Plein Air painting in Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Its been a while since I posted anything as I have been in Cerrillos for a few weeks and then back up in Paonia again.

I did a little plein air painting while I was in New Mexico. Most of the time it was typical spring weather, which means windy and dirt storms. The sunny calm days brought out the gnats. So painting was a challenge but I did go out in all that.

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

I enjoyed the calm and wind-less days and found there was so much subject matter to paint that I was out a lot.

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

Plein Air near Cerrillos, NM

I got a couple paintings that turned out well and a few more that will be great help when I paint bigger ones of the same subject in the studio.

But I’m glad I’m home! I missed my studio.

Retreat Panic

Monument Valley Arroyo

Monument Valley Arroyo, Oil, 11″ x 14″

I’m on retreat and have a been busy painting. I’m staying at a place that has a GREAT studio and I can use the space when ever I want. That is great. However, Today I Remembered!!! I have a show, allegedly, coming up sometime soon. I realize I need to contact my local art center to verify this. There was a problem with the other two artists backing out and its all up in the air. If I have a one-woman show I’m going to be in a PANIC.

Looking down on Coal Creek

Looking down on Coal Creek, oil 18″ x 24″

I know I’ll be able to get enough paintings done, framed and ready. Its just that I seem to find something to be stressed about even if there is nothing really worth the effort. I know I’ll have a good time getting this together. I have all the things I need, except maybe more paint.

Lair of the Bear path

Lair of the Bear path, Oil 14″ x 18″

As I have done a number of paintings while I have been here, plus have a garage sale, visit with my friends and spend a few days doing nothing (well at outward appearance it was nothing, but it was recharging my batteries), I know I can get things rolling and paint, paint, paint!

Now to find some one to frame and market my work……..

Daily Paintworks

I am giving it a try! I want to paint a painting a day (5 days a week) and sell them online at Daily Paintworks.

I’ve painted 5 already but there is a problem with a few of them, which I hope to get to later today or tomorrow. I want to post my best work and letting a painting “ferment” for a few days helps me with that. Also getting some great feedback from my artist friends is another way.

So here I go……. More later on what daily painting is feeling like to me!

Cathedral Peak, a 8" x 6" oil painting that I have on Daily Paintworks.

Cathedral Peak, a 8″ x 6″ oil painting that I have on Daily Paintworks.

Thoughts on Plein Air painting, the weather and good gear.

I consider myself a hardy person. After all I am the incident commander for West Elk Mountain Rescue and we go out in the wilderness areas and national forests in Gunnison county looking for lost persons all year around. I dress appropriately and have great all-season outer wear. I also walk my dog every day of the year, no matter what the weather. (My neighbors tease me about dog walking in the dark on 10° winter mornings.) I am usually prepared.

Today was almost no different as far as me being prepared for the weather. I went to join the group of PAAC painters in Montrose, CO. Myself and my faithful companion, Tova, met with several other painters at Baldridge Park along the Uncompahgre River. I set up my plein air kit and it seemed like it was going to be a lovely day. Warm, sunny, calm. Tova even took a dip in the river and spread out near me for a sun bath. Seemed a perfect Plein Air painting day.

HAH! About 1 1/2 hours into it, someone flipped the wind switch. At first it was just a few gusts but after about 20 minutes, dust started pelting me and my easel blew over a couple times despite the anchoring.  My backpack with stuff in it blew over. My little table was lifted up a bit, but I caught it in time. I had taken my heavy Carhardt jacket off and it was blowing off, too. When a wall of dust launched itself at me and embedded about a pound of gravel into my wet painting, I packed stuff up and called it a day. I noticed a few others were doing the same as we were all spread around the park.

My wet oil painting was not prepared for the weather. Tova wasn’t too happy about it either, she kept nose punching me and heading towards the path to leave and then looking back at me like I was crazy. I think I left in just in time. By the time we made it home to Paonia, it was grappling (snow pellets or soft hail) with about 40 mph winds.

Dust storm in Montrose, CO

Dust storm in Montrose, CO

Very windy!

Very windy!

I was really concentrating on my painting and somehow the weather didn’t bother me until the dust turned to sand and started to interfere with the actual painting. Call me nuts, but I think it added some interest to the painting. When I got home, I just had to clean up a few spots and knock off a clump of something (dust, leaf and dog fur-ball most likely). Plus add a few touches without overworking it. I also got a good photo of the location, pre-cyclone.

What was really great about the day was that I felt really confident about what I was going to paint, the process I was going to take and the confidence I felt about it all. This was the first time I didn’t feel totally overwhelmed & awed by everything and its beauty around me. I was able to pick out a specific scene and define its boundaries, look for the centers of interest, lay out the composition, values, focus and colors without much difficulty. I also was able to work pretty quickly having done a separate sketch, charcoal layout on the canvas board, under-painting, blocking in and laying down of colors, etc. in that short time.

"Baldridge Park Eddy" plein air oil 8" x 10"

“Baldridge Park Eddy” plein air oil 8″ x 10″

This little plein air painting gives me lots of information about the light, the feel and the energy of the location. Combined with the photo, I feel I could do a larger piece if I wanted in the future. It was a good day. Its not my best work, but its getting much better!

I learned a lot about my set-up, too. I need a good easel and palette. It seems like good equipment is important, even though I have a nice set-up, I think I want something more hard-core. I always have a hard time deciding to get good gear with anything. After I suffer a while, then something trips a switch in me and I make the plunge into good gear. True for me with hiking, riding, gardening; pretty much everything. I think I may spring for a Strada with tripod kit. Now to sell some paintings to pay for it………!

Patience is a virtue

“Who Said “Patience Is a Virtue”?” From Your Dictionary .com.

“The first known publishing of the quote “Patiences is a virtue” comes from the poem “Piers Plowman” written between the years 1360 and 1387. Typical of texts from the 14th century, authorship can be debated though literary historians normally attribute most of the text to William Langland. However, there are multiple versions of this poem written at different times with sections believed to be authored by different, unknown people.”

I’m sure we’ve all heard and/or used this saying. It can apply to what I am experiencing with waiting for the oil paintings to dry before varnishing them and sending them out to the Kickstarter patrons who so generously supported me.

I think a lot of the delay in drying has to do with temperature. Its winter and colder than in the summer in my house. My wood stove’s heat doesn’t always reach into the studio. And we have had a long period of cloudy days here, reducing the solar warming coming from the sun room that is attached to the studio. I’ve been keeping the glass door closed but its still a bit chilly in the studio. I’ve been wearing lined carhardt jeans and fleece while painting. Sometimes I even put on my “house hat”.

Gray cloudy day and my snowy driveway and pv panels.

Gray cloudy day and my snowy driveway and pv panels.

One painting in particular is still tacky to touch and a tiny bit of the color comes up if I press on the edge of the painting. I emailed with the manufacturer of the varnish (after that ugly experience of the varnish lifting the paint off the canvas) who informed me of a possible problem. They said that the color I used, titanium white, may not have had enough binder in it or a poor quality binder. So I am going to buy a higher quality titanium white. Its a color that I use a lot of so I really need it to work as it should. The solution for the paintings is just time as it will eventually dry.

So on I go, painting and waiting for the little wet ones to dry. I may be frustrated but at least I feel optimistic about my art!

 

Recipe for Transforming a Place

How do you transform a place from looking at it into a painting?

First take the feeling you get when you are out there and adsorb it. Next grab a sketch pad and outline how the air, light and sound run around in your blood. Then start painting with something basic (watercolors or other plein air paints) to put down what is budding in your psyche. Ferment those feelings and ideas until they bubble over and then wait just a bit more until you can’t sleep for dreaming how you are going to squeeze out the colors on your palette. After that, go into the studio, remember the song the place whispered into your brain, the smells on the breeze and the feelings in your numb fingers. And paint.

Photo looking south at Fruit Growers' Reservoir, Hart's Basin, CO near Eckert.

Photo looking south at Fruit Growers’ Reservoir, Hart’s Basin, CO near Eckert.

12" x 9" Watercolor "Mesa & Marsh"

12″ x 9″ Watercolor “Mesa & Marsh”

14" x 11" oil "Mesa & Marsh"

14″ x 11″ oil
“Mesa & Marsh”

I know my writing is not eloquent and pretty basic,  but it gets my point across.

For this post, let me just say I am happy with the resulting oil painting. Now to patiently let it dry for a month or so.

On Retreat – A painting experience

Today is Day 3 of my painting retreat. I’ve been blogging on my Kickstarter page but thought I’d update what’s happening here, too. I’m at my friends’ house in the mountains about an hour southwest of Denver. There is a great huge studio that I have use of while they are away. I’m house sitting, too.

I’ve done a nice little painting of a shady area along the Steven’s Gulch creek where the siphon from the Fire Mountain Canal goes under it. Sounds industrial but it isn’t, its very overgrown and interesting. Steven's Gulch siphon

I also have a few helpers in the studio.

helpers2

Below are some stages I go through in the creation of a painting. The first one is a value sketch that is the under painting. Then I start laying in the colors and then adding detail. I don’t like the way this little painting is going so I’m going to rework it this morning.

DSCF0010DSCF0015DSCF0019

Off to the studio!

Raining today

Well its been raining on and off today. I didn’t get outside to do any sketching like I did yesterday. I managed to get a nice one in of some sunflowers in my yard. I added some colored pencil to the drawing and it looked good.

Today I read an art book and also spend time cleaning some dried stuff (ink? paint?) in my studio that was on the table. I may do another little sketch of Tova, my dog, when I finish this post.