Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Judicious Crop

Tidewater Reflection left cropped

Tidewater Reflection top/bottom cropped

Tidewater Reflection as painted
5"x5" oil on treated paper

One thing about painting on paper, if you don't like the result you can always do some cropping. Which one do you like best?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cirrus Over Tidewater

Cirrus Over Tidewater
5"x5" oil on acrylic on treated paper
$50 (includes 8"x8" mat for framing)

I think I'll close out September with a couple more of the Tidewater paintings for which I've already done the under paintings. I wanted this one to be about the sky, and how better to make that happen than with the cirrus clouds (from a previous cloud study) that are with us so often this time of year?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Katahdin from Twin Pines

Katahdin from Twin Pines
8"x10" oil on linen panel

The initial drawing in paint with sky test dabs

On Friday I painted sitting in an Adirondack chair at the Twin Pines resort enjoying a beautiful view of Mount Katahdin. And had lunch in their nice restaurant. Some days it's so much fun to be a plein air painter!

I very much enjoyed my stay in Millinocket and environs. I highly recommend the Young House B and B, located around the corner from North Light Gallery. It's very comfortable and well appointed, and they have a great breakfast. I also enjoyed dinner at the Appalachian Trail Cafe, where I was able to find my friend Jim's trail name on the ceiling, where through hikers record their finish. And the food was great too.

For wonderful views of the mountain, take Millinocket Lake Road out of town toward the park. Just before Millinocket Lake, there's a road to the right for the Twin Pines resort, with the view in the painting above. Or, beyond the lake, take the Golden Road. It's dirt, so drive carefully and look out for fast moving logging trucks. Just after Abol Bridge, there's a parking lot on the left, with a road out the back that goes along the west branch of the Penobscot River. Along the left side of this road there are nice views of the mountain over the rushing river. Back on the Golden Road heading northwest, there are many places to view the mountain. Particularly nice, with the rushing river in the foreground, is the Cribworks, just of the Golden Road on Telos Road, where the painting from my last post was done. This is an area active with white water rafters in the summer. I'm sorry we were too late to see them.

The Katahdin area is beautiful, even without going into Baxter State Park. I'm looking forward to my next visit.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Artist Paints the Falls

Artist Paints the Falls
8"x10" oil on linen panel

Value under painting

The scene at the Cribworks

On Wednesday I drove to Millinocket Maine, to participate in the Katahdin Paint Out sponsored by Marsha Donahue and the North Light Gallery. I'd never been there before, and hadn't seen the mountain that I'd heard so much about. More about that tomorrow!

Marsha did such a good job for us, with organization, food and drink, and teaming those of us from away with local painters. Yesterday I went on a great tour with Candy McKellar and Peter Yesis, thanks Candy! We saw some beautiful places to paint, and spent some quality painting time at the Cribworks on the Golden Road. I was a bit overwhelmed by the scene, with the mountain, the cliffs, the trees, and the rushing water. People are not so intimating! So I quickly sketched in one of the other painters and did a value under painting. It only took a few minutes to paint the figure, but the rest was another story. Especially the foamy rushing water. I think I finally pulled it together.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Tidewater in progress
8"x10" oil

Do you ever quickly block in a painting and then not want to ruin it? That's where I am with this one. I was just playing around at the end of a teaching session, and wiped off the bottom at least once, but now I kind of like it. But I know it's not finished.

Note the barely visible grid marks I used to make sure I got the drawing flat enough. It's very easy in this kind of painting to make the water/mud part take up too much vertical space.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Red Sailboat Waits

Red Sailboat Waits
5"x5" acrylic on paper

I've painted this before in oil. It's interesting to try the same painting in different mediums.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Islands Again

Islands II
6"x8" acrylic on paper
$50, click here to purchase

After painting the Islands in pastel, I wanted to try it in acrylic, to see of I could get the same effect using a palette knife. What do you think? I'm thinking it might be kind of nice on a great big canvas...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Value Underpaintings

5"x5" value under paintings on Canson Canvapaper

These three paintings were done in acrylic. It took about 15 minutes to paint each one. Look at the dark part of the trees on the left side of the top image. Can you see the two dots of purple? Squint, and look again. Can you still both of them? Those dots were made as I was mixing the darks for the trees and testing that it was the right value. When the dot is the right value, it disappears when you squint. This is the approach I take with my students. We work on value under paintings first, and then paint over them, in either oil or acrylic, using the under painting to help us find the appropriate values. Another benefit of under painting is that it can also show through in places, and since it's basically a complimentary color to the blue and green of most landscapes, it provides a pleasing contrast.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tidewater in Secondaries

Tidewater in Secondaries
5"x5" oil on paper
$50 click here to purchase

I'm enjoying playing around with color in this Tidewater scene. Alfred (Chip) Chadbourn, whose life and paintings we are currently celebrating in Yarmouth, was fond of the secondary colors, and used them frequently in his paintings. I took a leaf from his book for this one.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tidewater Greens

Tidewater Greens
5"x5" oil on treated paper
$50 (includes 8"x8" mat for framing)

I'm fascinated with this vista at Tidewater Farm. And the shady white pine and the breeze from the water make for a very pleasant painting experience. Here's the first of a series of color explorations of this scene. I added sap green and very little phthalo green to my normal limited palette.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Marsh at Tidewater Farm

Marsh at Tidewater Farm
6"x9" oil on treated paper
click here to purchase

This is a demo I did for my plein air class at Tidewater Farm earlier this month. Underneath is a value painting in burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and white acrylic. The color layer on top is oil paint. Just a quick thing, but so fun to do! We all agreed we could do a lot of paintings of this view, standing under the shady white pine tree.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sunflowers VI

Sunflowers VI
4"x4" gouache on paper

The sunflowers are glorious now, and I love to paint them.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Out for a Sail

Out for a Sail
pastel on paper, ~ 5"x5"

This is my first attempt at "marker boats". I loved the way Tony Allain created a crowd of people using marker pens and pastels, and I wanted to try it with boats. So I took some pictures of backlit boats crowded together and used one as a reference. Only two boats here, but you get the idea. The boat and land silhouettes were put in with a marker, and pastel was applied over the top. I think I kind of mixed it up, by using the values of the backlit photo, but with my limited gray pastels, using too much color in the boats and shore. It will be fun to try again.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Yarmouth Harbor

Yarmouth Harbor
9"x12" oil on linen panel

Yesterday we had a fun paint out in Yarmouth to honor the late Alfred (Chip) Chadbourn, our most famous local painter. I admire his work tremendously. Google "alfred chip chadbourn paintings" and you can see some of his work.

The work from the 30 artists who participated in the paint out will be on view (and for sale) from September 18 through October 31 at 317 Main Street in Yarmouth. For more information, look here.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Betsy's Garden

Betsy's Garden
5"x7" oil on linen panel

This is my second painting from Wednesday at the combined OPA paint out and A Stroke of Art in Boothbay Harbor. It was a hot sunny afternoon at Ocean Point in East Boothaby, but we hung in there, and had a nice show at the Spruce Point Inn.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Glazing Clouds

 After glazing the sky with yellow (middle) and blue (top), and the clouds with yellow and pink

 After further scumbling over the pink with yellow and white

Initial lay in with opaque paint

This series shows my attempt to use glazing to get the "glow" of a cumulus cloud. The bottom image shows an initial painting with opaque paint. My first attempt at the glow (not shown) wasn't successful, because the cumulus part of the cloud wasn't light enough. I went over that with white paint, let it dry and tried again. The result was the top photo. I liked it, but the pink at the bottom of the cumulus cloud seemed a bit much, so I scumbled over that with yellow and white. Glazing was done with pure color and medium, brushed on, then rubbed with a lint free cloth. For scumbling, a little white was added to the process.

Yellow = indian yellow
Pink = quinacridone red
blue = combination of untramarine and pthalo blue with white

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Boothbay Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market
8"x10" oil on linen panel

Today for the Boothbay Harbor Stroke of Art event, we had a quick draw at the local Farmer's Market. Lots of us were drawn to the flower stall, and after checking with the owner about how long the flower's would last, I was in. We had 2 hours for the quick draw, and while I often do a small painting in 2 hours, being timed made it pretty intense. I was fortunate to have a couple of people willing to pose for a minute or two so that I could do a some drawings in my sketchbook for use in the painting. Thanks Debbie and the lady in the purple top!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Boothbay Harborfest and OPA Paint Out

6"x8" oil on canvas on board

Today was the annual Oil Painters of America Paint Out for the Plein Air Painters of Maine group. Added to that, the Boothbay Harborfest Stroke of Art is on, so we had a big group painting together at Grimes Cove. It's was lots of fun. I started this painting in the fog, and was happy to see it go away early enough that I could paint the sunshine version.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Glazing and scumbling

Before: wet on wet painting with dark clouds and graded sky

After: glazing to strengthen the sky colors, and darken the bottom of the clouds, and scumbling to lighten the clouds

In the Deborah Paris Painted Sky class we are learning the indirect painting techniques of glazing and scumbling. Usually I paint in a direct manner, i.e., wet-on-wet, also called a la prima. This is the most common approach to plein air painting. In indirect painting, multiple layers of paint are used. When some of the layers are transparent or semi-transparent, you can get some wonderful effects. Here's a post by Deborah that explains how it works.

Glazing uses transparent paint layers. Scumbling is similar, but a little white or light value color is added to the glaze. Glazing darkens the existing surface, scumbling lightens it. I'm finding it very difficult to take realistic before and after pictures of this, believe me, the pink in the bottom painting is darker than that in the top painting! And, I think I'm doing the glazing properly, but my scumbling needs work.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stratus Clouds

 Stratus Clouds
5"x7" oil on linen panel

Value study for Stratus Clouds

This is my final study of cloud types for the Painted Sky class. On to glazing and scumbling next.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Ocean Hues

Ocean Hues 
18"x18" acrylic on canvas

I'm showing a painting today that I did a couple of months ago but never posted. It's part of an exploration of abstraction using acrylics, rags, and a knife. The idea of using these tools for acrylic abstracts came from Leslie Saeta, when I took her palette knife painting workshop in March. See Leslie's beautiful abstracts here.

In preparing "Ocean Hues" for the buyer, I learned a bit about varnishing acrylics, which I'd like to share. I generally varnish my oil paintings, either using an archival varinish applied with a brush (Winsor Newton Conserv-Art Gloss Varnish), if the painting has been dry for months, or a spray retouch varnish (Blair Retouch Spray Varnish), if the painting is just dry to the touch. The reason for this is as much to even out the gloss as it is to protect the painting. I plan to also try Gamvar (Gamblin) for both of these uses. 

It turns out that varnishing acrylics is even more important than varnishing an oil painting. In addition to the need to even out the gloss and protect the painting, acrylic paint attracts dirt, and varnish can protect from this. I took a look at several websites (references below) and realized it could be a pretty complicated process. I read about isolation layers, and the need to practice varnishing techniques before using them on a painting. I tried an isolation layer of Golden Regular Gloss Medium (2 coats), brushed on. Once dry, I applied Golden MSA spray, because I thought the UV protection would be useful in the environment where the painting would be going. My mistake was in buying gloss MSA spray. The result was a painting that was so shiny it looked like there was a piece of glass in front of it! Fortunately I wasn't practicing on the already sold painting.

At this point Leslie recommended Bob Burridge's approach (see last reference below), which is to brush on Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish (satin). It's very easy to use, since it's water based. The only tricky bit, is to not over brush. Meaning, don't go back over what you've already brushed on, even a few minutes later. I learned this the hard way. The good news is that the final coat is what matters, in terms of sheen, so if you mess it up, just put on another coat. I was also able to fix the test painting that was too shiny, by adding a few coats of the Minwax. Thank you, Leslie!



    Referenced in the above:




Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cumulus Clouds

Cumulus Clouds
5"x7" oil on linen panel

After laying in the graded sky

Cumulus value study

Back to clouds again. Deborah suggested that the sky values could have been graded more (lighter at the bottom). I agree.

Friday, September 4, 2015


8"x10" pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord

This may seem strange, but despite the tonalist approach to skies that I'm currently studying, I really love color and abstraction. So here's a little escape into that world, loosely based on an oil painting of the islands in Maquoit Bay.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus Cloud Study
5"x7" oil on linen panel
click here for purchase information

Value Study for Cirrus Clouds
5"x7" oil on linen panel
In the second lesson in the Painted Sky class with Deborah Paris, we are observing and painting clouds. Most of my observations for the workshop are clouds over water or over the shore at the water's edge. I started with the cirrus, which are usually easy to find in the summer on the Maine coast. We begin with a value study using a mid tone paper, charcoal and white-ish pastel, followed by the painting using the value study as a reference. Note the color gradation in the painting, not visible in the value study.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Plein Air Exercises

Exercises from the Tidewater plein air class

I'm loving teaching plein air at Tidewater Farm in Falmouth, Maine. We've got a great group, and it's fun putting together exercises to help them get to the next level. Ten minute paintings are a good warm up (top left and right), and a four value under painting is a great foundation for color (bottom left). Examples of mixing browns (bottom right).

 Enjoying the cool under the shady white pine tree

Thanks to Carol Marine for introducing me to 10 minute paintings, and to Marc Hanson for the color over values exercise.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Cloudless Sky

Before Sunrise (about 60 degrees north of where the sun will rise)
8"x6" oil on Raymar panel

Sky from Maynard Dixon
7"x5" oil on linen panel

Another Sky from Maynard Dixon
5"x7" oil on linen panel

 Yet another sky from Maynard Dixon
5"x7" oil on linen panel

Have you ever taken a painting class online? I've taken quite a few art marketing and business classes that way, but The Painted Sky from Deborah Paris' Landscape Atelier is the first class I've taken online where we actually paint. It's hard work, but well worth it.

These are some of my studies from the first lesson, which was on gradations in the cloudless sky. Note that some of them are graded top to bottom and some include a side to side gradation related to the location of the sun. The top painting is from my own observations just before sunrise in Seal Bay on Vinalhaven. Deborah suggested a little more blending on that one. The others are from paintings by Maynard Dixon, where I copied only the sky. You'd be surprised how gray these skies are compared to out-of-the-tube paints mixed with white (my pre-class approach).