Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunset Storm Clouds

Sunset Storm Clouds
11" x 14"
oil on canvas

I just finished an email a friend and fellow cloud painter, Ronnie Watt, about the frustrations of painting and the wonderful advice I have been given about how to deal with it.

With this particular painting, I found Mary Anne Cary's advice most helpful. She said "...when I question it all, I have to just try to stop what's going on in my head and paint without high expectations..."

Think about it. Its brilliant! She is not saying to lower your standards, but to let the painting be what it will be- to focus on the process rather than the product. Time for a new mantra for me! (Well, time to add a new one to the pile.) But how do you sum something like that up in just a few words?

When I felt that old familiar feeling of wanting to pull all my hair out because my painting looked like a big fat stinking mess, I stopped to count back from ten, and then started again with the intent of just letting this painting find its own way... so to speak. Really what I was doing was letting go of the anxiety attached to the desire for a good finished product and focused on the act of painting. I really have to concentrate to match colors. Especially grays.

Ya know, Julie Beck said basically the same thing. She said "...finish it and if you're not happy with it, do another."

There it is - Let the painting be what it will be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Clouds- A Different Start


So this time I made a few sketches (in my beloved Moleskine) to try to work out some of the design kinks before plopping the paint down. It all goes back to that P.A. (Plan Ahead) thing. I really shoot myself in the foot when I don't take the time to plan a painting.

In the first thumbnail I went all out with the drawing... well, as "all out" as you can get in such a small rectangle. In the second sketch, I broke the picture down into solid chunks of lights, mediums and darks so I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed by all the variation in the clouds. I felt a lot better about the design after doing that. I was looking for some enthusiasm to start this painting off, and this really helped.

I used this second sketch as a reference when drawing the design onto the canvas- I am trying not to rely so heavily on the photo. I am hoping this will help me loosen up a bit. I hatched in the darkest "blocks" to keep some of the confusion down. I got a bit frustrated with that last painting when I realized I had filled in a light spot with dark paint, in three different areas. Prevention is the best... um... preventing thing.

A little color theory fun-- the red font on both pages of the sketchbook is the same color. Ooo!

About that last painting... I wiped it with the intention of starting over. Can't find the photo, now - last time I saw it, it was in the clutches of an 18-month-old. It'll have to wait until my next batch of reference photos comes from Kodak.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like the internet?

Just upload some pictures into my Kodak account and tell them how I want the pictures and a few days later my prints magically appear in my mailbox! Its just brilliant I tell you!

I don't have to drop off film and wait for a week before the prints are ready. Remember the days when you couldn't just print the good pictures?

I love modern technology.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

WIP - Clouds - and something of an Epiphany

Ya know how some paintings just seem to come easy? Just fly onto the canvas with little or no effort at all? Well, this isn't one of them. This one is a battlefield. Explosions and wounded all over the place. Bullets wizzing by your ears. There is shrapnel lodged in the doors of my kitchen cabinets.

Today I scraped off several large mounds of paint and am in the process of redefining some shapes... Someday this painting will come together. And someday soon, I hope, painting will come easier again.

I find myself searching for some meaning in in all this struggle. Does it mean I am coming onto a breakthrough of some sort? Does it mean I need to readjust some way of thinking that isn't quite working? Why am I searching for meaning in something that happens all the time? I know it is a cycle, but... sigh.

Reminds me of my toddler. I can usually tell when he is about to conquer some immense developmental milestone because he goes downhill for a little while. Not physically, but emotionally- upset most of the time, doesn't seem to know what he wants, easily frustrated, has trouble sleeping, etc. Its like he is fighting his way up a slimed, muddy hill covered in briars, and no one can help him get to the top. But when he makes his breakthrough everything is just hunky-dorey. Life is good.

That is totally how I feel with my artwork right now... like the last three or four have been really difficult. And I see a very labored look in them. I am so ready for a breakthrough of my own.

Hmmmm.... Ya know...

I have been looking at my recent paintings while typing this and I noticed that my brushwork has been getting progressively tighter and more controlled. All the while I have been goggling over other artists whose work is loose and much more impressionistic. No wonder I feel cramped. It could be that I am not feeling satisfied with staring at a photograph for days on end and need to spend more time outdoors painting the real thing.

Writing is good.

I am going ot have myself a little think on this, and I just might wipe this painting and start over... or just scrape off the larger globs of paint and reapply fresh paint with a larger brush and no glasses!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WIP - Clouds...

As promised.... the WIP photo. Having a bit of trouble with that pinky-orange in the upper left, but I think there was a smidge of blue (tucked around the side of my yellow) that was mucking up the purity of my mixed color.

I knew it was there... I didn't think it would have much of an effect. It did. Just enough to be irritating.

Good thing I can paint over paint! I might let a bit of this slightly muddy orange remain and act like some of the deeper parts of the cloud... We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I can hardly contain myself!!!

I have been stumbling through the world of art on the internet and came across a jewel! There is a lot of good stuff out there, but I would really really like you all to check out The Pochade Gallery. The gallery consists of two British painters, Carl Melegari and Antony Bridge, whose works are just exploding with color and life. And get this - they are plein air painters! Wait 'till you see their work- I love it! Makes me want to go outside more and paint.

Their styles differ, but I really like them both. They manage something I would really like to do myself, they know how to simplify the scene and still make it work.

I stumbled across a Dutch plein air painter whose work I adore as well- Rene PleinAir (that is his blog). Well worth your time- check him out. He also has that something that allows him to say a lot with very little. Just brilliant.

I don't have a picture to post at the moment... I do have another cloud painting on the easel, but have been a little obsessed with my piano. Just got it yesterday. I've been looking for one since last November. I am so excited!!! I have wanted to learn for a long time. This piano is going to do double duty- I get to learn, and my 1.5 year old will be exposed to it for a good while before he starts his lessons. Mua-ha-ha! He'll be so steeped in art and music that he will think everybody is like that! Lets rewrite the norm, shall we?

I'll post a picture of the WIP tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jenkins Rd- Barn

Jenkins Rd
11" x 14"
oil on canvas
Click here to purchase.

Well, that was pretty fun. The rust on the roof to the right of the barn was surprisingly difficult, but I think it turned out rather well.

I think I will have to make something of a study of grasses and rusted things...

Friday, April 17, 2009

WIP - Red barn (ha ha ha!)

Just have to fill in the buildings... I find grasses difficult to render. I don't care for the hyper detail of every individual blade painted, but I like some texture and direction. I've seen some artists make their grasses in a semi-drybrushed blocked-in sort of way, and it works... They have rich, wonderful grasses full of texture and life, all in what looks like a few brush strokes. If I could only figure out how to do it myself...

I have a chance to go paint outside this evening, so I am going to take it. I was really hoping what the weather man said would be true, but surprise, surprise... he was wrong... again. Maybe I will get lucky and the sun will break through all the gloom in the next thirty minutes.

Otherwise, I will be painting in grays!

Oh!!! Here comes the sun! I'm outta here!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WIP- #1 in my "Barns of the Palouse" series

So here I am starting a new series when I still have two others open. Lately I don't care much for working on more than one a painting at a time. It bothers me to have unfinished paintings lying around.

But a series is something different I think... As long as there are not more open than I can handle at one time. I had a request for a particular cloud painting, but I wanted to do something smaller as a bit of a pick-me-up. Sometimes I need to just whip a painting out in a day or two so I feel like I am getting loads of work done! The clouds, I think, really need to be on a larger canvas, 16" x 20" at least.

Last fall the hubby, child, and I drive around the Palouse in search of barns. I had a map of the area to mark where the barns were, took photos of the barns, then numbered and labeled the barns in a sketchbook with descriptions of lighting and places to set up for plein air painting. It was so much fun!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Passion for Painting Award!


Today Vicki Shuck, a fantastic artist and fellow Pacific Northwester, nominated me for the Passion for Painting Award. How fun is that! I am honored! (I have been following her blog for a while now and love her work- follow her link, its worth your time!)

The ways this works is that I name 7 things I love, which are:

1. my brilliant husband and incredible son,
2. painting inside,
3. painting outside,
4. planting things,
5. thunderstorms- especially if I get loads of reference photos so I can paint them!,
6. the Pacific Northwestern Coast with its dramatic cliff sides and windblown, distorted trees and that wonderful life-giving salty air (I need to fill my lungs with it every once in a while),
7. and spending time with my mom, sister, aunt, uncle and cousins (a.k.a the rest of my family)- I pity everyone else in the world for not having the family that I have.

Next, I have listed seven, plus one, of the many artist's blogs I follow -because I really admire their work. Check them out!

-Sandra Flood
-Karen Appleton
-Kerri Settle
-Carol Nelson
-Deborah Paris
-Jeffrey Boron
-Liz Holm
-Julie Beck

I could have easily listed another fifteen...

IF YOU ARE TAGGED, should you desire to keep this going, you are asked to name and link to 7 others whose work you admire and let them know about it, list 7 things you love and put a link to the person who tagged you.

Aha! Not quite as finished as I thought!!!

Fisherman's Wharf
16" x 20"
Oil on Canvas
Click here to purchase.

its finished. I will not be making any more changes to this painting.

I was trying to leave the lettering off the Karsten because I didn't want it to draw attention away from the Phalarope behind it. But lo and behold! leaving off the lettering did the opposite of what I intended. That great white mass was just too much. I like this painting too much to have left it to sink into that crevasse of unwanted paintings.

(The purchase link on the post below will go the same place as the purchase link in this post... to the updated painting in my Etsy shop.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf
16" x 20"
Oil on Stretched Canvas
Click here to purchase.

Finished! This painting was a challenge. Mostly because I took so long to finish it. Have had to make some changes to my studio space

Moving on. I have about 16+ canvases to paint red now.

I have been trying to get my hands on Edgar Payne's Composition of Outdoor Painting for a while now, and could not find a copy for less than $125. Insane. Finally found one though- for less than $30 and still in the printer's shrink wrap!

It came in today. I thumbed through it and can hardly wait to immerse myself in its glorious tutelage! (oooooo! I get shivers just thinking about it.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

WIP - getting closer!

A few little changes and a bit more paint. Any minute now a whirlwind of paint is going to hit this painting and it will be finished. I pretty much just have some whites and an orange-ish spot and a blue-ish spot.

Oh... And a bit more lettering on the boat in the foreground.

Almost finished!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

WIP - a bit more

Coming along... I just saw something I need to change. Man! Blogging is helpful! This is the first painting that I have pretty substantial reflections from the water appearing on the boats. This is a new challenge. I like it so far.

Lettering is hard. It has to be just right otherwise it looks sloppy and awkward. Talk about awkward- awkward is one of the most awkward words I have ever seen. Good fit.

My lettering on the Phalarope needs a bit more work... the beginning of the word hangs down further than the rest. .... hmmm...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I apologize to anyone that got my "family" post just now.
I did not realize I had the wrong blog until after I published it....


(I blush)

WIP - bit by bit

Woohoo! I got a little bit done today. Feels good.

I really had to fight the impulse to make all those grays in the upper left hand corner the same. But things like that make a difference. There are bluish grays, reddish grays, yellowish grays... It would be a shame to ignore all those wonderful little differences.

Its funny, but the more things get filled around the boats, the more excited I get about painting them. Icing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


A start. I had a minute and decided to go ahead and post what I have so far. It helps me see that some progress is being made. Its like looking at a painting upside down. Gives a different perspective.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the mess before me I fail to see where it is all going. Just have to keep pushing forward, and even if the final piece is not what I wanted it to be, it will at least be finished. More often than not I end up liking it in the end.

I have some more stormy sunset cloud reference photos on the way. I'm looking forward to painting some more clouds.... and more boats.

I just have to work past this block.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

WIP - some Seattle boats

Rrrrr!!! The frustration! I screwed up the proportions on the reflections of the boat in the back, and I have been fighting with it for days. I am so ready to just paint!

I get to start tomorrow. Yay!

Looking to the future....

This is what my toddler does when I give him a paintbrush.