday in the afternoons - an A.M. and a P.M. painting! How very impressionist of me.


Here's how this painting got started. See those gridlines on the canvas? It's a product from Masterpiece I've been trying out, and I like it! 


Of course, I was also moving onward with my daily self-portrait sketches, in the evenings when I was too tired to do much else. This one was done in a combo of water-soluble graphite and white gouache. 


 In between my morning and afternoon painting sessions, I hiked! The weather at Playa changed constantly - and rainbows were an almost-daily occurrence - though not all of them as glorious as this one. Nothing makes me feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be than seeing something like this:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Artist Returns!

 "The Owl Feather"
12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas
$400

Wow! Well - I am home from an amazing sojourn at the Playa Fellowship Residency Program, in Southeastern Oregon - and how to even begin describing the experience? The shortest possible way would be to say I made as much work in four weeks there as I would have in four months at home. But luckily, we don't have to settle for the shortest possible way - I'm planning to spend the next few weeks posting my new paintings, and writing about my time there.

So, I'll begin at the beginning - packing! Playa is in a pretty remote location - 60 miles from the nearest grocery store - so in addition to my art supplies and warmest winter-weather sweaters, I had to pack a lot of food. My car was full!

 
 Playa isn't all that far from my home in Eugene, Oregon - a 3.5 hour drive in good weather. I had a much shorter journey than many of the other residents. Here's a photo from near Willamette Pass, crossing over the Cascades


I watched the landscape slowly change, from deep snow and tall pine trees to more open vistas of scrublands and chilly blue sky.

I arrived at my destination at last - after driving right past it. This place seriously flies under the radar. Aside from being in the middle of breathtaking nowhere, it doesn't announce itself. There's a small sign, a rustic gate made of tree branches, and group of unassuming, red-roofed cottages on the edge of a huge, shallow, half-iced-over lake. The atmosphere is down-to-earth and unpretentious - the focus is on quiet, and work- time, space, introspection. And, after unpacking my many provisions with a wheel barrow between car and studio, I attempted to settle in. 

I am a relatively quiet person, used to working alone, used to structuring my own days - but when you can do absolutely anything you want to do - where do you start? I actually showed up without a clearly defined plan of what to paint - on purpose - hoping to use natural light on my setups, paint whatever I found around the place - just see what happened. 

And, in the absence of anything happening, fall back on self-portraits. From life - not photos, as I usually do.

 I made a plan to do a self-portrait sketch every day - and I did it. Here's number one, the night I arrived. I still have that glimmer of civilization in my eyes....


 And soon, still life subjects started showing up. I found this beautiful owl feather practically on my front lawn, just out for a walk in the wind and mud.


In this studio shot, I'm just about to begin the painting; you can see my still life on the table, in afternoon light from that west-facing window:

 
 And so it began....