Saturday, May 27, 2017

Portrait of a Barn


This is "my" barn, the poor old beauty. I can't fix it, so I keep on painting it.

The initial sketch-in:

Then, blocking in the colors, especially the highlights and shadows:

 More detail, and blocking in the sky (and catching a few gnats in the wet paint!)

 The finished painting:
9 x 12 inch, plein air, oil on linen/hardboard. May 26, 2017
I started this one pretty late, and used up every minute of daylight. Studying and painting the weathered wood and knots that still hold red paint on the faded north face, the milkhouse, the feed room, the lean-to. The long grass that surrounds it in the spring time, the beautiful old cupolas, with their touches of rust, that always catch the last of the light in the evening.
Here's looking at you, Barn.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Suppertime


"Suppertime", 6 x 8" plein air, oil on linen/hardboard.
This afternoon, after so many gloomy days, the clouds at last broke and the sun peaked through, casting long shadows and illuminating the seeding dandelions and the fields, lush from all the rain. The cows grazed in the long grass.


I had a fine time, but the dogs were bored to sleep.


The chickens, after some suspicion, decided I wasn't a threat.





Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Windy Rainy Day in May

It's been so rainy and wet lately. There isn't much field work being done around the area, with the fields being muddy at best, and washed out or under water at worst. And the last few days have also been cold. It felt more like March today, instead of May, as I went out to paint.
The dandelions are going to seed, which I always find beautiful, and I wanted to paint some of them, and there's this old favorite oak tree at the corner of a field that's not quite fully leafed out yet.
Getting things started - blocking in the shapes, and painting clouds.
It was windy, and occasionally misting, and I was damp and shivering by the time I was through painting. But there were some amazing clouds out there today, the sound of the wind blowing through the grass, dandelion seeds in the air, a blackbird's nest in the hay field, and a deer passing by as I was cleaning up.
A red-winged blackbird's nest.

I call it a pretty good day to be out.

A Windy, Rainy Day in May. 12 x 9 inch, plein air, oil on linen/hardboard.

(But I hope we get some sunshine soon.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rain over the Ridge

It was a wet, but lovely afternoon. 

Rain over the Ridge, 8 x 16" plein air oil on linen/hardboard.

The fields are growing lush, so many flowers and blossoms perfume the air, and the leaves on the trees unfurl and grow fuller every day. Today I painted the clouds which blew in from the southwest, bringing rain.


I stayed mostly dry in the doorway of a shed, kept company by a couple of damp dogs, occasionally startling a barn cat passing through on an errand.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

April in the Woods

A couple of recent paintings, enjoying and exploring the subtleties of April in the woods.
April 13, 2017. 6 x 8 inch, plein air, oil on linen/birch
The first was done on a north-facing side of the bluff. The trees grow tall out of the steep hillside, and large, moss-covered boulders mark the landscape. Delicate hepatica flowers bloom among last year's fallen leaves.

April 17, 2017. 10 x 8 inch, plein air, oil on linen/birch
 A few days later.
This spot is on the western end of the same bluff, and already the low-growing shrubs and bushes were leafing out, making a soft green haze over the forest floor. I loved working out how to convey the differing hues and textures of the spring-green foliage, and the thick clinging moss that grows on some of these old poplar trees.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Australia


The end of February and first half of March were spent in Australia visiting family, with a little bit of painting tucked in.
All the paintings out of their boxes while I cleaned sand off of all my gear.

On our first full day there, we went to Wellington Point. We waited awhile for the tide to go out, and when it was low enough for us to easily wade through, following the sand bar, we headed out to King Island. Stopping to collect shells and watch hermit crabs on the way.


 Then time to throw some paint, while watching the clouds change and the tide continue to go out. Coming back, walking all the way on the sand this time, we saw soldier crabs and other creatures.
***
Hellooooo, Noosa! It's been awhile! You're as beautiful as ever.
Watched a glorious sunset over the main beach as the kids played in the surf and ran on the sand.
The next day we visited these rock pools, paddling in the deeper ones and being pushed by the waves as they crashed in and refilled the pools nearest them. 
I haven't quite got the hang of this umbrella yet, but it really came in handy on this day, and the wind wasn't too much for it.

This next one was a sprint, as the sun set and the clouds rolled in over the Sunshine Coast and I knew I didn't have much time before dark. The light went faster than I'd even expected, as the weather moved in and the rain began to fall. I'd left my umbrella, and so got pretty wet, but my sisters came to my rescue and helped me get moved up under a tree to watch the clouds as I finished up.


***
Another place I wanted to see again: The Glasshouse Mountains. I'd love to have more time to explore this area some day. But I got to take a little bit of it home with me in painting it. This was also a special time because my niece and oldest nephew joined in and worked on their own paintings. It was messy, but so good. They both have a good eye, and it was fun to see what and how they painted.

***
Another day we visited the Daisy Hill Koala Center. Lots of gum trees and wildlife, and grills to cook on for a picnic. My niece and I did some watercolor painting as well.


***
Byron Bay, New South Wales. I had not been here before, but I'm glad that's changed. It's a beautiful place, and there was some great scenery just on the drive there. I loved being up on the ridge near the lighthouse, looking down at the waves rolling in and crashing against the rocks. Great views. Also very windy. My hat was no match for it, and getting my brush strokes to fall where I wanted was tricky!
Painting like this requires staying put for a length of time. You may miss out on seeing some of the sights, and exploring more places. But on the other hand, you get to really take in something in a very intentional way. I noticed in much greater detail the layout of the land, and the structure of the lighthouse and the way the sunshine hit it than I would have only passing by. And I appreciate it that much more now.
After I was done and thoroughly windblown, we took a tour of the lighthouse, which I would definitely recommend.
***
This last one was done at The Spit on the Gold Coast. Waves, dunes, and skyscrapers. And on this sunny day, hot, foot-burning sand! But such fun waves, and the sandy, shallower area went out pretty far, perfect for landlubbers such as myself to enjoy and not get swept away. There were also an abundance of dogs! This place is a favorite on weekends for people and their pooches.



So much sand had to be cleaned from my gear! And so many good memories to take home with me. A huge thank-you to my family both here and there who made this trip possible.
Till next time, Australia!

***

Friday, February 10, 2017

February Paints

I went painting yesterday, rushing to paint the shadows between the trees as the sun sank behind them and my toes and fingers grew colder and colder.
Birch tree study, 6 x 8 inch, plein air, oil on linen/birch.
 The air was icy, and stung. Still, as I went up the hill and saw the moon rising I stopped and tried to catch that in paint too. The results were pretty messy, and I ran out of light (and working fingers) too soon. And then my easel had a problem, and I lugged it home, up hill, without folding it up. I wouldn't recommend the practice.
 Still, getting to see that moon, away from the yard lights, rising above the dark trees, lighting up the snowy hillsides, was worth it. And I hope my messy little painting will be a useful study and help bring it all to mind again.

 ***

Today was a taste of spring - the air was warm and the snow melting. I got out late, and missed most of the sunshine. As often happens when I don't have much time to paint and don't want to waste it, I spend a long time wandering around, trying this place and that, and maybe the view will be a little better if I just go up or down another hill...
The pups are always up for some aimless wandering!

After backtracking, I headed east and found a good vantage point on top of some round bales. It was a little warmer there, not being directly on the snow, but it was not out of the wind.

Feeling rusty and running out of time? Better try two paintings.
I was really hoping to catch the moonrise, but with the clouds moving in I wasn't sure I'd see it at all, and I also wasn't quite sure where it would appear, making it difficult to do any blocking-in or preliminary sketching beforehand. 
In the meantime, the sky to the south and west was getting better and better. Time to move some paint!
I was still working on the trees in the foreground when the moon came up. Then it was a sprint, getting as much information painted as I could before the moon disappeared behind the next cloud, or the light changed too much.
The last colors of sunset.
I recently got a couple of music stand lights to try using as easel lights (as an improvement over last summer's phone-flashlight nocturne attempts). I meant to save them for spring, but it was so mild today (and I am impatient) that I brought one of them along. It worked well! Most of the painting was done while I could still see my palette, but things get a bit iffy when the light gets too dim. I could still see my subject well enough, but it was harder to tell just what color I was mixing. It also helped to see when cleaning up!

My set up, with easel light, and hay bale as a handy-dandy brush holder and painting perch:

Moonrise study, and sunset study, 6 x 8 inch, plein air, oil on linen/hardboard.