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Thursday, July 29, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #81/#82/#83

#81 - "Light and Shadow"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/08 (7:30pm)
I LOVED this subject, it's always intriguing to paint from the shadows into light, I find it's a composition that really invites the viewer into the painting.

These 3 pieces were painted on the same day as the 4 in the last post. Yup - 7 paintings in one day... this was the most painted on any single day in the project, my average was 2 or 3.

#82 - "Mountain Patterns"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/07/08 (8:55pm)
Went home and stocked up on more panels, wanted to try another speed painting. With timed paintings sometimes my approach is to seek out a rhythm and try to get that down in as few brushstrokes as possible. Really fun!

#83 - July Evening"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/07/08 (9:25pm)
Mosquitoes were out in full force for this one! Same spot as #81, turned 180 degrees. Halfway in I heard rustling in the grasses behind me and turned to see this female elk wading through the water. We eyed each other up for a few moments, decided we had our own agendas, and proceeded to get on with them. (Keeping one eye over my shoulder - just to be sure she hadn't changed her mind.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #77/#78/#79/#80

#77 - "Afternoon on the Bow"
Original Oil 6x8"
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Sorry I've been M.I.A., had some company in town. I'll post 4 today to make up for it.

10/07/08 (1pm)
I'd like to share a quote from American artist Bill Anton. He says, "Painting outside is essential to growth in an artist. The best artists always address their weaknesses and nothing points these out like working directly from life." (Boy have I confirmed that in the last 3 months.) He adds, "There is nothing better or more fun for the dedicated painter." I would agree with this, but one revision: it's fun when your painting's working.

Robert Genn's daughter Sara once said to me, "The crazy thing about painting plein air with a group of artists is that their mood is entirely dictated by what happens in the next 45 minutes." Indeed it is quite a challenge to stay cheerful and 'thrilled to be outdoors painting' when your painting is going down in a ball of flames. That said, it's the joy when you hit one out of the park that keeps you coming back!

#78 - "Summer Afternoon"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/08 (3:30pm)
This was painted directly after # 77, (on the shores of the Bow River) turned in the opposite direction. It was the effect of sun sparkling off of moving water that I was compelled to try and capture.

Note: the next two paintings are the only variance from the 6x8" size I have been using for the project, they are each 3x4". Bidding on them begins at $75.

#79 - "Fairholme in Shadow"
Original Oil 3x4"
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10/07/ (5pm)
#79 and #80 were an exercise in speed painting. The challenge was to paint the same scene twice and get everything necessary down in 15-20 minutes. I really wanted to try this challenge and I only had one panel left with me, so I divided it in half and painted two paintings on it.

#80 - "Reverse Pattern"
Original Oil 3x4"
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10/07/ (5:30pm)
What was so cool about this one was that there was a lot of afternoon cloud building up, and just as I finished #79, which had the foreground in light and the peaks in shadow, the light completely reversed, so I got to tackle a whole different story - super interesting!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #74/#75/#76

#74 - "Secret Vantage"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/07 (5:30pm)
When I found this little spot tucked away  at the base of Tunnel Mountain, I was super keen to paint it but I knew the danger would be in making it too busy. Which I then proceeded to do. After fiddling endlessly with it, I took out a big brush and knocked it all back to big, simple shapes, and immediately liked it much better!

#75 - "Tunnel Mountain"
Original Oil 8x6"
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10/07/07 (8pm)
One thing I have loved about this project is that I am getting to know places I have walked in for 20 years much more intimately. That, and discovering all kinds of little nooks and crannies that I never noticed before. I've always thought it was cool the way the strata on Tunnel arcs toward the sky, so that was the subject of this painting.

#76 - "Very Last Light"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/07/07 (9:30pm)
This was the 3rd painting on this day. I had hiked back up to the parking lot and was moments from the car when I saw this over my shoulder. I really debated whether I wanted to unpack all my gear and set up for another painting. Once again the project motivated me and then it was a race to get this down in the remaining half hour of light.

Monday, July 19, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #72/#73 (and just crossed the finish line!)

#72 - "Blast of Summer"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/03 (7pm)
This was SUCH a difficult subject, and I made it even harder than I thought I would! Really took a lot of painting in circles to get it right, but it was a great challenge to tackle a more intimate plein air subject.

"73 - "Evening Storm"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/07/04 (8:15pm)
I think my brushwork on this one shows how fast I was working to capture the fleeting light!

I am super excited to announce that at 11:15pm on July 17th (day 100), I finished the last painting of the project! Yay! In total I painted 115 paintings in 100 days including wipers - some were just not meant to see the light of day.

For those of you wondering why I am only at #73 in posting, I started the project on April 9th, but knew I was going out of town for the last two weeks of April, so I didn't begin posting until May 1st.

I learned SO much from this project and will continue to share my insights as I post the final 27 paintings.

Friday, July 16, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #70/#71

#70 - "Rain Approaching"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/02 (6:30pm)
I LOVE painting storms! There is wild energy bouncing around, the air is electric, and things are moving fast. I was driving back to the mountains from Calgary when I saw this storm moving across the foothills and had to stop and paint it. I initially set up outside but then thought better of it and jumped in the back hatch of my car to paint, good thing because halfway through it was pouring rain. SO much fun!

#71 - "West to Banff"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/02 (8pm)
Once the storm passed I set up outside of the car in the same spot and painted the clearing sky. Such great light after a storm, and I've always loved the view heading into the mountains, the clouds and the land seem to go on forever.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #67/#68/#69

#67 - "Wind Shelter"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/06/30 (4:20pm)
All 3 of these paintings were painted between 4-8:30 on the same evening. This was hands down the windiest day of the project, gusting to 50kms., really quite insane to be even attempting to keep an easel standing in these conditions.

#68 - "Twisted Wood"
Original Oil 6x8"
For purchase info click here

10/06/30 (6pm)
I recently learned about a terrific Australian artist by the name of Herman Pekel. Check out the YouTube trailer for his DVD here, you'll get a lot just from it, but I highly recommend the DVD. He is carefree and all about the exploration while he paints - SO inspiring! He often starts by laying in a super thin, watercolor like wash and then moves to really thick, juicy paint in key areas. My plan was to try that here but I didn't get as far as the thick paint because the wind shut me down and I moved on to another location - but I had a ton of fun with this composition!

#69 - "Cascade Mountain"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/06/30 (7:30pm)
The wind had died down a little as I was about to start this one, so I was cocky enough to set up my umbrella. Walked away for a second to throw the ball for Lily and turned back just in time to see the wind pick up my easel and toss it through the air, turps flying, brushes scattered across the shoreline. Not a very smart girl...

I am amazed at how peaceful looking this painting is considering the conditions, I think it's a result of having a wonderful evening wandering the shores of the Bow with my dog and my painting gear on my back (dog on ground), stopping whenever I saw something intriguing to paint. Truly one of my favourite days of the project, so glad I didn't let the wind confine me to car painting.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #65/#66

#66 - "Foothills Sunset"
Original Oil 6x8"
10/06/28 (8:30pm)
I have included a photo of the scene on this one because I wanted to illustrate that often I draw a lot on what's in front of me while embellishing based on my personal response to the subject. (I find much of this happens sub-consciously.)

#65 - "Alberta Sky"
Original Oil 6x8"
For purchase info click here

10/06/28 (6pm)
Both of these were done in the foothills just south of Calgary. I was painting once more with my new painting friends, Bobbi Dunlop and Sharon Williams.

Sharon was the guide on this evening and took us to a couple of really great locations, loved the change of scenery, especially the chance to get a sweet little farm in, not many of those in the mountains. This one will definitely be turned into a large studio painting as there is so much great material to work with. For those of you curious about the process, I will use my photo reference for more information about the structures of the farm, and the study for colour and value reference. I find there is much more latitude to push colour from a living subject. In contrast, photos seem to have a static end point that dulls inspiration. I am discovering that there is a subtle energy driving your choices when painting outdoors, things are heightened in away that is hard to explain but unmistakable.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #62/#63/#64

#62 - "Early Summer"
Original Oil

10/06/26 (5:30pm)
Okay, I was DETERMINED to do a 15 minute study for this one, and finished it 90 minutes later. Just can't seem to stop when it's "not finished". Reminds me of an Oscar Wilde quote: "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all morning and took out a comma. This afternoon, I put it back in"

#63 - "Rundle Near Sunset"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/06/26 (9:30pm)
This one had about 15 minutes of light left when I started it - I wound up finishing it in almost total darkness.

Sorry I am a little behind on posting. The crunch is on now, so being out painting is going to start taking precedence over photographing/editing/posting, and I may continue to be a little behind in this area until the project is finished. Will post 3 tonight to make up for missing yesterday.

#64 - "Fading Light"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/06/27 (7:30pm)
Painted myself in circles on this one. At first it had a bright green foreground of trees and bushes, but it just didn't read so I wound up completely repainting the foreground in a more silhouetted manner to keep the attention on the background, which was the point of the painting. Definitely got lost here by not having a clear idea at the outset of where I was going and had two equal centers of interest battling it out.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #60/#61

#60 - "The 1A"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/06/25 (8pm)
This scene is from a field about a 5 minute walk from my studio. LOVING the long days, started this at 8pm and still got another one done after it.

#61 - "Moving Through"
Original Oil 6x8"
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10/06/25 (9:30pm)
Same spot as #60, turned 180 degrees. This one was fast and furious, trying to get the sky down before the light was gone.

Here are some primary questions I have learned to ask myself before I start that seem to lead to things going well:

  • When I squint can I reduce the subject to large, abstract shapes? (meaning things I can block in on a 6x8" panel with a 1 inch flat). 
  • If I can, is the design still interesting now that I have eliminated the detail?
  • What are my chances of success with this subject? (Good design, interesting light, relatively easy to simplify, is there a center of interest I am excited about?)
  • What is the light doing (late morning moving in to mid-day flat? mid day subject-lots of time? about to cloud over? stormy with all kinds of changing, interesting things to choose from? late afternoon moving into gorgeous evening light?) Primarily: What needs to be addressed immediately and where do I have a little more time? Or am I setting the stage and waiting for the light? (this works in a place you know well with steady weather).

When first starting to paint plein air, there is a tendency to be excited by a subject and jump in with no conscious plan, or even a clear consideration about what the primary focus will be. Next thing you know you're out there mid-painting doing the dog-paddle for life and wondering how the water got so deep.

John Carlson puts it beautifully: "Art is the transmittable, personal impression of one quality in the quantity before us. It is the ability to determine consciously what it is that interests him, and why, that differentiates the artist from the art student."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #58/#59

#58 - "Summer Solstice"
Original Oil 8x6"

10/06/21 (8:30pm)
This painting was done in exactly the same spot as #57, just turned 45 degrees to the right. I was actually finished and packing up for the evening when I remembered discipline, and started looking around for something I could paint fast as there was about 45 minutes of light left. I really loved the soft evening light on the trees, so this was it. No drawing, just blocked it in quickly, wiped out the trees, and started painting in negative and positive shapes. I was just starting to put some branches on when Lily started acting weird (wildlife in the area weird), and I realized it was about 15 minutes from dark, so I called it a day.

#59 - "Above the Bow"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/06/24 (11:30am)
I really was compelled by the soft light filtering through the trees and sparkling off the river below in this one. Such a tricky scene to simplify, especially from branch level on the trees upward.

Someone recently emailed to ask, "I was wondering if you would comment on whether you will execute larger paintings in your studio from these studies, which ones, and why?"

I am planning a show with my gallery in Canmore,  The Avens Gallery, later this year that will be a collection of larger works inspired by this project. The show will run from December 9th to 19th, 2010. I will choose which pieces after the project is over, but there are a lot of factors that will dictate which ones, such as whether they will transfer well to a large canvas from a technical perspective (sometimes what's interesting on a small canvas becomes a whole lot of space to fill on a large one), how excited I am about a cerain idea, and how much of an impression a particular painting experience left on me.