Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Color Phases

pumpkin oil painting art
 "Fall Four"
12 x 24 inches, oil on canvas

I've been painting a lot lately, and it feels great! I am ready to move on from pumpkins, though. It actually seems that I've been in an orange phase for a couple months now. I didn't realize that I go through these cycles with color until it was pointed out to me by my 11 year old private student the other day. She was gazing at the wall where I hang my paintings to dry, and said, "You paint a lot of orange, don't you?" And I said, "Well, um, yes, I guess I do!"
Perspective: just one of the benefits of letting other humans into your studio once in a while! 

If you scroll back though my still lives from this year, you'll see that I do cycle through colors - before orange, it was purple/red, and before that, yellow (a perennial favorite), then green, then red.  I tend to be into red in the winter months - and my current orange obsession can't be explained by the prevalence of pumpkins during this time of year - I've got oranges, cantaloupe, and grapefruit under my belt as well. Literally. I ate them.

Here's my work-in-progress. This painting took about three days to complete. 

work in progress oil painting pumpkin art

As always, thanks for looking - and for reading this far! If you'd like to see my recent orange phase paintings in person, I'll be showing most of them during November at Out on a Limb Gallery, here in Eugene. The opening reception is Friday, November 4th, from 5:30-8 pm. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Political Pumpkins

pumpkin still life oil painting by sarah sedwick
"Political Pumpkins"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas
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 try....you might have a "rockstar moment" yourself!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Plein Air for the Still Life Painter

 "In the Pear Orchard"
14 x 18 inches, oil on canvas

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

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!