Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Sierra Morning" ©

While hunting for the last painting of the Sierra trip, this tiny creek came into view. We had found it the night before, exploring for a morning location, now the sunlight danced in the dry brush and just a hint of the sky reflected in the water. Happy Thanksgiving.

Oil on panel, 6" X 8"

I am hanging my "gone painting" shingle once again. We are headed to Wilits with our speeder to ride the Skunk Railroad to Fort Bragg. (If you are curious about speeders, check out

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Silent Forest" ©

It was absolutely silent. How could that be? Not a human making sound, nor a bird, not even the wind in the pines. We found a spot to paint off of a small two lane road, everyone fanned out and spent the afternoon silently painting. Occasionally I would hear the sound of a brush Ferrel hitting the side of someones turp can, but that was it. I wanted to sing, or just yell to break out and make noise but the spiritual side of standing amongst the ancient trees kept me in line, in the "Silent Forest".
Oil on linen panel, 9" X 12"

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Fall's Gold" ©

4700 ft. elevation, just before a major storm, the last of fall's gold is dangling in the sunlight. Nature naturally combines complimentary colors, in this case the yellow trees and egg blue sky. "Fall's Gold" was the first painting I painted while on an art trip last weekend to the Sierra's. We had an amazingly productive time, 14 paintings between four artists. Personally I was very lucky to have this opportunity following the John Cosby workshop, as I was able to practice his "pile" method and start tweaking it to work for me. Also Cosby's tip about keeping the paint warm, and white in your pocket paid off, as the creek froze during the night, proving that it was indeed chilly. Standing next to a small lake, painting this piece all I could hear was the faint quacking of ducks in the distance. There were painting possibilities everywhere you looked. I loved it, the air, the colors, the chilly air and warm sun.

Oil on linen panel, 9" X 12"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Winter Rose" ©

Walking past the row of roses that lines the dirt driveway, this beauty caught my eye. I was packing for a run up to the Sierra's to paint before the holidays consume me. Throwing caution to the wind, I played in the paint and had fun painting all of the shades of this lovely winter rose.

Oil on panel, 5" X 7"

I'll be off line until Monday, there are no phones or Internet access in the woods, thank goodness.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Storm Clouds" © offers a reference library for artists. An image from that library was the inspiration for this little warm up (before painting on the ducks) today. It's my "rain dance", maybe my focused exercise painting storm clouds will bring rain to our burning lands.

Oil on panel, 5" X 7"


Monday, November 17, 2008

"Placerita Canyon Fire" ©

When plein air painting you arrive at a location and look for something that attracts your interest. You want a little story, a concept to develop upon your canvas. Today my painting buddy Lorelle and I went to a location at the top of Saugus, on a cliff overlooking the backside of the San Gabriel mountain range. I debated with myself over what to paint, the fires have been so devastating, yet they are hypnotic in their beauty. Do you paint the "elephant" in the living room or ignore it as if it doesn't exist. I went ahead painting the fire, my elephant. (Then I came home to work on the "Ducks".)

Oil on linen panel, 8" X 10"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Laguna Canyon" ©

John Cosby Workshop Day 5 - This morning Cosby quickly demonstrated painting a tree, using large interesting shapes, capturing the personality of the tree. Then all 15 of us fanned out to locations within the Laguna Canyon park that sits a 1/4 mile from Cosby's studio. After the morning of painting we all went back to his studio for a critique. Not the typical critique, Cosby explained how to critique your own work and with each painting explained how the painting could possibly be improved. Everyone left feeling positive about their week long efforts. In fact there was a tearful group hug at the end, a tribe had been formed. Here are a few of the reoccurring themes of the critique: Watch for predictability, vary the shapes and create randomness. Make sure your trees are grounded with some dark. Avoid sharp contrasts near the edges of the canvas, Interrupt repetition. Small jumps in value creates the feeling of air. Subdue one area of the painting to streighten another areal. Provide an area of rest. Make sure the sky matches the light in the painting. Does the painting convince you of a story? Finally Cosby must have said 20 times, you have to give a little to get a little. I would highly reccommend John Cosby to any painter that is looking to improve. He is one of those instructors that can identifiy your level and weaknesses quickly and offer a path to improving your work, all in postive notes. He has so much to offer, I look forward to the next workshop that I am able to attend.

Oil on Linen panel, 11" X 14"

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Laguna Coast" ©

Day 4 John Cosby Workshop - Listening to Cosby speak, sparks pop off in my mind of an idea surfacing and becoming fully illuminated. As an example today the discussion was on creating distance in your painting. Here is the gem: When a structure (tree, pole etc.) that is close to the viewer passes over the distant mountain, soften the edge of the mountain on either side of the structure. Almost to the point of obliterating the edge. Cosby demonstrated this on his painting and the increased feeling of depth was ten fold. Gems are flowing constantly from Cosby, here is one more, simple but amazing true. If you are seeing a problem in your painting, solving the problem area directly isn't always the best solution, sometimes it's better to change something else that relates to the problem. The demonstration for this was Cosby felt his clouds were too green. Instead of changing the cloud color, Cosby put some additional green in the palm tree up in the clouds and that solved the green cloud problem. A real TA-DAA moment.

Oil on Linen panel, 8" X 10"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Montage Ocean View" ©

Day 3 John Cosby Workshop - Today Cosby discussed aireal perspective and using color rather then value to describe a form. To give us the visual tool Cosby demonstrated a "glare" painting. He painted looking right into the sun, standing to the side of his easel, so that we could see each step. Because of the glare the distant bluffs stepped back in the distance clearly allowing Cosby to really play up on the aireal perspective. John Cosby is constantly talking, allowing us to hear his thought process in making each decision. Watching his brush work today was thrilling. Cosby would lay the filbert down, then roll the brush, pulling gently creating the most beautiful strokes of lemon white, that told the story of the glare. One of the most interesting lessons was Cosby's discussion on artists using camera images to paint from vs. painting from life. He explained that the camera has one lense, humans have two. People don't really see what is in our peripheral vision, unlike the camera. If we paint as people see, the painting will be stronger. After Cosby finished his morning demonstration we all set up and painted from the cliff in front of the Montage Hotel, until the sun set in the Pacific Ocean, another day in paradise.
Oil on Linen panel, 11" X 14"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Hiesler Park, South" ©

Day 2 John Cosby Workshop -

Today Cosby started with a demo on composition. What was most interesting was his discussion on leading the eye of the viewer without being obvious. To punctuation his point he lead us through the William Wendt exhibit at the Laguna Museum, picking examples that clearly demonstrated lovely S compositions that actually worked as a circle too, so that the viewers attention never left the canvas. Cosby suggested that all of us read "Composition To Outdoor Painting", by Edgar Payne at least once a year. He explained that each reading you will discover new information that will help us all on the journey to understanding of how to paint. Cosby demonstrated a painting from on the path overlooking the ocean, and spent time reinforcing the concepts from Monday, along with a "palm tree" lesson. The one line about trees that was most enlightening was, to paint the growth pattern. Simple as it sounds, if you move your brush as any plant life grows your painting will already be headed in the right direction. We saw great examples of this in the Wendt exhibit. One last comment, the William Wendt exhibit is breathtaking, if you have the opportunity GO.

Oil on panel, 9" X 12"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Hiesler Park, Laguna Beach" ©

Day One, John Cosby Workshop-

Cosby teaches a limited palette, 3 pile of paint method. The result is a very fast way to identify, shift and control the temperature quickly. For plein air painting it's magic. He has spent years finding just the right primary colors, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Chinese Vermilion and Ultra Maine Blue. The only addition to these is a Titanium/Zinc White. Starting out we mixed 3 piles of the main mass area in the general value, without putting a brush to the panel. I liked this time of mixing to glance at my subject and get familiar slowly, rather then diving in as usual. Next we massed in thinly the main areas, in my case the sand, water and cliff. Finding the focal point and completely working it out was the next step. Then within the large masses we were looking for connections, areas to create interest and always a way to lead the eye to the focal point. And finally a few finishing details of light and dark. The best lesson I gained from the first day was to hold back my darkest dark and lightest light until the very end of the painting, keeping the values toward the middle range. The gift of this waiting, allows the painter to add tiny highlights that really sing and nice deep darks that give a big punch.

Oil on panel, 8" X 10"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"Canyon Rocks" ©

This weekend I am headed to Laguna Beach to attend a week long painting workshop with John Cosby ( 2 years ago, unsure and with trepidation I took the same workshop. John was one of those instructors that manages to put concepts clearly and simply, answering every question patiently. I learned and grew from the experience and now I feel ready to hear it all again, adding to what I have been able to practice the last couple of years, I hope to be able to absorb even more. I don't know about blogging from Laguna, hotels connections are improving but you never know. My hope is to blog the workshop. Leaving the ducks on the easel, so close to finishing is difficult but I know coming back to them fresh will allow me to continue painting better then ever. AND yes Marian my friend, I will post the ducks, when they are totally gorgeous.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Calm Waters" ©

Missing the process of blogging, habits are tough to break, I decided to take a quick break from the duck family painting and painted "calm waters". The ducks are really coming along, and I am thoroughly enjoying the large canvas, 30" X 40". I have been painting 10 hours a day and the time flies by at warp speed.

Oil on linen, 12" X 16"
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