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
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,
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 .
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.
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.
“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.
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 .
A few days ago , I started this series showing and explaining paintings of mine that are hanging on our walls. Here is the next : “Majestic Sierra Junipers”one of my first serious Oil paintings dated 1998. . The following is the story of painting of these Sierra Junipers. Happily we moved to a larger home almost 3 years ago and there is plenty of space to hang artwork
I first started painting watercolors when I had Fridays off from my management position in Semiconductor manufacturing. I enrolled in an Adult Ed class and enjoyed it so much I kept going for about 10 years. My instructor also taught oil painting and convinced me to give it a try. Some people struggle with the differences between watercolors and oils. With watercolors you save the white of the paper and paint light, then go darker and darker. Wit oils, usually one goes dark first finishing up wit light paint. Almost a left brain / right brain way of thinking- but I enjoyed it. I kept painting watercolors and learned more and more about oil painting.
The image was from a photograph I took when I stopped my MGB along the Hiway 88 Kit Carson Pass in California. It almost seemed like these trees were talking to me and reminding me of my many hikes in the Sierra. A natural subject for my first 16 x 20 inch Oil painting.
The painting took about 30 hours. Painting 4 or 5 hours each week , letting it dry and then painting another layer. First session was painting all the darks in the cliffs and trees trunks with a black acrylic paint. Then I progressed with oils. Alizarin crimson, Thalo blue, Burnt Sienna, Yellow ochre, Thalo green and Titanium white are the predominant colors. The sky would set the tone for the rest of the painting so I actually did this first. The last layer was a ghost like white wash over the rocks using a painting medium and leaving most of the rock untouched.
Hello, I haven’t been outside to paint lately. Like most of you we’ve kept ourselves safely isolated for the past several weeks. I hope you are keeping safe too. I have been working on several studio paintings and they take much longer to complete than my usual one day Plein Airs. As a result I haven’t posted on this blog in a while. I thought it would be entertaining to go into the time machine and look at some of my paintings from the past.
I am starting a series here where I will show a painting every few days from the walls of our home. I will tell a little story about each painting: the location, whether from a photograph or on site, why I painted it, and its meaning to me. Thanks to my painting friend Don Neff for giving me the idea of posting paintings of the past.
The first is ” Echo Lake Cliffs” an early studio piece , painted from a photograph in 2006. To see this view you have to be driving by in a boat on Echo Lake , at an altitude of 7,300 feet. This is just over a few mountain tops from Lake Tahoe at a wimpy 5,200 ft. My lovely wife introduced me to Echo 46 years ago and each year we motor past this view in a small boat . As a mountaineer sometimes I imagine climbing up its crevices. At other times we hike by , and sometimes we have cross country skied past on the iced surface of the lake. The path of 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico cuts right across the middle of this painting, reminding me of my hikes on the John Muir Trail. Always a magnificent and inspiring view. I keep this painting on a wall in my studio.
My early studio oil paintings of this size usually required 20 to 30 hours of work . This is an oil on canvas 16 by 20 inches and in a more ornate frame than what I usually use. I would paint for 4 to 60 hours one week, then let it dry a week and do the next layer. This layering technique is in the classical style whereby thin layers of paint shine through each other, and are a contrast to thicker bolder brushstrokes. The layering is most evident I the cliff surfaces. (Take a look by clicking to enlarge the painting). My studio work for this piece was enhanced by referring to my many sketches, photographs and nearby plein air studies. Enjoy !
I have 2 paintings juried into the Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters show at Natividad in Salinas. The show runs from March 26th for a full year. Due to virus concerns the reception has been cancelled, but the some 70 paintings will be on display to provide some cheer to the patients and families. You can visit and see ” The Shark Fin” and “High Tide at Asilomar” on the hospitals second floor.
Also, yesterday I spent an overcast afternoon at Pt. Lobos State Park and painted this small 9 x12 Plein Air oil. I had many kind compliments from both hikers and school children as they passed me by on the trail. A Sea Otter in the cove below put on a show for all to enjoy. A fun day.
My Plein Air oil painting ” At the Point” has been juried into the 90th Annual Landscape Exhibition in Santa Cruz. Should be a great show! It sure was fun watching the surfers dive from the cliff, launching themselves into the waves. There are still a few small flecks of beach sand imbedded into the painting from that day. The Exhibition by the Santa Cruz Art League runs from Feb 28th to April 12th. A reception for anyone interested is March 6 from 6-8pm at 526 Broadway Santa Cruz. Hope to see you there!