Friday, March 23, 2012

Final paintings of Spring Break

Rain will start tomorrow, so today was my final painting excursion of this vacation week. The sky was full of perfect clouds today. The painting on top was done on Green Valley Road in Sebastopol; the other painting was done overlooking the Laguna down the road from Analy High School. Yesterday, I began using a different, lighter yellow: cadmium yellow light, as recommended by artist Kevin Macpherson for a limited palette. For both these paintings, I used only 4 colors---the cadmium yellow light, along with ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and titanium white. It makes the whole process simpler to use so few colors, without really limiting any color possibilities for the paintings, since so many colors can be mixed from those four. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Paying Attention


Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of you busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing 
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
of the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude---
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive 
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

                                  by Mary Oliver

Dramatic skies

Yesterday, the skies were unbelievably beautiful and dramatic. As I drove out of Guerneville to run errands in nearby towns, it seemed to me incredible that this show in the sky--completely unpredictable from day to day--is available to us earthlings every day. I am far from capturing even a bit of its splendor, but it is fun to try. The first painting I did (top) was painted from the parking lot of Martinelli Winery on River Road. The second painting was painted down the road from Analy High School in Sebastopol, looking out over the laguna. My practice this week, of completing as many small paintings en plein air as possible, has certainly been humbling. I will keep at it, with the conviction that with time and practice, improvement will come....right?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

From Art and Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

"Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending. The risks are obvious: you may never get to the end of the sentence at all---or having gotten there, you may not have said anything."

Yep. (sigh)


Painted in the Alexander Valley. A disappointment. Will try again today.

Monday, March 19, 2012

About ART and also LIFE....

"The lesson here is simply that courting approval, even that of peers, puts a dangerous amount of power in the hands of the audience. Worse yet, the audience is seldom in a position to grant (or withhold) approval on the one issue that really counts---namely, whether or not you're making progress in your work. They're in a good position to comment on how they're moved (or challenged or entertained) by the finished product, but have little knowledge or interest in your process....the only pure communication is between you and your work."
                                   --from Art and Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

Spring Break painting

Painted on Wohler Road; acrylic on gessoboard. I have used gessoboard only a few times, but I like its smooth surface much more than canvas. It's more expensive, so I want to experiment with having boards cut at a hardware store & applying coats of gesso myself to save money. Used the actual palette of my pochade box as a palette for the first time. I had thought it would be too small, so I was putting down foil and just disposing of a layer whenever I needed new space. I found today, however, that since my paintings are so small, I don't need much space to mix paint, so it worked great!

Honore de Balzac said....

"Passion is universal humanity. Without it, religion, history, romance and art would be useless."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

From Art and Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

"If you think good work is somehow synonymous with perfect work, you are headed for big trouble. Art is human; error is human; ergo, art is error. Inevitably, your work (like, uh, the preceding syllogism....) will be flawed. Why? Because you're a human being, and only human beings, warts and all, make art. Without warts, it is not clear what you would be, but clearly you wouldn't be one of us."

Spring Break painting #1

Yesterday, I went out in the rain to paint from my car using my new pochade box. The setup worked great. This is a 5" by 7" painting of an old church in Guerneville. It appears to be someone's home these days. The blue sky is made up; the actual sky was pale, pale gray but I thought it needed to stand out more from the building. There were cars parked in front along the street; I just painted greenery instead. Lots of the magenta underpainting shows through, but I don't mind it in this little sketch. It was great to be relaxed and painting! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Monet said....

"When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you: a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, 'Here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow,' and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naive impression of the scene before you."

New Pochade Box!

I am excited to use my new Guerilla Painter pochade box! They can be purchased in a multitude of sizes and configurations; I chose their smallest model (called a "pocket box"). The lid holds two 5" x 7" canvases and protects them while they dry. In the box is storage room, and the sliding piece functions as a palette. Thus, it is a self-contained mini studio, perfect for painting en plein air. I can add a gadget to the bottom that will allow me to attach it to my camera tripod; haven't done that yet. My reason for choosing such a small size is that I want to take it with me when I travel, so I want it to be as easy to carry as possible. I think painting on the 5" x 7" canvases will be good for me as I want to practice capturing the light in landscapes more quickly. This week is my Spring Break and my goal is to paint a lot. Since rain is forecast almost every day, this means I'll probably be painting from my car. The wild mustard is blooming here; I hope this means that even on the rainy days there will be some interesting color around.

Learning Color

I am creating a sketchbook that is dedicated to nothing but color studies. This page is a study of all the greens that can be created from the tubes of acrylic paint I take with me to paint en plein air. I have needed to do more of these studies for some time but I keep putting it off because I find them tedious. My plan for the immediate future is to do another page of greens with a more limited selection of just 1 blue and 1 yellow. Then, I want to do pages dedicated to oranges, purples, grays and browns. Since I know that I am not patient about doing these, I will just work on perhaps half a page at a time. Maybe that way I won't abandon the project as I have in the past.