A Colorful Summer

AtHighlandEasel

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.

Abundance

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Livermore Fountain, ink and watercolor sketch

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Early stage -Photo on location

There has been a drought in California. There has been a shortage of posts on this blog in addition to the severe lack of precipitation. Despite the drought, this fountain in the heart of downtown Livermore, California continues to put forth cascades of water. It once seemed like an excess when the average resident was going to great lengths to conserve the precious water. My worries were put at ease when I learned that the fountain used recycled water. The symbol of abundance in the Livermore Valley was a challenge to capture in this sketch. I see several errors in the structure of the trellis, but I tell myself that this is a sketch. The goal is not to make a completely accurate rendering, but rather capture the essence of the scene. I hope that was achieved.

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.

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

On the Coast

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“Sea Thrift”, pastel, 8,5×11

I spent a week on the Oregon Coast at Depoe Bay watching the surf, eating seafood, and exploring the area with the Beach family. I began this pastel on the coast, but I finished this at home since I didn’t have many of sticks that I needed for the rocks. The motion of the surf on the cliff below was a constant source of entertainment. I also was attracted to the profusion  of Sea Thrift which was in bloom.  There were many other pastels used in this piece, but I have shown some of the assorted pastels and pastel pencils used.  To get the fine mist of the sea spray, I used a paste of pastel mixed with alcohol and applied it by flicking the bristles of the toothbrush.  The sanded paper was Wallis, 9×12 with a assortment of  pastels by Terry Ludwig, Unison , Rembrandt, Sennelier, and pastel pencils by Conte and Stabil0.

Pastels Sea Thrift

Pastels for Sea Thrift

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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.

Corn Hill Beach

“Corn Hill Beach”,11×14, plein air pastel


The days of summer on the Cape are just memories now, but I finally have a moment to post some of my paintings done on locations where artist, Edward Hopper painted in the 1930’s. He spent half of his summers in a home studio in Truro, MA on the outer Cape. He painted Corn Hill which is a long, narrow sand beach which borders grass covered sand dunes that is north of Pamet Harbor. Corn Hill is named for the location where the Pilgrims found a cache of Indian corn which sustained them through the first winter.
On location at Corn Hill Beach

On location at Corn Hill Beach


Often the experience of plein air painting is more than the created image. When I look at this piece it brings back the warmth of the summer day at the beach, the sounds of music from the group of beachgoers, and the scent of sunscreen covered bodies. These are sweet memories to sustain me until the next summer season.
Painting notes: Ampersand pastel board (11×14) with a variety of pastels from NuPastels, Conte Pastel pencils, Rembrandt, Unison, and Terri Ludwig brand pastels.

Waiting to Sail

“Waiting to Sail”, 12×18, pastel

 
“Waiting to Sail” is one of my recent pastels that just returned from the frame shop. It is a studio painting that I did this spring from a reference photo that was taken on Cape Cod a few summers ago. The scene was simplified since I thought there were more boats than were needed. I generally paint from top to bottom and left to right. However, this time I worked in more of a circular pattern. For some reason, the painting called for me to change my usual procedure. Here are a couple of process images:

Early Stage of “Waiting to Sail”


Mid Stage of “Waiting to Sail”

Technical notes: Painted on Uart #400 sanded paper mounted on archival board. The underpainting was done in a peach Rembrandt pastel which was then brushed down with water to give it some warmth. A variety of pastel brands was used in addition to Nu Pastel, Rembrandt, Unison, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, and Conte pastel pencils. I have eliminated elements in a marine painting before. It presents some challenges when depicting the reflections. I think the vertical masts and post on the dock help the composition which also has a few horizontal elements. Also, the water has many bright reflections which challenge the common idea that water is always blue.

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)