Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Night Dwelling - City at Night - Nocturne Painting - Impressionist Painting - Art for the Home - Original Painting - Wall Decor

"Night Dwelling" | 9" x 12" | Oil | Not For Sale
©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek

While participating in the Sonoma Plein Air Festival I took some time for myself one night to paint a nocturne. I began this painting with no expectations as to how it would turn out, I simply wanted to explore the subject and work on my nighttime plein air painting skills.

An interesting thing happens when painting at night, color becomes almost irrelevant because I can't see what paint I am mixing very well, even with my headlamp on and surrounding light. That might seem like an exercise in frustration but, it was quite the opposite. The painting became all about value (how light or dark each color is).

When I decided to mix a green, for example, it really wasn't hard because I knew exactly where each paint color is located on my palette. That's because I place them in exactly the same spot each time I paint. So when I wanted a green I was able to mix that color by dipping my brush into the right piles of yellow and blue.

The tricky part wasn't getting the correct color (or hue), like I said it was mixing the right value (how light or dark a color needs to be). Even with diminished light I was able to see well enough to tell when a value was off. That's because when the values were too similar to each other I wasn't able to see any edges or differences between the shapes, they all would blend together.

For example, if the gray on either building was too dark it blended right into the midnight blue sky in the background even though their colors are different. Now, I might see the color difference if I had been painting in daylight, but at night those value relationships are critical simply because I couldn't see the colors of each element at all.

It was surprisingly liberating to paint without worrying about what color choices I was making. Plus it's always a surprise to take a nocturne painting home and look at it under better light to see what I end up with. This time I was really happy with the result. I have to wonder if that is because I started the painting without any expectations, if it was because I didn't over-think my color choices, or was it simply because the stars aligned and everything came together for me in that particular moment? Either way, I really enjoyed painting this one, it's a great memory for me and because of that I am keeping it in my own personal collection.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beautiful Bodega Bay - Art for Sale - Beach Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - Beach Painting - Coastal Art - Beach House Art

"Beautiful Bodega Bay" | 11" x 14" | Oil on panel
Available through Chemers Gallery
©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek

It took me an hour to drive to Bodega Bay in the dark before the sun came up to get the colors and light you see here. While I'd normally say that any time of day is the perfect time to paint at the beach, I do really enjoy starting a painting before dawn so that I can take advantage of the warm light and dramatic shadows. 

I've painted at this location several times and this view is always a little different. Mostly it's the ocean that changes. I've seen it turquoise, silver, deep ultramarine blue and once it even had hot pink streaks because of an algae bloom. One day the water was very calm with small waves lapping at the shore and another day the waves were so large they created a deafening crash each time they hit the rocks lining the shore.

This particular day the waves were strong and created a lot of foam on top of the water. I planned to have a large open area of ocean in the foreground of my painting because I wanted to take advantage of what the ocean was doing an include some of the foam swirls. The foam was the very last thing I added to the painting (except for my signature, of course) and when I got to that point I thought if I designed them just right they would create a nice visual path into the painting. 

Up until that point I wasn't sure how well this painting was going to turn out. All the other elements looked fine and all but the excitement and magic of the scene was still missing. As soon as I added those foam lines all the work I'd put into it that morning really came together. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dinner Time - Art for Sale - Country Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - Cows in a Painting - Farm Painting - Barn Painting - Family Room Art

"Dinner Time" | 8" x 16" | Oil on canvas panel
Available at
©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek

I made a rookie mistake when painting this one. What's worse, is I know better too. 

When I pulled up to this spot in Petaluma, California and saw these cows peacefully grazing in the field with the farm buildings in the background I knew instantly I had a potential painting just waiting to happen. The cows were really close to the fence I was next too and for once, they stuck around for a while. 

What mistake did I make you ask? In spite of the close proximity of the cows, I didn't paint them in right away, instead, I painted everything around them first. By the time I started putting the cows in they were much farther away and heading to the barn for the night. The result was a rushed job which I wasn't happy with. 

The cows you see now are not the original ones I had quickly painted in. I ended up taking the painting home, letting it dry and using photographs of cows as reference to paint them in a second time. I much happier with them now. 

My plein air students always ask me what they should paint first when beginning their paintings and I tell them to put down anything that is going to quickly change. Ironically, I should have taken my own advice.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ribbons of Light - Original Vineyard Painting - Art for Sale - Wine Country Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - California Vineyard Painting - Sonoma Winery Art

"Ribbons of Light"
16" x 20" | Oil on canvas panel | Sold
Framed prints available CLICK HERE
©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek

Quite often when I'm out painting I'll spot a beautiful view that has the potential to become a strong painting but the light just isn't right. That was the case with this painting that I created during the Sonoma Plein Air Festival in September which is an outdoor painting event held in Sonoma County, the proceeds of which go toward funding arts programs in the public schools there.

When I first found this view it was midday and there were no shadows or highlights since the sun was at its highest. Fortunately, I knew I had several days worth of painting still to go for the event and I vowed to return early one morning when I thought the light might be right. This can be a gamble but in this case it paid off with magnificent dawn light cascading across beautiful vineyards and encircling the oak trees growing in the valleys. The rolling hills of Sonoma Valley, California created a dynamic Z shaped composition which was a little different in reality and I chose to take some liberties and arrange the large hill shapes for the painting's sake.

Dawn is my favorite time of day to paint not just for the breathtaking light but because it's usually very peaceful and I typically have more energy for painting in the morning. What is your favorite time of day to paint?