Monday, May 30, 2011

Blue Skies Ahead

12" x 9"

I just returned home from a wonderful week painting in Sonoma. The Sonoma Plein Air annual paint was truly an amazing experience. Last week I got to paint in some beautiful places and in spite of being rained on several times I produced a lot of paintings.

I have to admit that I was a bit starstruck when I first got there and was introducing myself to the other artists. Several of them had artwork I'd admired even before I ever thought to pick up a paintbrush. Jacobus Baas, Debra Huse and Keith Wicks were all painters whose artwork I'd seen years before I began painting myself. Meeting everyone was a highlight of the trip. Of course each and every artist I met there was friendly, kind and as unique as their artwork.

The weather was the biggest challenge of the week. When it wasn't super windy it rained. There were only a few times when we had mild temperatures and blue skies. The painting you see here was painted in the morning after a night of rain. The winds hadn't picked up yet and it was a pleasure to paint in the warm sun. The fast moving clouds caught my eye as they moved over the hillside. I wanted to capture the rolling hills of Sonoma and the dramatic clouds in one scene together. Just beyond the white buildings in the painting is a barn where all the artists met for lunch, Randy Higbee even dropped in to deliver frames.

Below are a two photos of the gala dinner (before everyone arrived) that was held at the end of the week. Cline Cellars winery hosted the event in their barrel room. The whole place smelled like wine. Each artist chose a painting to bring to the event for a silent auction where part of the proceeds are used to fund arts education in the local public schools. Out of 40 paintings 30 were sold that night. I've never seen such so many big supporters of the arts under one roof, it was awe inspiring. Even John Lasseter, the head of Pixar Studios, was there showing his support by donating a lunch at Pixar for the live auction. In addition, the wine, food and company were all excellent that night. My painting was one of the ones that sold too, it just couldn't get any better.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In the Vineyard

8"x10" Available through the Randy Higbee Gallery 714-546-2156
102 Kalmus, Costa Mesa. CA
Open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Right now, this painting along with another new one of mine is hanging in the "Less is More" art show featuring artwork created by members of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. The Laguna group is known for having some of the best outdoor painters in Southern California as part of their membership. Each painting in the show was required to measure under 10"x 12" and each one had to be started outside on location (en plein air).

The painting you see here was from my trip to Tuscany last year. It was a hot sunny day with blue skies when I painted this in a vineyard named Dievole (pronounced dee-ah-vol-ee).

Getting all the different greens to read well in a painting like this required some planning on my part. I had to mix colors for the ground, grapevines, hillside and distant hills that would both harmonize with the overall painting as also, read as separate objects moving back through space. I knew the greens in the foreground had to be warm, the greens on the first hillside had to be cooler but still retain some of the warmth from the foreground and then the following hill had to be a lot cooler than both but, still keep some rich color without getting chalky from overusing white. Once I had my values established then I moved on to the smaller details.

The area of this painting that gave me some trouble was the shape of the distant road. In real life the road ascends almost vertically but, when I painted the road as it actually was it just didn't work. After scraping down the hillside several times, I finally found the right curve that would work in the painting. Besides, there is just something about a meandering Tuscan road that seems to promise you'll enjoy the journey almost as much as the destination (just like the act of painting).

I'll be in Sonoma this week for the Sonoma Plein Air competition. I'm very excited to have been selected this year to be part of the event. If you would like to learn more about next week's activities click here.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grapes with Pitcher

5 X 5 inch oil painting on panel.

Every artist I know, myself included, feels both excited and a bit apprehensive when we receive a commission. We are excited because someone loves our art so much that they want a special painting created just for them. The apprehension comes when the painting moves beyond the idea portion and approaches completion. We begin to wonder if they will love it or hate it and we fiercely hope that the final painting will live up to their expectations.

This small painting was created as a set of three. I was asked to choose a subject that would fit in with their open kitchen/dining/family room floor plan and would harmonize with the two colors of the walls.

I’ve found that usually, if I’m pleased with the outcome, my collectors are as well. When I’m not happy I grab a new canvas and work on another version. In this case I completed three paintings but one of them had a different color scheme and seemed out of place so, I’ll need to keep working until I get it right.

What do you think, would you be happy hanging this in your kitchen/dining/family room?

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