Mar 31, 2021 Light at the End of the Tunnel

Its springtime and as more of us receive our covid vaccines the brighter the future will be. Today is a beautiful day along the California Coast and I painted this morning at the harbor in Moss Landing. For the first time in over a year I went to lunch with 3 fellow painters on a deck overlooking the Elkhorn slough. My fish sandwich tasted especially great and I am pleased with todays Plein Air painting. I will post it soon.

For today I wanted to post a painting I did last Sunday afternoon with fellow painter Ellaine Goldstone. We both have signed up for the Open Studios Tour that will be held for 2 weeks around Monterey County in October. As a promotion for the Arts Habitat Monterey Artists Tour, artists were encouraged to drop off one painting Sunday at the Pacific Grove Art Center gallery for a show thru April. After the drop off we headed a few blocks to the shore and selected a safe location to paint. As sea otters and Scuba divers cavorted in the waves, we painted.

Sailing on Monterey Bay 2021 9×12 Plein Air, Oil
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Dec. 2020, and what a Year !

Hopefully I can spread some enjoyment and cheer here at the end of the year by posting a few of the paintings that I did in the last few months. Wow, I noticed that I haven’t posted since August.. The reason for my posting delay was that I had minor computer issues (now fixed) but also the many realities that 2020 threw at us with fires, politics and the virus. At our home we are healthy, but Covid has taken a toll throughout the world and nation. I think we are all looking forward to a normal, safe and healthy 2021.

From a strictly art viewpoint 2020 was hard. No Plein Air competitions, few shows, few sales; conferences and workshops cancelled. My motivation was lacking until I decided to volunteer to be the coordinator for my Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters Associations paint outs. I published a weekly schedule, and starting Sept 30th anywhere from 5 to 12 of us began to meet at outdoor locations wearing masks and painting at a safe distance from one another. I think we all enjoyed the boost it gave our paintings. Now on Dec 14, Monterey county begins a lockdown and I have cancelled meetings until further notice. Just when us painters were getting in the groove again too, but now we have positive momentum so its ok!

These are all Plein Air paintings . All are available for sale. Sometimes an outdoor painting is a study for a larger work, sometimes it is a finished piece. Either way, seeing the actual light and colors on location are the real reason we paint Plein Air.

Happy Holidays to Everyone ! Al

“Cove at Pt Lobos”
“Monterey Bay, Pacific Grove”
“Garappata, Wave Surge”
“Sea Arch, Pt Lobos”
“Monastery Beach”
“Moss Landing Harbor”
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MBPAPA Annual Members Show Sept. 4 – Oct. 29 2020

Unusual for these worried times of the Pandemic and now lightning fires in California : our Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters Associations members show will be in a real gallery at the Pacific Grove Art Center. Juried by Laurie Kersey it should be a nice enjoyable show.

Here are my 2 entries: “View from Pleasure Point” 14 x 18 in. Plein Air , Oil on linen panel “A Gentle Day on Monterey Bay” 12 x 16 in. Plein Air, Oil on linen panel

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4 Paintings in 2 Summer Shows – July 15, 2020

These are interesting times for Artists: as we continue to paint many of the opportunities to show and sell our work have been cancelled. A solution has been to have virtual online shows elected by jurors , and in a few instances juried shows where the Art still appears in a real gallery.

In July I have paintings in both of these situations. Beginning July 3rd – Aug. 27th the MBPAPA Signature Artists show is Open to the public at the Pacific Grove Art Center near Monterey. The theme “From Plein Air to Studio” challenged us to take a small Plein Air piece and make it larger in the studio. Honored to have my painting ” Yosemite January 2020″ , in the show with so many talented artists and to be selected by juror Brian Blood.

A Virtual online juried show by the Coastal Art League of Half Moon Bay is online running from today July 15 – Sept 1st. This show titled “Uncharted Territory”, is the Juried All Media Show 2020 of 51 pieces of sculptures, drawings, photographs and paintings. I am very pleased to have all 3 of my entries selected .

“Toward Big Sur from Pt Lobos” 9x 12 in. PleinAir, painted this winter as a rainstorm appeared on the coast. “Incoming Morning Tide ” is 12 x 16 in. PleinAir painted facing into a brisk salt spray during the first day of the Los Gatos PleinAir event in June 2020. Finally a La Jolla PleinAir 12 x 16 in. entitled ” To the Blue Horizon”

“Yosemite January 2020” 18 x 24 in, Oil on canvas
“Toward BigSur from Pt Lobos” 9 x 12 in., Oil on linen panel, PleinAir
“Incoming Morning Tide” 12 x 16 in., Oil on linen panel, PleinAir
“To the Blue Horizon” 12 x 16 in, Oil on linen panel, PleinAir

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Painting Outside Again and Upcoming Shows, 6/15/20

With Covid19 still around, I am sincerely hoping that everyone still practices safe distancing, wearing facemarks in public and being kind to others. Happily after months sheltered in place, I have begun to find some secluded places where I can paint outside again. Studio work is important but there is nothing like being outside to lift the soul and spirit. Opportunities where I usually show my work have been cancelled or postponed, but lately there are some virtual online shows that I have applied to. This has given me a creative spark to re-evaluate some older works and also to get the creative juices going for newer works.

The Monterey Bay Open Studio Tour was scheduled for May , and is now rescheduled to October. This has been my most successful show in the past , so I look forward to seeing many you then. Another successful venue for me last year was the 2019 Los Gatos Plein Air event. It has been cancelled for 2020 and will reoccur in 2021.Another great show last year was the 2019 Capitola Plein Air, it will be downsized this year but hopefully will still occur in November

Several Art shows are now going virtual on the web. This is a great and creative response for solving the problem of having too many people in one place for an Art show. The California Art Club is having a show “Our World Reimagined, a Virtual experience” where we submit images on line for judging and virtual display from July 1 – August 14. Similarly, my MBPAPA Signature artists show will be virtual this summer, as will the Coastal Art Leagues show “Uncharted Territory” for July 15 – Sept 1.

Here are a few paintings I have worked on during sheltered in place or just before. Enjoy

“To the Blue Horizon” Plein Air 12 x 16 Oil on linen panel La Jolla Ca. “Incoming Tide, Pacific Grove” Plein Air 9x 12 Oil on linen panel “Serenity” Studio 16 x 20 Oil on Canvas

To the Blue Horizon
Incoming Tide, Pacific Grove
Serenity

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A Painting story from our home walls

“Echo Lake July 2000” Oil on canvas 32×40 in.

Awhile after we met, Helen told me she wanted to show me a special place in the Mountains. We packed some overnight things and jumped into my 1966 MGB-GT. Way above Lake Tahoe, our destination turned out to be her families small, rustic log cabin at 7400 ft on Upper Echo Lake. Such a delightful location in the Sierras. . I think it was a test to see how I fit in with her family. I guess I passed, we’ve been going there every year for 43 years. Its amazing.

To get to the cabin you have to take a boat through this small channel. I just love the views from the cabin looking up at Flagpole Peak and across to the far shoreline where hikers traverse the Pacific Crest Trail. I have been sketching, painting and photographing here every year. For this large painting I did a number of detailed pencil drawings and used prior paintings and photos as a reference too. Every morning for 5 days, I walked from the cabin, about 100 yds through the forest, and set up my easel at the edge of the channel and painted.

Here are 2 quick Plein Air pieces from other times.

About 85% of the painting was completed Plein Air during those five July mornings. At 32 x 40 inches there was a lot of surface area to cover. I was really happy with the mountain and composition. Taking it home unfinished , I knew I needed to change a few clouds and somehow give the channel water a sense of movement. Over the years I played with the painting a little, but with my hi tech day job I had less and less time to paint. Completion became a challenge. Finally early retirement in 2014 was the key to finding more time to paint and regain my confidence. In 2017, I had an opportunity to be in a gallery show with 2 other painters. I made it a goal to finish and exhibit Echo Lake along with 25 of my paintings. I did it. I finally finished 17 years later!

Fortunately with an oil painting an artist can continue to modify and enhance the piece weeks or years later. In this piece I stayed with my original limited oil palette . Thalo blue, cobalt blue, thalo green, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre, cad red, cad yellow, burnt sienna and white. This made matching easier. I sprayed a retouch varnish onto the existing painting , let it dry and added the new changes. Repeat this each session. Unlike in a wet on wet Plein Air, I was able to layer on top of existing details . Glazing and stumbling added extra depth to the foreground rocks and water. I believe I captured some of the tranquility of the Sierras,

“Echo Lake July 2000” Oil on canvas 32 x 40 inches
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My Paintings from the 70s on our Walls

Here are 3 large paintings I completed in one week at the end of my spring quarter ay UCSD in 1972. My major was Biological Science, but I managed to also do a minor in Visual Arts. I had Physical Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Immunology finals that spring and had very little time to spend on the final for the painting class. The assignment was to submit 3 large Abstract acrylic paintings. Since I didn’t have much money, I built and stretched the canvases myself. Sadly this was my only painting class, and in class we painted large abstracts on paper on the floor. We did have classes in life drawing, art history, and film studies. Fortunately I also had several wonderful graphic design classes at De Anza Jr College in Cupertino.

So the following is the story about these large paintings. They are each about 4 ft by 4 ft . I spent 2 days constructing the frames and stretching the canvases. Fortunately a summer job I had a few years earlier in a gallery stretching canvases was very helpful, and gave me the confidence to make my own.

I had completed my sketches and drawings designs. Next I started off penciling in the shapes and then spent about 30 hours on the first painting. (Here is how it looks in our living room now) I taped of some sections then laid the canvas on the ground and dripped and scrubbed in greens and yellows with acrylic paint . Then painting in the 3 stripes was easy and fun. The orange dots were a problem and very time consuming. Soon I realized that my deadline would prevent me from spending this much time on the other two . I quickly added in the bottom blue section and liked the overall look. It was finally done

Since Molecular Biology and microscopes were on my mind, my theme was molecules or atoms moving about, or if looked at another way large astronomical views. This painting #2 of Molecular motion took about 12 hours, again taping off sections to show distance, dabbing in textures with sponges, fine tuning near objects .

“Molecular Motion” Acrylic on canvas 4 ft x 4 ft

My week was going by fast! and the 3 paintings for the final were all due tomorrow ! I had one more to start and complete. I grabbed my handy masking tape and split the canvas into 3 zones. I splashed paint into each zone, added a white outline around the central inverted T, and dabbed small spots with a sponge onto the inner inverted T. Pulled off the tape and it was done in about 6 hours ! Assignment completed and ready to turn in. I did get an A for the course. My Mom had this in her hallway for many years until I had a place to hang it.

“Microscopic or Telescopic” Acrylic on canvas 4 ft x 4 ft.
“Molecular Biology” Acrylic on canvas 4 ft x 4 ft
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Paintings on my Studio Wall May 8, 2020

This painting ” Sailing in Santa Cruz” from 2001, is hanging on the wall in my studio. Its there, reminding me of a lovely day sitting and painting with my french easel on the beach. Is it Blacks Beach? Anyway recognize the location? I started this as a Plein Air and almost completed it, adding some finer details later in the studio. It is a little large to complete en Plein Air all in one sitting at 16 x 20 inches, but I went for it. The summer before I began a large 30 x 40 inch Plein Air painting up in the Sierra Nevade at 7400 ft. painting 3 hours a day for 5 mornings, so this seemed a likely challenge.

The limited color palette works well for landscapes and seascapes. Using just 8 colors assures a harmony and added realism to the scene. The oil colors used where: Thalo Blue, Thalo Green, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cad Yellow Light, and Titanium White. For finer details in the studio I used a medium that I mix of of 1/3 Refined Linseed Oil, 1/3 Grumbacher medium II, and 1/3 Gamsol solvent. The medium helps with finer lines and smoothes brushstrokes.

“Sailing in Santa Cruz” 16 x 20 oil on canvas
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Paintings from our Wall at Home May 3, 2020

“Where are the Boats ? ” Here is the fifth in my painting series from our walls. This is titled “Old Custom House” and painted in 2015 in Monterey at one of my very first Plein Air competitions. I was surprised and delighted to receive a first place ribbon and monetary award for architecture. If you know the scene, next to Fishermans Wharf, you might ask the question about the boats and that is the fun little story I will tell here about this piece.

In preparation for the weekend event in Monterey , Helen and I drove down a day early and I did a series of preliminary sketches and photographs of potential painting sites. Good thing I did, because the event “Painting from The Gardens” also coincided with the very large Monterey Italian Festival ! We were restricted to a small geographic area in the historic district, and that overlapped in some places with the thousands attending the Italian festival . In the morning I painted in the quite gardens and then went to my favorite planned location – The Custom House .

To my surprise my planned view was now in the very middle of the festival. As a Plein Air painter we are used to distractions, bugs , wind and sometimes crowds. However this was something else. There were hundreds of kids and families in front of me, and a huge inflatable carnival bouncy gym blocking some of my view of the Custom House. I set up anyway and referring to my sketches was able to pencil in the outlines of the painting onto my 9 x 12 inch canvas. Soon I was mentally blocking everyone out and made good progress on the large tree and architecture features of the building.

Where are the sailboats and fishing boats ? Well by the time I got around to painting the harbor, the boats looked like an enormous challenge given the time and light I had left. Since I had successfully ignored the crowds in front of the building while painting, I realized I could now use artist license to finish the painting any way I liked. The Custom House is California Landmark #1. I thought back to the 1840s, when California was under Mexico control and there was not a large harbor with fleets of boats. I liked the idea of going back in time and completed the painted as if the building was just finished and the harbor was not yet evident.

How was it painted? I began by toning the canvas with an orange wash. This gives the finished painting a warm tone where the orange peaks through and also unifies the other colors . Back then my limited oil palette consisted of thalo blue and thalo green, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, cad orange, yellow ochre, cad yellow, naples yellow and titanium white. The dark tree was painted first with a combination of alizarin, and thalo green later adding a light yellow green highlite. Going from dark to light I next painted with a thin ultramarine blue the shadows of the roof tiles , the railing, shadows in front of wall and some hint of a water horizon. The sky is mostly a thalo blue with light mixes of alizarin, cad yellow and white. I was careful to leave some of the orange wash show thru. The roof top is mostly a light alizarin with a slight blue mix over the orange wash. The foreground is mostly the orange . The building walls are combinations of white, Naples and yellow ochre. Shutters are cad yellow and thalo green. I created a distance atmosphere for the far mountains and sea by applying whitened ultramarine blues over the orange wash. I finished up by adding almost white hilights here and there.

“Old Custom House” Plein Air 9 x 12 Oil on archival panel
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My Paintings on our Wall, April 25 2020 “Pt. Lobos”

Hi, Welcome back to my series discussing how and why I painted some of the paintings hanging on the walls of our home. The third in the series, todays painting is from 1999 and is titled simply enough “Pt Lobos” It could also be titled “Pt Lobos prior to California” .

In the 1990s I primarily painted with watercolors, learning color theories and the nuances of the medium primarily on Arches blocks 14 x 20. Until then my ArtistEye outlet was through my photography: developing Black and White at home, processing slides, and printing with a color enlarger. In 1996 I jumped into oils and used my photo images as a resource.

Pt Lobos has always been an inspiration to me. I followed and marveled at Ansel Adams’ photo images and also of the paintings by the early California Impressionists. Over the years trips to Pt Lobos have been many, enjoying hiking, sketching, painting and photography, even some snorkeling in Whalers Cove in the seventies.

This painting is from one of my photographs and is a view from Whalers Cove toward the Carmelite Monastery on the far hillside. If you look closely you will not see the Monastery! As the painting progressed I decided to leave it out. I liked the idea that this could be a view from hundreds of years before Europeans were in California.

As this was one of my earlier oils, I tried to paint as realistically as I could but added an Impressionistic flare, mostly in the water surface and nearby cliffs. Layer after layer, I think it took about 40 hours to complete. I would paint for 4-5 hours, let the paint dry for a week and then using retouch varnish and paint medium I would add the next layer. I used a simple landscape color palette of alizarin crimson, yellow ochre, thalo and cobalt blue, thalo green, burnt umber, burnt sienna and titanium white. A fun discovery was to mix lavenders for the shadows of the foliage and use it to add atmospheric perspective to the distant hills .

“Point Lobos” Oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inch
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