Friday, May 16, 2008

A few days in California- March 08

Moss Beach, CA 3-21-08

Before heading to Utah to paint with friends, I had a few days with family in California. These paintings were done near homes of relatives.

The Bluff at Moss Beach, CA  3-21-08

It always takes 30-60 minutes to find the spot I want to paint, I try to do each on site painting in 2-3 hours, sometimes less.  I use my fingers as a view finder and compose an image which always seems to change when it gets on paper.   I believe this will resolve with my recent efforts to make a pencil value study in a separate sketchbook before I begin the watercolor.


Batiquitos Lagoon toward La Costa 3-24-08

Frequently I take a photo or two, thinking I will use it to finish the painting in the studio if needed.  I seldom use them later.  The painting is always so different from the photo that they are not really useful.  I have to make decisions on site about composition, value and color. The photo may influence me to adjust the values a little.

Lagoon near Oceanside, CA  3-30-08

The camera does help as a viewfinder aid unless I am painting a format which is completely different from the photo format.  I find my favorite format for plein-air landscapes is a very long horizontal.  My current sketchbook is a more standard horizontal.

Batiquitos Lagoon Trail- Encinitas, CA   3-26-08

I have been working for a couple of years in linen bound watercolor sketchbooks.  At first it was intimidating, but it also makes me take each painting session seriously and bring all my focus and skill to each effort.

The dilemma is what to do with the failures that are bound together with the successes.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Utah paint-out in April

Brad painting at the Virgin River Gorge  4-3-08

Snow Canyon, St. George, UT 4/3/08

Virgin River Gorge, AZ  4/3/08

Thunderbird Ranch, UT  4/3/2008

Washington UT, looking west 4/4/2008

Washington Ut, looking east

While traveling in California, Nevada, and Utah in early April I was paying more attention to pre-painting composition studies than usual.  Brad Teare, Ken Harris and I painting together in Snow Canyon near St. George, Utah and at the Thunderbird Ranch (Maynard Dixon's home & studio ) in Mr. Carmel, UT. Deliberately painting with other painters was a first. I like painting alone but wanted to paint with someone for the critique and analysis that would happen.

I had watched a DVD about painting outdoors (in oils) with a focus on composition before the trip and I found that it made me paint differently.  I did pre-paint pencil value/composition sketches for the first time. I found I was painting much less loosely and with less confidence.  I was trying to see the scenes and capture them through the eyes of an oil painter.   By the end of the trip, I realized I should keep up the value sketches, but paint with more freedom and confidence in my watercolors.  We were only together for three days and only did two full paint sessions. It was not enough. There is a vast variety of amazingly paintable scenery in So. Utah and we plan to meet again next year and paint together longer.