Saturday, May 27, 2017

Begonia in oil

Back to my plain air Begonia painting today except this time in the morning instead of afternoon. Of course, that changes the light which changes everything so I painted over most of it. Next time I'll try to paint alla prima to avoid this problem. Yes, I did take a photo of the flower yesterday but once you start painting from life, working from the photo is really disappointing.

O-2017-5-27 Begonia, oil, 10x8 inches

Friday, May 26, 2017

Four stages of learning

Here we are at the end of May 2017 and my flower and vegetable gardens are pretty much in. I just UNSUSCRIBED to all the garden/plant/seed supply email lists I've been on and I'm starting to think about painting again.

I switch mediums a couple times a year and once in while I try a new medium.  I spent last June working in acrylic (again) and that is the medium I thought of when I came across the four stages of learning presented by Nicholas Wilton. I'll apply this to my experience with acrylic but it is applicable to other challenges.

1. Unconscious Incompetence
We don't know what we don't know. For years I collected acrylic supplies not knowing which were quality and which ones would make learning this medium even harder for me.

2. Conscious Incompetence
I started painting. Oh, oh. Acrylic dries really fast with hard edges. I bought retarder and interactive acrylics and books and still, I was not happy. In this stage we know enough to realize that our art (or whatever we are trying to learn) is not so good. This is the stage where we either quit or we go for help.

3. Conscious Competence
In this stage I decided to work WITH the medium instead of trying to make it act more like oil paint. I got help by taking an online class last June with Chantel Barber. Through her advice I felt I was starting to "get it" and I changed my attitude about the medium to embrace it's drawbacks as attributes.

4. Unconscious Competence
This is the stage of working "intuitively." This is how I like to paint (of course). By the end of June of last year, I ended up with a few paintings in acrylic that I was happy with. But by mid-summer I had to put the acrylics away and return to pastel to prepare for upcoming workshops in July and October. If I had continued with acrylic I eventually would have been painting intuitively. And at some point I would run out of challenges and then it starts all over again to learn new material.

The point of this post is to remind you (and myself) to recognize that we are always in a stage of learning. Don't give up if you really want to achieve a goal.

Thank you Nicholas Wilton for your post about the four stages of learning. Now, back to my oil painting-in-progress.
Begonia in progress, oil, 10 x 8 inches

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

On the Easel 5-23-2017

I've been digging, weeding, planting, watering. Yesterday I finally got back to my easel setting up a plein air still life.

A simple pot of Begonias but the glass table-top and reflections in the pot made it more interesting to me.
Also, the almost neon orange red color...hmmm...haven't quite figured that out yet. Hope to get back to this soon - I think it is about 80% complete at this point.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

On the easel 5-13-17

Working on the second painting of the roses ("Petite Gift"), this time in oil. I'm trying to paint it more slowly and thoughtfully than I normally paint and I'm actually enjoying this s-l-o-w pace in oil because I'm getting reacquainted with the medium. I think this painting is about 80% complete at this point.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Last Friday at our Painting Group

A charcoal sketch on UArt paper, my reference photo and my Soltek Easel with pastels.
This is as far as I got during our group painting time but I continued to work on it over the weekend. Scroll to the bottom to read more about last Friday's Painting Group session.
Petite Gift, pastel, 10x8 inches
Last Friday was framing day for ReneƩ while Ed painted on with his usual determination and focus. Both of these artists inspire us all.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Book: Art Journey - Abstract Painting

I'm happy to have been included in this beautiful new book published by North Light Books.

Click on the book cover for more information
Blue Road, pastel, Private Collection
Toward Evening, pastel, Private Collection
From the West Unto the East, pastel, Collection of the Artist

Monday, April 24, 2017

Preparing for oil painting

Before I forget, here is a link of good advice for those of you who want to sell your art.

And, consider this way to get free advice about your work in progress: I am one of the Critique group leaders for Plein Air Painters Washington (PAWA). If you want to join me and others at my studio in Black Diamond, WA, June 8th and September 14th, 10AM - 1:00 PM, we'll be critiquing each others' work. You need to be a PAWA member. 

Now, back to what I really intended to post today.

Each year I switch mediums a couple times. I like to focus on one medium at a time. Last summer I returned to acrylics then it was back to pastel for the remainder of the year and up until now.  Only a couple oil paintings so far this year but now that the garden is well under way I'm looking forward to returning to oil.

Hardboard panels and my special GESSO brush (good quality so no hairs fall out).

Two coats of gesso with dry time between coats. Yay! I'm ready for small studies in oil.

Friday, April 21, 2017

What's on the easel April 22, 2017

On the easel April 22, 2017
Usually I can get projects off my easel by Friday to leave the weekend free from art but this week was an exception. What's on the easel from left to right:

1. 10 x 8 inch oil painting that I started months ago. You can see the reference photo in color peeking out from behind it. The reference photo was taken in January on a frosty sunny morning. I've painted several pastels from the series but only one other oil. I look forward to getting back to this one.

2. 7 x 5 inch pastel painting (with color bar attached). Yesterday the Plein Air Washington Artists Critique Group (PAWA Black Diamond group) met at my Studio and I asked for opinions on several paintings. On one painting I made corrections in pastel as they made suggestions. The painting was improved but the color combination still made me cringe so I wiped it off and began again with a color-wheel in hand.
This is the ghost after wipe-off of the previous image.
High-Key Spring, pastel, 7x5 inches
3. The large white square is a sheet of Fredrix Artist Canvas laid out for four 6 x 6 inch oil paintings. The one I have started here is based on the same reference photo as the first painting but this time in a square format and different palette.

4. The reference photo for the road painting but this time in gray tones to study value. The X drawn on it is a guide that helps me transfer the scene to my painting surface (which also had an X on it).

5. Two new tubes of Daniel Smith oil paint in colors I've never used: Transparent Brown Oxide and Chromium Green Oxide.

Happy Weekend to you.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Demo that became Rejoice

The last Friday of March I did a demo at Maple Valley Community Center (where our Friday Painting Group meets) then took it back to the Studio to finish it. It changed quite a bit!

Rejoice, pastel, 11x18 inches

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017

What happened to the Six-up?

Four of the six in my last post are complete.
Meadow Road, pastel, 6x6 inches   sold

Carmel Waterway, pastel, 6x6 inches  Available

Spring Creek Afternoon, pastel, 6x6 inches   Available

Nisqually Winter, pastel, 6x6 inches    Available

Monday, March 27, 2017


Weeks ago I had a request from a collector for another 6x6 pastel to hang with her previous purchase. I told her I would be painting more 6x6 inch pastels in March. Um...right. Gardening happened and here we are in the last days of the month. Desperate measures and focus needed.

I cut four 6x6 pieces of Ersta 500 from a larger sheet and was left with two 4x6 remnants. Set up a little cardboard box spray booth (use archival spray), mounted the Ersta on archival foam core. Took the panel with me to my Friday painting group*.

Still smarting from my kaput Ersta experience (see my previous post), I decided to use minimal pastels and let the color of the paper show. I started with vine charcoal, gave it an alcohol spray to set it. On some pieces, the charcoal ran or I brushed it around. Basic first strokes can be seen here on the 4x6 "minis."

Carmel, Step 1

This is what the panel of six looks like now. To be continued...
* Friday, March 31st, 1:30 PM I'll be demonstrating pastel at Maple Valley Community Center. After the demo we'll all paint together, any medium. Join us.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

On the easel today, Twilight II, pastel, 6x6 inches. It began with an oil wash then pastel. I took it to my Friday afternoon painting group and put pastel on and wiped it off for a couple hours. Back in the studio I did the same. Finally, to avoid ripping it up, I punched it up with blue Nupastel, a warm violet Unison and a warm white Terry Ludwig and then I turned it around and walked away believing I would be throwing it away the next time I saw it. But, apparently, absence makes the heart grow fonder because after four days of gardening I'm back in the studio and my first impression is hmmmm....instead of aaarghhh. There might be hope.

3/25/17 The rest of the story... There was hope, then no hope. Back and forth. I finally had to admit that the Ersta 500 paper was kaput (broken and useless; no longer working or effective) and I trashed it.

How this painting on the image to view the videos.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Two From My Book

I just finished packing up seven paintings to deliver to Attic Gallery, Camas, WA. Suddenly there is a big blank space on my Studio wall that makes me want to paint scenes to fill the space. Originally I hung paintings in the studio because of a lack of storage space. I enjoyed them but after just removing seven, I realize the paintings had actually become just wallpaper to me. Two of the paintings were painted for my book, "Pastel Drawing" and are the subjects for page 139. I would like to send them off to a new home. They are both available on my DailyPaintworks Gallery.

Where the Heart Is, pastel, 11 x 8.5 inches

Sunday Walk, pastel, 11 x 8.5 inches

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Checking up on myself

Left, Color Study 6x6 inches                Right, 25x25 inch pastel in progress
Switching my eyes and brain from my 6x6 inch color study to the 25x25 inch pastel on my easel requires stepping back, leaving the room, reentering with my eyes on the easel, etc. Another tool is to photograph the work in progress (shown above on right) and place the photo beside the photo of the color study with both the same size. Now I can see some shapes and compositional signposts I need to correct in the larger painting.

An even more useful look is comparing the two paintings as value only. Without the distraction of color, this comparison is very helpful for composition and directional elements. It's good to check up on myself so I stay on track with what I'm trying to accomplish.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Golden Afternoon III Update

For those of you just tuning in, I am repainting Golden Afternoon II. I'm using my 6x6 color study as my reference (see it to the right of my easel in the photo above).

When I started working on this painting, I shot short videos of each step but soon I got involved in painting and forgot to make more videos. If you would like to see the first five steps, the links to videos are below. Once you watch one video, you should be able to find the others on my YouTube list rather than coming back to these links.

See Step 1 video
First I brush off as much pastel as possible with a cheap "chip brush."

See Step 2 video
I can remove additional pastel, especially in the lightest areas with an alcohol spray and a cotton cloth.

See Step 3 video
I lay in the darkest areas with a dark soft pastel (Terry Ludwig brand)

See Step 4 video
After darks, I apply the lightest areas with a soft light yellow (Terry Ludwig brand)

See Step 5 video
With a hard pastel I lay in yellow areas (NuPastel brand).

OR...This is the link to all five videos in one Playlist.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gamblin Gamvar

Rock Creek Winter, oil, 8 x 10 inches

The two things on my calendar today are 1) Finish tax prep for meeting with our accountant and 2) Apply the final varnish to my oil painting Rock Creek Winter so I can send it off to its new home. I was dreading spending the day working on taxes in a cloud of varnish fumes but I found a new bottle of Gamblin Gamvar. Nearly odorless and I love the semi-gloss finish. I'm having a cozy rainy/snowy Northwest  day in the studio.

Here is a link to a YouTube Video on how to apply this varnish.