Friday, March 28, 2008

After I got home from my digital workshop today I made a batch of canvas panels for my upcoming trip to Santa Cruz. This has been explained in a number of books, most notably Kevin MacPherson's book Landscape painting Inside and Out. It is very simple to do. The supplies needed are: masonite panels, pre-primed canvas (I've cut approximate sheets off a big roll), regular glue, something to spread the glue with, a brayer and some weights (books work well). 1. Smear the glue to the edges of the panel. 2. Turn the glued side over onto the back side of the primed canvas. 3. Turn the panel over again and use the brayer to secure the canvas to the masonite. 4. Put the panel underneath a couple of heavy big books. After 24 hours trim the excess canvas away with an exacto knife. I did about 25 panels today in assorted sizes, mostly 9 x 12. I prefer the panels that I make to the ones found in art supply stores because the canvas is a better quality.

RACC workshop "Going Digital"

There was snow falling this morning when I left to get to the RACC "Going Digital" workshop. I know about file formats, but I wanted to make sure that I have been doing things correctly. The instructor was Julia Stoops. She was a knowledgeable presenter who explained things clearly. We learned how to format, label and organize our image files. The Art Institute of Portland is located at 1122 NW Davis Street, in the Pearl district of Portland. I had a walk around the halls while I was there and got to see some student work. It is a great facility. Three hours just flew by.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Alas, Babylon

All this talk about values and warm skies made me paint this today. It reminds me of a book that they made us read in 8th grade (Alas, Babylon). Well, I like this....even though that book was about the end of the world.

Kitty Wallis' value assignment

1. Choose around 12 colors (with no black or white) that you will use. Don't choose your black and white photo until after you have laid out your chosen pastels or paints. Lay out an assortment of light, mid and dark values colors.

2. Choose a black and white photograph to work from. Here is mine, a wilting flower in a window with some lace curtains.

3. Optional step: Do a black and white value study of the photo. I see (now) that I saw the window light as much brighter than it was in the photo. Drat!

4. Do your best to match colors to values (from the palette you laid out, without mixing!) Do this without regard for what the objects are. I did pretty well, although I see now that my flower is not a light enough value. The flower was a very light object (and an important thing) I should have reserved the yellow for it and possibly used a darker yellow for the light in the window.

More work on values!

Today I painted a value step thing beginning with 100% black and ending in 100% white. It took me two stabs at this to get it right (and there still might be too much similarity between value 2 and value 3). I then made lists of my regular palette colors and determined the best I could which value they are (when they are straight out of the tube). I know that this is going to help me to get better at seeing what color is what value out in the field.


A few days ago I painted a black and value value study (taken from a previous color study). Since it was just sitting there, days later all dry now, I realized that it is actually a grisaille and that I could try my hand at painting over it (in color) like studio painters sometimes do. I am a direct painter and not accustomed to painting in layers. I took some liberties and lowered the hills. I don't know how I feel about the results. It seems way too dark, doesn't it!? I prefer my direct painting of the subject to this one, but it was an interesting experiment. The darkness suggests that I was heavy handed either in the grisaille or in the color application..or both!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Warm Sky #2

Buoyed by yesterdays' yellow sky study, I did another today. This one is oil on 8 x 8 canvas panel. I see why some landscape painters really like to bathe the entire scene in a warm color. The sky doesn't always have to be bright blue to read correctly (I don't know why, but this really is sort of "news" to me)! Maybe what it proves is.. when in doubt..."try it"!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Expression" in plein air

Over the next week I am going to do some exercises that will help me with our next (Portland Plein Air Painter's) project called "Expressionist plein air". I have often seen paintings that incorporate yellow skies, but I have never personally seen (for real) a yellow sky. If something is the right value it can be the wrong color and still look correct (at least, that is what I have heard). I tested this out today by giving this tree study a yellow sky.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A value painting from a color study

I read an article today about how it is helpful to take an existing color painting and then paint a black and white study from it (matching the values that are apparent in the color version). An "after- the-fact" black and white value painting (from a previous color study) can indicate whether or not you have a grasp of matching values. Also, learning to look for the darkest dark and the lightest light right away is key to a strong design. Doing an exercise like this can help us to think more about distinct values.
(Individual steps for my attempt at value painting are n the post below this one).
I made some compositional changes in my after-the-fact painting. After consideration, I'm pretty sure the compositional changes I made to in the value painting were not improvements. However, I did pretty well in matching the values. I want to do even better next time.. I will do this exercise again!

Valuing... values

1. Establish the horizon line

2. Establish most important part of the composition (the area that you think people will look at first)

3. Put in the large abstract shapes of the overall scene

4. Continue to add more refined shapes

5. Put in the darkest darks and lightest lights

6. Paint in the mid tones

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tube wringer recovered

I lost this for awhile. I am so glad that it has resurfaced. I was going to have to go out and buy another if it didn't turn up soon. No more standing on a tube of paint to get everything out of it. Worth the price I paid! (I know it has paid for itself at least twice over). I bought it from Art Media.

An unusual entry into an art show

We can become accustomed to what we think of as art. Of course, for me art has predominantly meant painting. In the show I entered in Astoria (a "multi-media" show) I discovered this entry on the wall (click to enlarge it). It paints a picture as well as, if not better, than many of the paintings that were entered. The artist = Jean Means.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Messenger

(This is a painting that was accepted into Riversea Gallery's Imprints of Memory show. Acrylic on canvas panel 11 x 14)
The Messenger relates to a childhood experience. On a beautiful afternoon a stranger came to our front door to inform our family that a close relative had been gravely injured on the job. My life changed forever in those few moments. Describing The Messenger in paint was oddly comforting. The stranger told us something on an otherwise perfect day that seemed inscrutable, but by exposing his harsh cruelty, I confront unfeeling as he was then, toe to toe.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Reception, Riversea Gallery, March 8

Thanks to my art friends, Deb Bouchette and Kimberly Kent, I was able to submit to Riversea Gallery's juried exhibit, "Imprints of Memory, Art through Recollection". Deb provided the submission form to me and Kimberly drove my pieces to Astoria along with her submissions. This was a wonderful show to paint for and two of my paintings were accepted. Kimberly was accepted into the show also so I will be seeing her at the Gallery in Astoria tomorrow night at the reception. Astoria is a bit of a drive...but I bet it will be worth it. I can't wait to see what all the artists dreamt up for this! The juror is Michael Foster.

Eric Jacobsen!

Tonight I went to Eric Jacobsen's reception at Art on the Boulevard in Vancouver. I took 5 weekend workshops from Eric last summer. He is offering workshops again in 2008. I can't say enough good things about him. He just has it all. He is an exceptional plein air oil painter, a superb teacher and an all around affable guy without an ounce of guile. He and several Hood River artists are regularly shown at Art on the Boulevard. The manager there (Kevin) is formerly from Yoshida's Gallery. Eric's show is full of fantastic new work from his new residence in Glenwood, Washington.

Pittock Mansion Receptions

Thursday, March 6 was a beautiful sparkly night for the Pittock Mansion/Broderick Gallery "Shadow and Light" tandem receptions. I began the evening at the Broderick Gallery reception and then I went to the Pittock Mansion reception. I have one painting at the Broderick and four paintings at the Pittock. As soon as I reached the Pittock I was told that my painting of Henry Pittock won first place AND was purchased by a Pittock relative! Many people complimented me on my efforts and as always I was very happy to see so many of my friends who came to celebrate with me. Without exception, the Pittock Mansion reception was THE ultimate in swank for an artist's reception. I'm really grateful to Lucy McLean of the Pittock Mansion and George Broderick (Broderick Gallery) for providing this unique opportunity and for supporting regional art!

Kitty Wallis at Tualatin Wildlife Refuge

On Friday we went to Kitty's house for a look at a dvd called "The Impressionists". Kitty also talked to us about the project she is proposing for our plein air group. The name of the project is "Spring Expressionist Plein Air". We all went to the Tualatin Wildlife Refuge and she painted a demonstration for us illustrating how to paint distance and atmosphere. For the upcoming project she is recommending that we work larger than we have in the past. The whole idea is to step outside of our comfort zone and some of that will involve scale. After Kitty's demonstration I painted a painting, but it was very so-so. Not everything winds up frame-worthy...that's for sure. Kitty will be providing a talk and another demonstration about our group's new project on March 22 (Saturday). Time to be announced. If you have an interest in joining us please send an email:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

van as art?

I had to go downtown today and I popped into the Attic Gallery in the Pearl. They seem to regularly park a van inside the gallery. How would it be to have your motor vehicle right there where you work everyday not far from your desk? Cool, that's how it would be. Not to mention what you would save in parking fees.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Studio clean-up day

Today I spent about two hours straightening up my "bunker". Does "bunker" sound disparaging? I really like this space, if you can believe it. The mirrors are still up for my self portrait project. I do have "a place for everything and everything in it's place"...but somehow I have lost my paint tube squeezer thing (that I just bought fairly recently). How do we lose things like that? That big drafting table is from my old graphic design days. It is a very handy table to have. I'm glad I never sold it. I had a fancier (Italian) one that I did sell..but I always preferred this utilitarian Planhold table to the hoity-toity European one. I didn't get to do any painting today, but I read a great article in International Artist called: Seeing Atmosphere with New Eyes. I want to discuss it at our meeting tomorrow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

O'Connor's Nine Takes reception

Thanks to everyone who came to the reception! I heard so many great comments about the art and it was a warm gathering. One friend at the reception told me that she "felt weird" trying to peer over some patrons in order to view my painting. Ah, yes, the drawbacks of having an exhibit in a commercial restaurant. "What will I do?" she asked. "Well, I recommend standing in the middle of the room to look at it" I replied. "But, I like to get up close to the paintings," she countered. Yeah..those pesky diners. And...I know what she means...I have the same trouble when there are people standing in front of me when I visit the art museum. Maybe I can invite my friend back when it is less crowded. The show will be up throughout the month of April. What was interesting to me was how much our art dressed up the whole space. Many of the pieces that our work replaced were tired old posters and prints. Everyone noticed how the feel of the space was instantly revitalized with the addition of "real" art.
Our group will be convening here at O'Connor's next Tuesday at 9am for our first "official" plein air outing of the year. I hope to see you there.

"My Aunt is an artist"

Here are words that all artists hear at one point or another without exception..."Oh, you are an Aunt is an artist!" An artist hears this on average of 30 times a year. The frequency of the comment picks up if the artist paints outdoors where there are passersby. Is it possible that the entire population of the planet have Aunts who paint? (come to think of own Aunt had a set of gouache). I bring all this up... because these two (on the left, "2p" and Liz) are my nieces who came to my artist's reception yesterday.

Winter Sunshine

We had our reception for "Nine Takes" yesterday. It is always so invigorating to see my family and friends turn up for these things. I never know for sure if I adequately express my appreciation to them. We artists work hard to create work and when people show up to acknowledge the work... it is heartening!

I painted three or four paintings for this event (despite the fact that there would be only one in the show). I couldn't "land" on a theme. In the end I was  pleased with the direction I took (literally and figuratively) because I remembered that "Less is More". I thought about the words "winter project" and in my interpretation I tried to convey the idea of winter. One of the objects that we could employ was a stick of eucalyptus. When I put it into the large vase without anything else it looked stark, like the landscape looks in winter. The streaming effect of the bright sun was a good design element to contrast with the plain still life items. I have been working diligently on painting realistically, but this graphic expression of the still life pieces (that we were required to use) came across as hopeful. Winter always turns to spring and good things will come.