Conception to Collection

TruroPainting

Painting on Location at Truro Vineyards

Plein Air painting creates a connection between the artist and the environment where the artist is painting. There is an immediate relationship and a sense of place to the natural environment that cannot always be duplicated from a studio painting from a photo. This painting of Truro Vineyards on Cape Cod in Truro, MA. was selected by a collector. It is such a compliment for an artist to have a piece of work chosen for a home.

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“Truro Vineyard”, pastel, 11×14

There is an intangible quality of interaction between the artist and a scene which goes beyond reporting of the visual elements and a painting.  I would like to think that the collector senses that expression when they choose to place a painting in their environment.

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On location at Fort Hill, Cape Cod National Seashore

What a perfect day for painting it was at Fort Hill in Eastham, MA in the Cape Cod National Seashore! This photo shows the beginning of the painting that was inspired by the patterns of the water and wetlands at the shore. I was interested in capturing the clouds in the sky and the colorful wildflowers as beach peas in the foreground.

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“Summer Song”, pastel 12×16

Why do collectors choose certain paintings to hang on their walls?  Perhaps that the image reminds them of a memory.  When the weather is cloudy and not the best day for exploring the area, maybe the painting transports them to a special place and time.  It is an intangible quality, but for the selection, I am grateful. I hope to have painted something that brings joy.

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What do you collect?

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“Hidden Garden”, pastel 8×10

New Englanders are collectors. We collect books, art, and sea glass. The winters can be long on Cape Cod, and when summer arrives many homeowners are quite diligent about creating beautiful gardens.

This summer I was a plein air artist in one of the gardens on the Orleans Improvement Association Garden Tour. The completed garden painting was displayed and quickly went to a new home of a collector from the Addison Art Gallery who said that the painting made her feel happy.

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“Cottage Garden”, pastel, 11×14

The homeowner of the garden then commissioned a painting of the hillside garden in the back of the home. The flowers to be included were coreopsis, phlox, scabiosa, and distant rhododendrons. This involved meeting about composition, color placement, and the vision of the finished painting.  It is always a different experience to interpret another person’s ideas in a painting. But, it is rewarding to hear the words “I am delighted!”

When the hillside flowers are dormant during winter, the pastel painting will be a reminder of the coming of summer flowers on the hillside garden on Cape Cod.  Addison Art Gallery invites us to the fun of collecting: “Original art can take one to another place, bring back memories of a cherished place or experience, foster peace, and joy.”

And thinking about collecting: What do you collect?

Seaside Daisies

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My location on Cape Cod

How perfect on a summer day to paint daisies growing beside the sea! Before the rush of summer at the beach, I spent a few quiet hours on the bayside of Cape Cod capturing this scene.

Daisies have long been one of my favorite flowers.  There is something about their simplicity that speaks to me. In the language of flowers daisies symbolize innocence and purity.  In Norse mythology the daisy is Freya’s sacred flower. She is the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. The daisy represents motherhood or new beginnings. It is appropriate that at the beginning of summer, I painted “Seaside Daisies”.

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“Seaside Daisies”, pastel, 11×15

Daisies are a challenge to paint in such a way that they do not resemble the many flowers in crayon of our childhood. I tried to capture the clumps of flowers before me and the general sense of the scene. I will remember this peaceful and beautiful location as I stood at the edge of the changing sea. Before long, I heard the waves as the tide shifted from low to high and the daisies nodded in the breeze.

Technical Notes: Sennelier LaCarte pastel paper, Pastels by Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Girault, and Conte pencils.

Dreams of A Traveling Palette Come True

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Artist Group in Italy with
Teresa Saia

An artist’s dream of traveling and painting in Italy can come true. The first step to making this a reality is to choose an artist whose paintings you admire and with whom you would like to travel and paint. There are many postings in artist journals, but my idea came when I received a postcard from Teresa Saia and the Traveling Palette. I had taken a few watercolor and pastel workshops with Teresa in the past. Perfect. Let’s go!

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Welcome Dinner in Italy with Teresa Saia

A Welcome dinner was a perfect way for the group to get acquainted before traveling and painting together for 14 days. Enjoying each other’s company over a meal and a glass of wine was as essential as artist’s supplies during the trip.

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Teresa’s Traveling Palette

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, so artists enjoyed an afternoon with their traveling palettes.

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Plein Air Start of Watercolor in Tuscany

The small village of Chiusdino in Tuscany (population 1,944) was a beautiful and quiet spot to begin a plein air watercolor.

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Watercolor Mid Process

I was able to paint the sky and begin to capture the hills and buildings in the distance before it was time for the group to catch our bus back to our villa. But, the opportunity to paint on site in this beautiful setting will also bring back wonderful memories.

Although, I completed the painting after the trip, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience painting in Italy first hand with the Traveling Palette. Yes, dreams can come true!

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“Chiusdino View”, watercolor, 10×14

 

” The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

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“The Earth Laughs in Flowers”, oil, 11×14

Mustard flowers carpet the rural landscape in the valleys of California in spring. I loved how these yellow blooms seemed to grow to the rooftop of this barn in Livermore, CA. I knew I had to paint this scene. I decided to paint in oils instead of my usual pastels.

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Start of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Mother Nature seems to scatter the seeds of the mustard flower with ease. But, the process of painting the scene in oils like pastels requires a layering of a variety of color.

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Mid process of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Although Emerson who penned the line “The Earth Laughs in Flowers” may not have seen the golden carpets of the California spring, I think he would be pleased.

How to Paint in Pastel Beside an Arroyo

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“Arroyo Del Valle”, pastel, 11×14

Before I set out to paint on location beside an arroyo, I packed all the necessary items. First, I chose mounted UArt 400 as my support and cut a piece of glassine to fit the 11×14 pastel paper and placed it in an envelope inside my messenger bag. Also in the bag I packed my assortment of pastel in my Heilman Box, my zipper kit of tools, a small bottle of denatured alcohol, paper towels, and some water.

 

 


I found a place to paint at at Sycamore Grove Park located on Arroyo Road in Livermore which is close to home. Initially, I was drawn to some wild flowers by a stream, but there was a noisy group of school kids on a nature walk, so I moved to a woodland area beside the arroyo.

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Start of “Arroyo Del Valle”

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Easel on site at “Arroyo Del Valle”

After blocking in the basic elements of the scene as trees, stream, plants, and undergrowth, I washed it down with alcohol which adds color, but does not use up any of the tooth of the paper. I continued to add color while remembering to use a range of light, middle, and dark values of each hue. It was challenging to represent the tangled web of branches and trees. Since this was a plein air piece, I simplified the stream by omitting a few of the rocks. Although the color of the water was quite a dull olive green, I enhanced the color by adding a bit more blue and some light purples.

After a few hours when the light on the stream had changed, I packed up my gear. Later, I added a few details to the painting back in the studio.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about painting beside an arroyo.
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Beach at Cahoon Hollow

Cahoon Hollow in Wellfleet, Massachusetts is one of the most popular beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore.  There is a steep path down the 75 foot cliff to the beach on the outer arm of Cape Cod. The dramatic cliff collapsed in a  severe rainstorm last fall taking a vehicle with it, but it has since been repaired.  The Beachcomber, a seaside bar at the top of the cliff is part of the beach experience of Cahoon Hollow.

Working from a photo taken in summer, I began the painting of the beach with an alcohol underpainting on sanded pastel paper. This technique is useful when depicting waves that cover the sand on the shore.

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In Process – Cahoon Hollow

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Cahoon Hollow, pastel, 9×12

It is always a challenge to try to capture the motion of the ocean’s surf.  This alcohol wash technique aids in setting the lower layers of sand below the shallow water. I look forward to future paintings of the ocean at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Technical notes: UArt #400 Sanded Pastel Paper, various pastels including Unison, Terry Ludwig, Girault, Rembrandt, Nu Pastel, and Conte Pastel Pencils. 70% Alcohol.

Plein Air in a Barn ?

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“Barn at Hagemann Ranch”, pastel, 11×15

I joined a group of plein air painters and the California Art Club who were painting on location at the Hagemann Ranch, which is listed on the National Historic Register in Livermore, CA . It was an overcast day a few weeks ago that turned to rain. Pastels and La Carte paper need to be sheltered from the elements, so I positioned my easel inside one of several barns on the ranch with a view of another barn outside the doorway.

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Photo of Hagemann Ranch Barn, Livermore, CA

The actual scene in the foreground was a vacant parking area, so to improve the composition and to create a lead in I used some artistic license. I created a pathway into the scene surrounded by dry grasses in a warm tone which contrasts with the cooler tones of the barn.

Although, I was painting in the shelter of a barn, since I painted most of this piece on site, I consider this a plein air painting. Do you agree?

Technical notes:
Sennelier La Carte paper, Pastels by Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Rembrandt, NuPastels, and Conte pastel pencils.

Sketches from Italy

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Sketch from Monteriggioni,Tuscany 4″x 6″

What a wonderful adventure in Italy!  I just returned from Tuscany and the Cinque Terre where I traveled with a group of artists and photographers.  We spent most of our time exploring, sketching, and painting the hill towns of the Cinque Terre and Tuscany.

I was able to sketch this scene of the grapevines which acted as an awning across the piazza from my table at a cafe. Monteriggioni is located in Siena province of Tuscany. It is noted for its architecture, piazzas, and was mentioned in Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

I was drawn to the shadow patterns created by the grapevines on the wall. It is certainly true that when one takes the time to sketch on site, the details of the scene are set in our minds more than a quick snapshot. Enjoying a cup of cappuccino and then a lunch of prosciutto and melon with a glass of sparkling water or “fizzante” helped me to slow down and notice the details.

Earlier on the trip I sketched in Vernazza which is one of the villages of the Cinque Terre. The pastel colored houses surround a small marina.  Due to rough seas, the boats were stored along the narrow street that leads down to the water.  I sketched from a bench which was behind the boats, so I felt comfortable and able to work away from the stream of tourists. The next afternoon was rainy which allowed for time to add the watercolor to the inked sketch.  A glass of local wine helped to make a relaxing afternoon  back in the hotel garden room sheltered from the weather.

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Sketch in Progress

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Sketch from Cinque Terra, Italy  4″x 6″

Technical Notes: Stillman and Birn Beta Series sketchbook, Micron Archival Pen,
Watercolors by Daniel Smith, Winsor Newon, Mameri Blu in New Gamboge, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Raw Sienna, Sap Green, and Dragon’s Blood

A Colorful Summer

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Work in Progress on Easel and View of Highland Lighthouse

Summer on Cape Cod is always colorful. From the selections of ice cream, the beach umbrellas, the kayaks on top of the cars going over the bridges, and the towels on the beaches there is color. But, this year Cape Cod Life Magazine wrote, “It’s going to be a colorful summer.” Plein Air Painters would paint, demonstate, and exhibit their interpretations inspired by Edward Hopper in “After Hopper” events hosted by Addison Art Gallery.

Plein air painters were at Highland Lighthouse which is located in Truro in the Cape Cod National Seashore. I was one of the artists who demonstrated my painting techniques in pastel near the lighthouse and the Truro History Museum.

In describing Hopper’s work Dicum of the New York Times wrote, “Isolated buildings in broad vistas are meditations on form and color that steer toward the abstract while remaining figurative.” Keeping this in mind, I set up my easel, so that the lighthouse was viewed at a distance. It was also convenient for transporting my set-up.

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Assorted Pastels

There were many specific questions about materials and types of pastels and paper supports. I welcomed the discussion and enjoyed sharing my passion for pastel.

Technical notes: Assorted pastels – Terri Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Rembrandt, and Conte Pastel Pencils on Sennelier La Carte pastel card.