Today is the Winter Solstice - the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year (at least in the Northern Hemisphere.) It all has to do with the fact that the "top" half of Earth is tilted away from the sun at its most extreme angle. Trees are baring and plants are going dormant... all part of the cycle.
Today I met up with my buddy, Randi Knight, to take a little painting break from the "holidays". I think that word is supposed to be synonymous with rest and vacation, but at this time of year it feels more like the opposite! It was so nice to slow down, listen to the lake lapping, and take a deep breath!
We painted at Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis, which is a beach park known for nude sunbathing. Being that the temperature was in the 50's, we figured no one would be out, at least not in THAT respect. Hmmm, not the case, as it turns out... there were several brave, bare souls. I know I have said this before but... it's always an adventure!
Winter Roadside, 6 x 12 diptych, (6 x 6 each), SOLD
I love how the "bones" of the landscape emerge in winter, revealing its infra-structure in muted tones of grays and golds. These bare trees on the roadside offered me a great opportunity to study those neutrals.
There is something about the tidy rows of produce on a farm. Maybe it's the rhythmic pattern and geometry of it all. Maybe it's that they are so orderly in a chaotic season. (Probably!) Whatever it is, they do have a peaceful lure for me.
Last Thursday, our painting group met at a local farm to paint. It was such a cold morning that the farm hands were covering all the crops to save them from an expected freeze. Let's just say that my fingers and toes were stiff from the arctic air in spite of all the layers I had on. I was determined to stay till I finished, but it took me quite awhile to warm back up!
Side note: Many thanks to Charley Parker for featuring my work on the December 6 post of his very cool blog, Lines and Colors. Please check it out, and thank you Charley!
Please pardon my re-posting of this painting, but I had to share my excitement about winning an Honorable Mention ribbon at the Outdoor Painters Society's Plein Air Southwest 2009 show in Dallas! Hearing my own name announced was a thrilling moment and I am still pinching myself! Thanks to all of you for your kind words and good wishes!
If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please come to one of the opening receptions this weekend for Plein Air Southwest 2009, the Outdoor Painters Society's annual juried show. It's at the Southwest Gallery in Dallas and includes an amazing group of paintings by some fabulous artists. I am very pleased to be a part of it all and hope to see some of you there!
Plein Air Southwest 2009
Friday, December 4th - Artist's Reception & Award Ceremony
Saturday, December 5th - Opening Reception & Artist Demonstrations
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones! Ours was great but it sure went fast!!! And isn't it amazing how holidays can interrupt our routines?? Before I get back to my regular posting, I would like to share this demo that I did for my most recent class. This comes to you by special request of one of my readers who asked me to show a little bit about my process. It also includes a lesson about value planes in the landscape...
In Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John Carlson (a "must have" for any landscape painter) he talks about the 4 basic value planes in the landscape: Sky (lightest light), ground (second lightest), slants (third lightest), uprights (darkest darks). Above: example of 4 planes in grey tones (this is NOT a part of the actual painting process which starts below).
I begin all paintings with an underdrawing using a dark neutral mixed of alizarin crimson, french ultramarine, and raw umber. At this drawing stage, I establish my composition, block in shapes and lay in my darkest darks. I don't let this get too thick o that I can avoid "mud" when painting back into it.
Next, I lay in large areas of color to each of the "value planes". I try to use an average best for each, paying close attention to the value and temperature relationships between the planes. (Remember, warm advances and cool recedes.) It's important to get these relationships working altogether before adding any major detail. Now is the time to tweak overall values if necessary.
Once the value planes are working, details can be added using intermediate values. As Carlson says, "All intermediate values are subserviant to the main values." This means that shifts within each value plane need to be pretty subtle. At this point I am painting wet paint over and into wet paint. To avoid mud - load your brush, keep a light touch, and lightly wipe brush tip where paint has been picked up. AND, practice, practice, practice!
Of course, nature never leaves anything that simple. Light changes everything, and we still have to closely observe what nature presents. I will say that understanding this basic framework helps me break things down when I am out in the field; and it helps me establish a foundation for capturing whatever the fickle light is up to.