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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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.

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.

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.

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