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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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

 

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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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.

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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

Raise The Roof

The roof line on the right of the house in my painting, “Yellow House in the Vineyard” got a repair. In my last post the house appeared to be falling into the ground. I raised the roof line on the sun porch and tweaked the area of the vineyard that overlapped that house. This is the beauty of working in pastel which is a very forgiving medium. It was a simple fix that involved removing the initial marks with a soft bristle brush before applying strokes of pastel. Here is the original that needed to be adjusted. I think the painting above is an improvement.

 

 

Yellow House in Vineyard

"Yellow House in Vineyard", pastel 11x14

“Yellow House in Vineyard”, pastel 11×14


The yellow house in the vineyard caught me eye one day when I was out on my usual walking route. I returned with my painting gear of pastels and set up my easel at the edge of the vineyard last week. Soon, the growth on the grapevines will be pruned to stimulate the growth for the next season. I wanted to catch the vines at their wilder state despite the challenge of depicting the tangled vines. Of course, there is always room for artistic license.
On location in the vineyard

On location in the vineyard


Painting Notes: Some of the background was simplified, so the focus was on the main elements of the scene, the barn, house, and rows of vines. To avoid a tangent of the barn roof and distant hills which, I added some height to the hills. Otherwise, the plein air painting is an accurate interpretation of the scene.
Technical Notes: Pastels by Terry Ludwig, Rembrandt, Sennelier, Nu Pastel, and Conte Pastel Pencils on La Carte Sanded Paper.