Category Archives: landscape

dunes, bay, ship heading out / charcoal and chalk

In defense of perfectionism:

I wonder why perfectionism is so unpopular these days.

Sometimes I see a piece of art, any type of art, and I think that is just sublime. I couldn’t do better. I can’t find any fault with that. That looks like perfection to me. It’s a treat for your eyes. That was no accident. If the artist didn’t work on that particular piece for a long time then they are showing you the end result of years of practice.

Art experts don’t like to see evidence of hard work. They call it “labored over” like labor isn’t part of life. It’s to be avoided. There is no such thing as a labor of love to those people.

If an artist is insecure maybe the person saying, ” don’t continue to work on this painting, stop now before you overwork it.” The expert is trying to make the artist feel better about themself. If the artist is saying, “I’m not good enough,” that isn’t relevant in the art world. You can be a real jerk, it doesn’t matter. You can still do art that is uplifting and people might love your art. I’m not good enough also doesn’t make sense to me because imperfection is accepted, even prized. The artists I’m talking about only need more practice till they feel good enough.

You don’t get there by giving up if you think you can fix a painting and make it better by continuing to work on it. If you don’t want to do that right now, it’s ok to put it off till next week, next year or any other time when you think you can do better.

I’ll agree no one is perfect. Perfection is an ideal. Why not shoot for the ideal? Even if you never get there trying is better than copping out. Art might be the only chance we have to get close to perfection.

If you want to keep going over it again and again don’t let anyone stop you. If you get on a good path and want to keep doing the same thing in different variations until you have had enough then you have to do that and don’t let anyone say, “you’re not done with that yet?”

Ignore anyone that tells you what not to do.

As always, feel free to opine.

Clouds Rolling in w close ups

finally finished

There are so many great views at Pleasure House Point. I might try to do another one this winter. Hopefully it will go easier than this one did.

https://www.instagram.com/pleasure_house_point/

They get some beautiful photos over there!

I wanted to give the look of wind on the water breaking up the reflections.

This was the hardest part. Whew! Glad that’s over.

Next painting might be easier. That little man, I had to try 3 times before I got this.

Here’s a little focal point in the background.

That’s not too much wasted paint considering that there’s probably a half cup of it or more on the painting. I put plastic wrap on my leftovers and might be able to use them next week.

These are the palette knives I used in this painting on my palette with left over globs of paint.

The large one on the left was good for scraping the first blue on the sky. The second from the left is the one I use most of the time. It’s great for mixing paint colors and I often use it to scoop up a glob of paint to transfer it to the canvas. The second from the right is the one I used to paint most of this and the one on the right was recommended to me by my blogging friend, Alli. Check her out! Her paintings are beautiful and peaceful!

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/8312992

It was a stroke of luck that Alli told me to buy another knife because I was having a problem painting the figure, then when I went to the art supply store I noticed my painting that was in their window was missing and the manager found it and I took it home. But it almost got stolen. If I didn’t go to the store that day, by this week that painting would be gone. Just my intuition. But intuition is one of the benefits of leading the life of a hermit. Eventually you get some. And you can’t ignore it.

a pastel landscape from 2006

I can’t remember if this is from a photo or if I did it in plein air.

I remember the scene though. It’s at Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve in Lancaster Co. PA.

I was searching through my flat files for another pastel. I remembered a time when I was in PA and took some photos and used them for reference to do pastels. I took them to show a gallery owner to ask her if I could get them hung in the gallery if I framed them. She liked plein air paintings and she asked me if I used photos. I said yes. She told me to stop that. My friend was mad at her but I knew she was right because that was drummed into my head in art school. Yes, I was kind of brainwashed back then. No using a photo for a reference. I broke the rule in school and some times after that too, but I can tell that drawing from eye to hand in plein air has made an improvement in my paintings that wouldn’t have happened if I continued to copy photos.

06 was the year I got back into art after over 20 years of not drawing. Life can stop me from drawing with a demanding job, taking care of a husband and kid, being too tired in general to concentrate on art.

This was around the time I started working in plein air so I can’t remember if this is one of the gallery rejected ones or if this is one of the first I did in plein air.

It’s raining today. I need to try to paint my little man for the Pleasure House Point painting on scrap paper a couple times and see if I can do it because he’s only 2.25 inches tall on my palette knife painting and it’s kind of a hang up stopping me from finishing the new one. So, to procrastinate a little longer on the difficult project, I went through some old paintings looking for one that I showed to my dentist back then and he made a comment I thought was funny . It was a flock of geese at Middle Creek.He said I drew 2 birds going for the same worm. I laughed and I thought maybe the doc had 2 girlfriends. I didn’t ask. I’ll get back on the palette knife painting today! For sure!

3 pastel sketches from long ago, never to be seen again

Say your goodbye.

I think this was one of my first plein air sketches from Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve in Lancaster Co. PA. maybe 2006.

I want to use both sides of the paper and this will get ruined along with 2 others. They’re 7″ x 10″. I pulled an old sketchbook out of my flat file to find a piece of paper to redraw my new landscape larger on the other side. When I slap some oil paint on the back of this paper these will be lost. If you want to stop me from ruining one of these you can make me an offer, otherwise, maybe tomorrow these die.

I can’t remember where this scene was. That was around the time I started drawing in plein air so I can’t remember if I had a vacation at VA. Beach or maybe Chincoteague, because this looks like Assateague.

I have to be ruthless with my old art. I haven’t looked at these for 15 years. I won’t miss them. Anyway, I’m posting them so you can compare them to my new paintings, and so they can live on the cloud forever, at least until the electricity goes out.

figure drawing

The first of two models.

My models are made of bronze and I’d like to paint them in bronze colors. I’m not sure exactly how yet, Which media to use, probably not oil paint. I still have to sketch the second dancing girl and she’s in a more difficult pose to draw. She’s leaning back. I’ll do it next week.

The back of the sculpture looks good too, so I might draw both sides. I’ll have to transfer the sketches to a larger paper. They’re holding hands while dancing.

It doesn’t make any difference how long it takes me to come up with a plan for my dancing girls. They’re not going anywhere. I might even wait till winter to do it so there will be less people at the garden and I won’t be in the way on the path.

dune painting and wildlife report from VA Beach

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When I was driving down the Sandbridge Rd. this morning a deer crossed the road in front of my car. I saw it from far away, a doe, as it walked across the ditch. It didn’t jump, just walked. Then as I was driving down the Back Bay rd. a big sand crab crossed the road.

A couple days ago I had to come to a stop on that road for a big turtle.

One day last week I was walking down the gravel road to my overlook and I saw something brown in the grass next to the road, not moving, and I wondered what it was. It was a big rabbit and not your ordinary wild rabbit but one with real pretty tortoise shell  colored  fur. As I got closer it didn’t move but kept on eating the grass. I walked by it only 3′ away and it didn’t run.

There is a bumper crop of dragon flies down there and one flew right into my neck! You can see hundreds of them buzzing all around this scene.

It was hot when I got there at 7:30 but there was a nice breeze which made it more tolerable. Now it’s hot as hell out there.

I’m almost finished with my dune painting triptych. This is the center section, finished.

Cypress trees and knees / charcoal and chalk

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Is social distancing driving you crazy? I’m ok. That’s the story of my life. It’s not what I’d have chosen for myself because I enjoy the company of people who like to talk. It’s just the way it worked out and it took some time to get used to. Now I feel ok with isolation. It can be liberating. My daughter isn’t too far away and I see her some times.

I’m not worried about catching Corona.  I know it could kill me but I rarely ever catch a cold. Do I live a real healthy lifestyle? Nope. The thing that keeps me immune is my lack of exposure to viruses. The main thing I’m worried about is how this panic will affect the economy. That will recover too, but meanwhile a lot of people have serious problems because of it.

If isolation is getting you down the best thing you can do for yourself is go outside. Any activity you enjoy makes social distancing tolerable if you can get out in the fresh air and sunshine.

I really enjoyed sketching in the swamp today. The weather is great! It’s a good thing I got there when I did because when I left the parking lot was slam packed and cars were lined up at the gate to get in.

About the sketch : I decided to stop working on it and I didn’t do any reflections on the water. I might be able to use this sketch in a painting eventually but the reflections are a problem I don’t have to face until I actually get into the paint.

Redbud tree / pastel and charcoal

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Redbuds are native here and I love to see them in the woods when I’m driving. Suddenly you see a slash of purple by the road and the other trees aren’t leafed out yet. Then they go back into hiding and are indistinguishable from the underbrush until they bloom again.

This one is in the botanical garden and I saw a couple more over there. As soon as the weather clears up I’ll go back and get another sketch. Last year I got an ok  sketch, if I can find it. I need one more and I can start planning a painting.

I’ll need another big canvas so they’re not crowded. This paper is 11 x 14 and too small. I haven’t decided on what to use as the background or if I want to put other spring flowers in the painting. This painting might not happen until next year, I don’t know. I’m kind of distracted this week and it’s cloudy and rainy too, so, maybe in a couple weeks after I get settled in my next apartment, and some other things are settled… By then they’ll be done blooming though.

That’s one problem of this artist, life’s distractions can stop me from drawing and painting.  (temporarily) The simpler my life is, the easier it is to concentrate on art. When things get complicated it isn’t as easy to do. I can still get out and sketch for a few hours on nice days but working on a finished painting won’t happen for a few weeks.

Azaleas and Daffodils / pastel sketches

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What I’m really looking for is Redbud trees. I thought it’s too early, then I saw a couple on my way home starting to bloom. They’re hard to spot if they’re not blooming because they’re small twisty trees. I’ll keep looking for the Redbuds but if I can’t find them I’ll draw other flowers.

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This paper isn’t great for pastel. It has no tooth, meaning it’s too smooth. I can’t build up layers of pastel as well as on better pastel paper. It’s ok for sketches though, because I can save these and use them as reference sketches in a painting next spring if I get a good idea worked out by then for daffodils or azaleas. I also need to find the best view of the flowers, see what would work for a background, etc.

Meanwhile, this is drawing practice. It doesn’t matter what the subject is for practice. The more you keep at it the better your eye gets for things like color and contrast, directions of lines or shapes, sizes of subjects for a finished painting and another million things an artist decides while working on a project. You make a lot of decisions without much thought, but other things take more and more sketching to come to a good plan. The more flower studies I do in advance the better.  Or I could just put these in the file and never use them. I don’t know for sure. It could be the first step of a painting or it could be nothing more than another sketch.