Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dodge in Blue and White - Classic Car Painting - 6x6 painting - 6 Squared Art Show - Wall Art

"Dodge in Blue and White" | 6"x6" | Oil on panel

When I paint a demo. for my students the resulting painting isn't usually frame worthy. I thought that would be the case with this painting but fortunately it turned out well. The exercise for that evening was a memory exercise. What I did was I looked at my photo reference for a few minutes, then put it away and began to paint.

Now, I know you're thinking, "Wow, you painted that entirely from MEMORY?"

No. I started this painting from memory. I blocked in all my big shapes using everything I could remember from my photo reference. Once my canvas was covered I did my best to make corrections and adjustments, but there came a point where I couldn't proceed any further without looking at my photo for the information I couldn't remember.

How did my painting look? Awful, nothing like a classic Dodge van, more like my 6 year old daughter's idea of a van painted using her left foot. So, I pulled my photo back out, working quickly (because it was a demo and my students were loosing hope after seeing how poorly things were turning out) I corrected what I needed to and brought it to a finish.

Why bother starting this way if I had to finish by using my reference? So much of painting is about learning and by that I mean not just learning how to copy what's there, how to mix colors or apply paint, but learning by building a visual library of memories and gaining a better understanding of how things are formed and why. Like why light behaves the way it does, why a reflection is the way it is or why the color of the sea changes when it's near the shore vs. when it's near the horizon.

The more I paint the more I understand about how our world is shaped and that in turn has made me a better painter.

Are you brave enough to give the memory painting exercise a shot? I promise you'll learn something if you do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rolling Hills - Sonoma County Painting - Petaluma Farm Painting - Landscape Painting - Art for the Home - Traditional Art

 "Rolling Hills" | 8"x 16" | Oil on panel
Available at

Most artists produce a themed series of work at some point in their careers and typically the series has a subject that is visually similar and is painted in a similar style like Kevin Macpherson's Reflections on a Pond series or Ann Gale's Head series.

From my own experience in painting I believe most artists attempt a series because they hit on a subject they want to explore in as many different ways as they possibly can and the most successful subjects are the ones that have enough substance in them that the artist doesn't loose interest while working. Of course, a series can be many things and isn't always limited to a subject that looks similar, what a series needs is a common thread that weaves through the work like a series based on environmental issues or landscapes from a particular location.

Until recently I hadn't thought that any of my body of work could be considered a series. Which brings me around to this piece from Sonoma Plein Air which I guess you could say is part of a series now.

This was painted is my sweet spot, a location in Sonoma County that I seem to find my way back to each time I visit there. To date I've created 9 paintings along the road that runs next to this view. Every year when I drive through this area I ask myself if it's been played out, I ask myself if I really do have any more to say in this location and every year I leave with several more painting ideas in my head that I could have done there.

If you paint plein air and want to push yourself I highly recommend finding a sweet spot of your own, a place that speaks to you and inspires you. Once you've found it, work the area for a while, see just how many different paintings you can create. Use what's in the area to your advantage, move things, find the best light of the moment, if something interesting shows up in the area paint it (my sweet spot includes lots of cows and one unpredictable farmer that welcomes me one year and shoos me away the next), change your color palette, try different techniques, try a composition you've never attempted and use a new tool. If you're not bored after your 5th painting then I say you've found a muse and after that....paint on my friend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lakeville Road Blues - Working in Three Values to Create a Strong Painting - Sonoma County Painting - Petaluma Farm Painting - Landscape Painting - Art for the Home

 "Lakeville Road Blues" | 8"x10" | Oil on panel
Available at

Before I start by preaching about how essential a value study can be at the start of a painting I would first like to admit that I have been known to skip this step and jump right into feeding my painting addiction in spite of knowing how important creating a value sketch can be and in spite of seeing positive results from taking that initial step. Instead I've often allowed the lure of color, lush paint and the call of my paintbrushes to lead me astray, blindly fumbling my way through, erasing things, changing elements or *gasp* just rolling with bad decisions.

This year however,  at the Sonoma Plein Air Festival I took the time to sketch. Sketching in three values kept the composition strong and clearly stated. Linking areas of similar value together into one larger value mass kept the overall concept focused as well.

Sketch for Lakeville Road Blues

It's easy to believe that detail, color and bold brushwork are the elements that make a dynamic representational painting happen, but just like a building, a painting is only as good as it's foundation. While this little 8"x10" plein air piece isn't a huge, epic, multi-figure narrative painting with chiaroscuro, it still did benefit from having a plan at the start.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tower - Transamerica Pyramid - San Francisco Landmark - Contemporary Art - Modern Art - Urban Art

"Tower" | 19" x 12.5" | Oil on panel
Available at

If you've read my blog for a while or know my work then you probably know me as a Plein Air landscape painter (or painter of oil pumps). What you don't know is that I never planned on that being my final destination as an artist.

I knew going into this that I needed to have some basic skills and develop an understanding of some of the techniques and principals of painting. When I started out, the thought of tackling a blank canvas was daunting (dry throat, sweaty palms kind of daunting) and it was something I struggled with in college especially when my professors flatly refused to teach anything relating to representational painting. All those years ago I figured that Plein Air was a good place to start since there are no model fees involved, the landscape doesn't move around (unless there is a boat or car involved then they always move) and I could be out of the house away from the distractions of my family life (which used to include changing my kids diapers, so yeah, I really enjoyed being outside at the easel) .

Now that I have spent a number of years in the field painting from life I have a bit of a better handle on the basics (I'm not saying I'm any expert or anything because there is always more to learn and there is always someone else with way more miles on their paintbrush). So, this year I've spent more time painting in my studio (O.K. it's not really a studio, it's more of a tiny corner in a small house that I share with my whole family and their toys, shoes, books, craft supplies, dirty dishes, etc.).

Painting in the studio has allowed me to experiment with things that are difficult to do in the field. In this painting for example, I planned my color palette starting with the under-painting which I hoped would work as a highlight color on the Transamerica building. Fortunately, the under-painting also worked when I wiped away applied paint to indicate the windows on the other high-rise buildings. Allowing paint to run, leaving spots of the under-painting showing through, breaking more edges, mixing colors together from different areas of the painting to create harmony and using broken color are all things I wouldn't normally do when working en Plein Air. Studio painting is a much more deliberate process whereas Plein Air is more of a quick response to an ever changing moment.

As my work evolves I find I have a a number of paintings that head in all different directions stylistically, but, I trust that the schizophrenic look of my work this year will eventually evolve into a thing/style, whatever that my be.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Roadside Red - Sonoma County Painting - Landscape Painting - Plein Air Landscape - Interior Design Art

"Roadside Red" | 8" x 16" | Oil on panel 
Available at

3.5" x 1.5" Sketch for "Roadside Red" 

This year before Sonoma Plein Air started I was able to scout some painting locations before the event began and I took the time to create some sketches. While this was a great exercise for nailing down my composition it got a bit tricky when the weather changed from full sun to cloudy he day the event started.

Here you can see my small value sketch for the painting above. Working in three values helped me keep the overall design clear, massing areas with similar values together.

It was challenging working on the painting under different lighting conditions. Also, while some value areas worked fine in my sketch, in the finished painting they required more fleshing out. For example, the distant green hill behind the barn should have been all one color and value but I felt splitting that area into two values with different hues would make the barn pop more against the background. That cool green hill which is the opposite of the warm red of the barn makes the sides of the barn stand out in the foreground, additionally, the light tan of the farthest distant hill is a nice counterpoint to the cool gray of the barn roof. If I had made the entire hill green then the barn roof wouldn't stand on it's own as well since both those paint mixtures contain blue. The same goes for the light tan hill, behind the barn it might have worked just fine but, since there are reds in both the barn and the hill paint mixtures I felt having a color opposite on the color wheel would work better.

Kim VanDerHoek at the Gala dinner with fellow painters - Richard Lindenberg and Debra Huse

Scouting painting locations in advance gave me a plan for where I wanted to go and gave me some idea of what time of day was best for painting in each spot. It also cut down on the amount of time I usually spend driving around looking for a view I want to paint and feeling rushed to get something onto the canvas.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sonoma Plein Air 2015 Recap - Plein Air Festival - Art Show Event - Bodega Bay Painting - Beach House Art

"Quiet Shores" | 16" x 20" | Oil on panel
Available at

This year marked my 5th year as a participating artist in the Sonoma Plein Air Festival.

This year the weather was unpredictable with rain, wind and sun, sometimes all happening in one single day. It was challenging to paint and I ended up loosing half a day to rain in the middle of the week (fortunately, I kept busy photographing and framing the pieces I'd already completed).

The painting you see in this post was painted one morning when the weather report said it would be sunny all day. Apparently that report didn't apply to the coast. I managed to finish an hour before a fog bank rolled in a completely hid my view. A couple other artists on the bluff next to mine weren't so lucky and I watched as they stepped away from their easels and began packing up their gear. (I found out later they both had enough information on the canvas to be able to finish.)

During the course of the week I spent a fair amount of time painting with other artists and getting to know artists I hadn't met before or only knew a little online. Painting is a solitary endeavor usually and hanging out with other artists, talking shop and facing the same challenges throughout the week is one of the reasons I keep applying to events like Sonoma Plein Air. The friendships I've made through plein air competitions have taught me a lot about painting, the business of being an artist and have become part of an important part of my support system in this crazy art business. I'll keep going back as long as they will have me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Galaxy - Roller Coaster Art - Amusement Park Art - Orange County Fair - Contemporary Painting - Colorful Painting

"Galaxy" | 9" x 12" | Oil on panel | ©2015
Available at

This is the second painting I completed at the Orange County Fair for the Southern California Plein Air Painters event. Like the Ferris wheel painting in my previous post, the view wasn't this colorful because of an overcast sky. I decided to follow a value (black and white) sketch I'd done earlier and take liberties with color to create an exciting piece.

This year I've been learning that as long as my values (how light or dark a color is) are accurate then I am free to paint any color I see fit. In this case I kept the local color of the roller coaster and Galaxy sign true to what was there but, I changed the sky color which was gray in reality. The fence behind the roller coaster I changed to blue instead of a light gray because the gray blended into the sky and it wasn't a color that went well with the rest of the painting. The people were the hardest part for me because they move so fast and I have to admit I am very rusty when it comes to painting the figure (something I need to work on) so, I did my best to capture a few as quickly as I could.

Painting at a place like the Orange County Fair was challenging because of the lack of shade, the throngs of people everywhere and having to lug plein air gear plus my frames through all the chaos however, I really did love painting the colorful rides with all their weird shapes and I'd do it again. Ideally, I'd like to be there painting at night when all the rides are lit up and it isn't so hot but I was told it's a lot more crowded at night so the organizers were reluctant to green light that idea for next year. Too bad, it would have been even more fun.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Big Wheel Keep on Turning - Ferris Wheel - Orange County Fair Painting - Amusement Park Art - Contemporary Art - Urban Art - Modern Art

"Big Wheel Keep on Turning" | 12" x 9" | Oil on panel
Available at Saga Fine Art

Recently, one of the painting groups I belong to, (the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association), got permission from the Orange County Fair for a group of us artists to paint on location there. I have to admit, I wasn't sure about participating at first because it can get extremely hot there but, the thought of painting lots of new and interesting subjects won out and I signed up. 

The organizers asked each of us to paint at least one, if not two, paintings. When we finished we turned them in to be hung in the Fine Art Building where judge Rick Delanty looked at all the artwork and awarded prizes. I was tremendously honored when my painting was awarded Best of Show.

Now I have to tell you that I took a lot of liberties with my painting. A few days before the event we were allowed to go to the Fair and scout locations. On scouting day, it was sunny, the sky was blue with a few clouds. I found two spots where I could set up my easel that was out of the way and had some shade. Scouting the location ahead of time gave me the chance to plan my approach before the big day arrived. I took photos and created sketches to work out my composition and value plan. I didn't want to do any more planning than that because I knew I had to allow for unexpected changes in weather and light.

Sure enough, the day of the event the sky was completely overcast and didn't look like it was going to clear up until noon. The light was flat, there were no dramatic shadows and even the colorful rides seemed dull and gray. Remembering that the most successful paintings start with a simple value plan I chose to follow my value sketch, ignore all the gray in the scene and do what I wanted with color.

Now, some might argue that since I didn't paint exactly what was there my painting wasn't a true plein air painting. I don't agree with that point of view, at all. Art is about expression, interpretation and in the case of plein air, taking inspiration from the landscape in order to create a successful piece of art. It does not mean faithfully copying every rock, tree, bush or in this case, gray sky.

What it comes down to for me is this, I want to create the most successful painting I am able to, sometimes I succeed, many times I fail. This was one of those days when it worked and since it wasn't a plein air event I didn't have to worry about selling so, I played, I took risks, I destroyed, I built, I slapped a gag on my inner critic, plugged in my headphones, cranked up the tunes and had fun - can you tell?


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Approaching Dusk - Original Vineyard Painting - Art for Sale - Wine Country Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - California Vineyard Painting - Winery Art

"Approaching Dusk" | 11" x 14" | Oil on panel
Available at

This piece is from the Los Gatos Plein Air Festival that I participated in recently. It was my first time being part of the event and for me, that meant spending a lot of time driving around searching for a location to set up my easel and start painting.

Before I head out I've usually done my best to research potential locations but the problem is I really don't know what I'll find until I'm actually there. A lot of spots that are suggested by event organizers are certainly pretty places but, don't hold enough interest in order to create a successful painting or the location is so specific that only a small group of people would be interested in owning a painting of that place. Other problems include, arriving at the suggested location at the wrong time of day or being unable to find an area large enough to set up an easel and paint, or worse, I'll get a case of the "What's Around the Bend" syndrome where I pass up a perfectly good spot hoping to find something even better. That syndrome can last for a while and has led to plenty of frustration and wasted work hours.

With this piece I spent a fair amount of time searching for a view and when this one finally came along it wasn't perfect but had enough information for me to work with. I ended up editing out a lot of messy, unattractive shrubs, fences, and buildings and I pushed a bit more color into the foreground to pop the perspective lines that were created by some type of farm equipment but appeared to be much more subtle in the actual scene. There was also a lot going on in the distant hills that I had to make work for this painting.

It's always tempting to paint everything I see out there but, too much detail in the wrong place often detracts from the main idea in a painting. It's a lesson I am reminded of every time I go out to paint and one I try to pass on to my students.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Original Inspiration - Joahua Meador - Disney Animator - Palette Knife Painter

 Paintings in this post are by artist Joshua Meador 1911-1965

The more I teach workshops I find there are some common questions that I am asked. One of the most frequent questions is, what inspired me to start painting?

My grandparents were close friends with a Disney animator named Joshua Meador and his family. Meador, like many Disney artists, painted in his spare time. He worked in oils using a palette knife to create his paintings. My grandparents collected a great deal of his artwork.

 Paintings in this post are by artist Joshua Meador 1911-1965

If you don't know what a palette knife is, it's a metal, diamond shaped tool used for mixing, scraping off and applying paint. When used as a painting tool it creates simplified and loose style of painting.

  Joshua Meador 1911-1965

When I would visit my grandparent's house as a child I would see the dozen or so paintings that they owned by Joshua Meador. I was fascinated by the what I call the "Monet effect" in which each one of the paintings appeared to be an abstract mess up close but a few steps back each would coalesce into recognizable shapes and scenes.

Joshua Meador 1911-1965

Through the years I would visit them and every time I would find myself standing in front of his paintings trying to absorb every detail and understand how each was created. I believe that's where my love of painting began and ever since I've paid close attention to fine art, expanding my knowledge of art and artists. While I've picked up many new influences along the way, without being exposed to Joshua Meador's work I may never have started painting.

 Joshua Meador 1911-1965

A quick thank you to Patience Brewster for their kind email encouraging me to participate in Artist Appreciation Month. Patience is a talented artist and designer of handmade and handcrafted unique Christmas ornaments and gifts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Intransigent Arrangement - Beach Rocks - Crystal Cove Beach - California Beach - Beach House Art - Art for the Home

"Intransigent Arrangement" | 8" x 10" | Oil on panel
Available at
©2015 by Kim VanDerHoek

Some days when I head out to paint, the usual pretty beach view doesn't grab my attention. Such was the case the days I painted this group of beach rocks. It was overcast and the long view down the beach seemed to lack it's usual magic. The rocks along the shore however, were colorful and full of interesting shapes.

Since I can always learn more about painting rocks I chose to focus on this group. I learned that there really weren't a lot of big value changes on this particular day but, there were a number of temperature and hue shifts like the warm almost flesh toned rock in the upper center and just to the right of that the cooler gray rock. I also played with edges, softening most of them and keeping a few hard ones to lead the eye into and through the painting. Many of the rocks were slabs with a repeating pattern to them and I tried to keep some of that feeling without getting too many repeating shapes that would result in a boring image.

Another idea I played with was painting my subject in a way that worked both as a representation painting as well as an abstract piece.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Farmhand - Tractor Painting- Farm Painting - Rural Art - Country Art - Original Oil Painting

"Farmhand" | 9" x 12" | Oil on panel | ©2015
Available at

This farmhand lives next to a pretty vineyard in Temecula, California. A few years ago I snapped a photo of it and finally got around to painting it during a gallery demo. Most of the shapes are boxes and fairly easy to paint. The hard part to get right are the wheels. What makes them tricky are the ellipses.

As a student my initial approach was to paint them as circles carefully attached to the bottom of the tractor (I realize this probably isn't a tractor but I don't know a thing about farm equipment so you'll have to excuse me). Since then I've done a lot more careful observation and discovered a few things.

Any wheel at an angle won't be a perfect circle, it will be an ellipse with more tread showing on one side. With these wheels they get a bit more complicated because they don't have hubcaps, instead, you can see inside part of the wheel. The center forms another ellipse but between the rubber tire and the center there is a "C" shape that helps it all look 3D.

Since this is probably easier to understand by seeing a visual I've included a diagram breaking it all down below. I hope you find it helpful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lexington Lake Reflections - Los Gatos Plein Air - Plein Air Landscape Painting - Award Winning Landscape Painting - Art for the Home

"Lexington Lake Reflections" | 8" x 16" | Oil on panel | SOLD

This one was painted on location during the Los Gatos Plein Air event in June. It was my last painting of the week-long event.

When I found this spot I wished I'd found it sooner because there were several paintings I could have created within walking distance. It was also one of those rare paintings that just seemed to come together all on it's own without a putting up much of a fight. There were no arguments, no questioning every stroke, no insults were hurled, no easels kicked over and no brushes broken. O.K. that's an exaggeration but, if you paint then you know what I'm saying.

In the end I was pretty happy with it and amazingly, so was the judge for the show Mr. Paul Kratter. Paul is a very talented artist himself and it was an honor that he gave my painting and honorable mention award.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Canyon Road in Spring - Rural Art - Laguna Beach Canyon - Country Art - Landscape Painting for the Home - Art for Sale

"Canyon Road in Spring" | 11' x 14" | Oil on panel
Available at

One of the lessons I repeat often in my painting class is demonstrating how to mix a variety of greens. As a landscape painter I am often confronted with a view that is green stacked on green. Knowing how to mix a variety of greens has enabled me to create a successful painting even when my view isn't very interesting color-wise.

If you use a split palette of warm and cool colors then some of the work is done for you. Keeping the cool paint mixtures for background objects and warm paint mixtures for foreground objects takes some of the guesswork out of the process. In this post I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite paint mixtures for achieving different greens.

Warm greens -

1. Ultramarine Blue + Cad. Yellow = Basic true green

 2. Mars Black + Cad. Yellow = Nice warm olive green

3. Ultramarine Blue + Yellow Ochre = Warm brownish green

Cool greens -

1. Cobalt Blue + Naples Yellow = Cool green
2. Cobalt Blue + Naples Yellow + Cad. Yellow = Slightly warmer but still on the cool side green

3. Cobalt Blue + Naples Yellow + Alizarin Crimson = Not really green, more of a violet but goes well with the other cool greens. It tends to look green when surrounded by other colors

These paint mixtures might seem like a formula but, keep in mind that using different ratios of each color, adding white or adding a third color like a red or orange changes the mixtures further. The trick is knowing what to use and when to use it.

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 in 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.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Place to Sit - Post Workshop - Original Oil Painting of an Interior - Art for the Home - Art For Sale - Living Room Art - Living Room Decor

"A Place to Sit" | 12" x 9" | Oil on canvas panel 
Available at
©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek

If you read my last post about the workshop I took with artist William Wray then you know I learned a new approach to painting. In the workshop I created a painting of a gas station that William helped me a bit on by making adjustments and suggestions when I got stuck. I finished it with about an hour to spare before the end of class. Painting time is very precious to me since I have two kiddos at home that need a lot of my attention and I wasn't about to give up the chance to get started on another painting while I had a peaceful studio space to work in so, I started the painting you see here.

In class I only managed to get the initial drawing done before it was time to pack up. I'd hoped to get William's input on it but he was busy helping other students. I took it home and worked on the rest of the painting there.

I am including my reference photo which is a friend's living room. As you can see, the finished painting is very different from the reference and that is a huge lesson I took away from the class. You can see I omitted a lot of information, paring things down to what I felt were the important elements like the chair, window, sofa and coffee table. During the painting process I had a couple of other elements like the door behind the chair in the painting and a picture on the wall behind the lamp but, they were distracting and I removed them.

I choose a specific color scheme based on something William said in class which was selecting colors that are opposites on the color wheel. Orange seemed appropriate since the sofa is that color which meant blue would be the opposite I would use in the painting. I knew I wanted the light in the window to be my lightest value and it needed to frame the chair which allowed me to keep the wood parts of the chair very dark. It also helped me decide to keep most of the values a bit darker than what you see in the photo to add to the feeling of brilliant light in the entering the room.

Another thing I tried was working on a dark gray toned canvas, something I rarely do that helped me key the values I was after. An added bonus is that you can see the gray peeking through some of my brushwork.

It was a fun exercise that I would approach a little differently if I had it to do over again, which I may or may not do, but I did learn a lot in the process.