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.

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My ’53 Chevy

My recent painting commission was to paint the scene of an autumn wedding which took place in a barn in the hills of Northern California. I was given a few candid photos of the event, but decided to begin the pastel on location. The hills were still green from recent rains, despite my need to be accurate with the dry grass of October.

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Plein Air Start

My clients wished to have certain items included in the painting: the two barns, a red horse trailer, and a blue ’53 Chevy truck which was used by as the couple in place of a limousine.  Reference photos showed the truck on the right of the large barn at the event. I needed to consider the composition of these elements.  It seemed that the red horse trailer and the blue truck would appear as bookends to the two barns if placed this way.  Instead I changed the arrangement, so that the truck was placed on the left, and the driveway would act as a lead in to the barn which was the focal point.

This solution lead me to another issue which was how to accurately depict the Chevy truck without one for visual information.  Fortunately, I was able to purchase one on eBay that was 1/64 scale or the size of a Matchbox car. It was quite useful for drawing the

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truck as accurately as necessary given the changes made.

Here is the completed painting which I titled “Before the Wedding”.

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“Before the Wedding”, pastel, 12 x 18

Painting in pastels can bring back childhood memories of the sight of a new box of Crayolas or even playing in a pedal car or truck! Also, I hope that the newlyweds find that the painting brings back fond memories of their special day.

Technical Notes:  UArt #400 mounted board.  Pastels by Unison, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Rembrandt, and Girault. Conte and Stabilo pastel pencils. Some underpainting with alcohol wash. Color  in this image may differ from actual painting.

Spring Forward/Fall Back

It’s the first day of spring, yet I am falling back to a painting of autumn. There is a natural lag of time between the inspiration from a season to the completion of a painting. Perhaps I am like the fashion industry which seems to have the timing of the seasons out of synch with the actual outdoor temperature.  Either I am ahead of my time or behind the time. I’ll let you decide.

I was inspired by the warm colors or red, rusts, amber, and golden leaves of the vineyard north of the Wood Family Vineyard  near our home in Livermore, California one early December. It was a bold painting for me, but it was time to ramp up my color palette.  When I felt confused by interpreting the similar values of foliage with, I used a technique to isolate the area where I was working. It was helpful to block out the surrounding color, and concentrate on a particular area of the foliage on the vineyard.

Below:  See close-up of technique of isolating an area of the photo to get the values of the foliage of the vineyard.

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Technical Notes:  UArt 400 sanded pastel paper mounted on Canson board.  Unison, Rembrandt, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels.

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This painting is being exhibited at Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room in Livermore, California along with 16 other paintings through March.

 

 

Lace, Lighthouse, & Links

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Easel at Cape Cod Nat’l Seashore Highland Links, Truro, MA

Wildflowers in the windswept meadow in the rough of the links course by the Highland Light in Truro caught my eye. The Highland Links dates to 1892. Several artists were painting Cape Cod’s oldest lighthouse which dates to 1857 for the Light on Truro painting event. I chose to focus my attention on the natural beauty of the Cape Cod National Seashore, rather than the architecture of the lighthouse. A sliver of the blue ocean beyond the trees balanced the blue of wild chickory and Queen Anne’s Lace in the foreground. This scene beside the Highland Historical Museum is a reminder of a bygone era when the building was a turn of the century resort hotel on the Outer Cape.

I had a clear vision of the image that I wanted to capture in my painting. Soon I felt I had enough information to sign and frame the piece for an exhibit that afternoon at the Truro Library by the Addison Art Gallery called “Light On Truro”. The exhibit celebrates the Centennial of the National Parks and “Found Our Park!” which features art inspired by the Cape Cod National Seashore. “Queen Anne’s View” is available through the Addison Art Gallery.

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Queen Anne’s View, pastel, 12×16

Technical Notes: Sennelier LaCarte pastel card with a variety of pastels by Rembrandt, Unison, Terry Ludwig, Girault, Sennelier, and Conte pastel pencil.

Japanese Iris Garden

Iris Garden Entry, pastel, 11 x 16

 

The Japanese Iris at the entryway of the Cape Cod Art Association caught my eye on a June afternoon for plein air painting. I loved the deep blues and purples against the many greens. The garden scene was fairly complex with bouganvillea, lilac, and azalea combined with the light and shadow patterns of the weathered shingled wall. There were areas of bright sunlight and deep shadow by the entrance. I am focusing on painting stronger light and shadow and this was a good opportunity for this. I omitted the sculptures on the right and cropped the trellis at the top for emphasis and composition.

Painting notes: Uart #400 Pastel Paper; Pastels – NuPastels, Rembrandt, Terry Ludwig, Unison, and Conte and Carbotello Pastel Pencils. Underpainting of 91% Isopropyl Alcohol.  (See underpainting below:)

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Photo of Iris Garden Entry

By the Sea

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Easel at Mayo Beach for After Hopper in Wellfleet, MA

The Paint Out for  Addison Art Gallery’s “After Hopper” in Wellfleet, MA was last Saturday. The event celebrates the artist Edward Hopper and continues the tradition of plein air painting iconic images of Cape Cod. I chose Mayo Beach and the oil house behind what was once the Mayo’s Beach Lighthouse on Kendrick Avenue. The pink and white beach roses which surround the simple painted brick outbuilding were in full bloom. Artists had the morning to paint and then deliver the finished work to the Wellfleet Public Library for an afternoon reception. This is often called a Quick Draw at other plein air paint outs.

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Thumbnail sketch for “By the Sea”

I planned my composition with a quick thumbnail sketch. With only a few hours to work from concept to completion, I thought the simple building that originally held the oil for the lighthouse would make for good painting that could feature the simple beauty of the Cape scene. The race against the clock is helpful to push me to capture the essence of the view and not get caught up in overworking a painting. I used the broken split rail fence that was surrounded by the roses as a directional element to draw the viewer into the focal point.

I finished the pastel, framed it, and delivered it to the Wellfleet library to be hung for the reception to be held from 4 to 6 pm.  Soon I was rewarded for my morning’s work, when a new collector chose “By the Sea” for a gift for his wife. I have memories of a beautiful day by the sea.

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“By the Sea”, pastel, 11×14, private collection

Afterglow

Afterglow Lake Tahoe Afterglow, Lake Tahoe, pastel, 12×18
 

Last month I posted about my planning for a sunset painting of Lake Tahoe which I have titled, “Afterglow, Lake Tahoe”. As I look at the image on my computer, I think the subtle colors don’t always translate from what I see in the actual painting. The challenge for me was depicting the lake with its gentle waves as they approached the shore. Also, the nuances of color needed to interpret the scene were another issue.

With a critical eye, I think that the painting interprets the feeling and glow that attracted me to the scene. I do think that there might be more visual interest in the foreground. My resident art critic husband always questions the lack of wildlife in my work. But, I often think that the meditative or Zen quality doesn’t require this addition. If I had to critique the composition, I might have preferred to paint in a more elongated landscape ratio, rather than the standard 12×18 that I used.

I Brake For Sheep

Sheep (detail), watercolor

Sheep (detail), watercolor

On the road to the iconic Mont- St.- Michel, the island monastery off the coast of Normandy , the traffic came to an abrupt halt while we were on a family trip a few years ago.  We got out of our rental car as we saw others exiting the tour buses.  To our surprise it was not a car accident, but a flock of muddy sheep strolling across the ridge of the causeway to the abundant grazing land on the far side.

The moment that I saw the image in the camera, I knew that it was to be a future painting.  I did a study for a more detailed watercolor on an 11x 15 sheet of Arches paper.  I can see that the composition would be improved if I raise the horizon to the top third of the paper.  Also, I plan to add more details to the foreground puddles of water.  The water could also be improved by saving the lighter values for highlights. The color and the mist didn’t photograph well, but will also be strengthened. The sheep which are the main focus, could also be improved with attention to the details of the legs and facial features. Additional sheep on the right will also be included in the final painting. Can you tell that I am fond of sheep?

Sheep at Mont-St.- Michel, watercolor, 11x15( study)

Sheep at Mont-St.- Michel, watercolor, 11×15,(study)

On a Mission

 Capistrano Courtyard, watercolor, 12x16

Capistrano Courtyard, watercolor, 12×16

I had been working on a watercolor of Mission San Juan Capistrano this week. It has been some time since doing a project in watercolor other than demonstrations in techniques for my class. I didn’t realize how timely the subject was until hearing the news today that Pope Francis announced that Father Serra who founded the California Mission in San Juan Capistrano in the 1770’s would be made a saint. I won’t get into the politics surrounding the missions or the Church here. But, there is little debate about the beauty of the courtyard garden within the old mission walls.

The watercolor is based on a reference photo which I used to sketch onto a watercolor block of  Arches 140#. Then I first added the shadow walls that surrounds the arches with a dark mix of cobalt blue and burnt umber.  To that mixture I sprinkled Kosher salt to add texture and let it dry. Other watercolors were Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Coral,  Cobalt Blue, and Sap Green in either Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith brands.

It was a good change to work on a watercolor project of Mission San Juan Capistrano.  If you ever get a chance to visit the mission, I recommend it.

At the Elbow

The latest painting on my easel is “Lighthouse Beach” in Chatham. When New Englanders raise a left arm and point to their elbow, they are referring to the town of Chatham, MA. Cape Cod which was formed by the ice age is shaped like an arm at a right angle and there sits Chatham with a quaint  downtown, picturesque lighthouses, and barrier beaches. The beach is one of the outstanding beaches on the Cape at the base of Chatham Lighthouse.

"Lighthouse Beach", pastel, 12x24

“Lighthouse Beach”, pastel, 12×24

To access the beach one must go down a flight of stairs and the scene that I captured is looking to the North across the rose hips of the beach roses and beach grasses to the water beyond. The diagonal design that this emphasized seems to add something different from the standard horizontal prospective of sky, water, and land that most beach scenes offer. Lighthouse Beach seems to go on as far as the eye can see and I hoped that the painting captures this feeling.

Technical information : I worked on  mounted U art #400 to archival foam  board. Pastels for the sky, water, and sand were mostly Unisons.   Grasses and foreground foliage were mostly Rembrandt, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, and NuPastels.

Painting this in the studio after a summer on the Cape was a good way to make the summer last a little longer.