Monday, July 27, 2015

Canyon Colors - Blackstar Canyon Painting - Red Rock Painting - Southwest Art - Desert Painting

"Canyon Colors" | 9" x 12" | Oil on panel
Available at

Recently I had the opportunity to paint in a protected wilderness area known as Baker Canyon with a group of other artists. Docents escorted us through the area and kept careful track of each of us to make sure we were safe from mountain lions and snakes and to prevent us from straying off the trails. It was a fun opportunity to paint in beautiful afternoon light with a view of these unusual red rock formations.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

91 West - Urban Art - Street View Oil Painting - Cityscape - Freeway Art - Bridge Painting - Contemporary Art

"91 West" | 16" x 20" | Oil on panel
Available at
©2015 by Kim VanDerHoek

I had 20 minutes before I had to drop my oldest kid off at a sporting event. The previous 4 hours I'd spent completely overworking and ruining a painting of Crystal Cove State Beach. I'd been painting the beach for an upcoming gallery show and the entire time I was working I felt like I was forcing a painting out because of the looming show deadline. The beach wasn't what I wanted to paint that day. Instead, I kept thinking about a series of freeway photos I'd shot the day before.

After my disaster earlier at the easel I felt as though I had nothing to loose so I decided to bang out a quick freeway scene in the 20 minutes I had remaining. Below is the 8" x 10" quick study I produced in that time.

"Interconnection" | 8" x 10" | Oil on panel
Available at
©2015 by Kim VanDerHoek
I often tell my students not to be discouraged by a failed painting but to look at that painting as a stepping stone to the next one. Of course, that's easier said than done. 
Honestly though, I don't think I would have produced this small study if the previous 4 hours at my easel hadn't gone so horribly wrong. When I was finished I knew there was something about this study, something worth further exploration. 
The painting at the top of this post is the larger version created using the small study only as a guide. I made a few changes like adding the truck and trying out an underpainting in a bold yellowish tone. Lots of edges were broken, the paint application is loose and I warmed or cooled a few colors.

For me this represents a new direction in my work and one I've been exploring lately. There have been plenty of failed paintings along the way but I am pleased with how these two turned out. While they aren't my usual bucolic landscape scenes, these urban views have been an area I've wanted to explore for a long time and I finally feel confident enough in my skills to tackle them.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Double Overpass - Urban Art - Street View Oil Painting - Cityscape - Freeway Art - Bridge Painting

"Double Overpass" | 8" x16" | Oil on panel
Available at

A while ago a very talented painter friend of mine, Terry Miura, wrote an excellent post on his blog about painting tonally. Click here to read it. After reading it I realized that I had never tried using any of the methods he described. With his permission I decided to share his lesson with my students. First however, I needed to paint using one of the approaches he detailed in his blog post.

I have a mix of beginners and more advanced painters in my Monday night studio class and I decided to go with the simple approach Terry described using three gray values mixed with black and white. I chose a violet hue for the overall color scheme and added various amounts of that color to the three gray values I started with. This way of working allowed me to add more or less of blue and red as needed to each mixture while still keeping the overall color harmony going. It was amazing how easily the whole painting came together and of course it was primarily because I was painting in value with subtle hue shifts.

How did my students enjoy the lesson? Many of them struggled through it and there was a lot of grumbling about their paintings looking "too gray." It was a challenging lesson for them but one that I hope taught them how important value is.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What's Your Sign - Urban Art - Street View Oil Painting - Cityscape - Freeway Art - Bridge Painting

"What's Your Sign" | 16" x 20 | Oil on panel
Available at
©2015 by Kim VanDerHoek

I've been working quietly in my studio lately, painting small studies, working on more urban and architectural subjects, trying out new ways of applying paint and removing paint. During this process I've fallen hard for night scenes. It started last year when I painted a nocturne during Sonoma Plein Air (click here to see that post).

Since then I've realized that I love the muted color at night and I enjoy making my own choices as to what colors I want to keep or change instead of faithfully trying to record what is actually there. Color is very seductive. When I paint a landscape there is so much color and there are many choices I must make in the painting process related to hue and chroma (as well as value) that it's easy to be overwhelmed and to let color overwhelm the painting itself.

With a night scene the dark dominant value structure makes a strong graphic statement. Also, I am finding that by keeping the color simplified and harmonized I have more control over the mood and focal point.

It's been quite a learning process with a long road ahead still, however, I feel that I'm heading in a new, exciting direction. Not that I'm going to abandon landscape painting anytime in the near future, this is just an added enhancement to what I do.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Morning Mist Laguna - Original Oil Painting of Laguna Beach California - Living Room Art - Family Room Art - Beach Decor - Crescent Bay

"Morning Mist, Laguna" | 9" x 12" | Oil on panel
Available at
©2015 by Kim VanDerHoek

Laguna Beach, California is a beautiful place to find views to paint. This painting was created on location overlooking Crescent Beach.

The clouds kept moving in and out of the background that morning, one moment obscuring the hills behind the palm trees and then a short time later revealing them. The color of the diffused light created by the clouds was really beautiful and I knew I only had a very short time to capture the effect on canvas before it was gone. I quickly put up my easel and went to work painting that section of the painting first and then working on the surrounding areas. Fortunately, I was able to capture it in time because in just a few hours the clouds rolled back in and completely obscured the hills and ocean behind the palm trees, changing the view dramatically.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Southern Stroll - Original Oil Painting of the Beach - Crystal Cove Beach Painting - California Beach Painting - Beach House Art

 "Southern Stroll" | 10" x 8" | Oil on panel

With all the experimenting I've been doing in my work lately I took a break and went out to get in some plein air at Crystal Cove State Beach. The light that morning was constantly changing with clouds moving in and out, hiding then revealing the sun then hiding it again. I stuck with the general overcast feel of the morning since that light seemed to be the most consistent and I liked the color of the sky in the distance behind the last bluff. The wet sand and incoming water created a nice lead into the painting punctuated by rocks strewn on shore. People are always walking along this stretch of beach and I had to add a couple of them for interest and scale. This is a beautiful beach and one of my favorite places to paint. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Contemporary Windmills - Original Oil Painting of Windmills - Desert Windmill - Contemporary Art - Energy Art - Modern Home Art

"Contemporary Windmills" | 9" x12" | Oil on canvas panel
Available at
©2015 by Kim VanDerHoek

This one had me stumped for a few months. I blocked it about six months ago with a colorful underpainting and then got sidetracked by plein air painting events and general life stuff. So, this one sat around my studio for a while and each time I passed it I'd think, "I've got to finish that one before I forget where I was going with it."

At the time I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do to it once the underpainting was dry and I even painted a small sketch which I was happy with, but in the end my sketch didn't translate into a larger piece. In my ongoing quest to experiment, I tried painting the sky orange to see if I could get a warm color to work in that area. Unfortunately, the orange sky dominated the painting and not in a good way. Sometimes I need to break the rules though just to see what happens in this case I'm glad I gave it a shot even though it didn't pan out. What it left me with was an exciting underpainting and I really like how it peeks through the sky now.

The windmills also went through some changes. Starting out a light gray and looking too white and bright with the orange sky behind them the windmills appeared disconnected from the sky and lacked atmosphere. I tried softening their edges and streaking my brush through them which helped but still didn't solve the problem. In the end I needed to change the color of the windmills but only after I had painted in the new yellow/blue sky. Instead of their original light gray I changed their color to a light yellow with a hint of blue in it to integrate them into the sky. Their hard edges had to be softened again and I liked the sense of movement I got the first time around when I streaked my brush through them so I repeated that effect.

The other areas of the painting didn't change a whole lot from my initial sketch, although I did keep the drips on the right side of the painting because it's one of the few times I've gotten them to work. A lot of edges were softened throughout too. It was quite a ride painting this piece.

As someone obscure master painter somewhere in an exotic European country once said long ago, "There is a lesson in every painting," or in this case, more than one.