Sunday, January 27, 2013

Open Meadow - Original Impressionist Style Landscape Painting of Trees In a Meadow

"Open Meadow" | 8" x 10" | Oil On Canvas Panel

Available at
©2012 by Kim VanDerHoek

This was a fun exercise I had my students do - we painted most of this view upside down. The lesson was how to simplify your painting into masses. Once everyone put the big shapes down onto their canvases most of the painting was complete. I actually heard a few gasps when we turned them right side up and they looked like landscapes. After that we added a few details to bring it all together. It was such a good lesson that I think I saw a few light bulbs light up over my students' heads.

This meadow is located in Sonoma, California and it is part of a nearby farm. It is a peaceful spot, just a short ways away from a very busy highway.

The challenge of painting this area is, knowing how to mix a wide variety of greens in order to create the illusion of reality and depth on the canvas. I did my best to let as many brush strokes show as possible, which helps give the painting a spontaneous and fresh feeling.

(You may not reproduce this image in any way without my permission.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Painting In Big Bear - Plein Air Painting In Big Bear - Plein Air Painter - Painting In Snow

The week after Christmas my husband and I took the kids to Big Bear for some fun in the snow. We decided to go for a short hike, find a spot for lunch and take a little time to let the kids play in the snow while I knocked out a quick painting. You know what they say about the best laid plans, right? All went well until after lunch when I began setting up my easel (I call this the "easel phenomenon" and it happens a lot. Some of you are familiar with the cow story, right?). The clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped, my daughter got tired, started crying uncontrollably and it began to snow. My husband did his best to add layers of clothes to our three-year old to get her warm and to find fun things to keep her busy but, nothing worked. The peaceful setting was no longer peaceful. She was so loud at one point that a group of hikers came over to make sure she was O.K.

When I go out with my family to paint it's usually a compromise for all of us. They have to stay in one area longer than they would normally like to and I have to pick whatever view is handy and try to make a decent painting out if it.

On this trip I was about halfway through a pretty awful painting when the snow really started coming down. In a few minutes my palette was covered with snow and the oil in my paint began to seize up. Since I don't paint in the snow very often I didn't pack any medium in my backpack that would help get the paint moving again. So, with my daughter tired and crying, my son bored and my husband annoyed with the whole situation, I wiped off my canvas, packed up my gear and we headed back to the cabin for some warmth and some cookies (because cookies miraculously make all things better in my kids eyes...yeah O.K. they really make all things better in MY eyes).

My palette in the snow.

While we were leaving our lunch spot my son shouted that he could see the shape of the snowflakes as they landed on his jacket. I looked at my own jacket and sure enough, for the first time in my life I could see the shapes of the snowflakes as they landed.  Now, I grew up in Big Bear and I don't remember ever seeing them. Usually, the snow falls in clumps but this time, the air was dry and cold and perfect for keeping the flakes separate. It was amazing and I can confirm that each and every one was different. Amazingly my iPhone was able to capture a pair when they landed on my gloves. Pretty cool, right?

Snowflakes on my glove. 

All images ©2012 by Kim VanDerHoek
(You may not reproduce any of these images without my permission.) 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Poinsettia In Bloom - Original Impressionist Style Still Life Painting of a Red Poinsettia - Holiday Art - Christmas Painting

"Poinsettia In Bloom" 
 8" x 8" - Oil on canvas panel. 
©2012 by Kim VanDerHoek
(You may not reproduce this image in any way without my permission.)

I'm posting this after weeks of every member of my family being sick since the week after Christmas. All of us, with the exception of my husband (who has been sick for 4 weeks now), are on the mend! My sick man finally got tired of me nagging him heeded my advice and saw the doctor today so hopefully, he too will finally get better. He got several prescriptions (shhh, I'm not supposed to mention that because he really is a tough-manly man and doesn't need silly things like antibiotics to help him get better) and if he can manage to figure out how his insurance card works hopefully he'll get them filled he will be feeling better by the end of the week I'm sure.

Now I plan on dusting off my paint brushes getting back to my easel! I hope all of you are staying healthy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Uncorked - Original Still Life Oil Painting of Glass Bottles - Kitchen Art

"Uncorked" - 5" x 5" - Oil on 1/4" panel with 
sides painted black an a slot in the back for hanging
(no frame needed).
©2012 by Kim VanDerHoek
Available at

Here is another example of an exercise I had my students work on in my oil painting class. The challenge - glass. Sounds simple right? If you've painted glass then you know what a mess of color and light there can be in these humble objects. Plus there are the usual drawing issues to contend with like getting the sides even and straight and getting all the ellipses correct. Not to mention you are working on all of these things while still trying to maintain a loose feeling to the painting.

The key to painting glass is knowing which highlights, shadows and reflections to include and which ones to edit out. I tell my students to first ignore the reflections and focus on turning the form using three values - a highlight, mid-tone and core shadow. This works best on colored glass objects like the green bottle you see here. Then, once their bottle looks three-dimensional I tell them to begin adding reflections sparingly. Less is usually more. 

The key to painting a clear glass bottle is to SQUINT. Then paint the big bold shapes you see first. Working from large shapes to smaller and smallest. Again, less is more.

My clear glass bottle is really only painted using shades of gray plus the orange ground and green bottle colors. Also, I thought about each stroke before I put my brush on the canvas too which is why the strokes are clear.

The best way to figure it out is to paint glass objects from life and paint them often. Working from photographs is simply not enough, the human eye sees so much more than the camera does. Yes, painting from life is much harder, it forces you to make many more decisions but, in the long run you will learn more and become a better painter faster as a result.

Happy new year!