Thursday, June 30, 2011

Telluride Plein Air- Day III

As regular readers of this blog know, I am much influenced by the late 19th century Hudson River School painters as well as the Tonalists artists of that time. The HRS guys liked those big sublime views while the Tonalists explored more intimate corners of nature. I am definitely in the latter category. However, there are some wonderful HRS paintings of woodland interiors and this is one of them-Worthington Whittredge's The Trout Pool.

I thought about this painting when I went back to Leopard Creek to paint at the spot where Steve fished two years ago (see yesterday's post).

The Trout Pool

18 x 15

The idea I wanted to convey was the morning light streaming through the trees and bathing everything in a warm glow. As usual, the photography doesn't do it justice (really!) but I am pleased with it. In fact, I want to paint a larger more refined studio version for sure.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Telluride Plein Air-Day II

This is going to be a short post tonight- I may fall asleep before I finish writing it! Today I went back up to the aspen grove to work on the "big piece" again. Then I headed down valley to Leopard Creek. I have painted there many times. The creek meanders through open meadows and also through heavily wooded areas. A couple of years ago Steve and I went down to one of those spots so he could fly fish. I wrote about it here.

So today I went back to that spot to paint. So far, its the piece I am the happiest with. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have something in "postable" form.

Later. Zzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Telluride Plein Air- Day 1

Today was the first offical day of the event, although I think about half the artists have been here painting for several days. First thing this morning I went up to get a start on the larger aspen piece I hope to do for the auction. As I drove into the area I noticed quite a bit of new construction going on and-you guessed it- my spot was now a construction site! Luckily the area is large and filled with lots of aspen groves so after a little looking around I found a good spot. Since my composition was, for the most part, set and in my head, I just needed to have some good aspen "models" and color notes to work with. There was enough material for another smaller start as well .

Next I went back to my "hidden pond" location from last year and blocked in a small piece. All of these will need to dry before I can start adding more layers and glazing, so tomorrow I'll start on a new batch.

Tonight was the artist orientation meeting and it was nice to see familiar faces and to meet some new artists as well. Time to get some rest and start again in the morning!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On the Road

Tomorrow morning I'll head out for Telluride- a two day drive from here. I hope to post a bit on the way- on Facebook, if not here. But in the meantime, I thought I'd post a recent drypoint.

4 x 2


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting Ready for Telluride, Part II

As I mentioned in my last post, I like to think about what motifs I might want to paint and even do a few thumbnail sketches to try out some design ideas. Often artists who return to these events will choose to paint a few of the same or similar scenes from year to year. In Telluride, there are lots of "iconic" scenes and townscapes that get painted every year. Generally, I stay away from those subjects, but this year I think I might try a variation on that strategy.

Wyatt's Aspens
16 x 12
Private Collection

A few months ago I painted a small piece called Wyatt's Aspens which was painted from memory but based on a place in Telluride. The first year I did the show, I stayed with a host couple who lived in an area above the valley, near the airport. It is a beautiful, high place with gorgeous aspen groves and lots of elk. It was a wonderful place to paint. That first year, I remember being so surprised to see a hang glider sailing by high above the valley below but at the same altitude as me! It is not unusual to see airplanes on approach to the Telluride airport, winging their way right past you! I liked the way the small painting turned out, so this year I plan to attempt a larger version. Steve has made a beautiful tabernacle frame for it- so now, I have to do it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting Ready for Telluride

Cottonwoods at Dusk
18 x 24

I leave in about ten days for Telluride, Colorado. As regular readers know, for the last several years I've participated in the Telluride Plein Air Fesitval, an invitational event bringing about thirty artists together from around the country to paint in the beautiful San Juan Mountains in the historic town of Telluride. Artist paint in and around Telluride for five days, followed by a silent auction and then a public sale. For the last few years I've blogged about the event and you can read some of those posts here.

So, I thought I'd write a bit about how I get ready for this event. For a number of years I did many of these shows (Laguna Beach Invitational, Carmel, Sedona) but now Telluride is the only one I do. Over the last five years my painting techniques have changed dramatically, and it is always a struggle to adapt the indirect methods I now prefer to the demands of plein air painting in an event like this.

The painting shown above is a studio piece. We are allowed to bring one studio piece to show and sell at the public sale. This painting is a good example of how I prepare for the event. Although it is based on the landscape in Telluride, it is primarily painted from memory. Having painted in Telluride for five years now, I have a rich store of memories and solid knowledge about the landscape there. So, a few weeks ahead of time, I like to make a list of likely motifs that I might want to paint. Often, this list will begin with ideas I had last year, but didn't have a chance to paint or perhaps ideas I tried but couldn't make work in the time allotted. I think about what sizes and what kinds of compositions I want to paint, and even do thumbnail sketches based on memory of some of those ideas. Cottonwoods at Dusk started this way, based on a memory of a clump of cottonwoods in the valley.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekly Tomato Update

For the last few weeks I've been posting pictures of Steve's amazing tomato garden on Facebook. So, if you follow me there, you know he's got quite a garden going. This week, they have grown another foot it seems and we have lots on the vine. So, here's a little summer time diversion. What's your favorite thing to make and/or eat with fresh garden tomatoes?

The proud gardener.

Up close in the tomato forest

A little volunteer cuke tries to escape
the tomato forest

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cloud study
black and white charcoal & white pastel on Strathmore blue laid paper
(click for larger view)

Online classes and workshops for late summer and fall have been posted. In addition to the ever popular Drawing & Painting Trees and the Painting the Luminous Landscape class, I've added a new class to the schedule- Field Sketching for Landscape Painters. I am very excited about it!

This class grew out of discussions with some of my students about areas they felt were lacking in the training they had received previously as aspiring landscape painters. Most landscape classes follow the same model- go outside and paint (or watch the instructor paint). While working outdoors from Nature is an essential method, many students are totally unprepared for the experience-having no basic drawing skills, or understanding of values and composition. Following the traditional 19th century model for training for landscape painters, this class will emphasize drawing (thumbnails, close studies and value studies) and painted studies from direct observation coupled with basic concepts about value and composition. This class will give you the skills and a method of study outdoors which will take your work to a new level! Click here for information and registration.

Also this fall, a five day workshop in beautiful Taos, New Mexico! I am happy to be returning to New Mexico for a five day workshop in Taos scheduled for September 19-23, 2011, which should be just the right time to view the breathtaking color of the turning cottonwoods and aspen. This five day workshop will combine some outdoor work with studio time. We'll draw and sketch in the field, then return to the studio to compose well designed underpaintings and learn indirect painting techniques like glazing and scumbling to create luminosity and atmosphere. Daily demonstrations and lectures will supplement one on one work with each participant. Click here for more information or to register. Just a few spots left!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Some Skying

Cloud Study on Strathmore blue laid paper

I am in the midst of teaching my online class The Painted Sky. It's a wonderful time of year for it- the big cumulus clouds are building up in the afternoons, and the heat and humidity are creating wonderful hazy light and spectacular sunsets. I've also been doing some field research on sketching methods for my new online class Field Sketching for Landscape Painters which I'll be teaching this fall.

As part of my classes and workshops, I always include some art history and use both contemporary and historical examples to demonstrate concepts we are learning. In the case of this new class, my goal is to give students some basic information and tools to study Nature in the field and gather reference material for studio works. So many aspiring landscape painters are simply taken outdoors to paint without any preparation, drawing skills, or basic knowledge of composition and values. In fact, this is the standard model, such as it is, for training for landscape painters today.

If we go back and look at how landscape painters learned their craft and art in the 18th and 19th centuries, we will see that a rich tradition of drawing and sketching was undertaken in the field, both in close studies of individual elements like trees, rocks and plants and general sketching of compositions. Painted studies followed these efforts. So, I try to incorporate these methods in my teaching, providing not only techniques but examples of these works.

This study started with a simple thumbnail sketch of a sky observed in my backyard.

Using toned paper was a well known technique for making sky studies in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The paper creates a value for the sky and midtones, shadows and highlights can be created with the black and white charcoal and white pastel. It is particularly well suited for cloud studies. Here's a detail of the drawing. All of the images can be clicked on for a larger view.