Harvest Glow... revisited

"Harvest Glow"  24 x 24"  Pastel on sanded paper

Gosh, I just seem to be fighting with myself about this piece!  It was the sky that bothered me. Like one of those thistles that gets stuck in your sock when trampling in a field!  Yuck!

I sat with it for awhile after the first post...waiting to figure out the answer.  And sure enough, the skies cleared here in Oregon enough for me to study them as a passenger in the car.  I'm often looking at the scenery when I'm driving and have come to the realization that I'm better off a passenger.  Anyway, I digress.  Here I've lightened up the higher clouds.  They were too orange last time around.  So, I had to wash off what I previously painted. I went outdoors and took the garden hose and washed the entire upper portion off!  It's hard to let go of all that precious pigment, but for what it's worth, the painting means more to me.  As the pigment washed away, I saw the original underpainting that had stained the Wallis paper.  This is my blueprint.  After it dried, I took it inside and started in on it again with more courage.  I tried to keep it simple and to not noodle with, keeping it fresh.  Hoping it worked!   Comments welcomed.

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Satin Slopes, 24 x 24

"Satin Slopes" 24 x 24"  Pastel on sanded paper

After creating the study of Satin Slopes, I challenged myself to paint it in a larger format.  Painting larger by any means can be difficult when coming from such a small study, as I have found here.  It seems to take on a whole other life of its' own.  Kind of like re-telling a story and hoping for the same punch, or "effect" as previously hoped.  This can pose a problem for artists who are working on commissions after presenting a study before moving onto the larger, final piece.

I was never good at telling stories.  Telling a story and remembering the punch line was for others of greater articulation!  Especially when it comes to jokes.  Have you ever tried to describe something difficult and failed, leaving your friends wondering what planet you came from?  The look of confusion often is the result I get.  So, I often resort to drawing it out on a napkin...communicating visually is much more my style.  And then that is when they understand what I'm trying to say!  

"Satin Slopes" is a piece that draws from my imagination and the California hills in the early Spring.  In real life, these hills are so satiny, green and just beautiful under the sun.  The green lasts for only a few days before the sun transforms it to the gold that the state is well known for.  Here are the stages from which I created this piece.

Here is the underpainting.  This time around, I covered the entire mounted paper with a bright pastel.  Then, with a paintbrush and turpenoid, I melted the pastel with the wet paintbrush into the sanded paper leaving no specks of white peeking through.  This warm underpainting hopefully holds the piece together.

The next step is to get color down on the entire piece, blocking in the color to get the initial composition down.  It is applied lightly, only to set the scene.

Defining the distance first, I work on the clouds and most distant hills.

Here I'm establishing the darker values of the trees, making sure the farthest ones are more bluer and lighter.  I also placed shadows under the trees and begin to establish the focal point of the piece.

Stepping back to review what I've done so far, I ask for a critique.  I find a few things that need work.  The shadows are too intense, so I'll need to make them more gray.  The farthest hillside is a bit darker than the ones in front making it seem more forward.  I'll need to grey that one down a bit to push it farther away.  And the first mound of green looks too perfect.  So adding a few shrubs to break up that perfect arch might do the trick as well as to help out the composition a bit.  I'm aiming for that "S" composition here, so adding a few shrubs in that arch will help to lead the eye into the piece.


Please feel free to comment!

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Local 14

"Satin Slopes" 6x6" Pastel on sanded paper.   SOLD

Things are a 'brewin in the studio lately. First, I'm so happy to announce that I was accepted as a guest into Local 14, a long standing show featuring the work of 95 women in the Oregon area. The idea of Local 14 originally came when an artist living in Lake Oswego, Janet Almy, had a broken piano and needed to earn money to repair it. So she held an art show in her home with 13 other women. The show sold out and the rest is history. Local 14 has developed into a long standing show featuring the work of women, and has been grown to a 3 day event and is often considered an art collectors yearly pilgrimage. Show dates are listed on the right in "Upcoming Events".

This new piece, "Satin Slopes" is a combination of two inspirations. I am going to break from my "Variations" series and paint this one large 24 x 24" so I have something to submit into the NPS International show. Hopefully I can paint it in time...submissions are due April 18th!

Tomorrow, I am hosting Leadership Beaverton for a studio visit. The future leaders of the Beaverton community tour different aspects of our city and I have been selected as one of the destinations for the "cultural" tour. The studio is cleaned, wiped and dusted, and the art displayed.


Painting a Series

Farmer's Palette, 6x6" Pastel on sanded paper

Have you ever gone to a museum or gallery opening and noticed how the works somehow relate to one another? This theme, or better understood as a "series" is a common way for an artist to communicate his or her idea. Painting a series of work doesn't mean you're running out of ideas to paint, but is a way to tell a story in a more intimate or deeper way. A series is like pushing an idea to further the experience till it's exhausted. Using the what, why, or where this subject was painted helps to appreciate the body of work. A series can be related in size, color, subject, or any other curious thought provoking idea, so that it can communicate in such a way that the body of work stands well together, or individually.

Some of you may recall I have been working on painting a series of landscape scenes of my family farm. I've come up with "Variations on a Scene"...how simple is that? Anyway, some of my previously posted studies have moved onto the larger sized formats.

Harvest Glow
Estuary at Dusk
Color Field

A series can sometimes take a lifetime for an artist to complete. What a feeling it must be to make that mark! Because of the nature of my life with family, it will probably take me some time to complete this series. Hopefully I won't tire of the idea before the flame goes out. Posted above is one of my 6x6" studies that may end up as a larger piece for the series. I do these "studies" first to see if it fits into the series.

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Interview, new work, & Spring observations...

"Koi" 6x6" Pastel on sanded paper SOLD

For the truely curious, The Portland Plein-Aire & Studio Painters recently posted a 10 question interview about me on their blog. My friend and interviewer, Celeste Bergin, is always working on promoting art and artists through shows, posts and paint-outs. Thanks Celeste!

This new piece, "Koi" is from the same photo reference of a painting that I posted a couple of months ago. It's just another interpretation of a subject I dearly love to paint--water and koi fish. I used a red underpainting and just worked away at emphasizing the colors. I'm really liking this one in particular because it is so much more loose in stroke. Enjoy!

Observation: As the days are getting longer, that means more time outdoors! Yeah! On any dry morning, like today, I walked my son to school. This is a cherished time for me because it gives us time together to just talk. He carries most of the discussions, picking topics about Poke'mon and recess time. My precious Cody. On my way back home, I noticed that the blossoms on the cherry trees are at their peak! I also noticed that they smell a little like fresh tortillas! Yummy!