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
lume
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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Friday, June 5, 2015

How Long Does It Take?

San Simeon Spring 16x20 O/L

When I first started blogging I tried to do a painting every day.  I was just starting to paint, so I needed to practice and was really trying to get better.  AND, of course, I loved almost everything I painted.  I didn't know all of the things I didn't know.

Today --  well, today I'm a different person.   I'm a different artist.  My mentor and teacher, David Gallup, often reminds us of a quote by Heraclitus.  “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”   He usually refers to this quote when encouraging us to visit art shows and museums and to really look long and hard at all kinds of classic and contemporary art.  He feels that the more often we immerse ourselves in great art, the more likely it is to become part of us...   to show up in some way in our own art.  In some cases I really do hope that happens.

Today I often take weeks to work on a studio painting.  Of course, my plein air studies are done in a few hours, but in the studio I will work and then put a painting up on the shelf and just look at it.  I'll often have a few I'm working on.  Sometimes I think I'm finished with one for a while.  But then I find things that bother me or that could be just a bit better, so I'll put it back on the easel.  Sometimes I spend more time thinking about the painting or "letting it cook" than I do actually working on it with a brush.   I love trying to add interesting color transitions and depth.    I also enjoy layering paint to achieve a variety of brushwork and improve the surface quality. 

But how long shall I think about it?   How long shall I look at it?  When will it be done?  Will I ever be able to see all of the possibilities I missed? 

San Simeon Spring was inspired by a beautiful spring day I spent on my drive up the coast of California this spring.

I wonder.....   is it finished?

How long does it take?   Does it even matter?  It takes as long as it takes.
 




























Friday, May 22, 2015

And There Were Whales

 And There Were Whales 10x10 O/L plein air



It was a perfect day at my favorite painting spot.
Sharon Weaver and I finally got a chance to get out and paint together. 
We were both pleased to be back at Leo Carrillo on such a gorgeous day.
I found my "place" and began to settle in when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shape glide past.
What a thrill!  A couple of adults and a mother and youngster pair  -- They were so close to shore.
I sat and watched as several of these beautiful creatures made their way north.



Design
A few weeks ago I decided to sign up for some time in David Gallup's Thursday design class.  I have been studying with David in his weekly class for most of 5+ years now.  Since I started with almost no knowledge about artists and art history, I consider that part of my journey's growth almost as valuable as the continued supportive practice and patient demonstration he provides.  Occasionally he'll offer special workshops which have enhanced and solidified weekly lessons for the students.  Design class is almost like that, but it's not really a workshop.  It is definitely a skill set I can improve upon and I've found my head exploding now for a few weeks.

Since I started the class after most of the others had started, for the first week or so I was doing only 2 value designs -- that's it.   I would try to develop a design and then I would watch and listen as David went over the effort and explained how to strengthen it.  Currently I'm doing 3 value designs.  These are just designs out of our heads -- not looking at "things" and it isn't as easy as it might seem!   I think it will be a real mind-exploder trying to fit the design to a landscape or floral or some other "thing" based something -- maybe even a good abstract!   I've seen David and other students do it, but I haven't tried it yet.

But there at Leo, I sat in joyful silence (well... I did let out little squeals of excitement now and then) watching the whales. 

Then, when they had all passed,  I settled in to paint there at Leo while still trying to keep some of those lessons about design in my head.
  • Think about a center of interest
  • Think about having different masses value of different sizes and shapes filling the canvas so that no quadrant is like any other
  • Think about varying lines -- fast lines and slow lines -- lines of varying thicknesses
  • Think about calligraphy of line and shape
  • Remember not to repeat shapes -- either the light or the middle or the dark shapes
  • The specifics of the shape define the narrative of the painting -- the specifics of the edges tell the story
  • What are the weights of the shapes and what is their "direction"?
  • Think about what makes a good abstract shape -- varying edges, etc
  • Think about subtly leading the eye -- not obviously   -- possibly more than one path to lead the eye
  • Where are the points of highest tension
  • Asymmetry is a good thing
It's pretty hard to train myself not to think about the "thing" that is in front of me.  A good artist will arrange a scene to make an appealing design -- not just try to paint the scene in front of her.   So here is what I ended up with.   I was pretty happy with my efforts:


Happy painting!


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