Monday, August 28, 2017

Hay and Hudson

Three days in a row I went out to paint on a bale-strewn hillside with an excellent view of the western sky. Three days in a row the weather moved in from the northeast.
The Weather Moving In - 6 x 8" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. August 4, 2017
The weather the first day was the most dramatic and severe. I caught the last of the sunshine and the beginning dark clouds in this little quick study.
I finished up in between trips running up the hill to watch the sky and be amazed at the line of storm clouds and rain moving closer, lit dramatically by the light from the setting sun.

The next day I began a larger plein air painting - at 12 by 16 inches, it was a bit larger than I usually work outdoors. I got kind of a late start, though, and with the clouds which moved in once again it got dark sooner. I "finished" the painting, but I just wasn't satisfied.
 I went out again the next day, similar time, same spot, and worked out a few of the things that were concerning me. This is the final result:
Spoiled Hay - 12 x 16" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. August 5, 6, 2017


When we were kids, my older sister and I sometimes had the job of pulling wild carrot (Queen Anne's Lace) out of the pastures. It has a tendency to take over, so the goal was to keep it in check. However, when roadwork was done nearby, and the mulch used to cover the bare banks and ditches was apparently full of wild carrot, the battle was officially lost. At least it's beautiful!
Wild Carrot Patch - 12 x 9" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. August 10, 2017


August 18-20 was the annual Plein Air Hudson in Hudson, Wisconsin along the St. Croix River. This year I wanted to check out the nearby state park: Willow River State Park. I'm so happy I did! The river it's named for is lovely, and the falls are understandably popular.
Friday the 18th was an overcast and cool day - perfect for hiking, and for taking my time on this painting of a couple of the trees that grow along the falls. Moss and stone and moving water. I definitely want to go back there.

Along the Willow River - 12 x 9" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. August 18, 2017

I spent some time in the afternoon exploring without my heavy pack of gear. Up a steep bunch of steps there's a nice lookout right up above the falls, and I wanted to return later and try a painting from there. 
Willow River Overlook - 11 x 14" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. August 18, 2017
I didn't give myself much time - I used every bit of daylight, which made for a dark hike back - but the sun peeking out from the clouds and hitting the water and the colors and textures of the many trees and hazy hills was something I really wanted to capture a little of in my painting.

Saturday, August 19th. I spent the morning walking around the town of Hudson, and checking out the work of some of the other artists who were painting down by the river. I had lunch with a new painting pal, and then it was time to get to work!
I saw this old brick building last year while walking around town and I wanted to paint it. It has a lot of character, and I really like its old door with its wooden slats. The view I first wanted would have involved standing in the street, which obviously wasn't going to work. So I got as close as I could, standing on the curb in the slim shadow of a power line pole. Light and shadow, green weeds and orange brick, and a view down the alley.

Brickwork - 12 x 9" plein air oil on linen/hardboard. August 19, 2017

End-of-Day Reflections - 9 x 12" oil on linen/hardboard. August 19, 2017
In the evening I went back down by the water. The reflections on the still water were just magnificent, and I had to try to paint them.

Sunday, August 20, back at the state park. It was a much warmer day than my first visit. Those steps up the trail seemed even steeper and longer!
I don't often paint pine trees - I'm more of a deciduous tree person. But there's something so lovely about a pine grove, the ground covered in old needles, and the spicy-piney fragrance when the wind blows through it. I liked how the light caught the bare lower branches of these trees and I wanted to convey that in this painting. This painting came neither quickly nor easily; I have a lot to learn about painting pines.
Pines and Needles - 14 x 11" oil on linen/hardboard. August 20, 2017

The last painting did go quickly - both out of necessity due to the time of day, and because it's more my usual subject matter: farm and sky. The sky was just getting interesting as the sun sank behind the clouds. I set up along this road and a corn field. A new road has gone in close by, and this one ends very abruptly just behind where I was parked.
At the End of the Road - 9 x 12" oil on linen/hardboard. August 20, 2017 

 The evening of Monday, August 21st, held the opening reception. Really fun to see the whole show hung, pick out favorite paintings, and hear the stories behind some of them.
 The event judge this year was Scott Lloyd Anderson, and the top prizes went to Richard Abraham, Dan Mondloch, and Bob Upton, who well deserved them!

My three submissions to the show.
The show was on display August 21-27. Special thanks to all who stopped by, and extra special thanks to those who are giving some of my paintings new homes!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July, in paint

Humid days and cut hay. Storms and sunshine. Thundershowers and wildflowers.

Evening Light, Northside Woods - 10 x 8" plein air oil on linen/birch.
July 1st. It gets dark much sooner down in the woods, and I didn't start as early as I would have liked. But the light was so beautiful among the trees on this north bluffside. I painted quickly, trying to capture a bit of the late light before darkness fell, and the coyotes began to howl.


July Hay - 6 x 8" plein air oil on linen/hardboard.
July 5th. Another late evening start. The sky showed pink, reflecting the colors of the sunset to the west, and the drying hay and small square bales caught the warm light.


Hay Day - 11 x 14" plein air oil on linen/hardboard.
July 7th. The weather looked uncertain - now dark and piling clouds, now sunshine. I set up with a good view of the sky in case it turned stormy. The patterns of the rows of hay and the contours of hillside fields are always beautiful to me, as is the fragrance of the cut grass, clover, and alfalfa drying in the heat of the day.
 As I finished up, the clouds were breaking apart, and I did this little study of the moon rising in the dusky sky.
In the Still of the Evening - 5 x 7" plein air oil on linen/birch. 


Between Storms - 10 x 8" plein air oil on linen/birch.
 July 20th.  It was a warm, sticky evening. Patches of the long grass had been knocked over by the previous night's storm. I was surrounded by the sounds of tree frogs and the frogs from the nearby pond, and occasionally the sounds of startled deer. Everything was wet with dew as I finished up at dusk.


Pennycress - 12 x 10" alla prima still life. Oil on linen/birch.
July 25th. Indoor painting day. I got this lovely vase from Cheesbro Pottery earlier this year, and it was perfect for holding a bunch of pennycress that I'd pulled out of the fields and that had dried, with its many seedpods arranged on its delicate stems.


Old Gold - 6 x 8", plein air oil on linen/hardboard.
July 27th. A little study of weathered wood and yellow blooms.  I don't know what these flowers are actually named, but I always heard them called "Showers-of-Gold". They have been growing here for many, many years. The old building is the known as the summer kitchen, and has "1895" written inside the door. Old beauty.


Poplars in the Pasture - 8 x 10", plein air oil on linen/birch.
 July 28th. Dusk in the pasture. Wild carrot and yarrow flowers, and two slender poplar trees.


Pepin Cloud Study - 5 x 7", plein air oil on linen/birch.
 July 31st. Little studies of the sky, the bluffs, and the Mississippi River. The first was done in Pepin, Wisconsin. A warm breeze blew off the water, as the clouds shifted and made threats of rain on their way past.
 The second was done at the Garvin Heights Lookout in Winona, Minnesota. (A popular spot, it seems, for both man and mosquito!) It's a beautiful view over the city and the water. Though I'd planned to try a sunset paint, I instead faced the other direction, loving the mood and atmosphere looking downriver towards rain.
Rain Across the River - 8 x 10", plein air oil on linen/birch.