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.