Friday, July 24, 2015

Dry Run

Walk Along My Path 22x28 O/C SOLD

In four weeks my painting buddies and I are going to team up once again for another painting adventure.  Last year we traveled to
Canyon de Chelly, AZ and had an absolutely heavenly painting and exploring trip through the lands surrounding this beautiful Navajo National Monument.

In August the six of us will climb aboard horses or mules to pack in to Lake Ediza and environs in the Eastern Sierra Nevada range of California.  We called ourselves the "PAC6" -- (for painting across the country) because we knew this would be one of many painting adventures we would take together. 

This year we will be camping and although there will be a crew there to cook our meals and keep the bears from eating us (or our food), we need to pack our own tents, bedding, paint gear and clothes and there is a weight limit.  When we went to Canyon de Chelly, our only limit was how much we could stuff in our car.  This year is a bit different -- We will have a 75 lb weight limit and all gear must fit in to 24" bags.

To treat myself I decided to buy a new pochade box and tripod and backpack.  I've basically had the same EasyL since I started plein air painting.  Well that's not exactly true.  My first EasyL was a larger size.  After several trips to the Channel Islands I decided to buy a tiny EasyL so that I could paint on the kayak.  It was too tiny.  I didn't like it at all.  Happily I was able to trade it for one my friend, Diane Gold, had.  She wanted a smaller box.  She loves it.  And I've been very happy with her EasyL which was smaller than my original box but bigger than the little one.

But it's been almost 10 years since I bought my first paintbox and while the tripod still works and the original and traded boxes are still fine, I wanted a new one.  I looked at several varieties when I was at the Plein Air Convention  #PACE.  Basically, while I can afford whatever I want, I don't like to spend a lot of money.   Most of the boxes I looked at were too expensive or too heavy or too big -- none were "just right".  The new updated EasyL was around the right price... but it just didn't ring my chime.

When I found out that painting friend, Debra Holladay, was buying a new box that I'd never heard of,  I looked it up and decided it was just right.  It's actually quite beautiful.  It's a Sienna Pochade box, tripod and backpack.  It's really like nice furniture!  Best of all I found it on SALE!  It was delivered right away, but I hadn't taken it out to try it out until today.

My husband had knee replacement surgery two weeks ago and even though he's healing really well, I didn't want to leave him.  But when he said, "GO... have fun",  I went for it.  My plan was to go to the beach -- my favorite spot -- but it was supposed to be overcast at the beach and this morning Gastone, my husband, seemed to be having a small setback (the knee began to swell again) so I didn't want to go too far in case he needed me to take him to the Dr.

I got all of the gear ready -- Everything I wanted fit in the backpack!  So off I went.  YAY!!
I hiked around in the canyon for a while then I found a spot and set it up.  The box seems to work fine.  The tripod is steady and the umbrella works okay too.  It was a funny day in the canyon.  The canyon near my home - Caballero Canyon -- is a place I have painted often.   There are always lots of hikers and mountain bikers.  Today there was quite a stir because a coyote was spotted following some small dogs down the trail.  I saw him, but he was pretty elusive -- I couldn't get a photo.   Some young girls apparently had never seen a coyote and were scared - they went screaming down the trail.  Everyone else enjoyed the critter sighting.   I've seen coyotes around the neighborhood, but not when I've been down in the canyon.  But it IS their home, afterall. 

Today I didn't paint a beauty.  The painting you see above is a large studio piece I painted a few years back from several studies I have done there in the canyon.  Those rocks are pretty unusual -- rather unique to our canyon.  Today's painting was pretty much a "frisbee" or a "wiper", but at least I got to paint and try out the new equipment.  The box worked well.  The backpack holds it all.  There is a problem with the way the tripod is supposed to attach to the backpack, but now that I know I can figure out a work-around before the trip.

So I had a nice day... got to practice a bit and now I have some time before my trip to get the "kinks" out of the backpack.   The "dry run" worked.  It was a good day.

Tomorrow we go to Gastone's Dr. to get his stitches out.  Hopefully the doc can also fix the new swelling ... sort of like getting the "kinks" out of his new knee.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Some Time To Reflect

Suiting Up -- Boys On The Beach 10x8 O/L

My husband had knee replacement surgery last Friday.  He's fine and I know that with time he will be even better.   However, because I wanted to prepare and because I knew that after surgery, my husband would need to have me around more, I decided not to go to my Master Class with David Gallup until Gastone is more independent.

I love my class.  I always learn something new from David and I enjoy watching the demos, listening to the critiques and talking with and learning from my classmates.  David's always challenging us to do new things.  Recently after long discussions about the work of Bob Kuhn, he challenged us to add animals to our work... while paying attention to the abstract design (and values and edges and brushwork and color, etc).  I thought this was an interesting direction to take.  But sometimes it's good to just "chill".

So since I was not going to be attending class, I decided to spend my time thinking.  To be honest, I haven't done much painting.  I had expected to do more painting, but I guess my head or my heart just isn't in it.  I need to use this time to reflect on my direction and my goals.  I'm pretty clear about what I don't want -- I don't want to do festivals, I don't want to do plein air events.  I don't particularly want to teach -- maybe someday but not now.  It's harder to narrow down what I really want -- other than just to paint well.

A while back I decided to try to add figures to my landscapes.  My husband suggested that my paintings would be "more lively" with figures in them.  Some of my plein air pieces of the kids surfing or playing at the beach have been fun to do and seem to be appreciated by collectors, so I decided to work on painting some figures using some of the sketches from last summer painting and photos taken at the beach.

I tried to look at the values more than the colors.  I tried to pay attention to the abstract design.  What do you think? 

Should I keep working on figures? 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Final Days at #Paintcamp -- Awesome Ausable Chasm

The Falls At Ausable Chasm    12" x 9"  O/L
The Falls At Ausable Chasm 12" x 9" O/L

Hardy Painters
The weather during our week at #PaintCamp  (Eric Rhoads' Publisher's Invitational Paint Out) was not the best to be hoped for.  Happily, however, we all enjoyed painting and being outdoors, so we made the best of it.

The Gun Club Painters
On Friday we were able to all go to the Gun Club to paint.  Sadly, it was quite overcast and cold.  I have to say, though, that many of the painters managed to create wonderful paintings despite the less-than-desireable weather.  I wasn't one of them.  

I decided just to do a couple of figures.  I had some success in the past painting people at the beach, so this was another opportunity to practice figures in the landscape.  I painted the three painters directly in front of me while they painted.  They didn't move much, which was fine by me.  I'm not sure who the third painter was... possibly Susanna White, but the center painter was Nedra Smith and the first painter on the left was Greg Summers.   Greg's red shirt made him the subject of many of our paintings.  The bright red seemed to work well with so much green. 

Painting At Cascade Lake 10"x10" O/L
Greg is also in my second painting of the day.  One of the groups drove (and the caravan got lost) to Cascade Lake and we all painted trees and streams and the lake.   I really enjoyed painting with my friend, Laura Wambsgans.  She is quite accomplished and it is always instructive to watch how she lays in her paintings -- the colors she mixes-- what she chooses to put in or leave out, etc.   Since I was painting almost the same scenes as she was all day, it became even easier to peak over to see the progress of her work.

Awesome Ausable Chasm
Our last painting day was Saturday.  Laura and I had wanted to see Ausable Chasm (pronounced "Awww Sable") on the way to paint camp, but decided it was too much out of the way so we didn't go.  I had heard about Ausable Chasm from my friend, Mary Burkhardt, who told me that school kids have field trips to see it and hike around it.  As it turned out, Eric had planned for us to paint there so we didn't have to miss it.  Laura and I decided to paint there until mid-afternoon and then head back to Paul Smiths' College so we could clean up before the party.  The weather was perfect!  It was sunshiny and warm -- a good thing because the wind developed by the falls was strong and rather cool.   The painters lined up across the bridge and painted our hearts out.  In the afternoon some hiked down and painted from the bottom of the chasm and others went to paint elsewhere.

Looking straight down into the chasm from the bridge.

This was my painting done from the bridge:

The Falls At Ausable Chasm

Party timeEric and Laurie Rhoads (and the triplets) graciously invited all of us to their family camp for a final goodbye party.  The camp's name is Camp Limberlost and like so many of the "camps" along the lakes in the area, it's quite awesome.  Last year we were hosted above the boat house, but the boat house was undergoing repairs due to damages caused by a roof leak during the winter season.  This year we spent time mostly outdoors but also in the main rooms of the main house.  Much of the camp is sheathed in beautiful birch bark and inside there are many unique birch touches which add to the charm of the camp. 

The weather was perfect and the ambiance couldn't have been better.  The Rhoads' were perfect hosts -- everyone felt welcome and I believe we all had a great time.  We chatted, ate, drank and made delicious s'mores on the outdoor campfire. 

A "River Rat" reunion
(We all went through the Grand Canyon
along the Colorado River together)



  -- Many thanks to the Rhoads family for a perfect end to a wonderful week!

Laura and I left after all of the goodbyes and announcements the next morning.  We drove to a different ferry and crossed in to Vermont.  Our plane was delayed and we almost missed our connecting flight from NYC to LAX.  We thought we were "home free" until we landed in Los Angeles and discovered that our luggage hadn't made it home with us.  Thank goodness that happened on the way home and not on the way TO Paintcamp!!

It was a great trip.  I enjoyed the friendly people, the scenery and the painting time.  I would love to hear from you -- please feel free to comment.

ALSO....   I send out an almost monthly newsletter... It has paintings, rambling thoughts, the latest adventures and my bookshelf list.  If you are interested in receiving it in your mailbox, please sign up by clicking the link below:


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Monday, July 6, 2015

Scooting About To Find The "Right" Spot #paintcamp

High On A Rock - The Flume 10" x 10" O/L

Our days at Paint Camp began to fall into a rhythm.  Rise early enough to walk down to the cafeteria for breakfast, chatting with friends, to fix our sack lunch and to hear Eric Rhoads greet us and make announcements about the day's activities.
Of course we could go anywhere we wished to paint, but if we wanted to paint with the group, we chose either group A's destination or group B's.  Most of us followed the caravan to one of the day's chosen spots. 

The F
On Wednesday Laura and I decided to stay with the group that painted at the Flume.  The previous year, I had painted at the Flume, I painted above the falls because I wanted to stay with my friend, Mary.  This year I wanted to see the Flume from below, so we hiked down the cliff to the narrow band of shore which had a good view of the falls.  Since the water was really high this year, painters lined up along the shore and I didn't like the view I had.  It was fun watching some of my friends paint -- Nedra Smith and I had painted together on our rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.  After a while I decided to cross the bridge and see what I could see from the other side of the shore.  It was a bit difficult to get to a spot where I could see the falls, but at least I wasn't competing with umbrellas and worried about blocking other people's views.   I managed to hike and scoot and crawl out on a rocky cliff overlooking the river and looking back at the Flume.

Since I was on the shady side of the river AND sitting on a rather damp, cool rock, - even wearing my warmest clothes - by the time I was "finished" with my study, I was ready for some warm sun!

Here is my first Flume block-in and study:
High On A Rock -The Flume  10" x 10" O/L

I was fairly pleased with it... 

After I hiked back up the cliff and over the bridge I went to a spot on the other side of the flume somewhere near where I had painted the year before and painted this one.  I had to finish it later at home, though.
Above The Flume  8"x 10" O/L

In The Evening
Evenings were spent socializing, sharing stories and looking at the paintings amassed in a large room.  Sometimes campers got caught in downpours, but most of the time we got our exercise hiking from the dorms to the cafeteria and back.


The next day almost all of us went to Heaven Hill Farm which is a lovely historical building used as a conference center surrounded by green fields, trees and distant hills. 

Some painted by the house but many of us simply pulled up on the side of the road and painted by our cars.  It was a warm, sunny day.  

Later that day we drove to St. Regis Falls to paint.  On the way we experienced the sirens again this time with pick up trucks passing by at high speeds with flashing lights.  Upon investigation we found that there had been a child who claimed to have seen one of the escaped prisoners so they were on alert and searching the area.   

These are the two studies I did on Thursday:
    Another fun day at Paint Camp in the Adirondacks!

If you get the opportunity to go to Paint Camp with Eric and friends, you should do it!

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Above The Flume

High On A Rock -The Flume

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Adirondacks Adventure

Off on another adventure
Last year at Eric Rhoads"Publisher's Invitational Paint Out" in the Adirondacks all of us were offered the opportunity to sign up ahead of time for this year's "PAINT CAMP".  I had a great time last year and thought it would be fun to do again so I signed up.  I was thrilled when my friend, Laura Wambsgans, said she'd like to go too!

Just a week before we left, the Adirondacks were suddenly front page news because two dangerous escaped prisoners from Dannemora Maximum Security Prison still hadn't been found and were thought to be hiding somewhere in the Adirondacks. 

Emile Gruppe'
We went anyway.   VERY early in the morning we hopped aboard a plane in LAX ending in Burlington, Vermont after a brief stop at JFK.  The next morning we were at our leisure to make our way to paint camp.  We did a bit of exploring.  In a wonderful accidental "find" Laura found the Emile Gruppe' Museum in nearby Jericho, VT.  It was so close by, we decided not to miss it.  As it happened the museum is part of the home of Emil's daughter, Emilie Alexander, and her husband.  We saw some wonderful examples of Gruppe's work on the walls, had a terrific conversation with the Alexanders, who showed us a short film clip of Emile painting and Emilie when she was around 3 years old.  Both Laura and I knew about and own Gruppe's books on Brushwork and on Painting.  Neither of us knew he had a third book on color.    I found it on Amazon, but it's quite expensive and only available used.
Beautiful sights on our way to Paint Camp
We took the ferry from Charlotte, VT across Lake Champlain to Essex, NY.  We had grand weather and saw beautiful sights on our way to Paul Smiths' College where we all stayed for Paint Camp.  On one stop, while we were enjoying a beautiful waterfall, sirens began wailing.  We really had no idea what was going on as we never saw fire engines or police cars.  But this was one of several times during our week-long adventure when the sirens went off during our trip.  They are kind of like our air raid signals used to sound here in LA. many years back.  I imagine they are used to call out volunteer fire fighters or other emergencies. 
Welcome to Paint Camp

As we arrived at the college for check in, we were greeted by Eric and his triplets and some college staffers.  After settling in to our dorm rooms, we headed down to the main dining all and began to socialize with the other campers.   There were about 120 painters/spouses at the camp and all were ready to have a great time.   Eric set the upbeat tone in his first orientation, and reminded us all that "plein air painting is the 'new golf'".  (I don't like golf, so I'm not sure I agree.)   Later we gathered in the bar for fun.

The next morning all of us headed to the nearby Visitor's Interpretive Center (aka The VIC).  This is a lovely spot of hiking trails and marshes originally run by the state, but now run by Paul Smiths' College.  Although quite a damp day, this year the mosquitoes and black flies were not as abundant so it was a fun day.  I decided not to paint the same things I had last year.  I tried a running stream and then chose a warmer spot up near the VIC museum which looked out over Heron Marsh.  My first day's efforts are below on the left and right:

Rust Colored Waters: The VIC
Heron Marsh Overlook: The VIC

Rain, Wet, Water and Green

On the second paint day, it was pouring rain.  The first day was overcast and drippy, but the second day was simply a downpour!  Laura and I bravely followed one of the leaders out to a paint spot, but neither of us wanted to stand in the rain and paint.  We admired those who did, however.

Instead we explored.  Despite the rain, there were some beautiful spots to see.  I have to say that those escaped prisoners must have been pretty miserable with all of the rain and cold and bugs!

High Falls

By afternoon it had cleared up with blue skies and warm sun, so Laura and I headed to High Falls which I had heard so much about the year before.  I hadn't gone because my friend, Mary Burkhardt, wanted to spare her knees and go elsewhere.  There are over 200 steps on a switchback staircase leading down to the base of the falls.  They were wet but we were careful and it was totally worth it!

High Falls High   12x9  O/L
We happily painted away the afternoon.  I was so entranced I didn't even realize that I was standing behind Eric Rhoads as he was painting on a huge canvas.  I met another wonderful painter, who was standing next to me named R. Greg Summers.  Check out his work.  It's great.  All of us were totally engrossed and the roar of the waterfall drowned all conversation.  Suddenly however, Eric said... "Hey!  I think it's raining!"  Sure enough, we were caught in a downpour.  All of us made a mad dash to clean up our palettes and charge up the switchback stairs.  What was originally 200+ steps seemed more like 400+ going up in that rain!

We were absolutely soaked before we got up to the top of the cliff! 

But what fun we had laughing and screeching all the way up!

It was a perfect end to a perfect day at paint camp!

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