Saturday, April 26, 2008


Like everything else in life, frames seem to follow a fashion. It used to be (I am told) that plein air paintings were practically required to have a large linen mat separating the work from the frame. Well, thankfully that has changed and now most plein air frames are simple frames of gold, bronze, brown or black (the linen liner no longer "mandatory"). Many of the American Impressionists designed frames and carved designs into the frames during the Arts and Crafts movement. Why do we see so many gold frames around plein air paintings? I think it is because gold picks up other colors in the room and lends warmth. Ready-made "plein air" frames available today are often copies of frames that Whistler, Hassam, Twachtman and others used. A plein air frame has simple lines and is generally a flat frame with some or little adornment.
I painted over an old painting recently (see previous post below) and now that it is nearly dry I tried it in both a gold frame and a black frame. I decided on the black. If the painting is worthy of a frame, it is worthy of a good new frame that was chosen specifically because it works well with the painting (not a frame "ripped off" from some other piece of art..I have tried that and it seldom works)! To find a good framing source Google "plein air frame".

Friday, April 25, 2008

Running into other artists at the White House

Today at the Gorge White House in Hood River I ran into a painting group. I have been a plein air painter for about 4 years now, so I am aware of this phenomenon where passersby "state the obvious". (ie:"Are you an artist? Are you painting a painting?") Alas...what did I say as I approached a nice looking guy situated next to his french easel? "Watercolor!" I exclaimed. Yes, in retrospect I am certain he actually knew that he was using watercolor. Well, after this amazing fact was established, he explained that he paints in a group every Friday. He pointed out the leader of the group (Susan Spears) and I took her photo and told her I'd write about meeting her in my blog. If she was irked that I interrupted her, she did not let on. I would like our group to meet up with her group sometime. Steve told me that they paint every Friday without fail.

The Watercolor Society Show at Columbia Art Gallery

Today I went to Hood River to the Columbia Art Gallery. My friend, Carrie Holst has a watercolor in what seemed like the best spot in the whole show. Her beautiful orchard painting is on the main wall as you walk in. I enjoyed the show. I also got to speak with Catherine at the Gallery who asked me if I was signed up for "artist2artist", a Professional Development Fair being offered on Sunday, May 4th (10am-4pm). I tried to find out more on their website, but I didn't see the information there. I do have a card for it and if you are interested in registering for the event (it is free) you may call 541-387-8877, Ext 114 or write

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Art on the Boulevard in Vancouver

Yesterday I checked out Cathleen Rehfeld's show at Art on the Boulevard. Not only is Cathleen a plein air artist of the first rank, she is also the curator of the Hood River Columbia Center for the arts Plein air show. If you get a chance, go to this great gallery in Vancouver and have a look at Cathleen's solo show. Some of my other favorite plein air papers are regularly shown in this gallery too. Art on the Boulevard has a large indoor courtyard next to the gallery and art "spills out" of the gallery onto the walls of that area too. When I visited on Saturday there was a drawing session taking place in the courtyard.

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking..

I had a speaking stint as representative of the Portland Plein Air Painting group at the annual docent and volunteer brunch at the Pittock Mansion on Saturday.
I arrived early enough to set out some of our materials in the foyer. And really, those chairs were filled later. I also brought a small plein air painting as a door prize. I wondered if such a move (donating one of my own paintings) could be construed as presumptuous, but Lucy McLean assured me that the audience would appreciate it. The woman who won my painting recognized that it is Sauvie Island. I'll leave it to others to say whether my speech was good, bad or something in between (the latter's always a safe bet), but I can say the audience seemed engaged. At least no one left or threw anything at me. Both good signs. I may post a copy of my notes from my talk. It was fairly brief and had some good ideas in it, if I do say so myself.
I am able to reveal something of a scoop about the Mansion's thoughts for future art-related activities. Lucy mentioned during her talk at the podium that they are thinking about some sort of art lecture series in the future. It seems to be in in the initial thinking phase and we can all be encouraged by the Mansion's continued interest in regional arts.
"Cloud Nine", A young group of songsters serenaded everyone on the staircase at the end of the meeting.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Painting over an old painting

Last summer I wrote a description of a demonstration by Eric Jacobsen for the artist's website, WetCanvas. Ever since attending Eric's workshop (when he painted over an old unsuccessful painting) I have wanted to try to paint over an earlier effort just to see if I could do it. Today is the day! I chose a 6 x 18 painting (on canvas panel) that I did two years ago at Crystal Springs. It wasn't an awful painting but, it wasn't very good either. I sanded off what I could of the previous painting. Like Eric, I used a reddish paint to paint in my large shapes. Ignoring the previous painting wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be and I proceeded just like I would on a white panel. I applied in the darkest darks (in a thin manner) first. I put the light side in the trees. Then I painted in the sky. It was really interesting to "ignore" what was on the panel previously and I realized that the old painting provided unexpected help for me in several areas. I finished up by adding the foreground water and the distant hills. I don't know if I will paint over any other less-than-satisfactory-paintings in the future, but at least I know now that if I want to I can.  Eric Jacobsen demonstration

Faye's house

Here is another of my alla prima painting efforts from our trip to Santa Cruz. Every night we sat in this room and discussed our work from the day. We also spent quite a lot of time discussing artist Wayne Thiebaud and halation. Halation refers to the aura/hazy color around the edge of a subject or vibrations of two colors next to each other. Theibaud had halation down pat and I think I might have managed a little of it myself in this painting. I am partial to this painting for it's whimsey. It could use a curled up cat, but I am seldom successful at fudging things in long after the fact.

More from California

It was blowing sideways while I painted this at Elkhorn Slough! I tried to exaggerate the size of the sky and make it dominant against the land. Unlike my painting partners, I had found an area that wasn't quite as windy as where they were in a parking lot. I also didn't have to deal with a buffeting easel... I sat on a little stool and painted this out of my cigar box pochade.  It is 8 x 8.

Neary Lagoon, Oil on 9 x 12 canvas panel

Here's the first plein air painting I did when we got to Santa Cruz. Katherine and I had gone to a place called Neary Wildlife Refuge when we first arrived. I am glad that we had critiques every night. I was able to make a significant change to the right side of this painting that improved it a hundred percent based on some specific advice from Kitty. I plan to do a more finished version of this painting using this as reference along with some photos I took.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Two pastelists, one mixed media person and one oil painter

How lucky am I that I got to spend one entire week in Santa Cruz with Kitty Wallis, Katherine van Schoonhoven and Carolyn Rondthaler! Every day we talked art all day into the night. No one got bored with these marathon discussions..on the contrary we couldn't wait to get up in the morning to begin the art talk-fest all over again. We didn't turn on a television even once and about the only "entertainment" we had (aside from the entertainment our own company provided) was some Vivaldi on the CD player one evening. I took lots of supplies because I thought that we would have scads of painting sessions, but the weather didn't always cooperate. I haven't photographed all my paintings from the trip yet. I was surprised with how much I liked the majority of my paintings after I got them home and looked at them. Things do look different (and sometimes better) after a couple of days. We all just had a great time and I am fired up to paint regularly here at home again. The only sad thing on the trip was that I lost ANOTHER pair of prescription glasses. When I told Katherine that it was the 2nd identical pair I've lost, she indicated that "they might be trying to get away" from me. Funny girl,  that Katherine.