sedge and path / underpainting

Finally! some nice weather! It’s sunny and cool and calm today and I made some progress on this. The painting is going pretty fast so I hope I can finish this in another week or so. I’m anxiously awaiting the red buds to bloom for my next painting. I’ve been walking at the botanical gardens lately and the red bud trees aren’t showing buds, but that could happen real soon. Daffodils are blooming and I saw some early blooming pink trees when I was driving around.

I’m enjoying painting on paper with oils. One time saver with paper is that I’m not sanding or putting gesso on a canvas. Priming and tinting a canvas takes a few hours. Paper is more practical than canvas when you start to accumulate a lot of canvases and have limited space to store them.

I’ll go over this whole thing again.

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returning to my roots with this project

haha I don’t have any roots. I’m a tumbleweed.

Once I drove Rt. 66 from Springfield MO. to Santa Monica CA. I was in OK. and I saw these dead looking shrubberies by the side of the road, which had no traffic. I thought they fell off a truck and wondered why they didn’t pick them up since they were on the road. Then I saw so many of them I thought, these have to be tumbleweeds.

This is my plan for the next painting, the second time I sketched it, this time larger. The chalk is sand and the chalk dots are sea oats.

That’s how you start a painting in the traditional process, do a detailed drawing on the paper or canvas. When I was sketching a few people walked across the path at the top of the meadow to the right of center and I decided to try to paint a figure in to give it scale. I had already sketched in some sea oats that rise up over the path from this view. I decided to erase them when I paint and put my person walking in that spot on the path. This step is the time to plan and change plans. If I started in a rush to slap down some paint without doing the sketch then the painting wouldn’t work out as I hoped. Where would I put my person in?

That’s the only roots I have, the traditional ways of painting that I learned long ago. Some times I tumble along in the breeze trying to paint like a modern artist. This time I’m going to use paint brushes and take my time on it, not skipping any steps.

They’re trying to lure me to Texas

I don’t know if I’d get accepted. I’d be up against real plein air professionals. Their art pays the bills.

I had a great time at Fall Color Week at the Ghost Ranch in 2019. This Texas thing is a contest and I’m not real hot on competitions . The Ghost Ranch was like art camp for 1 week, not a contest. It was beautiful and they fed us well. Both events are from the Plein Air magazine.

When plein air contests got popular maybe 15 years ago or something like that, I entered when they came to Richmond but didn’t get in. I never heard why. And back in those days I entered the contests this magazine has but I never even heard from them if they received my entry which was a little discouraging to keep on entering. I got my daughter to help me with the entries to be sure it wouldn’t get hung up on some filing error. So, I don’t know why I never heard back.

I said I wasn’t going to enter anymore but this could be another great adventure like the Ghost Ranch. This Texas thing would be an expensive vacation but fun. I like the part about the artists can stay at the ranches before the event starts. At least I’d have time to decide where to paint.

I heard that they stamp the back of your blank canvases at the start so no-one can have more time to paint than the others. I’m kinda slow but might be able to finish something in a week if I work on it every day.

Should I enter? If I send them my swamp painting in the entry they might reject me because they’ll see it took me a long time to paint it and that’s against their preferred style, but the swamp painting is one of my favorites.

I might trade the Taurus for a Bronco if I take this trip. I need more clearance on dirt roads. I like my Fords. They have the most comfortable seats and they’re strong cars.

self portrait

This is modern art. I don’t feel like standing in front of a mirror and trying to get a likeness. What if it comes out looking cartoonish? That’s ok. It could even come out looking grotesque and that’s fine too.

Do I need to “labor” over this? nah. Do I need to mix natural skin colors? Just use what’s left from the previous painting and is drying up on the palette.

It can be for fun on a rainy day when you just want to goof around. I taped my paint brush to a yard stick like one of my favorite artists, Matisse. In fact, it was so much fun I might do more.

Since I’ve been trying to do modern art when I’m stuck at home because of bad weather, I can’t tell if it’s improving my skill or not. I did get the feeling it’s affecting me in some way I can’t describe exactly. It’s a mental thing. I’ll probably go back to traditional style when the weather improves. I’m tired of the cold rain, almost drove to FL. but 95 is probably a mess.

tidal pool with ship coming in / charcoal and chalk

The weather has been dismal here. We did get a little snow but mostly rain and it looks like more rain and cloudy weather for another week. I was glad to get another sketch of the tidal pool when the sun came out. It was cool with a little breeze.

It would be nice to see more snow than rain but the people around here don’t drive in snow very well.

I might try to paint this at home or I might do a sewing project but I needed another sketch first. This helped me visualize the bottom of the pool where the water runs back out to the bay and I made some mental notes of the colors I’ll need. It can be a limited palette. The vertical format isn’t going to work for a painting. I need larger paper. Some times I have to keep sketching before I can decide even simple things like horizontal or vertical. The pool looks too narrow here but I think I can use both of my sketches and fake it for the painting.

The ship had a lot of red on it. It was pretty on the gray blue water.

daffodils on silk screen blend

for my blogging friends who have had enough winter weather already.

The background fade from pink to blue is a silkscreen blend. The flowers are oil paint done with my paint brushes taped to yard sticks and painted while standing back from the paper.

Blends aren’t easy to do. It takes skill to make a smooth even blend between two colors. I didn’t do the silkscreen. I worked in the art dept. of a silkscreen shop long ago and saved some flawed blends from the overrun. I only have one blend paper left. They made good backgrounds for a lot of different art projects over the years.

The owner of the shop had us do a huge art project every year that he could give away to the customers at Christmas. We had to reproduce a painting by one of his favorite artists. That was in the days before printing technology was as advanced as it is today. The silkscreens process couldn’t reproduce a watercolor exactly but we tried anyway.

I’m not sure if taping my paint brushes to yard sticks ala Matisse is helping me become a better artist or not but it is fun so I want to keep trying. It makes my brush strokes a little rough which is ok for this project.

This is the unfinished painting on my easel with my $5 flower pot. It was nice to go to the garden supply store and buy the little daffodils. I picked the one that looked like it had the most buds and sure enough, more and more buds are opening.

You can see my palette on the table with 3 greens mixed and thinned with turpenoid. Working the paint is an important step if you want to try the yardstick painting technique. Sometimes artists just like to switch up how they’re painting to keep it more interesting. It’s how to improve your art over the long run, try new things, learn from artists you like by trying to paint like them, and it keeps an artist from getting stuck in a rut doing the same thing all the time. It’s a challenge.

If the paint wasn’t thin it wouldn’t flow off the brush as easily as I like it to and painting with the yard stick brush extenders might be more difficult. I add turp slowly and keep mixing with the palette knife until it’s smooth and even. Then I need to go over it twice because the paint is more transparent. I don’t know if it shows up in this photo, but one coat of paint didn’t cover the silkscreen ink well enough. I had to do the second coat of paint to make my flowers as bright as I could get them and make the leaves show up better.

tidal pool / charcoal and chalk

This is what I decided on for my next plein air painting. I hope that pool doesn’t dry up. It looks like it will be easy to paint.

It’s going to rain again tomorrow, Mon. sunny and cold. I don’t mind cold but if it’s windy I can’t paint on the beach. Then more rain and maybe snow is coming for a few days.

The weather is keeping me at home too much. I started a flower painting and worked on it a few times at home when it was yucky out, maybe I can finish it tomorrow.

Today was beautiful outside for a change. Sunny and cool with a little breeze. A lot of people were enjoying the beach.

No Camera Needed