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Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Trees in the Park, Billerica"

"Trees in the Park, Billerica"
6"x6" oil on gessobord

This is plein air study I started last week and finished this morning. I painted at the site in three short sessions (lesson #1 - give yourself enough time to do it all at once!). It was an experience. I had scoped it out in the early morning, and thought that these trees would make nice subject later, when the sun would be shining on them. Little did I know what would be going on where I planned to put my easel. In my first afternoon session there were a few guys flying radio controlled airplanes, but for the second session, they were everywhere and so were their cars - and they wanted to talk. I was on their spot, after all. In my final session another artist spotted me from the road and stopped by to discuss equipment. Lesson #2 - scope out your spot at the same time of day you want to paint, there could be a lot going on.

For those who are receiving this in email, I did another post earlier today, which won't trigger an email. To check that out, go here.

Table and Chairs Sketch

"Table and Chairs"

Part of sketching regularly is not to be too worried about the subject matter. Learn to draw everything. I tried this scene four times, and like this one best. No rearranging, just find a good vantage point, and draw everyday things. Sometimes it takes a couple of passes to get the drawing even close to centered on the page, or within the border, but that's part of the composition. When I draw, I always learn something.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sketch Everywhere!



I have a new mantra, "paint every day, and sketch everywhere". I think the second part will be easier to achieve than the first, though I did both today. I have started carrying a small sketchbook (5"x3 1/2"), so that when I have wait time, I can sketch. These were done in a parking lot while waiting for a friend to join me for lunch. My son would not be surprised to hear that I had to get out of my car to identify the BMW!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Thomas Point Beach Spring"

"Thomas Point Beach Spring"
6"x6" oil on gessobord

My friend Joelle and I went to Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick today. What a beautiful place! We took a walk around and then settled on this scene of a lone tree, just at the edge of the grove. It was a fun afternoon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Russell Millpond"

"Russell Millpond"
6"X6" oil on gessobord

This morning's painting is a scene on the Russell Millpond on Route 4 in Chelmsford near the Billerica line. Once again, I was intrigued by the shapes of the pines and the color in the spring buds on the the deciduous trees. There is so much texture and color variation in the foliage right now, it makes it easy to find a nice composition.

So, what did I learn, and what do I want to do differently? I've been thinking about that all day. When commenting on yesterday's painting, I was thinking about things to improve in the painting, but isn't that related to what needs improvement in the process? I think so. And though I really love this painting, the deciduous trees were giving me trouble. So I'll find some more trees and work on that tomorrow.

On the flip side, I like the process here on the pine trees, which was a quick pass doing "scribble" trees (thanks Suzanne H!) in a middle green, followed by the darks, followed by the lights, and sculpting with the surroundings.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Marsh at Forge Pond"

"Marsh at Forge Pond"
6"X6" oil on gessobord

Inspired by a post from Liz Wiltzen that I keep going back to, I've been looking around on my way to and from work for good painting spots. I like to take the back way, and with the recent flooding and road closures here in Massachusetts, I've discovered some new options. Here's what Liz says about painting plein air that keeps coming back to me:

Get out there and paint. Lots of bad ones. Figure out why they're bad. Try not to do that again. Go out some more. Have a strategy. Try and stick to it. If it's not working, abandon it. New strategy - try again.

When it's over, know that a day out painting is worth a week of painting inside (from photos) for skill building, even though you may not be sure why at the time.

So that's what I'm going to do. And the timing is perfect, because I LOVE to paint outside, and it is now warm enough, and light enough, to do that either before or after work, if I can do it in an hour. That's also a good thing for me, a time limit. Get it down fast, step back, adjust, and then decide what to do better next time.

So what about this painting? I discovered this spot last week, when I was looking the opposite way. (Note to self, when you find a good spot, turn around and look behind you. Think about how the light is going to be on the other end of day. You may have found two good spots!) It's on the marsh on the southeast end of Forge Pond in Westford. This island of trees grabbed me, I love the shapes. OK, so I spent the hour of 6 to 7PM, and got it done. Not too bad and it was really fun. What will I change next time? I'll pay a bit more attention to the composition between the bottom of the foreground trees and the background tree line, and work on varying the brush work in the sky holes around the dead trees. Practice, practice, practice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Colander of Berries"

"Colander of Berries"
6"X6" oil on canvas panel

I love my friend Kitty's green colander, and it looks especially nice filled with strawberries. It was fun trying to get the acid green color and all the great reflections. I'm afraid for me the berries were just window dressing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Freeport Ramble"

Today was my third time out plein air painting this spring, and it was wonderful. Suzanne and I went to a park in South Freeport, behind the church, and were lucky to finish our paintings before the wind came up. This spot appealed to us because of the combination of green pine and bare deciduous trees. I was pleased with this for a first effort.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Spring Greens"

"Spring Greens"
6"X6" oil on canvas panel

I love this time of year when the trees are just starting to come out. It seems like there are more shades of green in the spring than in the other seasons. I did this study this morning out back of my local car dealership, while they were changing the oil. How's that for multi-tasking? Looking at Marc Hanson's four paintings a day for a month project has inspired me. It's time for plein air painting!

Monday, April 5, 2010

More Beach Girls Sketches

Beach Girls

Look at the Wave

Girls Looking Out to Sea

I've been going back through my photos of Isabella and Juliana from Sanibel last month, deciding which to paint. I keep coming back to these, with the light on their backs, and the story out in front of them. The top two are new drawings, the bottom is from a previous post. I think I'll give these three a try.