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?

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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.

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